Atletico Madrid has its best chance at a LaLiga title in six years

Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid team has started its LaLiga campaign in the best possible fashion – three wins from its opening three games.

As such, Atleti is the only team with a 100% record in Spanish football’s top flight after just three games.

Coming up on his 8th year anniversary of being in charge at the club, Simeone will know that what they have achieved in the early stages of 2019/20 is no mean feat.

While Barcelona and Real Madrid have stumbled and stuttered over the early hurdles, Los Rojiblancos have gone about their business in a typical steady fashion. Continue reading

This weekend’s fantasy LaLiga suggestions

Two rounds in, thirty-six to go. What tales has LaLiga in store for us between now and next May?

It’s time to look ahead to the upcoming games in Spanish football’s top tier as you decide on what changes, if any, to make in fantasy LaLiga.

Have a read and see if any tips stick out which might suit your fantasy LaLiga team this weekend.

Goalkeeper – Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) – 11.0 million

Always a great choice, Jan Oblak will be confident of another clean sheet against Eibar. Continue reading

Barcelona thrash Real Betis as Antoine Griezmann arrives for the champions

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez injured for another game, the focus was on two things in La Liga: 1) How would Barcelona react after losing their first game of the season against Athletic Bilbao, 2) How would Antoine Griezmann perform?

Thankfully the Frenchman announce his arrival for the Spanish league champions and did it in style as Barcelona thrashed Real Betis 5-2 at the Camp Nou. Griezmann scored a brace and looked delighted to get off his mark with the club. The pressure was already growing for the World Cup winner after a move from Atletico Madrid which had cost the Catalan Giants over 100m euros. His first game for the club was poor and when Nabil Fekir opened the scoring for Betis it seemed as if Barcelona and Griezmann would be in real trouble.

They say timing is everything and in football it means a lot when you can equalise just before half time, it was scrappy and seemed to come off of Griezmann’s shin, but that mattered little, the fans were delighted for him and that goal seemed to reenergise the player who went on to have a very confident second half which led to him scoring again, a cracking goal too that swept into the net.

For many Griezmann was the man of the match and it mattered with the likes of Messi, Suarez and Ousmane Dembele out with injury. One wonders where Barca would be in the league had they not signed Griezmann? But what he did at the weekend was step up. It seems incredible to think that just 2 games in the pressure was massive on Griezmann to perform but this is what it is like at clubs like Barcelona, had he put in a no show again at home and Barca lost or even drew as a result, fans would have been venting their anger. But the storm has been calmed, caught in a tube and thrown away, and Griezmann and Barcelona can now look forward to their next game.

As for the league table it’s strange to see Barcelona in 9th place, though there has only been 2 games played. Sevilla and Griezmann’s former team Atletico Madrid top the league standings as they have won both of their opening games.

Barcelona’s next game will be against Osasuna. On paper that seems like 3 points but this game is away from home in Basque County just like the Bilbao match was a few weeks ago. Basque teams have an uncanny ability to turn it on against the likes of Barca and Real Madrid, and Barcelona will have to be on their game to get anything in that encounter.

One thing is for sure, it should be a cracking game.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Could Zidane quit Real Madrid for a second time?

Real Madrid’s objectives are always the same, to win every trophy they are in. But that has had to change after last seasons nightmare, chaotic turn of events that saw Zinedine Zidane quit the club and then they went through two different managers in the space of 8 months as they failed on all fronts, something had to change and surprisingly Zidane was back in, he had stepped in so to speak to save Florentino Perez’s presidency.

All was set to be recharged this season, Zidane would have the money to spend, the great one was back, he who had won 3 Champions League’s in a row. However no one at the club was counting on the Gareth Bale factor. It was simple Zidane wanted to sell the Welshman, he was in no way shape or form in his plans. With a Chinese move imminent where Bale would earn a staggering 1m a week, it was Perez of all people who pulled the plug. He quite rightly recongnised Bale’s qualities and refused the sale of him. Now Zidane was stuck with him.

At that point after such determination to get rid of Bale, Zidane could have walked, his excuse this time being that he was undermined. But that never happened and he stayed as the beginning of the season took hold and Madrid had problems away to Celta Vigo before powering through 3-1, which included an assist by Bale for Madrid’s opening goal.

At the weekend against Valladolid, Madrid were 1/7 to win the game, this is a team they used to stick 6 plus goals past when playing at the Santiago Bernabeu, this time they drew 1-1. They were leading 1-0 for the majority of the game before a player whose surname would ring moans and groans throughout the Madrid fans ears scored, his name Mr. Guardiola- no, you really couldn’t make it up.

It’s so early in the season that it would be harsh to judge Zidane and Madrid, and time is needed. But La Liga is a league where 3 teams are going for the title in themselves, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. And, as previous seasons have proven there is hardly any measure of error in Spanish football, you drop points especially at home and you lose league titles.

If the rot continues and remember this is one game, but if results don’t come in and if Bale underperforms like he did at the weekend, could Zidane just think that he was right and leave the club. Crazier things have happened and it wouldn’ t be a surprise. Patience is thin at Madrid and Zidane isn’t one of those that waits around to be sacked. The next six weeks will be telling if he walks for a second time.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Preview of all this weekend’s LaLiga action

There were some shocks in the opening round of games of the LaLiga season.

Athletic Bilbao scored a late winner to take all three points from league champions Barcelona. A night Antoine Griezmann and co will look to forget as soon as they can.

Real Madrid looked solid in their 3-1 win at Celta Vigo, even without Eden Hazard. Karim Benzema certainly hit the ground running for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both started with three points from their games while Villarreal and Granada played out an enthralling 4-4 draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

This weekend, LaLiga again has games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading

LaLiga fantasy picks for the opening weekend of the season in Spain

LaLiga returns this Friday night when Atheltic Bilbao welcome the reigning champions to San Mames.

Will anyone be able to stop Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and co from winning Barcelona’s third successive Spanish league title?

As always, we’ve taken a look at the fixtures from a LaLiga fantasy football viewpoint to help you with your picks for the first weekend of the season.

Have a read and see if any tips stick out which might suit your fantasy LaLiga team this weekend. Continue reading

Difficult season ahead for Diego Simeone’s Atleti

Diego Simeone

They may have just broken their transfer record fee for Benfica’s Joao Felix but Atletico Madrid are facing a season of huge transition in 2019/20

Now almost eight years in charge at the club, Simeone could be facing one of his toughest years yet.

As well as Felix, Atleti have also brought in Marcos Llorente from their cross-city rivals and central-defender Felipe from FC Porto.

However, they have lost Rodri to Manchester City, Lucas Hernandez to FC Bayern in the Bundesliga, Gelson Martins to AS Monaco and, possibly most importantly of all, Diego Godin to Inter Milan in Serie A. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll also Continue reading

Why won’t Atletico Madrid let Griezmann join Barcelona?

z94(1)

It was supposed to be easy. Atletico Madrid would sign Joao Felix and for the fee they paid they would recoup it back with the sale of long serving player Antoine Griezmann, except and to Griezmann’s surprise that isn’t quite happening.

Felix has arrived but Griezmann who was expected to join Barcelona is still with Atletico and the next part of the story sounds jarring. Griezmann failed to turn up for training for a recent session and the club have now fined him the maximum fine of 200,000 euros for doing so. Sure you can’t miss training but at the same time it was Griezmann who helped his club out last season by staying with them when he wanted to leave for Barcelona. He stayed out of loyalty after Atletico were handed a transfer ban and couldn’t buy any players to replace Griezmann.

Now with this situation it feels as if Griezmann’s career with Atletico one that has been brilliant could well end up turning sour. Surely no one at the club wants that, and what Atletico are doing is quite wrong.

So why have Barcelona been taking their time in buying him? The truth is that they couldn’t make a move until after July 1st because Griezmann’s contract buy out clause before then was set at the ludicrous price of 200m euros. But after July 1st because of his contract that asking price fell to 120m euros.

The next process was supposed to be easy and that was Barcelona coming in for Griezmann, except one week has gone by and there has been no contact from them. Because of this Atletico have acted on Griezmann who in his head is a Barca player and that is where the fine comes from.

This makes sense but at the same time the loyalty that the Frenchman has shown the club has to count for something, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

So will Barcelona come in for him? They should do but the delay is puzzling, perhaps they are thinking to delay the transfer and try and get a better deal in the region of 100m and not 120m, that could well be the thinking. As for Griezmann he will be livid with his current club and annoyed with possibly his new one for dragging this situation through the mud. He should be in theory sporting a Barca shirt right now, instead Griezmann is finding himself in football limbo with 200k less in the bank as a result.

 

The Big four in the Premier League have been quiet in the transfer market

zz599(1)

The summer transfer window in the Premier League has been open since May 16th and in that time 7 weeks there hasn’t actually been that much activity between the top 4 clubs who finished in those places in the Premier League. The ones where you expect them to break the bank and make massive signings just like they have in the past.

Is FFP to blame? Or is it a case of the teams are simply not finding the right players at the right prices to try and compete? There haven’t been too many eye catching transfers in Europe either although the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool both aiming to dominate football and be the best would have risen an eyebrow to the highly talented Joao Felix signing for Atletico Madrid a few days ago. So the money is there or thereabouts but where is the quality this summer?

Of course the window does not shut yet but in England it has changed. Years ago the window used to close on August 31st even though the league had in all of those cases already started. The window now closes just before the league starts and that has been the new given rule in England. So it will close on August 8th. That is just 31 days away, and that goes very quickly, will we see more big deals go through or is that it?

Champions Manchester City who have spent close to £500m since Pep Guardiola became manager have brought in just two players. Angelino from PSV and their big one Rodri from Atletico Madrid. Angelino cost just over £5m but much is expected of Rodri who cost the club £63m. Give or take City have spent about £75m this summer on players, a lot of money but not nearly as much as City would usually spend.

Premier League runners up Liverpool have been very quiet buying just one player, Sepp van den Berg from PEC Zwolle for just over £1m and it will be questionable if the player gets games in the league and he may be only used for the league cup. So manager Jurgen Klopp is keeping his chequebook closed but at the same time Liverpool do have a very strong team and he will be happy with what he has.

Chelsea managed 3rd place in the end in the league but unlucky for them they currently have a transfer ban from UEFA. It is something that the club are appealing but with days running out anyway it looks almost certain that the Blues will not be buying or be able to buy any new players this summer.

That leaves us with Tottenham. A team who went the past two transfer windows not buying anyone. Young prospect Jack Clarke has come from Leeds for just £10m but the big purchase has been for Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombele who cost the club in the region of £55m, though that may rise.

All in all the big four clubs who finished in the top four last season have spent a combined £140m on players so far. Even taking into account Chelsea’s transfer ban this is a very low figure when you think of the TV deals that the clubs have been able to broker. We could also be fair and include Arsenal who finished 5th in place of Chelsea who can’t buy players.Yet even if we do this the Gunners have only spent £6m, with one player coming in on a free transfer.

Is the bubble finally bursting in the world’s most expensive league or should we remain more patient as the window closes by each passing day- either way we will find out soon enough.

Atletico Madrid break transfer record with signing of Joao Felix as Griezmann looks set to join Barcelona

zz13(1)

Move over Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix the latest Portuguese sensation has arrived, and arrived he has with a thud of epic monetary proportions. Atletico Madrid made Europe look at them in awe when they announced his signing this week for a cool £113m, making Felix who is just 19, the 5th most expensive player in football history.

Felix looks the part and what little we have seen of him looks quite incredible. For Benfica last season he greatly helped them win the league and from 26 league games he scored 15 times. Overall he played 43 matches and netted 20 times, and for a player to be performing like that at his age suggests that Madrid have spent well.

As for Diego Simeone’s side Felix represents their biggest spending ever on a player and they have come to an agreement with Benfica to pay them 30m in one payment with the rest of the transfer fee coming from instalments. But why have Atletico bought Felix for so much?

Well to put it simply Felix is really being ranked up there with the likes of other Portuguese players who have graced the game in Luis Figo and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, if Felix is as good as he is obviously going to improve Atletico and his sell on price could be fantasy numbers, that will be the long term plan for Atletico anyway as they try and break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.

The other reason to spend so big is that it has been reported that after years of playing with Atletico that Antoine Griezmann is finally leaving the club to join Barcelona for a similar fee that Atletico paid Benfica for Felix, it all rather makes sense then.

Though Griezmann choosing Barcelona is up for debate, wasn’t this the same club who came in for the French World Cup winner last summer only for Griezmann to reject them on the grounds that he didn’t want to be Lionel Messi’s ‘lieutenant’? Of course Griezmann really should have just left it at the core reason for him not joining which was down to loyalty of his club who were, at the time, currently going through a transfer ban.

Back to Felix and not only can he score goals he can create them too and Atletico’s fans look like they will be in for quite a treat. Atletico are also in the Champions League, and the fact that they still have Simeone in the dug out is testament to the clubs owners, who still find the best ways to attract quality players despite the hardships they find themselves each season in Spain. Roll on next season when Felix will do his best to light up the league, and take some of that magic away from Messi.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.