Barcelona need to re focus for next season and Messi and Xaxi could be key to that

Whilst Barcelona are top of the league standings for now and are still in the Champions League any fan who watches them will tell you that they are not having their usual dominant season. They simply don’t look like the Barcelona side that have graced their league and European football for the past decade.

They have had some injuries in Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann has taken time to fit in and doesn’t have consistently good games. Lionel Messi is getting older but he is still a fantastic player, but there is a feeling that he needs to be re motivated. New coach Quique Setien seems like a good man but one really has to question if he is the right person to take Barcelona forward.

Setien’s appointment came after a panic decision led by the board and Eric Abidal to sack Ernesto Valverde, who the players really liked. Everything felt hurried in their decision and the severance got messy so to speak. So bad that Messi himself spoke out about his feelings that Valverde should never have been sacked.

Bringing in Setien always felt like the wrong decision especially when news broke that Barca and Abidal had chased after ex player Xavi to be the new coach. Xavi was loyal to his Chinese team though and rejected the offer for now. Come August and the next season and it is thought that Xavi will be available and will be Barca’s new coach.

Appointing Xavi would make sense, his blood runs the colours of the club, he is respected by his peers and the fans love him. This could work, but of course he will judged on results only. Messi could well improve, even though he is actually having a decent season maybe it has lacked some spark from the high bar that he has set himself.

Next season has to be about focusing for the club. When the Suarez injury hit and the club looked for last minute deals, it made no sense. They wanted to pay big money to Everton to secure Richarlison, Everton quite rightly in January said no. And they simply went window shopping again, with not much care or focus. The truth is Barcelona didn’t want or need Richarlison, and they ended up going for Martin Braithwaite, a decent player but journeyman who simply will not fit into the team.

This was a basic blunder by the club and not to undermine Braithwaite’s skills, but players brought into any club must have a desired role so they can play and fit into the team like a jigsaw. Braithwaite through no fault of his own has been plucked out and expected to be the difference within the team. Instead his biggest highlight might be just sharing a dressing room with Messi. This all comes down to Barcelona panicking.

Bringing in Xavi next season there will be the hope that the team can re focus, he understands the club and was part of the team that was hailed as the best club side in history in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

Barcelona still have the magic, still have their integrity, but in football life moves fast. Wit La Liga possibly being suspended this year over the virus it gives the club time to assess the situation, the question is will they make the right choices or continue to panic?

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La Liga: Best 11 Players from Week 25

Barcelona took top spot again as Real Madrid lost to Levante in a shock result and for Barca Lionel Messi got back on form scoring 4 goals as Barcelona beat Eibar 5-0. We take a look at the best performing players in La Liga from the weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Tomas Vaclik- Sevilla 7pts

Tomas Vaclik really stuck out at the weekend as he kept a clean sheet in Sevilla’s 3-0 win over Getafe. This result has helped the club move into the top four. Vaclik earned 7 points and this puts his total to 50 for the season so far.

Defender: Nacho Monreal- Real Sociedad 9pts

Nacho Monreal had a great weekend as he was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet as Sociedad strolled to an 3-0 win over Valencia, the icing on the cake was that Monreal scored the 2nd goal.

Defender: Zaldua- Real Sociedad 7pts

Zaldua helped keep a clean sheet in Sociedad’s 3-0 win but also assisted in the teams first goal which got the ball rolling and for that he was able to earn a very solid 7 points. It is his 5th clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Diego Carlos- Sevilla 5pts

Diego Carlos earned 5 points as Sevilla easily won their game beating 3-0. Carlos has been one of the most important defenders in Spain where he has now kept an impressive 10 clean sheets.

Defender: Clement Lenglet- Barcelona 5pts

Lenglet played an important role to keep a clean sheet as Barcelona beat Eibar 5-0. It was important for the player who has sometimes got criticism in his role, but it was the players 5th clean sheet of the season for the Catalan giants.

Midfielder: Angel Correra- Atletico Madrid 6pts

Angel Correra is ranked as the 3rd best midfielder in La Liga and for good reason and another 6 points were earned as his team beat Villarreal 3-1. He opened the scoring and then assisted in the 2nd goal and now has a total of 43 points.

Midfielder: Fernando- Sevilla 8pts

Fernando has 17 points in total and at times has struggled this season but he had a very positive weekend scoring Sevilla’s 2nd goal and then making the assist for the 3rd.

Midfielder: Arthur- Barcelona 6pts

Arthur scored Barcelona’s 5th goal as they club beat Eibar 5-0 to go top of the table. It was the players 3rd goal of the season and this was such an important win and he capped the games victory off nicely.

Midfielder: Jorge Koke- Atletico Madrid 6pts

Koke had another great game scoring the 2nd and then setting up Felix for the 3rd goal as Atletico beat Villarreal 3-1. Koke now has 31 points and is ranked as one of the best midfielders in La Liga.

Striker: Darwin Machis- Granada 8pts

Granada beat Osasuna 3-0 and Machis scored the 2 opening goals in just over 20 minutes to earn a fantastic 8 points in fantasy La Liga. He now has 5 goals for the season.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona 18 pts

18!, you read that right 18 points for the master player Lionel Messi was earned at the weekend as he scored an incredible 4 goals past Eibar as Barcelona went top of the league. A hat trick seemed sufficient but the great Messi scored another and he now has aptly 18 goals in the league.

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La Liga: Best 11 Players of the Weekend: Week 24

Real Madrid were shocked as they could draw at home against Celta Vigo 2-2. With Barcelona getting past Getafe with a 2-1 win it means that Barca are just one point behind Madrid with 14 games left to play. From the top 6 teams only two won in Barcelona and Villarreal and that has also made Champions League finishing positions more open and interesting.

Let’s take a look below at who performed the best this past weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Joel Robles- Real Betis 7pts

Only two goalkeepers in La Liga earned 7 points and it happened in the same match as Leganes took on Real Betis. The game ended 0-0 but Joel Robles deserves this one being the away goalkeeper and Levante had 11 goal attempts.

Defender: Oier Mate- Osasuna 8pts

It was a perfect match for Oier Mate who not only kept a clean sheet for his club but also scored the only goal and winner as Osasuna beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 away from home.

Defender: David Garcia- Osasuna 5pts

Garcia alongside his team mater Oier Mate helped to keep a clean sheet away from home and earned 5 points. That is his 7th of the season where he has helped his club.

Defender: Aissa Mandi- Real Betis 5pts

Aissa Mandi has been good at collecting yellow cards which has hampered his points total, but at the weekend he did a perfect job for Real Betis and he has helped the club keep 4 clean sheets this season.

Defender: Martin Valjent- Real Mallorca 

Real Mallorca beat Alaves 1-0 and Valjent was a big part of that success and earning 3 points in the heart of defence. He has helped to keep 4 clean sheets this season.

Midfielder: Suso- Sevilla 6pts

Suso rescued a point for Sevilla who were losing 2-1 at home to Espanyol but with just minutes left Suso was able to get a very important goal for the home side. It was only his 2nd goal of the season but such an important one.

Midfielder: Toni Kroos- Real Madrid 4pts

It was a disappointing result at the weekend for Real Madrid who could only draw 2-2 at home to Celta Vigo. But Toni Kroos put in a good shift at home and also scored a goal to put his team back in the game after they conceded first.

Midfielder: Moises Gomez- Villarreal 4pts

Moises Gomez got the winning goal as his side Villarreal beat Levante 2-1 in a very close game. He has been involved in 7 goals this season and that was his 3rd of the season.

Midfielder: Thomas Partey- Atletico Madrid 4pts

Thomas scored only his 2nd goal of the season to help Atletico draw 2-2 with Valencia in an entertaining draw. The league is over for the club but they need to maintain a Champions League berth.

Striker: Gerard Moreno- Villarreal 6pts

Gerard Moreno had a brilliant game for Villarreal as he opened the scoring and then set up the winner as his side won 2-1. Moreno has scored 10 goals this season and created 3 further goals.

Striker: Lucas Ocampos- Sevilla 6pts

Lucas Ocampos also earned 6 points and did the same job as Moreno scoring his teams first goal and then setting up the assist for the 2nd as Sevilla drew 2-2. It was Ocampos’ 7th goal of the season.

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La Liga: Best 11 Players from the Weekend: Matchday 23

Let’s take a look at the winners and heroes who picked up the most points for your fantasy team this weekend in La Liga.

Formation: 4-4-2:

Goalkeeper: David Soria- Getafe 7pts

Getafe have been superb this season and David Soria was able to keep yet another clean sheet as the team beat Valencia 3-0. It was Soria’s 10th clean sheet of the season and it says it all that he is 3rd on the goalkeeping rankings list for La Liga.

Defender: Djene-Getafe 5pts

Djene has been brilliant in the heart of defence for Getafe who won 3-0 at the weekend keeping another clean sheet. Getafe are in 3rd place and with the help of their defence which has only conceded 20 goals this season they could be heading for the Champions League.

Defender: Stefan Savic- Atletico Madrid 5pts

Stefan Savic helped his team keep another clean sheet as Atletico win 1-0 at the weekend and that is his 7th clean sheet of the season, he would cost you 7m and is having a very solid term.

Defender: Mario Hermoso Atletico Madrid 5pts

Hermoso has built up a steady relationship with Savic in the Atletico defence and has been a real find this season as his team try to finish in a Champions League place.

Defender:  Tono- Levante 7pts

Tono earned big points for Levante after assisting in the clubs 2nd goal as they eased past Leganes 2-0. He also, of course kept a clean sheet for the icing on top of a very successful weekend for him and his club.

Midfielder: Sergio Canales- Real Betis 4pts

Sergio Canales was on the losing side as Betis were beaten by Barcelona 3-2 but he did open the scoring. Canales kept a cool head to convert a penalty and put his side in the lead after just 6 minutes before a Barca fightback. It was his 3rd goal this season and he has 20pts and is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Takashi Inui-Eibar 4pts

Inui has 20 points so far this season and even though Eibar lost at the weekend 2-1 he did provide the consolation goal. That was his 3rd assist of the season.

Midfielder: Angel Correa- Atletico Madrid 6pts

Correra got the only goal in Atletico Madrid’s vital win over Granada. It was a tough game for the home side who were reduced to just 3 shots on target the whole game, so the midfielder really came through to get all three points.

Midfielder: Lucas- Real Madrid 4pts

Lucas did really well as he only came on for Real Madrid with just over twenty minutes to go and made an immediate impact scoring the 3rd goal for the club in a game they eventually won 4-1 against Osasuna. It was only his 2nd goal of the season.

Striker: Jorge Molina- Getafe 8pts

Getafe are the team of the moment in Spain, no question about that and Jorge Molina has revamped his career. He scored 2 goals in 9 second half minutes to end Valencia’s resistance as Getafe ran out 3-0 winners. Molina now has 5 goals this season.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona 6pts

It’s no surprise that Lionel Messi turns up in team of the weekend picks but he earned another 6 points as Barcelona staged a dramatic comeback against Real Betis winning 3-2. There was no goals for Messi but he did assist in the winning goal.

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La Liga: Best 11 Players from the Weekend: Matchday 22

Real Madrid beat Atletico in the Madrid derby to move 3 points clear of Barcelona who got a nervous win over Levante. Atletico have been underwhelming and this weekend looks to have put paid to their title. It’s a two horse race now between Real and Barca.

Let’s look at the 11 players who performed the best in La Liga at the weekend.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois- Real Madrid 7pts

Only a few goalkeepers achieved 7 points at the weekend but our vote goes to Courtois because he was able to keep a clean sheet in the very important Madrid derby against a quality side.

Defender: Damien Suarez- Getafe 8 pts

Damien Suarez is having a very good season and he had a great game at the weekend as his side beat Athletic Bilbao 2-0. He kept a clean sheet and also scored a goal for a perfect weekend. Suarez would cost 7.5m to bring in.

Defender: Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid 5 pts

Sergio Ramos what more can you say about the quality of his defending. He kept a strong head too as he usually gets sent off in Madrid derbies and he help to keep a good clean sheet in 1-0 win.

Defender: Raphael Varane- Real Madrid 5 pts

Varane has a great chemistry with Ramos and it showed again, these two are world superstars and keeping a clean sheet ensured that Madrid are now top of the table. You can add Varane to your team for 8.5m

Defender: Djene- Getafe 5pts

Djene is doing very well at the back for Getafe keeping another clean sheet and also that is his 8th of the season and he is valued at just 5.5m so seems a real bargain.

Midfielder:Carlos Soler- Valencia 6pts

Carlos Soler was the highest scoring midfielder in La Liga in a strange weekend that saw few points for the midfield maestros of the league. Soler got the only goal as his side Valencia beat Celta Vigo 1-0.

Midfielder: Santiago Carzola- Villarreal 5pts

Cazorla earned 5 points and had a great game as Villarreal won their match 3-1. He assisted for the opener and then scored the 2nd goal through a penalty. But he dropped some points as he was booked late on.

Midfielder: Nabil Fekir- Real Betis 4pts

Betis drew 1-1 with Eibar and Betis have to thank Fekir for the goal. He has become a firm favourite with the fans, even if he is having a mixed season but maybe this goal will ignite his form and he may be worth taking on?

Midfielder: Ruben Jimenez-Villarreal 4pts

Ruben Jimenez earned another 4 points and he now has 13 in total and would cost only 5m, and could be a bargain if he has a strong finish to the league campaign.

Striker: Anssumane Fati- Barcelona 8pts

When Lionel Messi is not the hero for Barcelona someone else has to be and Fati has been superb this season, a real find. Barca beat Levante only by 2-1 but it was Fati who grabbed both goals. His value is sure to go up soon but he is currently just 5m.

Striker: Carlos Fernandez- Granada 6pts

Carlos Fernandez scored a goal and assisted in one just like his teammate so it was hard to split the players. But at the end of the day it was Fernandez’s goal that settled the game and won it 2-0 for Granada so he gets the nod. He has scored 4 goals this season.

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What has gone wrong for Atletico Madrid this season?

This was supposed to be the season where Atletico Madrid made their statement. A La Liga title was the objective. Quality players had been brought in, no less in Felix who cost over 120m euros,  and Diego Simeone looked upon as one of the best coaches in world football is still at the club.

It was a season where everyone thought Real Madrid are in transition. No matter if Zinedine Zidane is the coach, he left then came back, there is no Ronaldo, and times have changed, except for Real they haven’t and that is why they are currently top of the league. What about the threat of Barcelona? But they were thought to be maybe too long in the tooth, the same old tired midfield, Atletico happy to see Antoine Griezmann sold to them so they could get Felix, and surely from Atletico’s point of view they got the best years out of Griezmann anyway.

Then there is Lionel Messi, but he is 32 going on 33, the thinking from Atletico seemed legit, this was their time, except it wasn’t. As the season draws in they are 13 points behind Real Madrid and 10 behind Barcelona. And it gets worse than that, because they aren’t even in 3rd place, no Getafe currently hold that position, Getafe?, oh poor Atletico what went wrong?

Part of the problem seems to be uncertainty on and off the pitch. Saul Niguez has repeatedly been played out of position with Simeone insisting him to play in defence when he prefers to play in midfield as seen with the Spanish national side. Then there is Simeone’s assistant German ‘Mono’ Burgos who keeps getting linked away from the job- and it must be tempting for him to take on a full time coaches job elsewhere.

Felix as mentioned above is technically brilliant but the problem is his age. He has scored just 2 goals this season, that can almost be accepted if he is creating goals, but he has only been involved in one assist for the money paid that is a very poor return.

One player who has shone is Kieran Trippier who Atletico got from Tottenham. He has looked assured in defence and has made more assists than Felix which says a lot.

The game of course is all about goals and Atletico have scored just 22, that is 30 less than Barcelona and the same as Mallorca who are down in 17th place. The flip side of that is they have conceded 15 but they have won just 9 games from 22 played.

The worry for the club now is can they qualify for next seasons Champions League? Winning it this year will be hard given that they will play the current champions Liverpool in the knockout round. As far as qualifying through their league status they are just 3 points from 4th place so of course it is possible. But form really needs to get picked up as they have no wins in their last 3 games, their latest loss was a body blow too coming against city rivals Real Madrid.

Next weekend the club will play Granada at home, a game they should win but one senses like much of the their season they will somehow make heavy weather of it.

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No circus at Real Madrid as Zidane is quietly getting the job done

There was much scepticism when Zinedine Zidane returned as coach of Real Madrid last summer after walking out of the club a year beforehand. But the Frenchman’s return is being justified by every passing week, and Real Madrid are top of La Liga.

Madrid have 49 points and it is only their fierce rival Barcelona who can stop their quest for a La Liga title, they currently have 46 points. In 3rd is Getafe with 39 points. It has been quite an achievement for Madrid under Zidane who have just come off of a great weekend as they beat their eternal rivals in the derby Atletico Madrid 1-0 keeping a clean sheet in the process. That score line summed up Madrid, no mad 4-3 wins and games filled with red cards, just a simple 1-0 will do the job.

That win ended Atletico’s title hopes too and Diego Simeone’s side now sit a huge 14 points behind their rivals.

Compared to other seasons Real are not scoring tons of goals, just 40 so far for them. True that is still the 2nd best in the league but is still 12 behind Barcelona and only one in front of Villarreal. But it is in defence where Real are really shining, conceding just 13 goals this season which is by far the best defensive record in the league. They allowed a great side like Atletico just 1 shot on target the whole game at the Bernabeu and at home that figure goes down to just 7 goals shipped.

Sergio Ramos has helped keep 11 clean sheets whilst Raphael Varane and Daniel Carvajal have kept 10. Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has easily been the best shot stopper in the league and whilst we associate Madrid with attack and goals the focus has clearly been on defence.

Only Karim Benzema has been scoring the goals for Real, he currently has 13 and the days of having a player scoring 40 or 50 goals a season in Cristiano Ronaldo has long gone. He will be for ever thanked at the club, but football is and always will be a team game and that is the mentality of the club under Zidane this season.

Incredibly Real have only won the league once in the past 7 years which last happened in 2017. Whilst Madrid will have a go on all fronts in the Champions League club president Florentino Perez would love to deliver the league and knock back Barcelona, it would mean a great deal to stop Barca winning their 3rd league title in a row.

As far as the Champions League goes, Madrid will face off against Manchester City in what should be a mouth watering 2 legged affair. It also brings back Pep Guardiola to the Bernabeu he whose blood bleeds the colours of Barcelona, just for some more added spice.

Can Madrid win their 2nd title in 8 years, they have given themselves every chance to do so, and for now it looks like Zidane has come back to save Madrid who were clearing in a chaotic mess a year ago.

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La Liga Best 11 Players from the Weekend: Matchday 21

Real Madrid went top after they beat Valladolid to win their 3rd game in a row. And Madrid took 1st place after Barcelona lost 2-0 away to Valencia. Atletico Madrid continued their poor form when they could only draw 0-0 at home to Leganes. After 21 games the league title and top 4 places are still up for grabs and we look at the players who performed the best in matchday 21. Do you have any of them? Now is the time to look!

Formation: 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois- Real Madrid 7pts

The goalkeeper choice goes to Thibaut Courtois because Real Madrid were the only side at the weekend to play away and keep a clean sheet and that was the goalkeeper’s 10th of the season.

Defender: Nacho- Real Madrid 8pts

Nacho played out the perfect game as he helped keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win for Madrid over Valladolid and he also scored the winning and only goal of the game. An unlikely hero that is valued at 6.5m and has scored 21 points so far in total.

Defender: Roberto Rosales- Leganes 5pts

Roberto Rosales starred well for Leganes who stunned Atletico Madrid at their own stadium to hold out for a 0-0 draw, even with 10 men in the end. Rosales is valued at 5.5m and that was third clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Jose Angel- Eibar 5pts

Eibar held off Celta Vigo away with that game finishing 0-0 and Jose Angel was thick in the action and made some crucial tackles as he earned 5 points for the clean sheet. He can be part of your team for 8m.

Defender: Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid 5pts

Now with a total of 54 points for the season Sergio Ramos is the best performing defender in La Liga. He has played in 10 games where Madrid have kept a clean sheet and the veteran star does not come too cheap at 9m, but seems worth it.

Midfielder: Portu- Real Sociedad 8pts

Portu had a man of the match game after he assisted in Real Sociedad’s first goal and then  scored later on as his team won 3-0 against Mallorca in a one sided game. He has 42 points so far this season and is valued at 8.5m.

Midfielder: Ruben Garcia- Osasuna 6pts

Osasuna’s game was 0-0 with just 10 minutes left when they were awarded a penalty and Ruben Garcia under obvious pressure scored and that goal was vital as the home side went onto win their game 2-0. Having earned 32 points this season Garcia looks like a great deal, valued at just 4.5m.

Midfielder: Toni Kroos- Real Madrid 4pts

Kroos was part of a Madrid midfield that stayed firm in a difficult match and helped the defence keep a clean sheet and the German international then assisted in Madrid’s only goal of the game. Kroos currently has 35 points.

Midfielder: Jesus Navas- Sevilla 4pts

Sevilla beat Granada 2-0 and the opening goal which helped the home side to win the game was assisted by Navas, who has had another solid outing for the club he has become most associated too. He has 24 points so far this season and costs 4.5m.

Striker: Carlos Bacca- Villarreal 4pts

It was a low earning week for strikers, and Carlos Bacca scored one of Villarreal’s goals as they beat Alaves away from home 2-1. It was Bacca’s first league goal of the season but he has only started a handful of games for the club. His value is 10.5m, perhaps this could kick start his form?

Striker: Angel- Getafe 4pts

Angel got Getafe’s goal as they earned 3 valuable points at home to Real Betis winning the game 1-0. It was the players 9th goal of the season and he has 35 points already this season and his value is 7.5m.

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Best 11 Players of the Weekend in La Liga: Matchday 20

Barcelona won and Real Madrid also and the two giants of Spanish football remain locked in at the top on the same points. They now have an 8 point lead over 3rd placed Atletico Madrid who lost their 3rd game of the season. Let’s take a look at what players in La Liga performed the best in matchday 20.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Marko Dmitrovic- Eibar

Many goalkeepers earned 7 points with clean sheets but it is Eibar’s Marko Dmitrovic who stood out. The reason being he made some vital saves and ended up keeping a clean sheet against Atletico Madrid, no mean feat at all. He now has 9 points and is valued at 6.5m.

Defender: Leandro Cabrera- Getafe

Leandro  Cabrera was brilliant as his side won 3-0 over Leganes and he earned 9 points, thus he kept a clean sheet and also he opened the scoring which would lead to the win. It was a perfect weekend for the defender who has 29 points and is valued at 5.5m.

Defender: Allan-Romeo Nyom- Getafe

Just like Cabrera, Nyom had a great weekend as part of the defence that kept a clean sheet and he also scored a goal. He only earned 8 points though as he was also booked in an eventful game. He is valued at 6m.

Defender: Damien Suarez- Getafe

Sticking with Getafe, Suarez earned 7 points as the club beat Leganes in a 3-0 game which was one sided. This was his 4th clean sheet this season and he now has  total of 14 points and is valued at 7.5m.

Defender: Samuel Umtiti- Barcelona

This was a very important game for Samuel Umtiti playing his first game for new Barcelona manager Quique Setien and only his 5th start of the season so there was a lot to prove as Barcelona won their game 1-0. Umtiti can be brought into your team for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Casemiro- Real Madrid

Real Madrid recorded a 2-1 win over Sevilla and Casemiro was brilliant in scoring 2 goals and he earned 7 points. It would have been more but he lost some through being booked near the end of the game. The player now has 25 points and is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Sergio Canales- Real Betis

Sergio Canales earned 8 points from midfield as Real Betis beat Real Sociedad 3-0. Canales assisted in the opening goal and then scored the 3rd and final one to top off a great days work. He now has 15 points and is valued at 7.5m.

Midfielder: Joaquin Sanchez- Real Betis

Joaquin Sanchez was brilliant in midfield as Betis beat Sociedad 3-0. He helped the team keep a clean sheet, attacked well and he scored. It was his 7th goal of the season and he has been rather outstanding this term. He can be bought for 7.5m.

Midfielder: Arturo Vidal- Barcelona

Vidal held the line well and kept his head in what was a very close win for Barcelona as they won 1-0 over Granada. He also assisted Lionel Messi for Barcelona’s only goal of the game. Vidal has 34 points and is valued at 12.5m.

Striker: Ante Budimir- Mallorca

Ante Budimir earned a whopping 10 points at the weekend as his side beat Valencia 4-1 and Budimir had his game of the season. He scored 2 goals winning the game and assisted in the last goal. He has 8 goals now this season and can be brought into your team for 6.5m.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona

Lionel Messi is used to being in teams of the weekend, and he scored his sides only goal as Barca won 1-0. Messi was the difference once more and earned 4 points at the weekend. He now has 71 points and is in the lead of La Liga strikers by 13 points. It was Messi’s 14th goal of the season.

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Barcelona sack Ernesto Valverde but the situation turns into a farce

Barcelona have sacked coach Ernesto Valverde but the handling of the affair ended up turning into a farce. Instead of the club making a professional decision the story ran out of control when former player Xavi rejected taking the job.

The Catalan giants ended up exposing themselves early, Valverde knew he was out of a job as the Barca board scrambled to appoint someone after the club were beaten 3-2 by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-finals out in Saudi Arabia. The timing though seems off. It is ended with Barcelona fans having a Valverde for a domestic league game, only to see him and the team go halfway around the world to play in the Super Cup and the team coming back with Valverde gone and a new manager in place.

But why now? Why did Barcelona make this decision? Valverde after all becomes the first Barcelona coach in 17 years sacked mid way through the season. The last was Louis van Gaal. It has been reported that Barcelona panicked when they witnessed the Atletico game. The club were 2-1 up with 10 minutes to go and lost 3-2. It reminded them of the Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool when the club spurned a 3 goal lead, each time with Valverde in charge.

It’s odd in a way that the club have finally said goodbye to him given that they are top of the league in Spain and qualified for the knock out stages of the Champions League. If they were going to sack him surely it would have come days after going out of the Champions League in embarrassing fashion to Liverpool, or at the end of last season, but he was liked by the board, well until now.

So who will be replacing him? It should have been Xavi and that would have been the natural decision. But the former Barca great actually did the most decent thing and declined to leave his current managerial position at Al Sadd during their season. It was reported he could take over in the summer but Barca wanted someone now. That someone is Quique Setien.

Setien’s last job was coach of Real Betis where he recorded some great results including beating Barcelona. He has long been an admirer of the clubs playing philosophy and could be the perfect replacement, only time will tell on that, but he has never had a win rate above 50%, at the same time he has never coached one of the elite teams and at 61 his dream has finally come true.

As for Valverde, well once you have managed Barcelona it is like winning an Oscar and he will be high demand, with no problems to find another job, although he will more than likely take the next 6 months off. The one shame is the way Barcelona handled it all for a man who probably should have gone this summer. Having said that one could question if he has been a failure for Barcelona? Sure their performances collapsed in the Champions League but Barcelona won 2 league titles under him and two cups. Week in week out they did a job on Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to win La Liga.

Former Barcelona great Andres Iniesta called the handling of Valverde’s sacking ‘a bit ugly’, and he was right to say that. It’s interesting how loyal figures at the club are usually shown the back door or the handling for their exits is not done let’s say with the best of etiquette in mind. But what is done is done and Setien will be thrown in at the deep end, his dream has finally arrived and he will be hoping that it isn’t a nightmare.

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