Messi on fire as Barcelona win at Sevilla

Lionel Messi

There was no looking past the world’s best player on Saturday afternoon as Lionel Messi put on another masterclass to help Barcelona win 4-2 at Sevilla.

The home side actually went ahead through a well-taken finish from Jesus Navas but Messi equalised with a sublime left-footed volley just minutes later.

Sevilla were in the lead again at half-time, however, after Gabriel Mercado scored three minutes before the break. Pablo Machin’s side were good value for their 2-1 lead at that stage.

Machin’s half-time team-talk probably consisted of something like “keep Messi quiet and we can win this”.

La Liga Weekend Picks – Round 8

garcia4With a full fixture list coming up in La Liga this weekend, there is plenty of action to sift through – making the weekend picks this time won’t be the easiest job! There are some cracking fixtures to come, as always – Real Madrid travelling to the impressive Alaves will be worth watching on Saturday, while Sunday’s pick of the matches sees fourth placed Atletico Madrid taking on fifth placed Real Betis. Both sides are tied on points and have decent defences, though the hosts are ahead on merit of having scored three more goals (and conceding one less). With that in mind, let’s go for a 4-3-3 here and see which players are worth considering for you to bring in to your fantasy team this coming weekend.

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La Liga Weekend Picks – Round 5

garcia3Last weekend’s La Liga action saw Girona recording a 3-2 home win against Celta Vigo in arguably the best of the action throughout the Spanish top flight, while Getafe did themselves plenty of credit with their 2-0 win at Sevilla. Real Madrid were held 1-1 at Athletic Bilbao, and Barcelona managed to scrape a 2-1 win at Real Sociedad despite performing far from their best. This coming weekend sees Barcelona welcoming Girona to the Nou Camp, while Real Madrid host Espanyol. Atletico Madrid have a trip to Getafe, while Eibar and Leganes do battle in a match surely worth keeping an eye on. With all that in mind, let’s take a look ahead and see which 11 players to monitor in the next round of matches.

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La Liga Game of the Weekend – Rayo Vallecano 1-4 Sevilla

sevillaWhat an opening weekend of the new season it proved to be for former Europa League champions Sevilla. Travelling to last season’s Segunda División champions Rayo Vallecano, Los Rojiblancos wound up finishing the day at the summit of Spain’s top-flight after beating their hosts 4-1. The match served as a wonderful start for Pablo Machín’s side, and also a stark warning to newboys Rayo about the level of football being played in La Liga right now. The last time they spent in the competition was back in 2016, when they were relegated with an 18th-placed finish. Their first season in the second flight was disappointing as they ended 12th, but those wrongs were corrected as they won the title last season, hoping to re-solidify themselves at the top level having spent five seasons there previous to their relegation.

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El mejor once libre, ¡a coste cero!

 

ibraCon la llegada de julio, muchos futbolistas terminan sus contratos que les vinculan a sus clubes. A algunos los renuevan, a otros los venden, a muchos los ceden… pero también los hay que se quedan sin equipo. Los motivos son muy diversos, no obstante, en el mercado hay muchas perlas futbolísticas que están libres. Quizá sean jugadores mayores o que exijan una ficha muy elevada, no obstante, no dejan de ser una ganga. Este es el mejor 11 para fichar gratis.

Portero
Ochoa – El internacional mexicano no ha cuajado su mejor temporada con el Granada, pero ha hecho una Confederaciones aceptable que le puede brindar el interés de grandes equipos.

Defensas
Pepe – No ha renovado con el Madrid. El PSG puede hacerse con sus servicios, pero Turquía también le pone carita.
Djourou – El central francés  interesa a varios clubes europeos.
Trémoulinas – El ya ex-jugador sevillista está libre, pero parece que regresará a Burdeos.
Dani Alves – El lateral brasileño ha jugado en los mejores clubes europeos y conquistado muchos títulos continentales. Tras desvincularse de la Juventus (a la que llegó gratis), busca equipo.

Centrocampistas
Santi Cazorla – El español no ha renovado con el Arsenal y ahora busca equipo, se especula sobre su retorno ibérico, pero hay más clubes que podrían unirse a la lucha.
Tiago Mendes – El antiguo jugador del Atlético, con 36 años, no tiene equipo; pero aún puede aportar veteranía y experiencia a algún club.
Jesús Navas – El City no lo quiere. Tiene 31 años, con lo cual aún le quedan varios años al primer nivel. Podría volver a Sevilla.
Rachid Ghezzal – Sin duda, es una de las mayores del mercado libre. El extremo tiene 25 años, pero no equipo. La Roma de Monchi se lo podría llevar a coste cero… si el Valencia no se le adelanta.

Delanteros
Ibrahimovic – Uno de los mejores jugadores de todos los tiempos que, dada su edad y alta ficha, no logra equipo. Una lesión le ha lastrado, pero seguramente encuentre equipo en breve ya que es una garantía de gol.
Fernando Torres – La política del Atlético es renovar año a año a jugadores de su edad. Todo apunta a que firmará a la vuelta de vacaciones, pero de momento es un jugador libre.

Arsenal Eye Surprise January Move for Manchester City Star

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It is being widely reported that Arsenal are eyeing up a shock move for Manchester City’s winger Jesus Navas to help combat their growing injury list and keep their hopes of domestic and European glory on track.

The 30-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium following the arrival of Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, and this pair has driven a slight change in shape at City – a certain narrowing – that doesn’t suit Navas’ rather one-dimensional wing play.

Arsenal have seen Theo Walcott, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck all struck down with injury – all three of whom can occupy the flanks – and Arsene  Wenger is seeking reinforcements as he tries to save the Gunners’ season from fizzling out after such a bright start.

“We are in a position where we want to do something,” Wenger said when asked about the club’s plans for the transfer window. “I love a bargain. Who doesn’t love a bargain? A bargain for us is to buy players of top quality, because only top quality strengthens our squad.”

Navas fits the bill given Wenger’s penchant for a 4-5-1 formation, and it is likely that he wouldn’t command too high a transfer fee; thus Wenger’s desire for a ‘bargain’ could be satisfied.

These two clubs are no strangers when it comes to transfer dealings, with Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna all heading north or south down the M1 at various points through the years.

So Manuel Pellegrini might be open to the deal if the funds can be used to strengthen other areas of the pitch – a new centre half would help – and Navas himself might fancy the move to cosmopolitan London and with Euro ’16 on the horizon. If he isn’t enjoying first team football, it is unlikely that he will force his way into Vicente Del Bosque’s squad.

It would surely be with a heavy heart though should he move on. The 30-year-old followed Pellegrini to City from La Liga, and has enjoyed the chance to get his hands on plenty of silverware in his two-and-a-half year stint at the club. They completed that famous Premier League win and lifted the Capital One Cup in his first season in Manchester, and while last season was a bit of a damp squib their supporters have high hopes for another league triumph this time around.

They might just have to make do without the services of Jesus Navas.

Will Manchester City’s Jesus Navas Make Way for Kevin De Bruyne?

Manchester City winger Jesus Navas

Manchester City winger Jesus Navas

Manchester City’s new-boy Kevin de Bruyne could well come straight into the side given his impressive exploits for former side Wolfsburg in the last 18 months, and existing winger Jesus Navas might be the one fighting for his place in the side as a result. The Belgian international set the Sky Blues back £55M, and won’t be content with being on the bench for long, especially considering his competition isn’t delivering on the pitch.

Currently top of the table, Manchester City have enjoyed a bright start in the Premier League – winning all four games of the new season without conceding. Manuel Pellegrini’s men look a well-oiled machine, but they can still strengthen the side if De Bruyne comes in for Navas. The Spanish international has played in all four games in the league so far this campaign, but has failed to score or make an assist.

Lasting only 45 minutes in their last game against Watford, the 29-year-old is certainly in the firing line if the City boss looks to give De Bruyne his first start when the players are back from the international break. Navas has created opportunities for his teammates on the pitch, but doesn’t come close to a playmaker like De Bruyne.

The 24-year-old summer-signing scored and assisted 30 goals in the German Bundesliga last season, and made 99 successful dribbles, as well as creating 112 chances. It’s not hard to see why Manchester City were so keen to spend so much on bringing him to the Etihad Stadium, and he could well form a potent attacking quartet of Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Sergio Aguero.

Navas has been valiant in trying to keep his place, however, saying: “I feel I’m a really important player within the squad and my duty now is to keep working hard to keep my place in the team – then the manager will decide. I’m very focused and working really hard in training every day. This is the way I want to do things this season.”

Nevertheless, the one-dimensional winger will struggle to keep his place given how little he brings to the side apart from pace. De Bruyne is of the mould of the current City attacking-midfielders, who all like to cut inside and link up with the onrushing fullbacks. Navas tends to take the ball down the byline to get a cross into the box. And with the somewhat out-of-favour Samir Nasri not looking likely of getting much game time either, De Bruyne is a shoo-in to come straight into the side in the coming weeks.