Villarreal looking for La Liga boost in Europe

Villarreal

Villarreal begin their Europa League campaign against Rangers on Thursday night, and the Yellow Submarine need a positive result to kick start their La Liga campaign.

Javier Calleja’s side finished the 2017-18 season strongly, winning four of their last six La Liga games to seal a fifth place finish, and Europa League football for 2018-19.

However they have not been able to pick up where they left off at the start of the new campaign, with two defeats and a draw in their first three league matches.

That miserable run was ended last weekend, with a much needed 1-0 victory away at Leganes, but the issues remain.

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Gerard Moreno looking to add goals to Villarreal

Villarreal's players celebrate their victory over Atletico Madrid after their Spanish first division soccer match at the Madrigal stadium in Villarreal

Villarreal have been busy during the close season period, and the Yellow Submarine have spent €70 million on new players ahead of the 2018-19 La Liga season.

There have also been a number of big name exits from the club in recent weeks, with highly rated young midfielder Rodri departing for Atletico Madrid.

However manager Javier Calleja has secured his key targets ahead of the new campaign, and they looks set for a strong season.

The main new face at El Madrigal is striker Gerard Moreno, who comes in from Espanyol for a fee of €20 million.

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Maradona apologises over England “robbery” rant

maradona

Legendary Argentina striker Diego Maradona has apologised for claiming that England committed “monumental robbery” in their World Cup last-16 tie with Colombia on Tuesday evening. The former Napoli star was incensed that American referee Mark Geiger had apparently shown a bias towards England, punishing Colombia more often than the Three Lions. Speaking on a nightly World Cup show on Venezuela-based Telesur, Maradona had said: “Here’s a gentleman who decides, a referee who, if you Google him, shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude… Geiger, an American, what a coincidence.”

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Colombia to win World Cup?

After having an impressive and memorable campaign in the previous World Cup despite being knocked out in the Quarter-finals by Brazil, Colombia will be looking to have a good run in the competition once again as the whole nation will behind them as well as many football fans.

This year’s friendly matches have been more than positive for the side, where they achieved an incredible comeback over France as well as two stalemates against the likes of Australia and Egypt. The goalless draws against the latter opponents may be seen as a downfall, on the other hand, it certainly shows that Colombia can remain dominant and defensively solid when needed to be.

We now look more into the information we need to know about Colombia on and off the pitch…

Fixtures

Tuesday, 19th June – Colombia vs Japan (Mordovia Arena, Mordovia) kick-off 13:00pm

Sunday, 24th June – Poland vs Colombia (Kazan Arena, Kazan) kick-off 19:00pm

Thursday, 28th June – Senegal vs Colombia (Samara Arena, Samara) kick-off 15:00pm

Colombia

Star player

Considered as one of the best attacking midfielders within Europe, it’s no surprise at all that James Rodriguez is seen as Colombia’s main man as he is levels ahead of his team-mates. The Bayern Munich midfielder, who is currently on loan from Real Madrid, offers a lot when he is in the starting line-up, from producing clear-cut chances for the attackers to racking up many goals and assists himself. The 26-year-old is regarded as an aesthetically pleasing player to watch on and off the ball.

The one to keep an eye out for…

Davinson Sanchez is surely the well-known rising talent within the Colombia squad that everyone needs to keep a look out for, someone who has had the perfect debut season at Tottenham Hotspur and is now been thought of as one of the best centre-backs within the Premier League. With his demanding and dominant displays from the backline week in and out, the youngster could become a popular figure for his country if he can go on to replicating his club performances for Colombia.

Given the attacking prowess that Colombia have in Carlos Bacca, Falcao, James Rodriguez and Luis Muriel, it’s more than important that the side’s defence and midfield can also remain compact and consistent through the competition. This is one of the reasons to why it is ideal to keep an eye out for Davinson Sanchez, as he has a huge job on his hands that will need to be dealt with effectively.

Davinson

What to expect from manager Jose Pekerman?

Since taking over as the national coach of Colombia, Jose Pekerman has done a very good job in taking the country to two consecutive World Cups, proving that his man-management and vital decision making of picking individuals that fit into his system is quite efficient. Also, the Argentine has won the South American Coach of the Year award on three occasions over the last six years.

Los Cafeteros are expected to play within a 4-2-3-1 setup, where the team would benefit from the movement and pace of Juan Cuadrado and Carlos Bacca on the flanks whilst James will look to drop deep from the number ten role as well as provide some service to the lone forward in Radamel Falcao. Overall, Peckerman is seen as a saviour for Colombian football as the supporters from the South American country are finally seeing some golden stars being produced after quite a long time.

How far can Colombia go in the competition?

It’s never easy to say how far a team can go in the World Cup as it does come down to little moments as well as a bit of luck, on the other hand, Colombia are more than capable of reaching the Quarter-finals like they did four years ago in Brazil. The side’s results in recent years against top-tier oppositions are not convincing at all, but they will still be seen as the dark horses of the tournament.

In the end, Colombia have pure potential and will either collapse absurdly or deliver in perfect time.

Play the most challenging Fantasy World Cup 2018 game here www.fantasy-worldcup.com

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #16 – Bacca, Simeone and Messi Hat-Trick Heroes, Barcelona Bag La Liga Title

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In the latest episode of the Euro Fantasy League Podcast, Dave shows his sensitivity relating to marriage and Jamie displays a lack of football knowledge.

Hat-Trick heroes Carlos Bacca, Giovanni Simeone and Lionel Messi are praised. Darren Moore comes in for some props as well, while the lads worry for Huddersfield.

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Season run in could harm Villarreal’s Europa push

Villarreal

As the La Liga season begins to draw to a close, the permutations for relegation and European qualification begin to be discussed.

With the top four already a closed shop for Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and Valencia, the battle for the remaining Europa League spots opens up.

The winner of this weekend’s Copa del Rey final will receive a Europa League place, but with Barcelona already assured of a Champions League spot their should be three La Liga places up for grabs in Europe’s second competition next season.

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Plain sailing for Villarreal’s Yellow Submarine

Villarreal

With so much of the La Liga focus this season on high flying Barcelona and an under performing Real Madrid, Villarreal will be happy to be operating under the radar.

The Yellow Submarine has enjoyed another excellent season at the top table in Spain, currently in fifth place in La Liga, and on a six-game unbeaten league run.

The highlight of their recent fine form came in the form of a 1-0 win against Real Madrid, courtesy of a brilliant late goal from midfielder Pablo Fornals.

That result flagged up what any keen watcher of La Liga this season would already have told you, that Villarreal are no longer a surprise package, but an established name in the division. Continue reading

VIDEO: Coutinho frustrates Liverpool and Barcelona while injuries hit Real Madrid

Just over a week into January and fantasy managers are already dealing with transfers and injuries across Europe. To help cover some of the biggest news and fixtures, Nicholas Carroll provides this week’s Euro Fantasy League preview.

In the Premier League, Liverpool will look to defend their 13-match unbeaten run in the league against Manchester City without the recently departed Philippe Coutinho.

Romelu Lukaku looks to have returned to full fitness and will be a big chance to score when Manchester United hosts a struggling Stoke City. Continue reading

Milan looking for a return to the Glory Days

AC Milan completed another miserable season in Serie A by finishing sixth and winning less than half of their matches in the top flight. It’s a long way from their golden years and in particular 1998-90 when they were winning everything in sight and disposing of their rivals with ease. They have sat back and watched Juventus take over Italian football and as the Turin club romped to their sixth title in a row, the first time an Italian club has managed such a feat, it must have stirred something at Milan as they have made some major signings in a bid to get back to the summit of the Serie A. Continue reading

Milan’s steady improvement in Serie A

Euro 2016

Three games without either being beaten or conceding a goal in Serie A, represents the assured and serene progress which AC Milan are currently making under the guidance of Vicenzo Montella.

Over recent weeks the 42-year-old manager has instilled both belief and confidence in his players, who have vividly exhibited that by producing a trio of collectively solid performances.

Each of those has yielded a positive result for I Rossoneri, as they have been rewarded for their current three-game unbeaten run by moving from 15th to 6th in the Serie A table.

Montella inspires upturn in Milan’s fortunes

Subsequently Milan’s response to losing successive matches to Napoli and Udinese, after a thrilling 3-2 opening day victory against Torino, has been extremely impressive and indicative that they are amidst a steady spell of improvement.

As the chief engineer of that improvement Montella is creating a defensively solid and resolute team that is not only industrious but also enterprising, with that proven to be the case by the positive manner in which Milan began their current unbeaten run with a 1-0 victory over Sampdoria.

Bacca-Niang partnership blossoms

Ironically that was the Rossoneri’s first away success in Serie A since beating the Genoese – based club, whom Montella left to join Milan, by the same score line in April, with the winning goal on both occasions being scored by Carlos Bacca.

At present, along with Napoli’s Jose Callejon, Andrea Belotti of Torino, the 30-year-old striker is the second joint top scorer in Serie A this season with five goals, just one behind Mauro Icardi.

Subsequently Bacca’s importance to Milan is incalculable, since he has scored five of his team’s eight Serie A goals, as the Columbian internationalist’s strike partnership with M’Baye Niang undergoes sustained development.

Whilst the pair was well contained by the defence of Fiorentina – who Montella managed for three years prior to his spell with Sampdoria – during the Rossoneri’s recent goalless draw against Paulo Sousa’s, both Bacca and Niang scored in Milan’s previous Serie A match, which ended in a 2-0 victory over Lazio at the San Siro.  The margin of that win had the potential to be far greater, since Niang was guilty of missing several excellent chances, although the 21-year-old kept his composure to score with a penalty kick to seal victory for Milan.

Throughout the game their Slovakian midfielder Juraj Kucka played with control, guile and poise, as he provided an assist for the goal scored by Bacca, whilst also providing excellent service to both the former Sevilla striker and Niang.

Youthful class and exuberance permeates Milan side

Ultimately Niang possess great potential to improve, whilst so too do a number of other young Italian players who have featured in Milan’s first team this season including goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma along with the defensive trio of Davide Calabria, Alessio Romagnoli, Matteo De Sciglio.

The youthful quartet and Gabriel Paletta have formed Milan’s defensive base, the average age of which has been 22, in the Rossoneri’s last two Serie A games, to help their team keep successive clean sheets.

Despite being fortunate not to concede against Fiorentina, since Josip Ilicic missed a penalty for the first team in his Serie A career, Milan nevertheless fought valiantly to earn an eventually deserved point.

Milan’s bright new outlook with Montella at the helm

In doing so I Rossoneri ensured a continuation of their steady progress which Montella has engineered since being subjected to witnessing his side produce a tepid performance to lose 1-0 to Udinese at the San Siro three Serie A games ago.

Since then both Milan’s results and performances have been consistently positive, with them creating a solid platform upon which they can potentially challenge to secure a top three finish in Serie A and therefore earn qualification to the Champions League for the first time since season 2013-2014.

Ultimately achieving that constitutes a difficult challenge for Milan but by no means an insurmountable one, particularly given the fine progress they’re making under Montella’s intelligent guidance.