Juventus Finally Turn To Youth Ahead Of Crucial Stage

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It took a 16 point lead over second-place Napoli for it to happen, but Juventus have finally started giving their homegrown players a chance, and what an impact they’ve had so far. Following a narrow victory over Napoli, the bianconeri essentially wrapped up their eighth consecutive Scudetto, and could definitively pour all their efforts into the Champions League; especially now with Ajax in their way of a semi-final berth.

Prior to their clash against Atletico Madrid, Juventus hosted a relegation threatened Udinese. With their lead at the top secure, Allegri made the most of the opportunity and fielded Moise Kean and Leonardo Spinazzola from the start; two homegrown players. Until now, both players had played a bit-part role since returning to Juventus, and were rumoured to go out on loan to mid-table Serie A sides in the January transfer window to gain experience. In the end, both vetoed any proposed loan moves and opted to fight for their place.

It wouldn’t take long for Kean to make his impact felt in his first start in Serie A action this season, and notched a brace inside forty minutes with two smart finishes. The Italian international would even win the bianconeri a penalty, however, Kean, on a hat-trick, allowed Emre Can to take it. Safe to say, the 19-year-old proved he’s worthy of more minutes moving forward, especially considering the bianconeri’s 18-point cushion at the top. Thus far, the Italian international is averaging a goal every 35 minutes for Juventus, highlighting his instinctive nature in front of goal.

Spinazzola, by contrast, had a very strong outing against the Zebrette playing as a right-wingback. Despite playing on the opposite wing, the former Atalanta man was still able to demonstrate his turn of pace, successfully completing two dribbles in the process. Much like Kean, Spinazzola showed Allegri he’s ready to compete for a starting position, especially considering Alex Sandro’s decline over the last two seasons.

With the Brazilian suspended for the crucial second leg against Atletico Madrid, Allegri rewarded Spinazzola with a starting berth in the biggest game of the season. The Italian international did not let the pressure of the moment get to him, and made the most of his opportunity, tormenting Atletico’s Santiago Arias at will.

Before being subbed off for Dybala in the 67th minute, as Juventus looked for a winner, the 25-year-old was one of the bianconeri’s most impressive players on the night, and showed that Alex Sandro’s place in the starting eleven isn’t as secured as the Brazilian would like to think. After seven loan spells spanning from 2012 to 2018, it’s finally Spinazzola’s time to establish himself as a Juventus regular.

Kean, on the other hand, was given just over ten minutes to make an impact against Atletico, and he did exactly that. Against one of Europe’s elite defences, Kean looked extremely dangerous, pressing their defenders at neck-breaking pace as they tired. After an impressive run behind the Spaniards’ defence, the Italian international almost found the winner but fired his effort just wide with his weak foot. Nonetheless, much like his compatriot, Kean showed Allegri that he can compete at the highest level despite his inexperience and is ready to challenge Mario Mandzukic for more minutes.

Had Kean and Spinazzola not believed in themselves and stayed with the club in January, we could have been looking at a much different Juventus side today. After being forced by the circumstances to play them, Allegri has found further depth in these two homegrown talents. With a crucial stage in the season approaching and Champions League glory in their sights, it’s clear Kean and Spinazzola will only get more minutes to prove their worth, and rightly so. After all, they’ve earned it.

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La Liga weekend fantasy football picks

La Liga

All 20 La Liga teams are in action this weekend. The action starts with Real Sociedad and Levante who meet on Friday evening and ends with Real Betis against Barcelona on Sunday night.

We’ve had a look at who we think the smartest fantasy La Liga picks are for the upcoming fixtures.

Goalkeeper – Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) – 11.0 million

Jan Oblak’s pride will have taken a dent in the Champions League during the week. While he was not at fault for any of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals, the Slovenian international goalkeeper will be eager to resume normal service with a clean sheet in La Liga this weekend. Oblak has 94 points this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo is a freak of nature

It’s not hard to see why he is so admired by the masses. For year after year, Cristiano Ronaldo has been on top of the world with his performances at Manchester United and Real Madrid. And in Tuesday evening’s Champions League second leg in Turin, the Portuguese superstar rose to the occasion once more.

After losing 2-0 away at Atletico Madrid, not many gave the Bianconeri much hope in qualifying for the quarter finals, especially giving Diego Simeone’s robust and relentless defensive solidity at the back. The Argentine manager has a reputation of seeing out wins and the ability to nullify other teams’ offensive weapons.

However, with Ronaldo one the opposition’s team, and his fantastic record against Atletico, it was only a matter of time before the floodgates were opened by the Portugal captain. It can be argued that Ronaldo is the best header of the football to ever play the game, and his opening two goals justify that.

The way the centre forward leaps in the air and maintains his hang time is nothing short of magnificent. In his opening goal, Diego Godin had no chance of matching his aerial height and rose above the Uruguayan to sneak the  ball past Jan Oblak. For his second, Ronaldo’s movement in between the two central defenders allowed him some space to meet the ball in the air and just about get it over the line.

Ronaldo does not feel nerves and relishes high pressure situations. Time after time, he has come up trumps for Real Madrid, which is exactly why they have struggled so magnificently to uphold their own standards domestically and in Europe. Perhaps some at Los Blancos didn’t give as much credit to Ronaldo as they needed to.

If having won the Champions League five times throughout his career wasn’t enough, Ronaldo also has the most goals, assists, headed goals, home goals, away goals, free-kick goals and many other type of goals to his names. To put simply: Ronaldo is a machine that simply cannot be stopped in Europe.

There is not another footballer currently playing that has the same drive and devotion to his craft than Ronaldo, which is consistently being talked about by ex-teammates that have played with him throughout the years. The typical anecdotes of being the first one there and the last one to leave might seem endless, but that sacrifice is what has made Ronaldo the superstar he is today.

Whichever club Juventus are paired with in the quarter finals will know that, no matter the lead they have, it is going to always be an uphill battle when keeping Ronaldo quiet. Manchester United managed to do it in Turin under José Mourinho, but that was in a group stage game with little consequences. In a knockout format, Ronaldo raises his performances levels tenfold – only then is when you see the real player at work.

At 34 years old, it is clear that Ronaldo is slowing down somewhat and cherry picks his games, but Juventus are only after one thing that has eluded them for many years: the Champions League. There is no better player to deliver that than the Portugal international, who has already delivered an amazing comeback spectacle at the Allianz Stadium.

D-Day awaits for Juventus and Ronaldo in the Champions League

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Juventus are cruising to their 8th Serie A title in a row as they have extended their lead over Napoli to a massive 18 points with just 33 left on the table but it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the team when it comes to the Champions League.

The Old Lady have made life difficult for themselves coming into their 2nd leg against Atletico Madrid and are trailing the game 2-0. Though Juve will be at home in a packed stadium roaring them on, when the two teams meet the only thing that will matter will be who scores first. If it’s Juventus then their tails will be up and the ascendency will be fully with the Italians who could well end up making a fantastic comeback. But if Atletico score first then Juve will need 4, which even with a fit Ronaldo looks difficult to achieve.

The disappointment of exiting the Champions League would be huge for Juventus who bought Ronaldo at 33 for 100m euros based on the fact he had just won 3 Champions League titles in a row, and him and his team Real Madrid had beaten Juventus in the final and knocked them out of another competition. The signing of Ronaldo was supposed to be the final piece in the jigsaw to bring the glory back to the Italian giants who have not won the competition since 1996.

Since then it has been a history of also rans, maybes and defeats. In 1997 on the verge of winning back to back titles they were outclassed by German side Borussia Dortmund who won 3-1. Their next final came in 2003 which ended up being an all Italian one against AC Milan. After an inevitable 120 minutes of football with the scores locked at 0-0 Milan triumphed on penalties.

After a difficult decade in the 2000s which saw the team relegated through the bribery and betting scandals that engulfed in Serie A they bounced back to where they are now and completely dominating Serie A football. But that still included two more final losses in the Champions League. First in 2015 against Barcelona and then in 2017 against Real Madrid. It is a competition which just seems to allude them year after year.

It certainly did to club legend Gianluigi Buffon who took the risk to leave and join PSG, and the long line of misery followed him with PSG being knocked out at the round of 16. Juventus and Ronaldo could follow him and them in a season which could be written off as underwhelming even if they are dominating in Italy.

Week 27: Best 11 Fantasy Players in La Liga

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Week 27 of Span’s La Liga season didn’t see much movement at the top as all of the top 4 sides won their respective games. Only Atletico Madrid have a chance of catching Barcelona now and they are still 7 points adrift of Lionel Messi and co. Below we take a look at the players that performed the best over the weekend.

Goalkeeper: Sergio Asenjo

Villarreal’s 2-0 win over Levante away from home at the weekend was huge as it lifted the team out of the relegation zone. Asenjo made some critical saves and kept a clean sheet to get into this team. He is ranked as the 9th best keeper this season in la liga fantasy even though his team are 17th which says a lot about his overall value to the team and perhaps he is a snip to keep up his form at 7m.

Defender: Victor Ruiz

Ruiz has not performed so well this season but was part of a Villarreal team that needed to win at the weekend and held firm to keep a clean sheet and earn 5pts. He is valued at 7m.

Defender: Santiago Arias

Santiago Arias makes our cut again as he was part of an Atletico Madrid side who claimed a clean sheet at home against Leganes. Arias has been one of the best defenders in La Liga this season and is currently ranked in 3rd place, his value is 8.5m

Defender: Aissa Mandi

Mandi has been solid for Real Betis at the back for the past few seasons and the youngster who used to play for Reims was part of  a defence that kept  a clean sheet against Celta Vigo to earn 5pts in La Liga fantasy he is currently just outside the top 10 standings.

Defender: Juan Torres

Torres led the line for Atletico once again and remains an integral part of the squad. Goalkeeper Jan Oblak has become very reliant on him as his team once again kept  a clean sheet to put the pressure on Barcelona. Torres is just 5m if you want to add him to your squad and earned another 5pts at the weekend.

Midfielder: Luka Modric

The Real Madrid and world player of the year shot into life v Rayo Valladolid and his team needed him as they romped home 4-1. Modric got on the score sheet to earn himself 4pts and his confidence took a major boost. He is valued at 8m.

Midfielder: Sarabia

There is no better midfielder in Spain than Sarabia who heads our La Liga midfielder fantasy points and he added another 4pts as he scored for Sevilla in their fantastic 5-2 win over Real Sociedad to keep the club in the hunt for a European finish. He is valued at 7m which looks like a bargain and is a massive 14pts ahead of 2nd place.

Midfielder: Daniel Parejo

The Valencia stalwart sits in 2nd place in the fantasy La Liga standings and earned 4pts at the weekend with his club as they beat Girona in a classic 3-2 match. He is valued at 8.5m.

Midfielder: Santiago Carzola

Carzola assisted the vital goal which helped his club Villarreal to a win and climbed out of the danger zone also. Carzola is 8th in the standings and valued at just 5.5m which looks like a good buy.

Striker: Wissam Ben Yedder

We don’t have to look further than Ben Yedder for our striker of the week after the forward scored a magical hat trick against Real Sociedad in the clubs 5-2 win and earned a massive 14pts in the process. He is ranked 3rd in La Liga fantasy striker and just 3pts behind Luis Suarez. Ben Yedder’s value is 7m.

Striker: Karim Benzema

The Real Madrid forward needed a game like this after a bad couple of weeks for his side. Madrid beat Vallecano 4-1 and Benzema looked back to his best scoring 2 goals and then assisting for Modric to score the 4th and final goal. He is valued at 10m and earned 10pts.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best La Liga Fantasy Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play www.liga-fantasy.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Liga’s top picks for fantasy football this weekend

 

La Liga

All La Liga teams are in action this weekend so let’s take a look at the top fantasy La Liga picks for the upcoming games.

Starting on Friday evening, there are 20 La Liga fixtures to look forward to.

Goalkeeper – David Soria (Getafe) – 6.0 million

I’ve gone with Getafe’s David Soria for the goalkeeper spot. Getafe are at home to bottom team, Huesca, so a clean sheet is very much a possibility for Jose Bordalas’ side. Soria has 46 points this season.

Atletico Madrid keep the candle burning in La Liga title race

Alvaro Morata

In San Sebastien on Sunday evening, Atletico Madrid turned in a typically solid performance to take all three points at the home of Real Sociedad.

A first-half double from the head of Alvaro Morata gave Diego Simeone’s side a 2-0 win and brought them back to within seven points of league leaders Barcelona.

Barca had beaten Atletico’s city rivals, Real Madrid, 1-0 at the Bernabeu less than 24 hours previously.

It was at Sociedad’s Anoeta Stadium that the biggest La Liga fantasy football points would be handed out over the weekend, however.

Alvaro Morata recovers smile at Atletico Madrid

Alvaro Morata

Perhaps the most significant move in Europe’s January transfer window was the 18-month loan deal which brought Alvaro Morata back to the Spanish capital. The 26-year-old has made an instant impact at Atletico de Madrid and is now playing with a smile on his face once more, having endured an unhappy stint in London with Chelsea.

The Spain international hit a respectable 24 goals across a season-and-a-half at Stamford Bridge but never fully convinced, with fitness issues and personal problems seeing him struggle to adapt to life abroad. But now he has returned to the club where it all started for him and is showing signs of rejuvenation. Continue reading

La Liga’s top fantasy football picks for this weekend

Sarabia

This weekend sees another full lineup of La Liga action including the mighty El Clasico which takes place at the Bernabeu in Madrid on Saturday evening.

Real Madrid will be keen to put a halt to Barcelona’s march towards another La Liga title. A win for the home side would put them back within six points of Ernesto Valverde’s league leaders with 12 games remaining. Clearly, there’s still a lot to play for going into this gameweek.

Elsewhere, second-placed Atletico Madrid travel to play Real Sociedad while Sevilla are away to bottom-of-the-table Huesca.

Dybala Winner Spares Juventus’ Blushes Once More

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Following their heavy defeat against Atletico Madrid, Juventus travelled to Bologna in hopes of sparking a reaction; a turnaround of sorts. However, nothing of the sort would take place at the Renato Dall’Ara as the bianconeri, much like it has been the case all season, would eek out a narrow victory, somewhat undeservedly maintaining their historic pace. In fact, Allegri’s side are the first team in Italian history to win 22 of their first 25 league games, and yet, Juventus still look a side devoid of any ideas in the final third.

For the first fifteen minutes, the hosts were by far the better side and were unlucky not to find the back of the net on a couple occasions. A midfield trio of Poli, Pulgar and Soriano had quietly dominated the proceedings for the better portion of the first half. After watching his conventional 4-3-3 crumble against Atletico, Allegri implemented a few notable changes in his setup on Sunday. Federico Bernardeschi started the game as a mezz’ala whereas Joao Cancelo was deployed on the right wing.

While these changes are a step in the right direction, Allegri is yet to find a place for his most creative forward Paulo Dybala. When Dybala is in form, so are Juve. Until now, Dybala’s been an awkward fit alongside Ronaldo and Mandzukic, and has yet to reach his former heights in Allegri’s current setup. Against Bologna, the former Palermo man started from the bench and inevitably came on with just over thirty minutes to play.

It would only take La Joya eight minutes before firing Juventus ahead, and securing the three points. With the win, Juventus maintained their lead at the top over Napoli, yet, in reality, all Dybala’s winner did was add further paper over the cracks in Turin. If the Italian giants want to overcome Atletico Madrid and score three goals in the return leg, they will need to do so with Dybala firing on all cylinders. Whether it means Mandzukic starting on the bench or not remains to be seen, however, one thing’s for certain: On March 12, Allegri needs to get it right.

With Bernardeschi starting to pick up form again and Douglas Costa returning from injury shortly, Allegri could field a highly-offensive and mobile 4-4-2 with Dybala and Ronaldo up top. Rather than experimenting with Cancelo on the wing, the Milan tactician should allow the fullback to play in his natural position, where he gets forward to devastating effect. Unlike in Serie A, Allegri can’t get away with overpowering his opposition in Europe and must demonstrate character with his starting eleven.

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