Julen Lopetegui wants to usher in a new era at Sevilla

Because of their Europa League successes Sevilla are one of the most successful clubs in Europe over the last decade. But there is a feeling that the club have become more of a cup specialist team and less of a league one, and Julen Lopetegui has come in over the past year to try and change that up.

Of course winning cups is a great thing and Sevilla have achieved so much in the modern game winning 5 trophies in the last decade and, according to the official UEFA rankings they are in 9th place. That’s not bad going at all and yet of course they are not seen in same lights as Real Madrid and Barcelona and not even Atletico Madrid.

The reason is that the club do not win league titles- their last one came n 1946 and they haven’t even finished in the runners-up position since 1957. There is also the case of the other European competition, the Champions League where Sevilla have had no significant history. Even Atletico have made it to finals including two recent ones. This year highlighted Sevilla’s miserable run in the Champions League when they were knocked out at the group stages and in one game lost 4-0 at home against Chelsea.

Lopetegui is doing a steady job with Sevilla and in his first season he was able to get them to 4th place with 70 points and therefore qualify for the Champions League. Overall he has a win rate of 57% which is impressive and has lost 14 games from 73 played.

This season the club are in sixth place and are seven points adrift. They have been up and down as they do not draw many games, just 1 so far. Whilst they need to find stability no one can accuse the club of not being entertaining. The problem currently is that no one is sure what Sevilla version will turn up week by week. On their day they are capable of beating any side in La Liga.

Lopetegui has kept the people he knows close to him and that figurehead is the clubs assistant coach Pablo Sanz who used to be a product of the old Academy at Barcelona. When Lopetegui was the coach of the national side Spain, Sanz was his assistant so they know each other very well. He was also the assistant at Real Madrid at Lopetegui’s short spell at Santiago Bernabeu back in 2018.

The objective for the club is to improve each season in the league, the last season saw the club finish 4th so the objective is to finish 3rd and a possible title challenge with 2-3 years although whether that is realistic or not is another story altogether.

However the club have always had some quality within their ranks and below we look at the best 3 players currently playing for the club this season based on fantasy rankings points.

Bono- Goalkeeper

Bono’s value is 6.5m and he currently has the most points of any Sevilla player with 19 so far. Bono’s job is of course to keep clean sheets and he has done so on 3 occasions so far. He is 5th in the goalkeeper rankings for La Liga overall.

Youssef En-Nesyri- Striker

Youssef En Nesyri has scored 3 goals so far but is yet to assist and has 12 points so far. He has only managed to start six games so has a 50% striker rate which is good and his value is 6.5m.

Sergio Escudero- Defender

Sergio Escudero has helped keep 2 clean sheets he has also scored a goal and his value is 6m and so far he has earned 12 points.

Think you know Spanish football? Play https://liga-fantasy.com now!

Roma hit Bologna for 5 and are in search of a top 4 place this week

After their disappointing 0-0 result against Sassuolo the Giallorossi were back in style as they went to Bologna and thumped then 5-1.

There were four different goalscorers for Roma and an own goal in a very eventful game. It started with a bang too within just 4 minutes Andrea Poli had scored an own goal after a low dangerous cross and Roma were one up. But this start was nothing compared to what Bologna would face in the next 10 minutes of the game.

When the clock struck the tenth minute it was 2-0 and five minutes later it was 3-0 and this game was put to bed within the first quarter of an hour. Edin Dzeko scored Roma’s second when he found the ball just inside the box and made a brilliant turn to fool the defender and slotted home with absolute ease.

The third goal came after a brilliant long pass from Leonardo Spinazzola and the ball found an unmarked Lorenzo Pellegrini who steered home rather easily. Indeed it was well taken but the defending from Bologna was comical it was as if they had switched off possibly looking for an offside that never came. However against the run of play Bologna pulled one back after Roma scored an own goal through Bryan Cristante.

But Roma were playing like a team possessed and it was soon 4-1. The fourth goal was perhaps the best of the lot as it was a classic team goal that consisted of passes and quick one twos. It was finished off by Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose brilliant pass found Jordan Veretout who had been quite the last few weeks and he slid home easily. It was a perfect goal.

The Gallorossi were not finished yet though and would score their 5th goal before half time in a nightmare 45 minutes for the home side. It would be Mkhitaryan who would score the fifth goal after great team work again and with 5 in the bag at half time people were wondering if we were going to see double figures by the end. It wasn’t to be though and the game ended with that scoreline.

It said it all that Bologna at home had just 1 shot on target the whole game and Roma thoroughly deserved their victory. It is a win that has put the club in sixth place and was their sixth win of the season. Roma now has 21 points and are seven behind the league leaders Milan who drew at Genoa.

Europa League draw for Roma

Roma were impressive in the Europa League group stages and their reward for reaching the knock out rounds which begin next year is a two legged match with Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga. The clubs haven’t met before and the encounters are sure to be memorable and very close.

Serie A- the next 3 games

Christmas time is coming and that means that Serie A will shut down for a few weeks. Roma have 3 games left to play. Tonight they will be at home against Torino and then on Sunday they will play Atalanta away. Their final game before the break will be against Cagliari and that will take place at home.

Top 3 best performing players

Let’s take a look at the best performing players in the fantasy rankings so far for Roma.

1. Henrikh Mkhitaryan 44pts

2. Jordan Veretout       27pts

3. Lorenzo Pellegrini    17pts

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

 

Sparta Praha 0-1 AC Milan: Rossoneri narrowly secure first-place finish with makeshift XI

Milan got the job done away at Sparta Praha this evening, narrowly securing the win and thus the first spot in the group as Celtic managed to beat Lille. Jens Petter Hauge got on the scoresheet again and Stefano Pioli was able to try out some youngsters, most of whom did well. 

Having secured their spot in the knockout phase, while Sparta had no chance to climb the group, the Rossoneri fielded a makeshift eleven with several youngsters that wouldn’t normally play. The home side followed suit and it made for an interesting game, with both sets of players under pressure to do well.  Continue reading

Roma draw a blank against Sassuolo as coach Fonseca receives a touchline ban

There were two disallowed goals and a red card as Roma could only draw against a tough opponent in Sassuolo at home, with the game ending 0-0.

First man of the moment for Roma Henrikh Mkhitaryan saw his goal effort ruled out by VAR as there had been a foul in the build up. At least for Roma this would be levelled up later on when Sassuolo thought that they had taken the lead in the 75th minute which could have been the winner through Lukas Haraslin but this was ruled out also.

The focus on the game was not the 1 point earned though but other incidents. The first of which was Pedro Rodriguez’s performance. The midfielder was sent off for two bookable offences. The first involved a head butt and the second a cynical foul and the former Barcelona player was having an early first half shower.

Pedro’s sending off led to another sending off but not for a player but for Roma’s coach Paulo Fonseca who was angered by Pedro’s red card. He seemed to insult an official and was given his marching orders and it has now been confirmed that Fonseca will receive a touchline ban for Roma’s next Serie A game which will take place away to Bologna.

This result has left Roma in sixth place with 18 points and they are now 8 points behind leader leaders Milan. Of course being just 2 points from 4th place a possible Champions League finish is very realistic but it is too early to talk about that.

Fonseca had his thoughts after the match and had this to say, “I am very proud of the lads, as we played very well, had the better scoring opportunities, were organised in defence and stopped a great team like Sassuolo from creating chances. I didn’t like the refereeing, though. I don’t understand why Pedro’s first foul was a yellow card. After that, I saw the situation with Pellegrini, how is that a yellow? I know the referee might not see it well, but VAR ought to see that. There was also potentially a penalty for us with the handball, but again VAR did not intervene.”

As far as the fantasy points are concerned not one player with Giallorossi earned any points. The player who really missed out was inevitably Pedro who finished with -2 points for the weekend.

The Europa League is up next for Roma but it is a dead rubber game against CSKA Sofia and Fonseca will rest much of his regular team. Roma have already qualified as group winners. The draw for the knock out stage of the Europa League will take place on December 14th.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

 

Reality check for Roma with crushing defeat at Napoli as Giallorossi aim to finish 1st in Europa League group

Roma lost their ‘first’ league game of the season as they were crushed by Napoli 4-0 at the weekend. Of course the Serie A standings will have made this the clubs 2nd defeat of the season, which it is, although in theory their game v Verona was defaulted.

Let’s be honest and say that the Giallorossi were simply overwhelmed by Napoli and a higher plane rising above any other player who was on that pitch on Sunday. That man was of course Diego Armando Maradona, perhaps the greatest player to have ever played the game, and certainly the greatest to have played for Napoli. His sudden passing last week was a shock and will live in the memory for all football fans for as long as the game is played.

There was no mistake that at San Paolo Stadium, which looks soon to be renamed after Maradona that the Argentine’s brilliance was not influencing the game. For Napoli who haven’t won Serie A since Maradona guided them to two titles in 1987 and 1990, they had an extra determination, extra passion and dare it be said an extra power to them at the weekend, this was all about honouring El Diego, and they rightly did.

Lorenzo Insigne opened the scoring for Napoli and there was always only going to be one winner here. Indeed whilst Napoli had 9 shots on target Roma had just 1 and the Giallorossi were never in the game.

Most of the players did see this match as a one off, they simply were not at the races, out fought by a team that wanted so desperately to honour their hero. This is what football does, and the game can work on such a higher psychological level that even if we say that man for man Roma have a better team than Napoli, at times that can simply pale into significance.

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca had this to say about the defeat which leaves the club in sixth place and six points behind the current leaders AC Milan. “We couldn’t string three passes together. Quite simply, we didn’t show enough courage and did not do anywhere near enough to earn a result against Napoli. We weren’t the best team in the world before this game and we are not the worst now. Every match is a test for this team, not just against the biggest opponents. It certainly wasn’t a good performance, as we lacked aggression, lacked courage, so we need to learn from this and correct our mistakes next time.”

Six Roma players earned minus points at the weekend, with the best having to share zero points, that’s how bad the performance was. The worst affected player was goalkeeper Antonio Mirante who lost 6 points. The worst affected outfield player was Ibanez who lost 4 points.

The knock out stages of the Europa League await Roma

Roma have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League- that’s the good news. But it could get even better when the Giallorossi clash with Young Boys on Thursday evening. If Roma win then they are guaranteed first position which usually means an easier path and a so called easier fixture in the first knock out round. Roma will be at home to Young Boys and in the reverse fixture Roma won 2-1.

Next league game v Sassuolo

Roma’s next Serie A game will take place at home against third place Sassuolo who have been a real surprise package this season. Roma are unbeaten at home so far with three wins and one draw and that includes winning their last three in a row. Last season Roma won this fixture 4-2 and Sassuolo do not usually travel well to the capital.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was firing on all cylinders before the Napoli defeat and has scored 5 goals so far and the club will be hoping that he can recapture his fantastic form. The midfielder also has the most fantasy points for the team with 38 so far and his fantasy value is 7.5m.

Join the most popular Fantasy Serie A game here: fantasyseriea.com now!

 

 

 

 

Unai Emery helping to give Villarreal a second wave of excellency in La Liga

Many sing about the fairy tale of New York around Christmas but Villarreal are the fairy tale of Spanish football. Let’s face it how many football fans had heard of the club before their fantastic run to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006? Whatever the figure halve it down to how many fans knew of the club back in 1998. That year Villarreal made their debut in La Liga.

It really is an amazing story, and true we’ve seen it before where clubs from a second division get promoted and do well enough to finish in the top 5 for example and qualify for Europe. But Villarreal went that step further and though they have been relegated on a few occasions since 1998 they keep coming back, have attracted quality players and coaches and are doing rather well this season.

This summer Unai Emery former coach of PSG and Arsenal signed a three year contract with the club known as ‘The Yellow Submarines’, and he already has a 53% win rate. The most stunning fact is that Villarreal have lost just once this season and are in 3rd place with 20 points, three in front of Real Madrid and six in front of Barcelona and four from the top.

No one is expecting Villarreal to be a realistic challenger for the title this season, though at the present time La Liga is well open to invitations, but if the club can finish in a European position Emery would have done his job and brought the club full circle.

It is incredible to think that the club have risen from a population of just 50,000 and their achievements have been quite incredible. Not only reaching the 2006 Champions League semi-final, but they also reached the semi-finals of the Europa League on three occasions and finished as runners up in La Liga back in 2008. They finished just 8 points shy of Real Madrid the champions but 10 points in front of Barcelona, that Barcelona team who were just getting ready to become one of the best clubs sides we have ever witnessed.

The recruitment at Villarreal has been impressive and apart from a few seasons when they club didn’t perform at all well these past 22 years have been incredible for the club. Much of that is down to club president Fernando Roig.

Roig took the gamble to buy Villarreal back in 1997 and it has been his clear investment and strategy that has brought the clubs most successful era to fruition in the past two decades. Back in 2017 Roig had this to say about the club. “The fans can complain that we haven’t won a trophy, but I’d like to assure them that really, the best thing for Villarreal is ensuring that the club remains in the top flight that’s our own Cup tournament in a way. For this club, the most important triumph is playing in the top division every year and playing in Europe every now and again. Villarreal is economically stable and in a few years’ time, our youth academy will be a source of new talent for the team.

Villarreal have had stand out players of the past including Juan Roman Riquelme, Robert Pires, Giuseppi Rossi and Diego Forlan to name a few. The current squad are doing well too.

Gerard Moreno currently has 57 goals and is just 26 shy of becoming the clubs all time leading goalscorer. At 28 he has the time to do it as long as he stays fit and doesn’t leave beforehand. This season alone Moreno has scored six goals and has the most fantasy points of any Villarreal player with 25 so far.

Just behind him is his striker partner Paco Alcacer who would cost you just 3m and has earned 24 points this season. He has been involved in seven goals so far and has scored 5.

Manuel Trigueros and Daniel Parejo have bolstered the midfield and in defence Mario Gaspar has stood out, he has 14 points so far and has helped to keep 3 clean sheets.

Once again the future looks bright for Villarreal, and this season in particular could be very memorable indeed if they can keep up their good form under Emery. Right now nobody can be thinking that their yellow submarine is going to sink this season.

Think you know Spanish football? Play https://liga-fantasy.com now!

Lille 1-1 AC Milan: Rossoneri miss out on good opportunity despite impressive defensive display

Following the humiliating 3-0 loss in the reverse fixture at San Siro, Milan were hoping to get their revenge on Lille this evening by claiming all three points. However, despite taking the lead early in the second half, they failed to do so and thus remain second in their Europa League. 

It wasn’t the most entertaining game, with Milan taking control of the possession early on but doing little with it. They had patience, that’s for sure, playing it around to try to find an opening in between the midfield. Once Sandro Tonali or Ismael Bennacer got in that position, it always got dangerous.  Continue reading

AC Milan 0-3 Lille: Impressive unbeaten run comes to an end after surprising home defeat

AC Milan’s unbeaten run, which was at 24 games, came to an end this evening as Lille managed to score three goals at San Siro. Stefano Pioli’s men never came close to recovering, making far too many mistakes in both phases of the game, which cost them dearly. 

The Rossoneri had been hoping to extend their unbeaten run this evening with at least a draw, having done so well at the start of this season. However, all good things must come to an end at some point, and this was the case for Milan tonight. That being said, no one expected it to end like this.  Continue reading

Wins over Fiorentina and Cluj boost Roma as Fonseca hails the Chris Smalling effect

Roma have recorded two good wins over the week, one in Serie A where they put in a solid performance beating Fiorentina and the other in the Europa League which was a crushing 5-0 win against CFR Cluj.

The victory over Fiorentina means that Roma are in 8th place and are unbeaten in their last five games earning 11 points in that time. Form has been good with 3 wins from their past four matches.

Leonardo Spinazzola opened the scoring for Roma and he was effectively set up by a huge kick from goal keeper Antonio Mirante. But Spinazzola still had much work to do and kept the ball well before a deft turn in the Fiorentina area found him his desired space and he slotted home with ease. It was a great goal to get the game going.

Late in the second half Pedro scored from a few yards out and the ex Barcelona man was never going to miss from that range. That gave the game to Roma who ran out 2-0 winners. Roma had 7 shots on target to Fiorentina’s one  and so the result was never going to be in doubt.

Roma are looking good in the Europa League too and they beat CFR Cluj 5-0 and it has been reported that Cluj’s coach Dan Petrsucu will immediately leave the job after the game. Having lost 5-0 that may well speed up the process.

The game was set in stone within just a few seconds of kick off after Henrik Mkhitaryan opened the scoring for the hosts and Borja Mayoral scored a brace before Pedro popped up to finish the game off in a very easy win for Paulo Fonseca’s team.

Smalling doing the business in Italy

Paolo Fonseca has hailed the importance of having Chris Smalling at Roma. The player initially joined the club on a loan from Manchester United but the Italians have now signed him on a permanent deal. Fonseca said: “We have three young lads in defence, so it’s important to have someone like Chris who is more experienced and more of a leader. It’s a very important figure to have. The whole team put in a good performance against a strong opponent (Fiorentina). We were solid in defence today, doing well to break quickly on the counter. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a very intelligent player who can take on different roles, just as we can play with three at the back or four.”

As for fantasy points Jordan Veretout leads the way and he has amassed 20 points so far. Next weekend Roma will play Genoa away from home.

Sign up to eurofantasyleague.com the game where football fans meet to compete.

 

 

 

 

 

AC Milan 3-0 Sparta Praha: Three things we learned from yet another secure Europa League win

Milan extended their unbeaten run to 23 games this evening, beating Sparta Praha by three goals to nil in the second round of the Europa League group stage. The win was never in doubt for the Rossoneri, just like against Celtic, and several players really impressed this evening. 

Brahim Diaz opened the scoring after just 24 minutes, having won the ball high up the pitch to start a counter-attack. Zlatan Ibrahimovic picked him out and the Spaniard made no mistakes with the finish, firing it through the legs of the goalkeeper. Another goal, in other words, for the Real Madrid loanee in Europa League. Continue reading