Football, football, football.
Here is our preview of all ten games in LaLiga this coming weekend.
Osasuna v Real Betis
Key men: Roberto Torres (Osasuna); Nabil Fekir (Real Betis)
Prediction: Osasuna 1 – 1 Real Betis Continue reading
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid team has started its LaLiga campaign in the best possible fashion – three wins from its opening three games.
As such, Atleti is the only team with a 100% record in Spanish football’s top flight after just three games.
Coming up on his 8th year anniversary of being in charge at the club, Simeone will know that what they have achieved in the early stages of 2019/20 is no mean feat.
While Barcelona and Real Madrid have stumbled and stuttered over the early hurdles, Los Rojiblancos have gone about their business in a typical steady fashion. Continue reading
There were some shocks in the opening round of games of the LaLiga season.
Athletic Bilbao scored a late winner to take all three points from league champions Barcelona. A night Antoine Griezmann and co will look to forget as soon as they can.
Real Madrid looked solid in their 3-1 win at Celta Vigo, even without Eden Hazard. Karim Benzema certainly hit the ground running for Zinedine Zidane’s side.
Atletico Madrid and Sevilla both started with three points from their games while Villarreal and Granada played out an enthralling 4-4 draw at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
This weekend, LaLiga again has games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading
It was supposed to be easy. Atletico Madrid would sign Joao Felix and for the fee they paid they would recoup it back with the sale of long serving player Antoine Griezmann, except and to Griezmann’s surprise that isn’t quite happening.
Felix has arrived but Griezmann who was expected to join Barcelona is still with Atletico and the next part of the story sounds jarring. Griezmann failed to turn up for training for a recent session and the club have now fined him the maximum fine of 200,000 euros for doing so. Sure you can’t miss training but at the same time it was Griezmann who helped his club out last season by staying with them when he wanted to leave for Barcelona. He stayed out of loyalty after Atletico were handed a transfer ban and couldn’t buy any players to replace Griezmann.
Now with this situation it feels as if Griezmann’s career with Atletico one that has been brilliant could well end up turning sour. Surely no one at the club wants that, and what Atletico are doing is quite wrong.
So why have Barcelona been taking their time in buying him? The truth is that they couldn’t make a move until after July 1st because Griezmann’s contract buy out clause before then was set at the ludicrous price of 200m euros. But after July 1st because of his contract that asking price fell to 120m euros.
The next process was supposed to be easy and that was Barcelona coming in for Griezmann, except one week has gone by and there has been no contact from them. Because of this Atletico have acted on Griezmann who in his head is a Barca player and that is where the fine comes from.
This makes sense but at the same time the loyalty that the Frenchman has shown the club has to count for something, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.
So will Barcelona come in for him? They should do but the delay is puzzling, perhaps they are thinking to delay the transfer and try and get a better deal in the region of 100m and not 120m, that could well be the thinking. As for Griezmann he will be livid with his current club and annoyed with possibly his new one for dragging this situation through the mud. He should be in theory sporting a Barca shirt right now, instead Griezmann is finding himself in football limbo with 200k less in the bank as a result.
Move over Cristiano Ronaldo, Joao Felix the latest Portuguese sensation has arrived, and arrived he has with a thud of epic monetary proportions. Atletico Madrid made Europe look at them in awe when they announced his signing this week for a cool £113m, making Felix who is just 19, the 5th most expensive player in football history.
Felix looks the part and what little we have seen of him looks quite incredible. For Benfica last season he greatly helped them win the league and from 26 league games he scored 15 times. Overall he played 43 matches and netted 20 times, and for a player to be performing like that at his age suggests that Madrid have spent well.
As for Diego Simeone’s side Felix represents their biggest spending ever on a player and they have come to an agreement with Benfica to pay them 30m in one payment with the rest of the transfer fee coming from instalments. But why have Atletico bought Felix for so much?
Well to put it simply Felix is really being ranked up there with the likes of other Portuguese players who have graced the game in Luis Figo and of course Cristiano Ronaldo, if Felix is as good as he is obviously going to improve Atletico and his sell on price could be fantasy numbers, that will be the long term plan for Atletico anyway as they try and break Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance in La Liga.
The other reason to spend so big is that it has been reported that after years of playing with Atletico that Antoine Griezmann is finally leaving the club to join Barcelona for a similar fee that Atletico paid Benfica for Felix, it all rather makes sense then.
Though Griezmann choosing Barcelona is up for debate, wasn’t this the same club who came in for the French World Cup winner last summer only for Griezmann to reject them on the grounds that he didn’t want to be Lionel Messi’s ‘lieutenant’? Of course Griezmann really should have just left it at the core reason for him not joining which was down to loyalty of his club who were, at the time, currently going through a transfer ban.
Back to Felix and not only can he score goals he can create them too and Atletico’s fans look like they will be in for quite a treat. Atletico are also in the Champions League, and the fact that they still have Simeone in the dug out is testament to the clubs owners, who still find the best ways to attract quality players despite the hardships they find themselves each season in Spain. Roll on next season when Felix will do his best to light up the league, and take some of that magic away from Messi.
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Atletico Madrid are wasting little time in preparing for the 2019-20 La Liga season, with Diego Simeone already active in the transfer market.
The Argentinian boss reaffirmed his commitment to the club at the end of the season, despite the departures of key players and the reported lack of financial backing from the board.
However, the former Inter Milan midfielder has responded with his usual mix of pragmatism and tactical nous to quickly address the areas in his side that need strengthening.
In his debut and breakthrough season, Joao Felix has replicated the impressive feats that Kylian Mbappe achieved when at AS Monaco as a teenager.
The Benfica forward has the eyes of the world fixated on him after what has been a non-stop rollercoaster of a journey throughout this campaign. Remarkably, the Portuguese second striker has a combined 31 goals and assists in 43 first-team appearances this season.
His rise has been meteoric and it is no wonder why the biggest clubs in the world are vying for his signature at the earliest possible chance. Inserted into his contract, which runs until 2023, is a release clause of €120 million – a fee that is very achievable from Benfica’s point of view given the current state of the market.
Felix was an unknown quantity 12 months ago, having played the majority of his football in Portugal’s second division as well as Benfica’s U19 side in the UEFA Youth League. Of course, the Portuguese star was a talent when up against his fellow youth players, but no one had quite anticipated his perfect adjustment to senior football at one of the country’s biggest clubs.
What is perhaps even more staggering, however, is the fact that Felix has only really announced himself to the world since the beginning of this year. Before January, the forward had only managed to start two games in Liga Primeira, with his other four appearances coming from the bench. With that being said, he did manage to start all of Benfica’s Europa League matches.
But since the beginning of January, Felix has netted 13 goals in the league, as well as assisting his team-mates on eight occasions. His numbers speak for themselves, but perhaps even more impressively, it’s Felix’s intuition and decision making that is making him stand out from the crowd.
In Benfica’s 4-4-1-1 formation, Felix sits just behind Haris Seferovic in attack and acts as a patrolling number 10, but with more emphasis on goal-scoring that assisting. The Portugal U21 international has an immense maturity in how he plays the game, as well as his ability to understand where he needs to be at what specific moment; not many, at 19, can think and execute moves so intelligently.
And so with his newfound fame and notoriety, England, Spain, Italy and France’s biggest clubs queue up in an orderly fashion to tell them why their club is best suited to him. Benfica have made it clear, however, that a bid under €100 million will not suffice and will have to break that barrier to acquire their prize possession.
Whether or not he moves this summer, and in practice, he should remain for another season at least, Felix’s future is one of the brightest in Europe and it will be interesting to see how far he can push himself over the next couple of years.