Real Madrid all but surrender late title bid with shock defeat to Girona

Real Madrid v Girona

Last Sunday morning, the Santiago Bernabeu bore witness to what may well have been the end of Real Madrid’s thin hopes of a late La Liga title challenge.

The Spanish giants and current Champions League holders stumbled to a 2-1 defeat to bottom-half side Girona in front of their disillusioned fans.

Girona are enjoying only their third season in the top flight of Spanish football having been promoted to La Liga for the first time in 2016.

Let’s take a look at the fantasy football heroes and zeroes after this surprise win for the Catalonian club.

Barcelona’s incentive to end Real Madrid’s season

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There was a 50 percent chance of it happening, and once Valencia and Real Betis had been drawn out of the Copa del Rey hat, it meant that, yes, we were going to see a two-legged El Clasico semi-final.

Moreover, the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu precedes a league match between the two teams at the same venue just 72 hours later.

It’s the first time in Barcelona’s history that they will have played two consecutive games at the Bernabeu, and given their recent record there, the Blaugrana will be entirely confident of continuing their run of victories. Continue reading

Nothing between the La Liga chasing pack

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With just one game remaining ahead of the La Liga winter break, the race to catch Barcelona remains incredibly tight.

Pablo Machin’s Sevilla are in second place, three points behind the Catalans, with Atletico Madrid in third, on goal difference.

Santiago Solari’s Real Madrid, who have improved since his arrival, are up to fourth -three points behind Atletico.

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Benzema enjoying life under Solari

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The confirmation of Santiago Solari as the permanent boss of Real Madrid has dominated La Liga news in the last two weeks.

Solari has impressed in the brief time he’s been in charge, winning four out of four games in all competitions, stabilising the club following a tumultuous start to the season, under former boss Julen Lopetegui.

The biggest story of his time at the helm has been the form of Karim Benzema, who has rediscovered his goal scoring touch.

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Ballon Bore – How the awards have become a laughing stock

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There once was a time when the Ballon d’Or awards really seemed to mean something.

Being the best in the world in the eyes of your peers was a gong worth winning and most of the time there was no real argument as to who the eventual winner was.

Since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have monopolised the award, however, we’ve seen ridiculous tactical voting and even an unprecedented extension of the voting period in order to allow the Portuguese to win it during the year in which he was well behind the Argentinian at the original cut off point.

The situation has only been made worse with a splintering of the award in the recent past.

Now we have FIFA’s ‘The Best’ as a rival to France Football’s Ballon d’Or, as well as the UEFA Player of the Year.

We’ve seen people crowned as the best in their respective position who’ve then not made the team of the year (Thibaut Courtois), and Mo Salah winning the best goal of the year in the Puskas Award when it was abundantly clear that his strike was nowhere close to the best effort.

Though it was probably a knee-jerk reaction at the time, Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent, saying that only Real Madrid players win the award, when FIFA’s The Best was given to Luka Modric rather than his client, was telling.

With the greatest of respect, including Karim Benzema on the list of 30 players for this season’s Ballon d’Or is utterly farcical.

The Frenchman has struggled to put the ball in the back of the net for the best part of a year now, and after an initial burst of goals at the start of this campaign, is back to the poor form of 2017/18.

There is literally no reason for him to be on the list other than the fact that he plays for Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi is unlikely to win it this year, after missing out on both the UEFA Team of the Year and FIFA’s The Best, however, out of every candidate, with the possible exceptions of Ronaldo and Antoine Griezmann, the Argentinian deserves it.

Griezmann has already been vocal in saying that the best player has to come from the best team, insinuating that a French World Cup winner has to win. As he’s also won the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup, there’s a school of thought that would agree with him.

Equally, a third successive Champions League trophy for Real Madrid gives Ronaldo a shout.

However, the Ballon d’Or is an individual award, and no one player has done more than Messi to rightfully stake a claim.

Goals, assists, key passes, completed passes… the No.10 reigns supreme.

Frankly, if the governing bodies can’t or won’t give the award to the players who deserve it the most, what’s the real point of making such a song and dance about them in the first place?!

All it’s doing is alienating the public further and treating them with contempt.

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best La Liga Fantasy Managers? If you’re up to challenging the best then play  www.fantasy-champions-league.com now!

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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Modric: Worthy of all the individual awards?

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real-madrid-010918nPortuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentine legendary footballer Lionel Messi have dominated world football over the years with their supreme consistency and match-winning abilities.

However, it has all changed this season with Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric awarded the FIFA Men’s Player of 2018 award at the expense of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who were the other 2 finalists on the podium. It was all the more shocking considering the fact that Lionel Messi was not nominated amongst the Top 3 nominees for the first time since 2006. Not only this, the Croatian even went on to pip the Portuguese supremo and Liverpool’s maestro for the UEFA player of the year award on the back of an incredible season.

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Casemiro- The Next Makelele

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14962557423749The Santiago Bernabeu wore a festive look with the club supporters in a state of excitement. It seemed as if Christmas had come early. There was every reason to believe so with their beloved team Real Madrid all set to battle it out against fierce rivals Barcelona at home, trailing the latter by just 3 points. A win at home had every chance of generating the momentum necessary for a league challenge.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique had opted to rest Argentine superstar Lionel Messi who had been a major threat in previous fixtures scoring goals and assists with great splendour which was nothing short of music to the ears. At the same time, Spanish manager Rafa Benitez had fielded a lineup consisting of some of the most attacking minded midfielders in the business like Luka Modric, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos.

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La Liga Weekend Picks – Round 7

muniainThere is an action-packed few days of football in La Liga this week, but for the purposes of compiling this list the fixtures between Friday and Monday this coming weekend will be the primary focus this week. That will be round 7 of La Liga’s matches. Real Valladolid, for example, welcome Levante to José Zorrilla on Thursday before travelling to Villarreal on Sunday. It will be a busy few days for La Liga players for sure! It is going to be a 4-3-3 formation this week, so with that in mind let’s get down to it!

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Isco- The Enigmatic Messiah

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isco-real-madrid-celebration_ninouk1opkmb1kx2vozw19q1pThe rivalry shared between Spanish footballing giants Real Madrid and Barcelona is one of the fiercest ever in world football. Fans from both sides are eager to witness a triumph over the opposition at any cost with a top quality performance in an El-Classico more than capable of heralding a player to cult status despite all his lacunas over the years.

The rivalry extends off the field as well with players encouraged to adopt an attitude of intense dislike or hate towards their rivals at every stage which has been certainly been crystal clear over the years. Several footballers who dared to switch from Real Madrid to Barcelona or vice-versa like Luis Enrique, Luis Figo purely for footballing reasons were termed as “traitors”, enjoying a welcome capable of shaking one’s soul to the core.

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