How Barcelona will beat Man Utd

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They might be favourites to win the tie over two legs, but there’s no way that Barcelona will be taking Manchester United lightly, particularly at Old Trafford.

Playing at the Camp Nou for the second leg may seem to afford the Catalans an advantage of sorts, but Ernesto Valverde and his team will want to make that a formality.

In order to do so, they’ll need to take the game to the Red Devils and quieten the expected 75,000 crowd.

But just how are they going to manage it?

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Three David de Gea replacements should Manchester United have to sell

It has come to the attention of Manchester United fans that David de Gea’s contract negotiations have hit a stumbling block.

The Spain international is weighing up his future and knows that his next contract could rule him out of a move during his peak years. With the way that Manchester United are playing under José Mourinho, and how far they are from truly challenging the elite in Europe, it is no surprise that De Gea is questioning his options.

If the Spaniard decides against renewing with the Red Devils, the club will need to act fast in approaching potential replacements. Here are three that are worth considering should that outcome come to fruition:

Jan Oblak: Atlético Madrid 

The outstanding candidate would be Atlético Madrid’s Jan Oblak, who has been tremendous ever since joining the Spanish giants. So much so that he has in fact kept more clean sheets than goals conceded while in goal since the 2014/15 season, showing his exemplary credentials and case to be crowned the best goalkeeper in the world.

Oblak is a wonderful shot-stopper, like De Gea, and also makes remarkable, worldly saves that he has no right to. The Slovenia international might have a brick wall in the form of a defence in front of him, but Oblak holds more than his own and has kept Atlético in crucial games.

At 25-years-old, Oblak is coming into his peak years as a goalkeeper and can rule as one of the leading goalkeepers of his generation. There is no reason to suggest that he cannot go on for another decade, playing at the elite level winning trophies.

The problem Manchester United face would be to prize the Slovenian away from sunny Madrid. Not only is it about convincing him to step down in terms of the level, because United at this moment are not comparable to Atlético, but to also convince the board members of the Spanish club to sell him. It would most likely take his full buy-out clause of £88 million (€100m) to acquire him.

If De Gea does leave in the next two years, Oblak should be the frontrunner in terms of who they target. He is the perfect replacement.

Jordan Pickford: Everton 

England’s number one has had a meteoric rise since leaving Sunderland for Everton just over two seasons ago.

Jordan Pickford has shown that height is not a sticking point in becoming one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League with his distribution and positioning being first class.

Against Spain, Pickford set up two goals with his quick thinking and immaculate passing out of his hands and on the floor. That quick tempo that the England international plays at is what has allowed him to reach the heights he is beginning to.

He might be 24-years-old but Pickford has shown his calm, collected nature on a regular basis, especially in England’s round of 16 penalty shootout against Colombia. With the momentum with the South Americans, Pickford remained composed and eventually saved the crucial penalty that allowed England to win their first shootout in a major tournament for decades.

The Toffees player might not be a universally popular choice among United fans, but he is certainly not one to rule out given his status of being one of the uprising goalkeepers of his generation.

Thomas Strakosha: Lazio 

Thomas Strakosha is the unknown quantity in this list to those who do not follow Serie A, but he is one to take seriously.

The Albania international is an up and coming goalkeeper that has been courted by some of the biggest European clubs out there over the past few years, all while only making his proper breakthrough in the 2017/18 campaign.

Off the back of his 53 appearances last season, Strakosha has nailed down the number one jersey at Lazio and will be eyeing a move to a more influential club in Europe’s top five leagues. The 23-year-old has time on his side, but should the opportunity arise, he would not think twice about switching sides.

He might be the easiest profile to obtain on this list, but that does not mean he will come at a cheap price. Lazio set their price at around £35 million last summer and with the way he is play, that fee is likely to only rise in the near future.

Standing tall at 1.93m, Strakosha is a commanding and physical goalkeeper with aerial prowess. He might not have the distribution abilities of Pickford or shot-stopping qualities of Oblak, but he does climb above others to claim what is his.

While it was difficult for De Gea to adjust to English football given the physicality aspect of the league, Strakosha should not have the same problem due to his style of goalkeeping. He is not yet globally known, but the Albanian will burst onto the scene soon enough.

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Abject Spain crash out of tournament


Fernando Hierro’s Spain were left licking their wounds as they crashed out of the World Cup Following a disappointing performance that leaves many querying where they go from here.

Spain went ahead early in the tie when 38-year-old Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich inadvertently turning a Marco Asensio free kick into his own net as he bid to stop Sergio Ramos at the back post.

Despite going ahead, Spain failed to turn their dominance into further chances and paid the price before half-time as the tournament hosts secured a shock penalty as Artem Dzyuba’s header from a corner hit Gerard Pique‘s outstretched arm. Continue reading

Premier League predictions for the weekend ahead


Another week of Premier League action looms ahead of us with some valuable fixtures at both ends of the table, check out our predictions here!

Manchester United vs. Liverpool – home win

Still widely considered to be the biggest game in English football, this threatens to be a real cracker this weekend.

Whilst Mo Salah has been in incredible form this season – leading Liverpool’s line with 24 goals and 134 points – United have overcome some big sides at Old Trafford this season, a factor that probably makes them marginal favourites.

The exploits of David de Gea, who has conceded just 22 goals in 29 appearances could Continue reading

Premier League predictions for the weekend ahead

de gea

There are some big matches ahead this weekend, with the fixture list bringing us a top of the table clash between Manchester City and Chelsea and a relegation scrap between Southampton and West Brom that could define the final standings when the season draws to a close. Check out our weekend Premier League predictions!

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Un atisbo de esperanza entre mucho que mejorar

Casillas y De Gea

La Selección española continúa su preparación para la Eurocopa con partidos amistosos. Defiende el trofeo, por tanto se espera bastante de la Roja. Aunque el último encuentro frente a la azzurra ha servido para dejar claro que, para revalidar el título, todavía le queda mucho que mejorar.

En el partido solo se podría salvar a De Gea, Adúriz y poco más. La Roja no jugó a nada y perdió muchos balones, el famoso tiki-taka parece haberse esfumado por completo. No desplegó buen fútbol y hubo momentos en los que lo pasó mal. Falto garra y la Selección solo jugó al contraataque siendo infiel a su estilo. El resultado final fue de 1-1, se adelantaron los locales pero España logró equilibrar rápidamente el resultado. Además, en todo el partido tiraron 2 veces a puerta y en la misma jugada (la del gol). Por tanto, a nivel general, podríamos darle un aprobado raspado en una prueba de fuego ante un rival de talla.

De Gea fue sin duda el mejor del partido, jugó los 90 minutos e hizo varias paradas importantes que parecen dejarle en ventaja de cara a la titularidad de la portería. Aduriz, con su gol, se reivindicó por ese puesto que ansía ganarle la partida a Diego Costa. Todo lo demás, fue bastante nulo en la Selección; muchos fallos y poca intensidad. Si no hubiera sido por el meta, podría haber vuelto con un saco de goles.

La Roja también está siendo cuestionada por la falta de motivación, los alicientes solo parecen llegar en los compromisos importantes y no en los amistosos, que podrían definirse como meras pruebas. Comienza a ser habitual que jugadores con un puesto prácticamente fijo en el 11 de la Euro (salvo lesión o sorpresa mayúscula) abandonen las concentraciones. En esta última, Busquets alegó una lesión y se marchó por precaución el primer día, aunque estará en el Clásico, y Ramos ha hecho lo propio tras un golpe en la espalda.

Por tanto, muchas dudas y mucho que mejorar. Del Bosque debe cambiar la actitud de los jugadores si pretende volver a coronarse en lo más alto. No se puede vivir del pasado, sino que hay que tirar de la calidad para triunfar en el presente.

¿Qué puede faltar para zanjar por fin el debate de la portería de la Roja?

Casillas y De Gea

La cuenta atrás para la Eurocopa de Francia ha comenzado. Quedan apenas 4 meses para que los grandes del continente se den cita en este torneo que todos quieren ganar. España defiende título tras pasearse en la final de 2012. No obstante, las cosas han cambiado mucho en la Selección desde aquella que culminó una época dorada con la Triple Corona.

El tema de la portería lleva dando mucho de que hablar en los últimos tiempos, y en Euro Fantasy League no hemos sido ajenos a la situación. Hay dos cancerberos que se disputan el puesto en la portería española: Iker Casillas y David de Gea. Ambos pasan por situaciones bien diferentes. Del Bosque nunca ha escondido su predilección por el primero, no obstante, de Gea debería tener su oportunidad por el bien de la Roja. ¿Qué más puede ser necesario para que conseguirlo?

No cabe duda de que Casillas es un gran portero que ha dado muchos éxitos a la Roja, sin embargo la edad empieza a hacer estragos y los fallos son cada vez más habituales. Los dos últimos años de Iker en el Madrid no fueron precisamente los mejores y muchos focos le señalan como el principal artífice del prematuro adiós en el último Mundial. Esta temporada, en Portugal le cuestionan como el responsable de la eliminación en Champions y por ir tercero con un liderato cada vez más alejado. La prensa incluso le dedicó una cruel portada llamándole «manos de mantequilla» y el último encuentro ligero marcó el camino a la derrota frente a un modesto en apenas unos segundos de partido. Un coladero de goles.

¿Debe haber relevo? Todo apunta a que sí. David de Gea está cuajando una temporada espectacular en el Manchester (otra más) y está salvando el pellejo de Van Gaal. Un portero joven, con grandes reflejos y con experiencia en dos grandes equipos. Old Trafford le adora y, en la última jornada de la Premier, el guardameta volvió a evitar la derrota de su equipo frente a un potente Chelsea. Un partido más en el que se coronó.

Entonces, ¿dónde está el problema? O mejor dicho: ¿por qué hay debate si la situación es tan clara? Vicente del Bosque puede tener la culpa por cabezonería  (y no es el único caso). Nadie cuestiona el potencial de Iker, pero no es el mismo que en 2008. No pasa por un bache, sino que la edad le pasa factura. El relevo debería de haber llegado hace ya tiempo y de Gea ser el titular indiscutible. ¿Entonces, Casillas? Por supuesto que debe ir a la Euro por su experiencia y veteranía, no obstante tendría que ser la alternativa desde el banquillo. Pero ahora hay que confiar en los guantes de David de Gea, el presente y futuro de la Roja.

De Gea ready to take Casillas’ crown


David De Gea said after his show-stealing performance in Spain’s Euro 2016 qualifying win over Ukraine that he wanted Vicente Del Bosque to have a difficult choice when deciding who would be La Roja’s goalkeeper in France next year. Captain Iker Casillas is the competition, the Manchester United custodian has at least succeeded in giving the Coach something to think about.

It’s not only De Gea’s astonishing display in Kiev that pushes him neck-and-neck with the incumbent, though, and Del Bosque was never going to make his decision based on one 90 minute outing, even if De Gea was credited with anything between six and 10 outstanding saves by the Spanish Press. De Gea has proven he can adapt, having left La Liga in 2011 for the Premier League, struggled at first and then become one of the finest goalkeepers in England, and he’s proven his character too. Rather than sulk at not getting his summer move to Real Madrid, De Gea has, after returning to Louis van Gaal’s team, been as impressive as ever.

He faces an uphill battle on the international scene, however, and not only because Casillas is his country’s most successful player – his claim to the gloves isn’t entirely based on past success. The veteran Casillas has looked the part since leaving Madrid for Porto – ironically because he was about to be replaced at Santiago Bernabeu by De Gea, or so the ultimately failed plan went – and Del Bosque tends to pick on form and reputation, but not in equal measure.

More than once a player’s stature has counted for more than their contribution, and Casillas’ time on the Madrid bench in 2013-14 is the clearest example. Del Bosque stood by Casillas then even as Diego Lopez took the gloves in La Liga, leaving Casillas to play in the Champions League and the Copa Del Rey. In Del Bosque’s defence, Casillas captained Madrid to success in both tournaments and set a record for minutes without conceding in the Champions League, so it’s not as if he was completely out of touch.

Casillas and 10 others is a formula Del Bosque has followed throughout his time in charge of the national team and it has been an immensely successful one. But it can’t go on forever, and Spain’s most recent tournament experience led to calls for changes. Experienced pair Xavi Hernandez and Xabi Alonso retired after the World Cup 2014 debacle, forcing Del Bosque into anointing successors. Casillas didn’t, so De Gea remains on the fringes – but for how long?