La Liga Weekend Picks – Round 9

cheryshev2The next round of La Liga fixtures is all set for this weekend, and so it is now time to take a look at which players may be worth giving a second look for inclusion into your fantasy teams over the coming days. La Liga bottom club Huesca face a difficult trip yo Espanyol, and while that may prove a tough test for the hosts they do not have the worst goalscoring record in the league. Villarreal, Valencia and Getafe have all been disappointing in front of goal this term, netting just six goals each so far. Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, are the only side in the top six yet to reach double figures with their nine successful strikes so far, while Barcelona have scored the most on 10 – just a shade ahead of league leaders Sevilla on 18. Real Betis have scored the least in the league, though, with just five strikes. With that in mind, let’s take a 4-4-2 and get cracking.

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Golden Boot Latest: Kane in pole position

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With the World Cup now all but done and dusted and in the history books, time to take a look at how things are standing in this year’s Golden Boot race. The Golden Boot is, of course, awarded to the player who has scored the most goals in the tournament proper, and has historically been won by some legendary players in football. Brazilian Ronaldo won it in 2002, for example, while the last English player to do so was Gary Lineker in 1986. This time around another Englishman is in the running – and no prizes for guessing which one! Harry Kane had a wonderful start to the campaign, and has netted six goals on England’s path to the semi-finals where they would eventually bow out to a superior Croatia side.

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Is it a two-horse race for the Golden Boot?

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As the heat is turned up on the remaining nations to deliver and end their World Cup campaign successfully (or at least heroically), so to the race for the Golden Boot continues to get interesting. James Rodriguez won the award at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but was absent from the pitch as Colombia exited the tournament in the last-16 this time around at the hands of England by way of a penalty shootout. Three Lions frontman Harry Kane loves getting goals of course, and sits atop the goalscoring charts ahead of the quarter-finals getting under way. It is therefore now time to ask: is the race for this year’s Golden Boot now a two-horse race?

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Best Tactical Team Performance of the Week – Uruguay

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With the World Cup group stages now having drawn to a close, it is time to take a look back and see just which side impressed the most tactically during the past few days. While there were some fine approaches to matches, the winner would have to be Uruguay for the way they took apart hosts Russia, who were enjoying a 100% record before facing off with the South Americans.The match was essentially a playoff to see who could win Group A, and two-time world champions Uruguay emerged victorious with a 3-0 win on the day. Much of the credit for that fine performance should go to coach Óscar Tabárez – both the longest-serving and oldest coach in this summer’s tournament.

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Russia Star Golovin Tops World Cup Assists Chart

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With the World Cup in Russia providing plenty of moments of drama, controversy and downright outstanding football, let’s now take a look at which players are helping their own country’s cause by providing the most assists. Midfielders tend to be the big hitters in this category, picking up the ball from defenders and moving it forward to their colleagues up front to dispatch the ball into the back of the net. This tournament has been no different of course, with Uruguay’s Carlos Sánchez the only non-midfielder near the top of the charts. He has provided assists for two goals from his native attacking position up front, but the others who are also on two assists (so far) are all from the middle of the park.

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Best Midfielder of the Week – Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

 

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When one has limited experience playing international football and is selected for the World Cup squad to represent the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, it could be easy to accept that things aren’t too likely to go your way and do the bare minimum. That has not proven to be the case with Russia midfielder Denis Cheryshev, however. The former Real Madrid midfielder is arguably one of the more well-known names in the Russia national side, despite having only 10 caps to his name before the grand competition kicked off a few days ago. His performance level – and overall contribution – to the host nation’s cause has, therefore, been something of a surprise to some.

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Cheryshev grabbing his World Cup chance

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International tournaments are often a shop window for players to demonstrate their abilities to club managers, and potential new clubs.

One player who is really making the most of the chance to shine in Russia, is the host nation’s star midfielder Denis Cheryshev.

The Villarreal man has benefited from an injury to fellow midfielder Alan Dzagoev, who he replaced in their opening game against Saudi Arabia.

From there he has not looked back, forcing his way into the starting XI of Stanislav Cherchesov’s team.

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World Cup Weekly Recap

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A very eventful start for the World Cup. The most anticipated game of the early stages, Spain versus Portugal, certainly delivered both in terms of intensity and spectacularity. Despite going down in the score twice, the Red Fury pulled the strings for most of the game and found the target with two magnificent goals, one from distance by Nacho and a very crafty one by Diego Costa in the box. However, the Navigators were not to be denied and came away with a point thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick, whose dazzling free kick to tie in the final minutes capped off an all-around great match.  Continue reading

Real Madrid could be expelled for embarrassing blunder in the Copa Del Rey

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Real Madrid are in danger of being expelled from the Copa Del Rey after it emerged they had fielded an ineligible player in Wednesday night’s victory over Cadiz. Winger Denis Cheryshev started against the third-tier club and scored the game’s first goal before being withdrawn at half-time after Real realised their error. Cheryshev had picked up three yellow cards in the competition for his former club last season which meant he should have been suspended for the Cadiz fixture. The opposition club in question reported the blunder, but wanted to show Real no ill will.

“This situation required a speedy decision because there was no time to speculate. The board has met and decided to report Real Madrid for fielding an ineligible player, out of respect for our fans and the club. We decided to do this with a heavy heart, but it is our firm decision. We do this not without a sense of pain, because we are friendly with the club. We read the report, evaluated the situation and weighed up our decision. I think we’ve acted responsibly, said Cadiz president Manuel Vizcaino.

The two sides are still set to embark in a second leg of the competition, but Real could be punished with expulsion, ruling them out of silverware and putting Cadiz into the fifth round at their expense. No blame was placed on manager Rafael Benitez, but there was some responsibility on the team who monitor players’ availability. Real are among the favourites to go all the way in the Copa Del Rey, winning the cup in 2014, but this could be a big blow for Los Blancos who are already six points adrift in the La Liga title race.

Benitez was certainly taking the Copa Del Rey seriously this campaign, viewing it as a chance to earn some silverware in his debut season at the club. He was apologetic following the match, however, revealing he substituted the player immediately when made aware of his ineligibility “in good faith”, but Cadiz reporting the incident means Real are likely to be given a severe punshiment.

Matters aren’t helped considering Cheryshev started the match and even scored the first goal of the game, as he clearly had an impact on the outcome. Real could have been dealt a lenient sanction if the Russian midfielder was on the bench, but now an administration error sees him making headlines for potentially costing his side a place in this season’s Copa Del Rey.