Time to stop the Messi/Ronaldo debate

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Here we are, in the wake of another Lionel Messi master class, debating once again if he’s the best or if that title falls to his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Frankly, it’s becoming a pathetic comparison.

Each have a different set of skills and both are incredible players in their own right. To consistently have to compare one and the other is getting very tiring.

It’s blindingly obvious that one’s feats are what drives the other on, providing the biggest motivating factor.

There’s simply no need, when Messi writes the headlines, to even involve Ronaldo in the conversation. And vice versa.

Take Messi’s hat-trick against Betis.

There can’t have been too many other trebles that have included such incredible finishes, and maybe there are none at all.

But rather than dwell on just how brilliant it was, much of the Monday morning debate was filled by facts that are of no real consequence.

That Messi is still one career hat-trick behind Ronaldo, that the Portuguese has more Champions Leagues, that the Juve man is the highest scorer ever in the top European tournament…

They, and many other stats, are trotted out, parrot fashion as if to somehow reinforce that Messi will always be in Ronaldo’s shadow.

Messi’s supporters are always looking to denounce Ronaldo’s achievements too.

This endless quest for some sort of fanatical one-upmanship isn’t of any benefit, and moves the conversation away from the absolute fact that both players are in a league of their own.

They have been for years now, and though it’s become cliche to say it, football post-Messi and Ronaldo will be an interesting watch.

Generational talents, they will not be replaced, but someone, probably Kylian Mbappe, will take their crown at some point.

Perhaps then, and only then, will there be a full appreciation of what both players brought to their profession, and what’s more, did so for an unbelievable length of time.

It’s that consistency and longevity which is truly astonishing, but let’s stop throwing around the stats willy-nilly.

Who cares if one has more hat-tricks, goals or assists than the other.

Sit back, relax and enjoy what little time we have left to enjoy them because, in the blink of an eye, both will have exited stage left.

Barcelona mustn’t underestimate Manchester United

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As with any Champions League draw, the supporters of the remaining participants were waiting with baited breath for the news from Nyon, Switzerland.

Barcelona were the second to last ball drawn by which time there was only one opponent left in the bowl – Manchester United.

The Catalans have good recent memories of their clashes with the Red Devils. Continue reading

Valverde has to rest Barcelona’s big hitters now

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After another dominant El Clasico performance, and with the Champions League once again the priority, Ernesto Valverde must start tinkering with his squad.

His ‘safety first’ approach will need to take a back seat in a handful of the next few league games as Barca go for it in the European competition.

Though the Catalans can still conceivably be caught in La Liga, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are far enough behind for the Blaugrana to have a blip and still remain as leaders. Continue reading

Is Jordi Alba’s renewal good news for Barcelona?

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Last Thursday Barcelona announced that they would be renewing left-back Jordi Alba for the next five years, and placed a 500 million euro buyout clause on his new deal.

As statements of intent go, and after a period of uncertainty, it was pretty categoric from the Catalans.

Clearly, they rate their left-back highly enough to keep him at the club until the end of his career. Continue reading

What to expect from El Clasico (x2)

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For the first time in Barcelona’s rich and storied history, they will play two Clasico fixtures against Real Madrid back-to-back at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Not once since 1899 has that happened, and many commentators are suggesting that whichever of the two Spanish behemoths comes out on top over the two matches, they can look forward to another hugely successful season.

In Europe, Los Blancos reign supreme and have done for just over 1000 days now, a quite astonishing statistic in the modern era. Continue reading

Time for Barcelona to banish away day blues

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Here we are on the cusp of Barcelona’s biggest couple of weeks of the 2018/19 season.

At the time of writing, the match against Lyon is a few hours away, the first of four huge games for the Catalans, all away from home.

Following the trip to France, Ernesto Valverde’s side travel to Sevilla in La Liga before a double header against Real Madrid in the space of 72 hours. Continue reading

Valverde is still the best choice for Barcelona

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Although it came out of the blue, Ernesto Valverde’s renewal for another year at FC Barcelona is the correct decision.

The club needs continuity and stability and Valverde provides just that.

Well respected by the players, particularly the more senior ones in the side, he’s done precisely the job asked of him by the board since his appointment.

A poor night in Rome notwithstanding, there’s little that Valverde can be reproached for. Continue reading

Vidal will get his chance for revenge

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After not being able to overcome eternal rivals, Real Madrid, in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final, Barcelona were dealt a further blow with the news that Arthur Melo has been ruled out for 3-4 weeks.

The Brazilian has been an incredible success story since his arrival from Gremio, to the extent that there are now genuine concerns as to how successful Barca will be in his absence.

He has given the Catalans an extra layer of security thanks to his ball retention and willingness to set the tempo and rhythm of a game, and they’ll certainly miss his input. Continue reading

Malcom has posed Valverde a few questions…

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The big games need big performances, and with Lionel Messi only on the bench for Barcelona against Real Madrid in midweek, Ernesto Valverde was counting on Malcom doing the business.

Perhaps the situation was forced upon him by Ousmane Dembele’s injury, because were the Frenchman fit then we would surely have seen him take his place on the right hand side of a front three.

As it was, his omission gave Malcom the chance to get some much-needed minutes under his belt and, hopefully, show the Catalans what he was capable of. Continue reading

Barcelona’s incentive to end Real Madrid’s season

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There was a 50 percent chance of it happening, and once Valencia and Real Betis had been drawn out of the Copa del Rey hat, it meant that, yes, we were going to see a two-legged El Clasico semi-final.

Moreover, the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu precedes a league match between the two teams at the same venue just 72 hours later.

It’s the first time in Barcelona’s history that they will have played two consecutive games at the Bernabeu, and given their recent record there, the Blaugrana will be entirely confident of continuing their run of victories. Continue reading