La Liga: Best 11 Players of Matchday 3

It’s officially the 3rd week of the Spanish season but this was the first game that Barcelona were involved in and they didn’t disappoint as they swathed aside Villarreal 4-0.

Champions Real Madrid came back from a losing position to stun Real Betis and win 3-2 in a very entertaining game. But the man taking all of the headlines will be Luis Suarez, who scored 2 goals for his new club Atletico Madrid as they crushed Granada 6-1.

Let’s take a look below at the best 11 players this past weekend, did any of them make your team?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Norberto Neto- Barcelona 7pts

Credit need to be given to Norberto Neto who usually doesn’t get much game time for Barcelona. He joined last season but this was only his 3rd game for the club. Barcelona were clearly the superior team as they demolished Villarreal 4-0 but Neto still had a job to do and kept composed and got his clean sheet.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona 7pts

Jordi Alba was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet as Barcelona easily beat Villarreal 4-0 at home. Alba also assisted in Barca’s first goal of the game, and their first of the season and it was another solid game for him.

Defender: Xabier Etxeita- Getafe 5pts

Xabier Etxeita earned 5pt as he helped keep a clean sheet for his club Getafe as they drew 0-0 with Alaves, he is valued at just 3m and could be a bargain pick if he can keep up his performances throughout the season.

Defender: Clement Lenglet- Barcelona 5pts

Lenglet was criticised last season in an overall poor season that his club Barcelona had. Of course this wasn’t all his fault and the defender put in an assured performance as he helped keep a clean sheet in Barca’s win over Villarreal which they won 4-0.

Defender: Ruben Duarte- Alaves 5pts

Ruben Duarte put in a good shift at home as Alaves were able to pick up a point with a 0-0 draw against Getafe. It wasn’t the best of games but Duarte showed his qualities and made a few very good interceptions during the game. Because he was in minus points before, these 5pts have helped him and he now has a total of 4pts.

Midfielder: Angel Correa- Atletico Madrid 8pts

Atletico Madrid were superb in beating Granada 6-1 and Angel Correa was at the heart of the action in midfield. Correa assisted in 2 of the six goals and was a constant threat in his position. He is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Unai Lopez- Athletic Bilbao 8pts

Unai Lopez had a great game in midfield for Bilbao and scored both of their goals grabbing the three points as Bilbao beat Eibar impressively away from home by 2-1.

Midfielder: Portu- Real Sociedad 6pts

Portu had a solid game as he opened the scoring for Real Sociedad and made brilliant use of possession in midfield. Sociedad went onto beat Elche 3-0 at the weekend. Portu is valued at 8.5m and has an overall score of 8 points so far this season.

Midfielder: Marcos Llorente- Atletico Madrid 6pts

A brilliant game for Marcos Llorente in midfield who scored Atletico’s 4th goal in their 6-1 win over Granada. He was all over the pitch- in a good way and it was no surprise in the end that he also assisted in another goal.

Striker: Luis Suarez- Atletico Madrid 10pts

What a debut for Luis Suarez who signed from Barcelona just a few weeks ago. Not only did he see his new team score 6 goals in their first league game of the season, he scored a brace. What made his debut more impressive is that he only came on for the last 20 minutes. He is valued at 15m.

Striker: Anssumane Fati- Barcelona 8pts

Anssumane Fati seems like a striker worth keeping an eye on, he had a very decent last season and has started this one in great form. He scored 2 of Barcelona’s 4 goals against Villarreal and they were the opening two goals which effectively killed off the game. At just 5m Fati looks a steal for a great bargain.

Player of the weekend: Luis Suarez- Atletico Madrid 10pts

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Koeman silences the doubters but bigger tests await Barcelona

It was, perhaps, one of the most keenly awaited debuts in La Liga for many a year.

After such a disastrous end to their last campaign, the football family wanted to know how the ‘new’ Barcelona would fare under Ronald Koeman.

It’s fair to say that the team did everything asked of them by their coach, and then some. Continue reading

Messi’s words on Suarez exit show Barcelona scars run deep

It should’ve been a time of reflection and celebration.

A time to look back on the six years that Luis Suarez has been at Barcelona, and remember him for the right reasons.

After all, the Uruguayan marksman leaves the club having become the third highest scorer in their history. Continue reading

Winners and losers from Barcelona’s pre-season

The preparation is over and it’s time for things to get serious.

After everything that’s been said and done since the 8-2 hammering against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League, Barcelona have the chance to put it all behind them.

If they’re able to hit the ground running against Villarreal on Saturday, and Ronald Koeman can get everyone playing as they can, the Catalans won’t be too far off the pace for long. Continue reading

What would represent success for Barcelona in 2020/21?

Barcelona are still a week and a half away from the start of their La Liga campaign, thanks to their Champions League exploits.

Beginning their 2020/21 season behind everyone else will already put them at a slight disadvantage, but if Ronald Koeman can have his side firing from the get-go, then there’s no reason why they can’t close the gap quickly.

In any event, what would represent success for the Catalans this season? Continue reading

Who can stop Liverpool this season in the Premier League after Thiago capture from Bayern?

Liverpool were magnificent last season and it looks like it could be rinse and repeat albeit in super style as they have announced the signing of Thiago Alcantara from European champions Bayern Munich.

Alcantara has been snapped up for just £27m a steal in today’s game given his experience and how good a player he is and he is only 29, so has a good 3-4 years left at the very top.

One has to hand it to Jurgen Klopp and the recruitment team at Liverpool who have been making all the right moves for a good 3 years now, and all the hard work is paying off.

Liverpool have been quiet on the transfer front this summer but at the same time after their utter dominance in the league last season there was no need to go out and splash the cash. They are that good.

But Alcantara will be a welcome addition in midfield. He has played in the Bundesliga for Bayern since 2013 and has made 235 appearances for the club scoring 31 goals, though goals isn’t what he is about. He holds the play up well and keeps possession and is simply a brilliant buy for the Reds and he will strengthen the club even more this season.

It’s incredible to think that Alcantara has won 16 trophies with Bayern Munich alone but not many people will remember that he was also a part of the brilliant Barcelona side a decade ago. There he won a further 8 trophies bringing his haul to 24 and that includes winning the Champions League twice with different clubs.

It is so early in the league but one has to wonder who will stop Liverpool this season? No one is expecting the club to be as consistent as they were last season, that was almost uncanny. But they won the league by over 20 points and had their foot off the pedal by the end of the season.

Liverpool showed how good they were in their first game against Leeds United. Yes they conceded 3, but Leeds played their best football in 15 years let’s make no mistake, they went at the champions with zero fear, and yet still conceded 4 goals and lost the game. It was seen as a crazy game, first games of the season usually are, Liverpool will settle down and will become a force once more. Don’t expect them to be conceding 3 goals every week, do expect them to be scoring 3, 4 or more goals most weeks.

Not many can imagine Klopp’s reign at Liverpool ending with just one league title, there will be more. He is the rarest of managers who see’s his clubs weaknesses and can adapt, he rarely makes mistakes in buying players, and him and his backroom staff need to be acknowledged for this.

The Premier League title has just started, but Liverpool look on track to win the title again.

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‘Sargeant’ Koeman is what Barcelona needed

Even before the Messi scandal hit Barcelona, new man in charge, Ronald Koeman, would’ve been under no illusions as to the task he had ahead of him.

The Dutchman was taking over a group of players who had come off of the back of an 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the Champions League and who were clearly at their lowest ebb for a decade.

To turn around the collective mindset was, in itself, a huge job. Continue reading

Koeman’s conundrum at Barcelona

Although La Liga begins this weekend for most of the teams in the Spanish top flight, Barcelona still have a couple more weeks of their pre-season before their 2020/21 campaign begins in earnest thanks to their participation in the latter stages of last season’s Champions League.

This evening, a friendly against Gimnastic Tarragona will showcase Ronald Koeman’s XI for the first time, and likely to hint at the formation and style he will play in the forthcoming season. Continue reading

Is the new La Liga season Diego Simeone’s last stand with Atletico Madrid?

What Diego Simeone has achieved at Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of brilliant. The team usually in the shadow of their neighbours Real Madrid experienced their most successful decade in the 2010s under Simeone which included a La Liga title, domestic cups, the Europa League and 2 Champions League finals.

However time waits for no man, and especially in football that rings true. One wonders if even Simeone is now on borrowed time at the club? Much of this comes down to last season when Atletico were tipped to do very well. But they ended the season without any silverware and it was the way they performed during the season that simply had a word in neon headlights- underwhelming.

Atletico finished 3rd last season but that could have been 4th as they finished on the same points as Sevilla. Whilst 3rd isn’t bad considering the league has Real Madrid and Barcelona in it, this was seen as not a vintage season for Spanish football. Atletico finished 17 points behind Real Madrid and even 12 points behind Barcelona who had a forgettable season by their standards.

Atletico only scored 51 goals, 35 less than Barcelona and Sevilla and even Villarreal who finished in 5th place scored more. In short not only were Atletico not getting the right results they were also quite boring to watch. Perhaps losing Antoine Griezmann who finally switched to Barcelona was the last straw? However over 120m euros was spent on Joao Felix as his replacement.

At the beginning of the season Felix looked exciting and sharp, and every time he was on the ball the crowd got excited. That dissipated quickly enough though and at the end of the season Felix was much like his club, underwhelming. Scoring just 6 goals and assisted in just one, was very poor for a player that had cost so much. True Felix was hit by injuries too but still played more than half the season. Felix has time on his side, but perhaps Simeone doesn’t?

Of course Simeone has been incredibly loyal to the club, and it would feel odd if they sacked him for having another mediocre season, but maybe Simeone will see that it is time to go. Let’s not forget that Simeone’s contract with the club doesn’t expire until the summer of 2022, but we all know that in football contracts count for very little if the time is right for a coach to move on.

This season will be very interesting where the fans will be expecting Felix to have a much better season. Alvaro Morata is back with the club after they purchased the striker for 56m euros.

Maybe after spending 9 years at the club the time is right soon to move on. However at the other end he has been superb, last season was a blip, and perhaps Atletico will be firing on all cylinders for the forthcoming season. It will certainly be engrossing to have Morata back on the scene, as the club really need goals.

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Are there any winners from the Messi situation?

It was one of the darkest periods in FC Barcelona’s recent history.

When Lionel Messi gave notice, via an official burofax, that he wanted to leave the club, it signalled a huge changing of the guard at the club.

He has since had the opportunity to clarify why he had taken such a decision, and it won’t sit well with many of the clubs supporters.

The fact that he was particularly scathing about president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, will have irked as much of the fan base as it will have delighted. Continue reading