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

Is a Copa exit a blessing in disguise for Barcelona?

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Wednesday night sees the completion of the Copa del Rey quarterfinals for 2018/19, and there’s little doubt that the fare on offer at Camp Nou will be required viewing.

Barcelona are 2-0 behind to Sevilla, and though they managed to turnaround a deficit in the last 16 tie against Levante, the Andalusian side is a different proposition entirely.

They’re also about as far removed from the team that were hammered 5-0 by the Catalans in last year’s final as it’s possible to be. Continue reading

Where does Coutinho fit in at Barcelona now?

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Against Getafe on Sunday night, Barcelona’s record signing, Phillipe Coutinho, was again left on the bench.

That’s right, €160 million worth of talent being given a cursory eight-minute cameo at the end of the match.

Predictably it wasn’t enough time for the Brazilian to really make an impact, and that is becoming a consistent theme for him of late. Continue reading

Could Alena’s emergence see Suarez/Rafinha moved on?

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Having patiently waited for an opportunity to become part of the first-team squad on a regular basis at Barcelona, Carles Alena finally appears ready to emerge from the shadows.

The 20-year-old is over his injury and playing consistently well, and the recent acknowledgment by the club that they won’t send him out on loan suggests that they have big plans for a player who is coveted by other teams.

Mauricio Pochettino was recently at a Barcelona B fixture, and the rumours, though unsubstantiated, were that he had come specifically to watch Alena. Continue reading

One year since Neymar blew the transfer market wide open

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This time last year the football world was still reeling from the astonishing €222 million capture of Neymar by Paris Saint-Germain.

It was a stunning coup by the French side, taking a player destined to become one of the world’s best from one of the footballing super powers that PSG aspire to be.

Barcelona were dumbstruck and, as a result of that particular deal, have been careful to ensure much higher buyout clauses for their best players. Continue reading

Brazil bow out following defeat to Belgium

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Five-times World Cup champions Brazil bowed out of the World Cup last week after a mediocre campaign was finally brought to an end by Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side in Kazan.

In a crunch match in which Brazil would have to show their mettle and championship-winning credentials if they were to continue into the latter stages of the competition, the side found themselves behind early on when Nacer Chadli’s corner struck Fernandinho’s arm, beating an unsuspecting Alisson.

Brazil had conceded just one goal in their past four games in Russia and their opponents took advantage of the malaise that followed the surprise goal – creating a Continue reading

World Cup Weekly Recap

Brazil v Costa Rica: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

An action-packed week on the World Cup is the books and the tournament rages on with an uncanny amount of penalties and own goals. The first verdicts are already in: Russia and Uruguay have advanced in the group A after their wins against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Croatia did the same in the G one.

While La Celeste has been doing it with minimal efforts, the other two teams, along with Belgium have been the most impressive squads so far. The Sbornaya is on an incredible run and is very well-structured. As for the Red Devils, who have more than one foot in the next phase, Romelu Lukaku keeps terrorizing defences, while Eden Hazard netted his first two goals in a World Cup.

Continue reading

La Liga Team of the Week Match May 38

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An enthralling La Liga season has drawn to a close and many of the division’s stars will now be turning their minds to the upcoming World Cup in Russia. But who made a final in the last round of fixtures to secure a place in the last Team of the Week?

Marc ter Stegen, Barcelona – seven points

A final clean sheet of the campaign rounded off what has been a wonderful season for the German.

With 113 points to his name, ter Stegen will be eyeing a starting berth for his national team come the World Cup. Continue reading

Barcelona unbeaten streak ends in shock loss at Levante

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Our game of the week looks at the blockbuster fixture at Estadi Ciutat de València that saw Levante put an end to Barcelona’s unbeaten streak in an enthralling 5-4 win that will be etched on the minds of both players and fans alike for some time to come.

A much changed Barcelona side came into the tie with a lethargy that suggested they believed this result to be a mere formality.

However, they were given an early shock when Boateng just managed to force a whipped cross into the goal off the underside of the bar to open proceedings in the ninth minute.

The 21-year-old Ghanaian then doubled the lead just after half an hour into the tie when he capitalised on a Continue reading

La Liga Team of Week 37

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Following an exhilarating penultimate round of fixtures in which Barca waved goodbye to the prospect of an unbeaten season, we look at the team of the week to arrive from the fallout of the action. 

Jan Oblak, Atletico Madrid – seven points

The Slovakian goalkeeper has been exceptional between the sticks for Atleti this season, earning plaudits from across the footballing world.

With his side seemingly set to finish in a more than respectable second position, his 22 clean sheets with just 20 goals conceded is a truly excellent record.

José Gayá, Valencia – five points Continue reading