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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European Fantasy League: Team of the season

Let’s hope that the football season isn’t over and the recent Coronavirus can be conquered enough for us to re start the seasons in their respective counties. However if that isn’t possible there has been talks that this season could be null and voided. That still feels unthinkable, but there is that chance. If so, if the leagues were to end today, which 11 players gracing European football would make the final cut in the team of the season for 2019/20?

Based on European Fantasy League’s point system let’s take a look at the winners, who have performed the best up to now.

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar (103pts)

Marco Bizot is having a great season and has the most points for a goalkeeper in the major European leagues. He has been able to keep an incredible 17 clean sheets for his club. He is valued at just 8m and surely is one of the outstanding bargains of the season.

Defender: Owen Wijndal- AZ Alkmaar (85pts)

Like AZ Alkmaar’s goalkeeper Wijndal has done very well this season. He has scored just one goal this season but that isn’t his job and we shouldn’t forget that he has also assisted in another 6 goals. He has been part of a team that has kept 17 clean sheets.

Defender: Trent-Alexander Arnold- Liverpool (84pts)

Based on his EFL points Trent-Alexander Arnold is far and away the best defender in the Premier League this season. He has made an outstanding 12 assists and been involved in the same number of clean sheets for his side who have easily been the best club side in England this season.

Defender: Virgil van Dijk- Liverpool (73pts)

Continuing with Liverpool players van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the game in world football today. He has scored 4 goals which is impressive for a defender and been like a rock at the back.

Defender: Andrew Robertson- Liverpool (73pts)

It’s incredible to think that 3 of the four best defenders in Europe play for one club in Liverpool. Robertson has been part of a defence that has help keep 12 clean sheets and Liverpool have conceded 20 goals this season when he has been in the side. He seems to improve by every passing season.

Midfielder: Mohamed Salah- Liverpool (99pts)

Of course Salah can play as an attacker too, but likes to drop back. Despite having some spells of non scoring he still has 16 goals and also has assisted a further six times too. He is a world class player and usually rises to the occasion time and again.

Midfielder: Oussama Idrissi- AZ Alkmaar (89pts)

Maybe not many people have heard of Idrssi but he continues to have a very good season in the Netherlands. He has racked up 89 points and been involved in 16 goals, scoring 13 of them. His value is just 7.5m and looks to be a real bargain.

Midfielder: Dusan Tadic- Ajax (87pts)

Tadic has not only scored 11 goals for Ajax but has also assisted in another 14 in what has been a stunning season so far for the talented player. His value is just 8m.

Midfielder: Sadio Mane-Liverpool (86pts)

Sadio Mane has been excellent now for 2 seasons and has mostly been the big difference for Liverpool in their attacking threat. He has been involved in 21 of the clubs league goals this season, a stunning stat and a very dangerous player.

Striker: Ciro Immobile -Lazio (118pts)

A star of Serie A, and one of the very good strikers of the past few years. But this one Immobile has really gone up another level. Lazio has a chance to win their first league in 20 years and most of that is down to his goals. He has 27 so far and has also assisted in another 7.

Striker: Lionel Messi- Barcelona (103pts)

A best of team wouldn’t feel complete without Lionel Messi. Barcelona and Messi have had their troubles this season but at the end of the day Barcelona are still top of the league and in the Champions League. Messi is also top scorer in La Liga and has 19 goals and an amazing 12 times he has set up for others.

Overall top 3 players:

1- Ciro Immobile- Lazio

2. Lionel Messi- Barcelona

3. Marco Bizot- AZ Alkmaar

 

From Mbappe to Aguero the top 10 best strikers in the world right now

As we have a pause in the league we have complied the top 10 best strikers in the world at this time. With leagues hopefully set to resume in a few weeks time and with about 10 games left to play not so much should change in our assessments of who has been the best strikers in world football at this time.

We have complied links to some of these players and when the leagues do start back up you may want to add some of them into your team. You will be surprised as some are still affordable and on a good budget.

To note the list is made up of strikers goals to games ratios and not how many goals they have scored so far, as that would be unfair as some players have not played the same amount of games.

10. Wissam Ben Yedder- Monaco 18 goals

Monaco have struggled over the past few seasons selling too many good players and taking the cash. So it surprised everyone when they splashed out 40 million euros on Ben Yedder and bought him from Sevilla. Maybe it was a surprise that Sevilla let him go. Ben Yedder is a classic centre forward who scores goals. He has 18 so far and has made all the difference to Monaco, who are now chasing a European finish.

9. Jamie Vardy- Leicester  19 goals

When Jamie Vardy finally leaves Leicester they will build a statue of him. He has stuck with the club through the glory and desperate times. This season though has been superb and the club have surprised everyone climbing to 3rd place and keeping it. They are on course to qualify for the Champions League and Vardy’s 19 goals have surely helped them. He is currently the top goalscorer in the Premier League.

8. Sergio Aguero- Manchester City 16 goals

Aguero gets older but does so like a fine wine and scores goals. What he does so well is get the important ones too. It hasn’t been a great campaign for City who are 25 points behind Liverpool, but Aguero has battled on. Some say this could be his last season with the club, he will leave as a club legend, no doubt.

7. Timo Werner- RB Leipzig 21 goals

Timo Werner has scored 21 goals in just 25 games as his club continue to surprise, doing well in the Bundesliga and making the later stages of the Champions League. He looks to be the next big German striker who is going to score plenty of goals in the major competitions as is only 24. A goal scoring machine.

6. Lionel Messi- Barcelona 19 goals

Messi ‘only’ has 19 goals so far for Barcelona this season, but he is still easily the top goalscorer in the league, and his games to goals ratio is still one of the best in Europe. Even at 33 he is showing no signs of letting up and his goals have meant that Barcelona are in 1st position at this moment over their eternal rivals Real Madrid and going for yet another league win.

5. Neymar- PSG 13 goals

True Neymar only has 13 goals this season but then again because of two injury lay offs he has only played 15 games. That’s when it hits you how consistent the player is. Since coming back into the team in December PSG have looked like world beaters, so not only does he score goals but he clearly influences his team mates. Still one of the worlds best.

4. Kylian Mbappe -PSG 18 goals

Mbappe has scored 18 goals from just 20 games and continues to be one of the very best strikers in the world. He is still so young and has plenty ahead of him. He has been so consistent for PSG and is genuinely one of the deadliest strikers on his day in world football.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo- Juventus 21 goals

Last season Ronaldo scored 21 goals from 31 league games. This season he has the same amount of goals from just 22 games. Ronaldo did not go to Italy to just see out his playing days and has been more than terrific at Juventus. Perhaps his time there will be defined if he can bring European glory to the club, but as a goalscorer he cannot be judged. Everywhere he goes the goals follow.

2. Ciro Immobile- Lazio 27 goals

Ciro Immobile has had an incredible season, so has his club Lazio who are looking for their first league title in 20 years. They might get it and if they do then a lot of it could well be done to Immobile’s goals. It is clear that he will get on the 30 goal marker which is quite rare in Italian football and has simply been a superb striker this season.

1. Robert Lewandowski- Bayern Munich 25 goals

One of the most intelligent strikers in world football. This season Lewandowski has scored 2 more goals than he has played (23). Bayern Munich look on course to win the league in Germany and are amongst the favourites to win the Champions League. He scores plenty of goals, and scores beautiful ones too. Keep your eye off him for a second and suffer the consequences. A stunning striker.

 

 

 

Lionel Messi looks tired and disinterested at Barcelona

Surely Barcelona’s supporters didn’t think it would end up like this.

Their best ever player, Lionel Messi, strolling around seemingly disinterested and looking as tired as he ever has.

Whatever the party line from him is, his body language doesn’t lie. Lionel Messi is not happy. Continue reading

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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No silverware this season could be a blessing for Barcelona

At the start of the current campaign, just as he had a year previously, Lionel Messi addressed the Camp Nou.

The message was much the same. The team were disappointed by their Champions League exit, and subsequent Copa del Rey final defeat, but a new season represented new opportunities.

The first team would do everything they could to bring home some silverware, preferably of the European variety. Continue reading

Do Mestre’s Neymar revelations spell the end for Dembele?

The last thing that Barcelona needed was confirmation that Ousmane Dembele was ruled out of action for the next six months.

On the cusp of a return after being out since before Christmas, the Frenchman broke down once again, and this time the injury has turned out to be worse than first feared.

Not only will he miss the rest of this season, but also the European Championship and 2020/21′s pre-season. Continue reading

Messi won’t leave Barca… will he?

In the wake of the fall out between Lionel Messi and Eric Abidal, Barcelona’s fan base have become incredibly concerned.

The thought that their captain could leave at the end of the season is something that is all consuming for anyone of the blaugrana persuasion.

But is it really likely that the No.10 will decide enough is enough? Continue reading

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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Messi’s criticism of Abidal is final straw for Barca’s players

It never rains but it pours.

Not only have Barcelona got some serious injury concerns to attend to, the long-term absences of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele being the main two, but in-fighting threatens to overwhelm the club at the most important time of the season.

Rarely, if ever, does Lionel Messi break cover to say anything even mildly controversial, so we can infer much from his words last Tuesday. Continue reading