Was Barcelona’s appointment of Victor Valdes destined to end in disappointment?

So, it’s official.

On Monday of this week, Barcelona brought the curtain down on Victor Valdes’ swift return to the club, sacking him for what they considered to be conduct unbecoming for one of their coaching staff.

Always known as a spiky individual, one has to ask the question as to whether the club’s appointment of their former goalkeeper was destined to end in disappointment?

After all, he was never going to toe the party line. Continue reading

Has Valverde turned the corner at Barcelona?

It’s a 24/7 job being Barcelona coach, and the pressure to get it right is very evident on the faces of the last few people in the position.

Pep Guardiola had a full head of hair when he began in 2008 and was bald by the time he left in 2012, and both Luis Enrique and Ernesto Valverde have gone from dark to grey hair in the time they’ve spent in the hot-seat.

The latter’s comments about the role are interesting too. Continue reading

Victor Valdes likely to be sacked by Barcelona

Just a couple of months ago, and after learning his trade away from the bright lights that working with Barcelona brings, Victor Valdes accepted an offer from the Blaugrana to return.

The former first team goalkeeper became the coach of the U19A team, and with moves then afoot to also recruit his old team-mate, Carles Puyol, it looked like there was a concerted effort from the higher-ups to ‘get the band back together.’

Since then, things have started to unravel. Continue reading

Why Real Madrid are getting better every week under Zinedine Zidane

For Real Madrid there will be enquiries into why their Champions League campaign has not started off on the front foot, but in the league everything seems to be taking shape, with coach Zinedine Zidane perhaps in the midst of his most difficult and testing season.

Last night Real could only draw with Belgian side Club Brugges at the Santiago Bernabeu which led to the inevitable boos, though in truth the match, which finished 2-2, would have felt like a small victory after the home side found themselves 2-0 down.

That match followed their first game in the group stages where they were easily beaten by PSG in Paris by 3-0. The defeat in Paris was probably overblown- a lot of very good teams are going to lose their this season, true the result wasn’t good but it wasn’t catastrophic either. What followed felt much more important.

So it was back to La Liga where Madrid had been making heavy weather of their results, to be fair eternal rivals Barcelona were too. But the fixture list did not look good for Zidane’s men. Following the PSG defeat they would have to play early front runners Sevilla away from home and also stay on the road to play the derby against Atletico Madrid, a side genuinely after the La Liga title this season.

Many thought that down south in Spain, Madrid would falter and yet they didn’t-they won and kept a clean sheet to boot. The final score reflected the closeness of the game with a 1-0 result, but that was still 3 massive points for Los Blancos.

The next match was set up as two genuine rivals for the league went head to head in Madrid, and that match ended 0-0 with the majority of the game being a midfield battle which became quite fascinating to watch. Eden Hazard in particular was given praise for getting physically stuck into the match. Hazard has arguably struggled this season for the club despite coming back from injury, but he should improve over time.

The draw at Atletico has suddenly put Madrid on top of the standings, albeit on goal difference and a top squeeze down to 5th place but still amongst all the criticism’s and the bla bla bla, Madrid under Zidane are top of the league and that is all that matters.

There will, of course, be more twists and turns and Madrid do not look like the polished finished article just yet. But with Gareth Bale to come back from injury and some emerging talent in the form of Rodrygo et all there is a lot of hope for Madrid. They need to steady that Champions League ship though.

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The rift that could derail Barcelona’s season

After a poor start to their 2019/20 campaign, it was inevitable that fingers would be pointed at Barcelona’s players.

Although they’re only two points behind leaders Real Madrid after seven games, the manner of their victories hasn’t enthused the fan base, and the inability to keep a clean sheet – just one in La Liga so far – has been a cause for concern too.

However, a potential board leak has seen some of the players send coded warnings, and that doesn’t bode well for anyone connected with the club. Continue reading

Lionel Messi’s injuries are hampering season for him and Barcelona already

It’s normally the case that by the end of September Lionel Messi has yet to score a goal this season but the 2019/20 season has started out in a frustrating manner for the Barcelona legend.

Messi has been injured for the majority of Barcelona’s games and has only played twice in the league and once in the Champions League when Barcelona drew 0-0 away to Borussia Dortmund. So 3 games in and no goals and niggling injuries has certainly hampered Messi’s start and of course his team have suffered too.

Barca are in 4th place after seven games and have already lost two games, the good news perhaps is that despite a stop/start beginning to their season and the fact that their away form has been questionable they are only 2 points behind league leaders and eternal nemesis Real Madrid.

It just shows to go how important a player like Messi is, as Barcelona have simply not been the same without him. True at times Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez have taken games by the scruff of their neck but in general not even these two great players can add the missing touch to a team who are so dependent on the Argentine play maker.

Messi now has another injury after coming back from one and coach Ernesto Valverde who first thought it would be nothing serious is sweating over Messi’s fitness. Alas whilst Messi will miss the next league game and Champions League one, the blessing in disguise for the club is that Messi most probably will not be available during the international break for Argentina. Keeping him fresh for a possible return before the end of October. Well that is the plan anyway.

Valverde himself is under his own pressure and was lucky to keep his job last season after the team failed so miserably against Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final. But the board have stuck by him, after all he has won a few La Liga titles and done so in style.

Of course it has not all been bad for Messi who actually picked up the FIFA The Best award based on last season where yet again he scored over 50 goals on the way to helping Barca win the league title. A title this season would be even more remarkable given that Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid seem up for the challenge this season.

What is sure is that Barca need Messi back as soon as possible because if his injury problems continue it could well derail the club’s season and Messi could end up have quite a forgettable one.

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Neymar is further away from Barcelona than ever

It was the transfer saga of summer 2019.

Just when it looked likely that Neymar would return to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain, another spoke was put in the deal and, by the end of the window, neither party could agree on the move.

Now that looks even further away from happening after the most recent developments.

You’ll recall that when Neymar left Barcelona back in 2017, to compound the Catalans’ shock at his exit, the Brazilian wanted his loyalty bonus paid. Continue reading

Football turns back time as Lionel Messi wins The Best Fifa Award

Lionel Messi has won ‘The Best’ Fifa award ahead of Virgil van dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo and it feels as though the clock has been turned back.

This isn’t to say that Messi didn’t deserve it, because technically he is far and away the best player in the world, but it had been a few years since Messi had picked up any type of best footballer award and it will be very welcome to him that he has been recognised once more.

Messi was brilliant in the league as usual as Barcelona won another title and in all competitions he scored over 50 goals, which for his age and consistency is just simply breathtaking.

There would be disappointments for him of course. Namely the Champions League where it was clear that Barcelona threw away the chance to win it. Having a superb run into the semi final 2nd leg and leading Liverpool 3-0, they disintegrated at Anfield and lost 4-0 to lose 4-3 on aggregate. Had they kept their shape and nerve surely they would have beaten Tottenham in the final?

In the Copa del Rey, Barcelona were shocked and beaten in the final and the Copa America ended yet again in misery for him. But Messi for the first time in a few years has been recognised for his consistency in the past season, and that should be applauded.

Liverpool’s Virgil van dijk might feel aggreived along with betting punters as he was 1/5 to win the award, and his name did seem on it. Van dijk was instrumental in Liverpool’s Champions League win and the club came 2nd with 97 points in the Premier League too Manchester City. He had a wonderful season no doubt.

Missing from the gala event in Italy was Cristiano Ronaldo and given that he now plays in the country one has to wonder if information slipped out to the Juventus hit man that he wasn’t going to win the award, and so stayed away. If so this should be a story given that betting is permitted on the event, but it will probably go mostly unnoticed.

Ronaldo would have felt upset and after winning the league with Juventus and the UEFA Nations League with Portugal he might just have a point. Are UEFA declaring that the Nations League isn’t really that important after all? If it had been the Euro’s surely that would have been enough for Ronaldo to win the award.

What can be agreed at the end of the day is that the whittled down nominees are all great players and deserved to win, there can only be one and as good as he is maybe Messi’s victory has come as a surprise to some.

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PSG fans must back up Neymar now after 2 goals in 2 games as PSG beat Lyon

Neymar the magician who is Brazilian did it again, didn’t he? After a summer where he has spoken negatively about his club PSG and wanting a move away to Barcelona, he has come straight back into the team and earned the club 6 points straight off the bat.

He is turning into an enigma someone that is hard to figure out. It is easy to throw negative criticism at him too. His lack of passion and loyalty seemed fairly evident, like a baby throwing out his toys he wanted out of one of the most successful teams in world football to play for another. His feelings were clear. One could think of the endless run of kids in and around Paris dreaming to play for the club and the youths who have been rejected at the final hurdle- the commitment, the passion and the loyalty. And then look over at Neymar who was playing with his career at the club and seemingly didn’t care.

But what Neymar has, which the other hopefuls don’t is sheer and utter quality. It is why he can want a move away with his career feeling like it is coming to an end in France and then come back and produce wonder goals, each time saving his club and winning the game.

A few weeks ago he scored an outrageous bicycle kick in injury time against Strasbourg with the tie at 0-0. And then this past weekend PSG travelled to a direct league rival in Lyon. Again the score tied at 0-0 before Neymar went on a mazy solo run and scored with the winner with just two minutes remaining.

Neymar is an unbelievable player and in a generation where Brazilian football has stalled on produced attacking greats, he is one of them and perhaps the only genuine one. The heir apparent to the likes of Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho before him.

The hardcore PSG fans known as the ultras put out a statement upon Neymar’s return that they won’t easily forgive the player, and to be fair it did seem understandable. But after these 2 games, that’s 2 return goals and more than that it is clear without the player that they would have drawn those games and had 4 less points as a result. That would mean PSG would have 11 points now and Angers would in fact be top, with PSG resigned down to 4th place and that is the reality of the situation.

It might be hard for the ultra fans or even regular PSG fans to admit this, but the team can’t afford to be without Neymar, he is simply that good a player.

 

 

Ernesto Valverde is on borrowed time at Barcelona

The rot appears to have already set in at Barcelona.

In four away matches this season in all competitions, the Catalans have failed to win any.

Two of those have come against teams that were promoted from the Segunda Division last season, Osasuna and Granada, and against the Andalusians last weekend, they were well beaten.

Continue reading