Time to stop the Messi/Ronaldo debate

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Here we are, in the wake of another Lionel Messi master class, debating once again if he’s the best or if that title falls to his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Frankly, it’s becoming a pathetic comparison.

Each have a different set of skills and both are incredible players in their own right. To consistently have to compare one and the other is getting very tiring.

It’s blindingly obvious that one’s feats are what drives the other on, providing the biggest motivating factor.

There’s simply no need, when Messi writes the headlines, to even involve Ronaldo in the conversation. And vice versa.

Take Messi’s hat-trick against Betis.

There can’t have been too many other trebles that have included such incredible finishes, and maybe there are none at all.

But rather than dwell on just how brilliant it was, much of the Monday morning debate was filled by facts that are of no real consequence.

That Messi is still one career hat-trick behind Ronaldo, that the Portuguese has more Champions Leagues, that the Juve man is the highest scorer ever in the top European tournament…

They, and many other stats, are trotted out, parrot fashion as if to somehow reinforce that Messi will always be in Ronaldo’s shadow.

Messi’s supporters are always looking to denounce Ronaldo’s achievements too.

This endless quest for some sort of fanatical one-upmanship isn’t of any benefit, and moves the conversation away from the absolute fact that both players are in a league of their own.

They have been for years now, and though it’s become cliche to say it, football post-Messi and Ronaldo will be an interesting watch.

Generational talents, they will not be replaced, but someone, probably Kylian Mbappe, will take their crown at some point.

Perhaps then, and only then, will there be a full appreciation of what both players brought to their profession, and what’s more, did so for an unbelievable length of time.

It’s that consistency and longevity which is truly astonishing, but let’s stop throwing around the stats willy-nilly.

Who cares if one has more hat-tricks, goals or assists than the other.

Sit back, relax and enjoy what little time we have left to enjoy them because, in the blink of an eye, both will have exited stage left.

Week 28: Best 11 Players in Fantasy La Liga

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Week 28 in La Liga saw Barcelona extend their lead at the top of the standings to 10 points after they destroyed Real Betis 4-1 whilst Atletico Madrid lost at Athletic Bilbao. Zinedine Zidane’s spectacular return to Real Madrid saw the club win 2-0 as their objective will be to finish as runners up. Below we take a look at the best 11 players who performed over this past weekend.

Goalkeeper: Iago Herrerin

Athletic Bilbao’s Iago Herrerin gets the vote for best goalkeeper of the weekend not only picking up 7pts but because the opposition was Atletico Madrid who are in 2nd place and this was the first time that they could not score a goal in over a month with Herrerin keeping a clean sheet. Herrerin is 4th in the goalkeeper standings and can be bought for just 5m.

Defender: Marcelo

Marcelo has been the forgotten player at Real Madrid starting just 13 games this season. But with the return of Zidane, he is back and got the most points for a defender this week with 7. Not only did he help keep a clean sheet in Real Madrid’s 2-0 victory over Celta Vigo but he assisted in Gareth Bale’s goal. Marcelo can be brought into your team for 8m and could well return as a regular under Zidane’s wing.

Defender: Sergio Ramos

Ramos was disciplined for Real Madrid’s latest victory and needed to be as yellow cards and reds has frequently lost him points. But he put in a solid mature display and picked up 5pts at the weekend. He is valued at 9m and is 3rd in the defender rankings.

Defender: Vitorino Antunes

Antunes was one of the best defenders in La Liga for week 28 and picked up 5pts with his club Getafe who drew 0-0 with Valencia. It was  a massive result as it kept Getafe in 4th place. He has been solid all season and is just 6m to buy.

Defender: Damian Suarez

The reason that Getafe have conceded just 24 goals this season is mostly down to Suarez’s leadership at the back. And he earned 5pts by keeping Valencia quiet. The player can be brought into your team for 8.5m.

Midfielder: Portu

Portu, the Girona midfielder had a weekend to remember as he scored both goals in his teams 2-0 win over Leganes. He earned a whopping 10pts at the weekend by doing so and his team kept a clean sheet. He is 9th in the rankings for midfielders and can be brought in for 8.5m which looks a bargain.

Midfielder: Mario Suarez

Mario Suarez scored Rayo Vallecano’s only goal to earn 4pts at the weekend despite his team losing 3-1 to Villarreal. At the same time Suarez earned amongst the most points of midfielders at the weekend  as he scored his first goal of the season. He is valued at 3m.

Midfielder: Borja

Borja saw his team Girona win 2-0 and move up the table. He has been reliable this season and has scored a few goals with some assists. He could be a shrewd transfer and comes in at 7m.

Midfielder: Adrian Januzaj

Januzaj scored the opening goal for Real Sociedad which ended up earning his team a point and moving into 10th spot. He is valued at 6.5m and assists more (3 this season) than scores, and this was his first goal of the season. But with 4pts he has made the team of the week.

Striker: Lionel Messi

No player even comes close to the great Lionel Messi this week as he scored a fantastic hattrick against Real Betis to earn a whopping 14pts. He now has 143pts in Fantasy La Liga standings and is 60pts ahead of 2nd placed Luis Suarez. If you can afford him Messi will unsurprisingly set you back 20m.

Striker: Karl Toko Ekambi

Villarreal have struggled this season but perhaps Ekambi has found his scoring boots as the forward scored twice at the weekend against Vallecano. His goals could save the club from relegation. He has 6 goals this season and can be snapped up for 6m.

How well do you know Spanish football? Want to challenge the best La Liga Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Liga weekend fantasy football picks

La Liga

All 20 La Liga teams are in action this weekend. The action starts with Real Sociedad and Levante who meet on Friday evening and ends with Real Betis against Barcelona on Sunday night.

We’ve had a look at who we think the smartest fantasy La Liga picks are for the upcoming fixtures.

Goalkeeper – Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) – 11.0 million

Jan Oblak’s pride will have taken a dent in the Champions League during the week. While he was not at fault for any of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals, the Slovenian international goalkeeper will be eager to resume normal service with a clean sheet in La Liga this weekend. Oblak has 94 points this season.

What are Barcelona going to do about Philippe Coutinho?

As Barcelona celebrated their third goal against Rayo Vallecano, the TV cameras looked to the Barcelona bench. There, a little crouched over in thought, was Philippe Coutinho. He’d barely even sat down having been taken off in the 81st minute by the time Barca scored a wonderful goal in the 82nd minute. It was the sort of goal they would have struggled to score with the Brazilian on the pitch.

Coutinho has become a misfit at Camp Nou. He was Barcelona’s record signing last year, arriving as the player to replace both Neymar and Andres Iniesta simultaneously. No pressure. Now, though, the Brazilian playmaker can’t even force his way into Ernesto Valverde’s strongest team.

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Saturday, when Coutinho was handed a rare start against Rayo, was a chance for him to prove his worth. Instead, the Brazilian floated through the game without making much of an impression. It was only when he was taken off that Barcelona started to play the sort of football their fans have come to expect from them.

Far from being the solution to a problem, as he was billed when he first arrived just over a year ago, Coutinho has become a problem himself. The role he is being asked to perform is very different to the one he conducted so well over the course of his time at Liverpool and there are few signs that he will adapt and tailor his game effectively to earn a place at Barcelona.

Coutinho frequently finds the space he would often occupy filled by Lionel Messi. Rather than imposing his own game on Barcelona, as he did at Liverpool, Coutinho is being asked to fit around others. Ousmane Dembele is much more effective on the left side of the attacking three and there appears to be no place for Coutinho in the midfield unit either.

So what can Barcelona do to solve their Coutinho problem? There have been rumours that the Brazilian could be sold at the end of the season, with Manchester United among those reported to be interested in signing the 26-year-old. That would require Barca to take a big financial hit, though, on a player they splurged £146 million on not so long ago.

Beyond that, Coutinho might have to wait until Messi fades and becomes the midfield pass-master he is predicted to become before he can claim a place in Barcelona’s attack. Waiting around for Messi, arguably the game’s greatest ever player, to fade doesn’t sound like the most solid of plans.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Valverde has to rest Barcelona’s big hitters now

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After another dominant El Clasico performance, and with the Champions League once again the priority, Ernesto Valverde must start tinkering with his squad.

His ‘safety first’ approach will need to take a back seat in a handful of the next few league games as Barca go for it in the European competition.

Though the Catalans can still conceivably be caught in La Liga, both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid are far enough behind for the Blaugrana to have a blip and still remain as leaders. Continue reading

La Liga’s top fantasy football picks for this weekend

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This weekend sees another full lineup of La Liga action including the mighty El Clasico which takes place at the Bernabeu in Madrid on Saturday evening.

Real Madrid will be keen to put a halt to Barcelona’s march towards another La Liga title. A win for the home side would put them back within six points of Ernesto Valverde’s league leaders with 12 games remaining. Clearly, there’s still a lot to play for going into this gameweek.

Elsewhere, second-placed Atletico Madrid travel to play Real Sociedad while Sevilla are away to bottom-of-the-table Huesca.

Goal shy Sevilla run the risk of missing out on the Champions League

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Sevilla are at real risk missing out on a Champions League spot as their struggles in front of goal in La Liga in 2019 continue.

Pablo Machin’s side had been the front runner to clinch fourth place, behind Spain’s Big Three, however they have lost ground in recent weeks – with in form Getafe overtaking them last weekend.

The team from South Madrid are now two points clear of Machin’s side in the race for fourth place, with the Andalusian club in need of a reaction in the coming weeks if they are to return to Champions League football, after missing out in 2018-19.

Continue reading

Messi on fire as Barcelona win at Sevilla

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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”.

Barcelona will have a Luis Suarez-sized problem in the near future

With every birthday observed by Lionel Messi, an existential crisis creeps nearer for Barcelona. What will the Catalan club do when their greatest ever player, possibly the greatest ever player in the history of the sport, finally calls it a day? It’s a future that nobody at Camp Nou wants to comprehend, but with Messi now into his 30s the horizon is approaching.

This is something that is frequently discussed among the Catalan press, and in the stands of Camp Nou. When Philippe Coutinho arrived from Liverpool last season, maybe believed it was a sign that Barcelona were already preparing for a time when Messi’s forces might fade. Others saw Coutinho as an Andres Iniesta replacement, though.

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However, Barcelona will soon have another key figure to replace and there has been very little chat about that. Luis Suarez is now 32 years old and there have been signs of decline in his game of late. The Uruguayan has just one goal in his last eight appearances and has yet to score in the Champions League this season.

Of course, there will be those who argue that this is typical of Suarez. He is a streaky player and thrives on momentum. He will, at some point, regain his form before the end of the season and help Barcelona to yet another Liga title and maybe even their first Champions League title in four years. That argument is perfectly feasible.

But this is about more than just form. A yard of pace has disappeared from Suarez’s game. His touch has deserted him in recent months and injuries are becoming more frequent. What’s more, the 32-year-old is taking longer and longer to regain match sharpness whenever he returns from an injury. There have been times when he has even looked slightly overweight.

Barcelona must come up with a succession plan now. They seemingly had one when Antoine Griezmann was a target. The Frenchman would have been the perfect replacement for Suarez in the long term. However, Barca dropped their interest in Griezmann and haven’t been strongly linked with another striker of his type since. Replacing Messi might well prove impossible. Suarez, however, can be compensated for. On the basis of recent activity, though, Barca don’t have a plan for when their Uruguayan striker either fades or retires.

How well do you know European Football? Want to challenge the best Spanish Fantasy Managers? Play www.liga-fantasy.com now.

Fantasy La Liga picks for the coming weekend

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As we gear up for another action-packed weekend in La Liga, I take you through my suggestions for the top fantasy football picks in Spanish football.

In the defensive third this weekend, it’s difficult to look past Athletic Bilbao players as the team from the Basque Country have kept two clean sheets in a row and three in their last four league games, including a 0-0 draw at home to the mighty Barcelona.

Not only that, but Bilbao are at home to Eibar who have only won one away game all season while only scoring nine goals on their travels in La Liga.

Goalkeeper – Iago Herrerin (Athletic Bilbao) – 5.0 million

In goals, I’ve opted for Bilbao’s Iago Herrerin as it’s very possible another clean sheet is on the cards for his side. Herrerin is currently valued at 5.0 million and has a total of 40 points so far.