Ivan Rakitic leaves Barcelona with his head high

After the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich, there were always going to be casualties, and not just on the coaching side.

The result was so cataclysmic for the Catalans, that if a root and branch clear out wasn’t necessary, then something approaching it probably was.

Barca’s lowest ebb of this millennium needed strong decisions to finally be made, no matter what. Continue reading

Ivan Rakitic the latest to leave the Barcelona sinking ship

Ivan Rakitic has left Barcelona to rejoin Sevilla, and the fact he has gone back to Sevilla should speak volumes.

Some followers of Barcelona would like to play down Rakitic’s move as no more than a 32 year old who played six seasons with Barcelona simply moving on. But the timing and choosing of his new club is critical.

Lionel Messi has dominated the football news with his stunning transfer request which is in reality taking a stand at how the club has been run over the past 3 seasons. Now of Barcelona’s best midfielders over the same period of time Rakitic has left. True Rakitic was getting on in age, but he is a quality player that still had a few more seasons in him. The fact he has decided to go back to Sevilla where he enjoyed success and much less pressure says a lot. He will be returning back to the club, one suspects with a wide smile plastered over his face.

Rakitic scored 36 goals in all competitions for the club, but that was never why he was brought into the team. He commanded the midfield and set up well with Sergio Busquets after Xavi and then Andreas Iniesta left the club. Rakitic was the perfect fit and helped Barcelona win 13 trophies including 4 league titles and the Champions League which they won in 2015 and remains the last time the club has won it.

This is the season which is expected to be a big clear out for the club. Arda Turan finally left on a free transfer to join Galatasarey after a miserable time at the Nou Camp. Arthur joined Juventus for 72m euros although Barcelona didn’t really ‘see’ that money given that they then gave Juventus 60m euros for Miralem Pjanic.

Others players that are heading for a likely exit are Arturo Vidal who had a poor campaign and hasn’t really kicked on since his debut season with the club. Luis Suarez is almost certain to leave as new coach Ronald Koeman doesn’t see the former Liverpool striker in his plans. Suarez could leave for either PSG or Juventus. In fairness this is a deal that could be good for both player and club, it is obvious that Suarez has lost a few yards, and maybe just needs a fresh challenge.

There is upheaval at Barcelona, a new beginning that there can be little doubt. The club will splash the cash this summer make no mistake, but they have made many of those over the past few seasons, there seems like there is no room for error especially if they can convince Messi to stay.

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Has Samuel Umtiti played his last game for Barcelona?

Unless Barcelona suffer a spate of injuries in the centre of defence over the next couple of games, it’s hard to see where Samuel Umtiti gets a look in after his horrific performance against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

The Frenchman was once an undisputed starter for the Catalans but hasn’t been the same since sustaining a knee injury which he decided to treat holistically rather than allowing Barca’s club doctors to sort the problem out. Continue reading

Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig deserve their chance at Sevilla

Two games, two wins and no goals conceded. The restarted La Liga has gone as well as it could have for Barcelona, but one of their stiffest tests awaits them this Friday night.

Although recent results at Sevilla’s Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan have been favourable to the Catalans, it nonetheless remains one of the more difficult away trips.

If the Blaugranes are able to successfully negotiate that hurdle, with Real Madrid potentially dropping points against Valencia or Real Sociedad either side of Barca’s fixture, it will go some way to determining the destination of the league trophy Continue reading

Rakitic will be a big loss to Barcelona

As football teams evolve, so players come and go.

New managers have different ideas of how they want the game to be played, and that can often mean that players who were previously untouchable as starters, are left on the periphery.

That set of circumstances has befallen Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, albeit he still has the same coach in Ernesto Valverde. Continue reading

Paratici rules out Ronaldo leaving in 2020 and January moves

Juventus chief football officer Fabio Paratici talked to the journalists after the Manlio Scopigno award and dismissed a rumour about Cristiano Ronaldo departing at the end of the season that has been circulating in the last few days: “He is very focused on his current objectives, I do not believe in the slightest that he will leave at the end of the season or later. He is under contract and I think he will honour it: we are very happy with him and he is happy at Juventus.”

On Adrien Rabiot’s tough time in Italy so far: “We need to give him some time, he is coming off a long period where he did not play.” Continue reading

Barcelona seal LaLiga title with home win over Levante

Barcelona

It was only just and proper that Lionel Messi was the man to score the winning goal which gave Barcelona their second LaLiga title in a row on Saturday.

Levante were the visitors to Camp Nou as they continue to fight for their status in Spanish football’s top division.

Messi actually started on the bench for the home side with Ernesto Valverde clearly having one eye on his side’s upcoming Champions League semi-final clash with Liverpool.

Luis Suarez brought a good save out of Aitor with Barcelona’s first real chance of the game. Then Philippe Coutinho rattled the crossbar with an excellent effort from a free-kick. Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Real Betis defeated by another Messi masterclass

Lionel Messi

The final game of the La Liga weekend encapsulated the meaning of how some things can be worth waiting for.

With Barcelona featuring in the last game on Sunday evening, at Real Betis, we all knew we could be about to witness something special from the greatest player on the planet.

Lionel Messi did not disappoint.

The Barcelona number 10 brought his La Liga tally to 29 goals for the season with another sublime hat-trick as Barcelona won 4-1 at Real Betis.

Best 11 fantasy players in La Liga over the weekend

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It was another competitive weekend in Spain’s La Liga which saw Barcelona win El Clasico over Real Madrid and stretch their lead over them. Below we take a look at the top performing players in Spain and how they affected, the European Fantasy League La Liga points tables over the weekend.

Formation 4-4-2

Goalkeeper- Marc ter Stegen- Barcelona

ter Stegen gets the vote as goalkeeper of the week as he made some crucial saves in the biggest game in Europe to keep a clean sheet away to Real Madrid a Barcelona went 7 points clear at the top of La Liga. In the process ter Stegen earned 7 points.

Defender- Diego Godin – Atletico Madrid

At 33 years old Diego Godin is one of the best defenders in the league and with 6 points earned last weekend he gained the most points of any one in the back four. Atletico won their match 2-0 and he was part of a team that kept a clean sheet ensuring his club remain in 2nd place and look more secure for a Champions League place now.

Defender- Gerard Pique – Barcelona

Gerard Pique again was a rock in the Barcelona defence who were collectively very impressive when they played their great rival Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. And he earned 5 points in the process to be amongst the best defenders of the weekend.

Defender – Jordi Alba- Barcelona

A defender who isn’t afraid to come forward and Alba of course was part of the Barcelona team to keep yet another clean sheet. Always rock solid at the weekend and earning 5 points just like his teammate Pique.

Defender- Santiago Arias – Atletico Madrid

Arias earned the same points as some of the best defenders in La Liga and he put in a storming display as part of the Atletico back four, earning 5 points and keeping a clean sheet as his team beat Real Sociedad away from home 2-0. Arias at 27 is making his debut season for the club but has now become a regular.

Midfielder- Ivan Rakitic- Barcelona

Ivan Rakitic scored the goal that sealed Barcelona’s win over Real Madrid and the player in the process earned 6 points which gave him the most points for a midfielder this weekend in the fantasy league. He is currently in 12th position overall with 32 points.

Midfielder- Santiago Carzola- Villarreal

Carzola has proved yet again at the weekend why he is 9th overall in the fantasy standings for a midfielder. Despite Villarreal losing 2-1 to Alaves, Cazorla scored a penalty and earned vital points.

Midfielder- Sergi Roberto- Barcelona

Some are saying it was tactical brilliance from Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde to switch his players up and put Sergi Roberto in for the match v Real Madrid. It held the ball up very well and was part of a team that kept Madrid without a goal and linked up play well assisting Ivan Rakitic for the only goal of the game was the icing on top.

Midfielder- Takashi Inui- Alaves

Inui was superb as Alaves beat Villarreal 2-1 at the weekend and it was the Japanese midfielder who got the winner and earned 4 points at the weekend to be included in the best 11 performers.

Forward- Christian Stuani- Girona

Christian Stuani is 5th in the overall standings with a fantasy transfer value of 8.5m and he earned amongst the top points at the weekend with 8. He scored both goals as Girona beat Vallecano 2-0 away from home.

Forward- Alvaro Morata- Atletico Madrid

Along with Christian Stuani, Alvaro Morata was the highest performing forward of the weekend with 8 points. Morata has quickly settled into his loan deal from Chelsea, is valued at 8m and he scored 2 goals in the space of 3 minutes to give his team the win.

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