Barcelona need to re focus for next season and Messi and Xaxi could be key to that

Whilst Barcelona are top of the league standings for now and are still in the Champions League any fan who watches them will tell you that they are not having their usual dominant season. They simply don’t look like the Barcelona side that have graced their league and European football for the past decade.

They have had some injuries in Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann has taken time to fit in and doesn’t have consistently good games. Lionel Messi is getting older but he is still a fantastic player, but there is a feeling that he needs to be re motivated. New coach Quique Setien seems like a good man but one really has to question if he is the right person to take Barcelona forward.

Setien’s appointment came after a panic decision led by the board and Eric Abidal to sack Ernesto Valverde, who the players really liked. Everything felt hurried in their decision and the severance got messy so to speak. So bad that Messi himself spoke out about his feelings that Valverde should never have been sacked.

Bringing in Setien always felt like the wrong decision especially when news broke that Barca and Abidal had chased after ex player Xavi to be the new coach. Xavi was loyal to his Chinese team though and rejected the offer for now. Come August and the next season and it is thought that Xavi will be available and will be Barca’s new coach.

Appointing Xavi would make sense, his blood runs the colours of the club, he is respected by his peers and the fans love him. This could work, but of course he will judged on results only. Messi could well improve, even though he is actually having a decent season maybe it has lacked some spark from the high bar that he has set himself.

Next season has to be about focusing for the club. When the Suarez injury hit and the club looked for last minute deals, it made no sense. They wanted to pay big money to Everton to secure Richarlison, Everton quite rightly in January said no. And they simply went window shopping again, with not much care or focus. The truth is Barcelona didn’t want or need Richarlison, and they ended up going for Martin Braithwaite, a decent player but journeyman who simply will not fit into the team.

This was a basic blunder by the club and not to undermine Braithwaite’s skills, but players brought into any club must have a desired role so they can play and fit into the team like a jigsaw. Braithwaite through no fault of his own has been plucked out and expected to be the difference within the team. Instead his biggest highlight might be just sharing a dressing room with Messi. This all comes down to Barcelona panicking.

Bringing in Xavi next season there will be the hope that the team can re focus, he understands the club and was part of the team that was hailed as the best club side in history in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Barcelona still have the magic, still have their integrity, but in football life moves fast. Wit La Liga possibly being suspended this year over the virus it gives the club time to assess the situation, the question is will they make the right choices or continue to panic?

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European Fantasy League: Team of the season

Let’s hope that the football season isn’t over and the recent Coronavirus can be conquered enough for us to re start the seasons in their respective counties. However if that isn’t possible there has been talks that this season could be null and voided. That still feels unthinkable, but there is that chance. If so, if the leagues were to end today, which 11 players gracing European football would make the final cut in the team of the season for 2019/20?

Based on European Fantasy League’s point system let’s take a look at the winners, who have performed the best up to now.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar (103pts)

Marco Bizot is having a great season and has the most points for a goalkeeper in the major European leagues. He has been able to keep an incredible 17 clean sheets for his club. He is valued at just 8m and surely is one of the outstanding bargains of the season.

Defender: Owen Wijndal- AZ Alkmaar (85pts)

Like AZ Alkmaar’s goalkeeper Wijndal has done very well this season. He has scored just one goal this season but that isn’t his job and we shouldn’t forget that he has also assisted in another 6 goals. He has been part of a team that has kept 17 clean sheets.

Defender: Trent-Alexander Arnold- Liverpool (84pts)

Based on his EFL points Trent-Alexander Arnold is far and away the best defender in the Premier League this season. He has made an outstanding 12 assists and been involved in the same number of clean sheets for his side who have easily been the best club side in England this season.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool (73pts)

Continuing with Liverpool players van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the game in world football today. He has scored 4 goals which is impressive for a defender and been like a rock at the back.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool (73pts)

It’s incredible to think that 3 of the four best defenders in Europe play for one club in Liverpool. Robertson has been part of a defence that has help keep 12 clean sheets and Liverpool have conceded 20 goals this season when he has been in the side. He seems to improve by every passing season.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool (99pts)

Of course Salah can play as an attacker too, but likes to drop back. Despite having some spells of non scoring he still has 16 goals and also has assisted a further six times too. He is a world class player and usually rises to the occasion time and again.

Midfielder: Oussama Idrissi- AZ Alkmaar (89pts)

Maybe not many people have heard of Idrssi but he continues to have a very good season in the Netherlands. He has racked up 89 points and been involved in 16 goals, scoring 13 of them. His value is just 7.5m and looks to be a real bargain.

Midfielder: Dusan Tadic- Ajax (87pts)

Tadic has not only scored 11 goals for Ajax but has also assisted in another 14 in what has been a stunning season so far for the talented player. His value is just 8m.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane-Liverpool (86pts)

Sadio Mane has been excellent now for 2 seasons and has mostly been the big difference for Liverpool in their attacking threat. He has been involved in 21 of the clubs league goals this season, a stunning stat and a very dangerous player.

Striker: Ciro Immobile -Lazio (118pts)

A star of Serie A, and one of the very good strikers of the past few years. But this one Immobile has really gone up another level. Lazio has a chance to win their first league in 20 years and most of that is down to his goals. He has 27 so far and has also assisted in another 7.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona (103pts)

A best of team wouldn’t feel complete without Lionel Messi. Barcelona and Messi have had their troubles this season but at the end of the day Barcelona are still top of the league and in the Champions League. Messi is also top scorer in La Liga and has 19 goals and an amazing 12 times he has set up for others.

Overall top 3 players:

1- Ciro Immobile- Lazio

2. Lionel Messi- Barcelona

3. Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar

 

Five greatest football clubs of the past decade starting 2010

As football understandably lays low for a while let’s take a look at the most successful club sides in Europe’s top leagues over the past decade.

There are different ways of doing so, points gained for example in a league, trophies won, games won, etc. This list will look at the trophies won for the most successful teams starting from 2009/10 season until the 2018/19 season, to determine which team has been the most successful.

You may have a few contenders but may also be surprised by some teams on the list, so is the club you think is the best the number 1 on this list?

Points system: Champions League = 12pts, League title = 10pts, Europa League = 8pts, Cups= 5pts, all other cups =2pts

5th: Juventus 112 pts

After being forcefully relegated in 2006, Juventus have made up for that during the past decade in Serie A winning 8 league titles in what could be described as a total domination. They have added some domestic cups too but they have failed to win the big prize in the shape of the Champions League since 1996. They will be hedging their bets that Ronaldo can finally deliver that missing piece of silverware. Still they are far and away the most successful team in Italy. Even though Inter Milan were the only Italian team to win the Champions League in the 2010s, Inter only finished our ranking with 30 points!

4th: Real Madrid 116 pts

Real Madrid were amazing in the 2010s which included winning an incredible 4 Champions League and winning 3 of those in a row. That had not been achieved since Bayern Munich in the 70s! So it was odd that Madrid sit only in 4th place and only four points above Juventus. The reason is that for all of their European glory they haven’t actuallly won many domestic trophies in the 2010s. True they still scooped up two league titles, but for their standards you take out what they achieved in Europe and you almost get the feeling of could have done better.

3rd: PSG 121 pts

Despite PSG having no wins in Europe they have dominated Ligue 1 in France winning every title since 2012 except one where Monaco surprised them. They have won countless domestic cups after they were bought in the earlier part of the decade and have dominated the league ever since. They also have an abundance of very good players who are genuinely eyeing winning this years Champions League.

2nd: Bayern Munich 140 pts

Bayern did reach 2 Champions League finals and after losing on penalties, at home to Chelsea they made up for it the year after. They have dominated the league title in Germany winning every year except one and scooped up a few domestic cups also. For a club their size they would like to add more European trophies of course but Bayern still come out as the 2nd most successful club in European football of the past decade despite this.

1st: Barcelona 150 pts

Barcelona may have played second fiddle to their rivals Real Madrid in Europe in the 2010s. But they still won 2 Champions Leagues. They also have won 7 La Liga titles which is impressive given how they have had to fend off not just Real but also Atletico Madrid who enjoyed one of their most successful decades in the history of the club. Barca fronted by Lionel Messi one of the greats of the game have been the best team in Europe trophy wise finishing with over double the points of the most successful English team which goes to Manchester City.

Notable mentions: Manchester City 71 pts, Chelsea 68, Manchester United 51, Atletico Madrid 42, Inter Milan 30.

 

 

 

From Mbappe to Aguero the top 10 best strikers in the world right now

As we have a pause in the league we have complied the top 10 best strikers in the world at this time. With leagues hopefully set to resume in a few weeks time and with about 10 games left to play not so much should change in our assessments of who has been the best strikers in world football at this time.

We have complied links to some of these players and when the leagues do start back up you may want to add some of them into your team. You will be surprised as some are still affordable and on a good budget.

To note the list is made up of strikers goals to games ratios and not how many goals they have scored so far, as that would be unfair as some players have not played the same amount of games.

10. Wissam Ben Yedder- Monaco 18 goals

Monaco have struggled over the past few seasons selling too many good players and taking the cash. So it surprised everyone when they splashed out 40 million euros on Ben Yedder and bought him from Sevilla. Maybe it was a surprise that Sevilla let him go. Ben Yedder is a classic centre forward who scores goals. He has 18 so far and has made all the difference to Monaco, who are now chasing a European finish.

9. Jamie Vardy- Leicester  19 goals

When Jamie Vardy finally leaves Leicester they will build a statue of him. He has stuck with the club through the glory and desperate times. This season though has been superb and the club have surprised everyone climbing to 3rd place and keeping it. They are on course to qualify for the Champions League and Vardy’s 19 goals have surely helped them. He is currently the top goalscorer in the Premier League.

8. Sergio Aguero- Manchester City 16 goals

Aguero gets older but does so like a fine wine and scores goals. What he does so well is get the important ones too. It hasn’t been a great campaign for City who are 25 points behind Liverpool, but Aguero has battled on. Some say this could be his last season with the club, he will leave as a club legend, no doubt.

7. Timo Werner- RB Leipzig 21 goals

Timo Werner has scored 21 goals in just 25 games as his club continue to surprise, doing well in the Bundesliga and making the later stages of the Champions League. He looks to be the next big German striker who is going to score plenty of goals in the major competitions as is only 24. A goal scoring machine.

6. Lionel Messi- Barcelona 19 goals

Messi ‘only’ has 19 goals so far for Barcelona this season, but he is still easily the top goalscorer in the league, and his games to goals ratio is still one of the best in Europe. Even at 33 he is showing no signs of letting up and his goals have meant that Barcelona are in 1st position at this moment over their eternal rivals Real Madrid and going for yet another league win.

5. Neymar- PSG 13 goals

True Neymar only has 13 goals this season but then again because of two injury lay offs he has only played 15 games. That’s when it hits you how consistent the player is. Since coming back into the team in December PSG have looked like world beaters, so not only does he score goals but he clearly influences his team mates. Still one of the worlds best.

4. Kylian Mbappe -PSG 18 goals

Mbappe has scored 18 goals from just 20 games and continues to be one of the very best strikers in the world. He is still so young and has plenty ahead of him. He has been so consistent for PSG and is genuinely one of the deadliest strikers on his day in world football.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo- Juventus 21 goals

Last season Ronaldo scored 21 goals from 31 league games. This season he has the same amount of goals from just 22 games. Ronaldo did not go to Italy to just see out his playing days and has been more than terrific at Juventus. Perhaps his time there will be defined if he can bring European glory to the club, but as a goalscorer he cannot be judged. Everywhere he goes the goals follow.

2. Ciro Immobile- Lazio 27 goals

Ciro Immobile has had an incredible season, so has his club Lazio who are looking for their first league title in 20 years. They might get it and if they do then a lot of it could well be done to Immobile’s goals. It is clear that he will get on the 30 goal marker which is quite rare in Italian football and has simply been a superb striker this season.

1. Robert Lewandowski- Bayern Munich 25 goals

One of the most intelligent strikers in world football. This season Lewandowski has scored 2 more goals than he has played (23). Bayern Munich look on course to win the league in Germany and are amongst the favourites to win the Champions League. He scores plenty of goals, and scores beautiful ones too. Keep your eye off him for a second and suffer the consequences. A stunning striker.

 

 

 

If Arsenal sell Aubameyang they could be in serious trouble

Recent reports have suggested that Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be sold in the summer, and this isn’t just fabricated given that the player is delaying signing a new contract.

Losing Aubameyang would be a huge blow to the Gunners. He has been the difference on so many occasions for the club. It has been an incredibly difficult season for Arsenal which has seen the club flirting with 10th position for long periods. However one has to wonder without his goals if Arsenal would be in the bottom half of the table?

In a difficult period for the club, which in truth has been for the last five years or so, Aubameyang is their one true stardust player, a striker that can make almost anything happen and does the most important of jobs, getting those goals. Of course he isn’t perfect and it is his huge missed chance that resulted in Arsenal being knocked out of the Europa League against Olympiacos a few weeks ago. But maybe the bigger picture shouldn’t just be highlighted on him and could be turned to the overall clubs performance in that 2nd leg.

In all competitions for Arsenal Aubameyang has scored 61 goals from 96 games which is a great return and he has scored 17 goals from 25 league games. Last season he was the joint top scorer in England with 22 goals. Arsenal have scored 40 goals in the league this season and Aubameyang has 17 and assisted in one other. That means he has been involved in 18 of their 40 goals which accounts for 45% of all of their league goals so far this season.

This is the reason that Arsenal losing the player will hurt them. Of course he is now 30 and it has been traditional for Arsenal in past seasons to give out only rolling contracts for players who are 30 or over. The problem with that is it is outdated. Players are fitter now and can last much longer. Aubameyang isn’t going to suddenly lose his quality and has at least four to five years still at the top.

However it may not boil down to Arsenal’s choice even if they do want to keep the player. At the end of the day he has kept delaying signing a contract and one can believe that the main reason is to see if the Gunners qualify for next seasons Champions League. The problem is that they are currently 3 wins from that and have too many teams between them and 4th.

The other problem is that Barcelona have come knocking. Currently they have had to panic buy through a shortage of strikers and bring in Martin Braithwaite. If they could get Aubameyang that would represent quite a capture. Though they don’t like Arsenal’s asking price of £50m, in this current climate and with the brilliant form that the player has been in that price looks like a steal.

Where ever Aubameyang ends up next season, sadly for Arsenal it doesn’t look like he will be playing with them and the club are going to have to have a very successful summer transfer window and bring in the right kind of players to feel this loss. Right now Aubameyang is keeping Arsenal afloat.

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Can Josep Maria Bartomeu survive Barcelona’s crisis?

What a season it’s been for FC Barcelona!

At the beginning of the campaign, during the curtain raiser to each season, the Joan Gamper Trophy, Lionel Messi apologised for the collapse against Liverpool.

He also noted that the Catalans would be challenging again for the Champions League and the other top prizes on offer.

But it’s safe to say that things haven’t quite gone according to plan. Continue reading

Why Neymar returning to Barcelona is a no-go

Not long now until the transfer merry-go-round spins in earnest.

In fact, the rumours are already in full swing and there’s still the best part of three months until the window opens again!

As clubs across Europe go looking for bargains, there are one or two that need to make a statement signing to send shivers down their opponent’s spines. Continue reading

Is Sergio Busquets’ time up at Barcelona?

As Barcelona wind down another LaLiga season, question marks will again be asked over certain players.

Players who, despite their seniority in the team, haven’t performed at the required level for the club, and for a consistent period, not just a game or two here and there.

Whilst it’s an unpalatable thought, sooner or later, the regeneration of the squad takes precedence over keeping the big names happy. Continue reading

3 players Barcelona could sell this summer

Every teams have cycles of success, and Barcelona’s has almost certainly ground to a halt recently.

That’s the time when there needs to be an overhaul of staff, in order to pump new energy into the group and give a renewed focus.

Though it will be a shame to see certain players leave, the club have to be ruthless. Continue reading

Lionel Messi looks tired and disinterested at Barcelona

Surely Barcelona’s supporters didn’t think it would end up like this.

Their best ever player, Lionel Messi, strolling around seemingly disinterested and looking as tired as he ever has.

Whatever the party line from him is, his body language doesn’t lie. Lionel Messi is not happy. Continue reading