Fantasy La Liga Gameweek 5 Picks

The 2020-21 Spanish La Liga season continues this weekend following the international break with Granada and Sevilla kicking off the action on Saturday lunchtime.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are both in action on the same day, with the champions welcoming Cadiz to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium before Ronald Koeman’s side are also in the capital, away to Getafe.

Hare are our recommendations for your fantasy team this weekend:

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid have kept three clean sheets in their four La Liga games to start the new campaign and are widely-expected to add another one versus Cadiz this weekend. Thibaut Courtois himself has been in fine form to start the new campaign.

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5 of the best La Liga transfers during the window

The summer transfer window is now closed around Europa and Spanish La Liga clubs have made a lot of business during the summer and first couple of weeks of the 2020-21 season.

New arrivals were landed as late as deadline day on Monday and managers have a fortnight to put their new plans in place due to the international break.

Here’s a look back over the transfer window to five players we believe could have the biggest impact on your fantasy team this season:

1. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
The Uruguayan had a quiet end to his career at Barcelona by his standards but showed he still has it with a brace in his 12-minute Atletico Madrid debut in the 6-1 thrashing of Granada.

Luis Suarez may be considered a gamble for your fantasy team because he will set you back £10.50m, but with Diego Costa seeing a lack of game time and Joao Felix not putting up the goals in his first season, the 33-year-old could quickly establish himself as Diego Simeone’s main goalscorer.

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La Liga: Best 11 Players of Matchday 5

The champions Real Madrid are back on top of the league after they overcame Levante. Surprise package Real Betis bounced back from back to back defeats to beat Valencia away from home and Barcelona could only draw at home against Sevilla in a tense match.

But which players performed the best over the weekend? Let’s take a look below.

Formation 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois- Real Madrid 7pts

Thibaut Courtois made some vital saves as Real Madrid beat Levante 2-0. The home side had 11 goal attempts and 4 of those were on target as Levante gave Madrid a more difficult match than they had anticipated. Courtois now has 19 points for the season.

Defender: Facundo Roncaglia- Osasuna 11pts

Facundo Roncaglia earned 11 points as Osasuna beat Celta Vigo 2-0. It was a perfect weekend for the player who had struggled with points up until now. Not only did he score the opening goal but he assisted in the 2nd and of course kept a clean sheet.

Defender: Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid 10pts

Sergio Ramos is used to making player of the weekend teams. And he was solid as Real Madrid beat Levante 2-0 away from home. He made some vital interceptions and contributed well to the game.

Defender: Kieran Trippier- Atletico Madrid 10pts

Kieran Trippier has impressed in Spain and he was part of a defence that kept a clean sheet. The problem is it was more points dropped for the club who have drawn back to back games. This time at the weekend it was against Villarreal.

Defender: Raphael Varane- Real Madrid 10pts

Varane has come under fire last season and sometimes in this one. But on his day he is one of the best defenders in Europe. He earned maximum clean sheet points as Real Madrid beat Levante 2-0. He is valued at 8m.

Midfielder: Philippe Coutinho- Barcelona 8pts

Coutinho is back with Barcelona after his loan spell at Bayern Munich and it is hoped that he is re focused to perform better with the club. He did his job well at the weekend as the club came back from 1-0 down to Sevilla to draw 1-1 and Coutinho got the equaliser.

Midfielder: Portu- Real Sociedad 6pts

For the 2nd week in a row Portu has made the player of the weekend team line up. Portu scored Real Sociedad’s last goal as they beat Getafe 3-0 and the player looks like being an important one for the season ahead.

Midfielder: Sergi Roberto- Barcelona 6pts

Sergio Roberto had a solid game for Barcelona as they navigated a difficult test at home to Sevilla. He is valued at 7m and now has a total of 8pts for the season so far.

Midfielder: Edgar- Alaves 6pts

Edgar had a decent game as Alaves beat Bilbao 1-0, though sadly for the player he did have to go and could have a  possible injury. When playing he did keep his guard well and helped maintain a tight line that ultimately kept a clean sheet and 3 valuable points for the side.

Striker: Karim Benzema- Real Madrid 4pts

Benzema struck again and it was an important goal as Real Madrid were only winning the game 1-0. This 2nd goal finished the game off as a contest It was important for the usually prolific striker too as it was his first of the season.

Striker: Vinicius Junior- Real Madrid 8pts

Vinicius Junior scored his 2nd goal of the season and Real Madrid’s opening one. Could this be the season that Junior breaks out, as he has been hyped up for the last 18 months. His current value is a bargain looking 6m.

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Braithwaite’s Barcelona dream turning into a nightmare

There’s been an awful lot going on at the Camp Nou just lately, with the Lionel Messi situation and the vote of no confidence for president, Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board hogging the headlines.

Everywhere you turn there’s something else for Barca’s long-suffering supporters to get hot under the collar about.

However, there’s one player that’s kept his own counsel. Continue reading

Winners and losers from Barcelona’s pre-season

The preparation is over and it’s time for things to get serious.

After everything that’s been said and done since the 8-2 hammering against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League, Barcelona have the chance to put it all behind them.

If they’re able to hit the ground running against Villarreal on Saturday, and Ronald Koeman can get everyone playing as they can, the Catalans won’t be too far off the pace for long. Continue reading

3 things to watch in the Barcelona v Bayern game

It’s arguably the tie of the Champions League quarter finals, and Barcelona v Bayern is the only one which features two former winners of the trophy.

All the other six remaining teams have never had their hands on the cup with the big ears, so in some respects the experience of the two FCB’s benefits them enormously.

However, only one can go through and, on current form at least, the Bavarians will be expected to waltz into the final four. Continue reading

Fan Zone: Jason’s back to discuss Suarez, Griezmann, Neymar and more

Jason Pettigrove- a journalist who has covered football for decades and who is the content editor at FC Barcelona- is back for the second segment of the Q&A.

Jason discusses Barca’s possession game as well as some of the big names such as Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and others. In addition, Jason touches upon the frequently mentioned topic of PSG star Neymar who is often linked with a return to the Catalan club. Remember to leave your feedback and feel free to discuss any of the points with both Jason and Rami Soufi by connecting with them on social media.

1) Barca built a reputation playing a heavy possession game. Has the focus on possession at the expense of being more pragmatic hurt Barca’s quest to lift more Champions League trophies? Contrast that with the direct and ruthless approach of Liverpool at Anfield (to overturn 1st leg deficit)

I don’t think there’s any doubt that your suggestion has merit, but what I would say to counter that is Barça’s style is ingrained in the players from the moment they set foot in La Masia academy. Just the thought of leaving behind the possession game or playing any other way, as we saw with Valverde’s 4-4-2, would cause concern and would lead to the rise of discontent among the fans. Simply put, the fans have long bought into that philosophy and would most likely make their displeasure clear.

2) What do you make of Luis Suarez? His stats are decent despite being sidelined due to injury. Would you keep Suarez for one more season, or would you sign Gabriel Jesus or Harry Kane?

I’d keep Suarez for one more season without doubt. Not just because he and Messi are such good pals off of the pitch but because there’s a great understanding on the field- a telepathy which would be near impossible to recreate with any future signing or incoming elite player. He has to leave sometime soon of course, but I think 12 months from now is a better bet.

3) Were you for signing Griezmann, or did you prefer bringing back Neymar setting aside the financial factor involved in Neymar’s return?

I didn’t like the whole ‘Decision’ video fiasco- to me that was entirely unnecessary. I’ll always support whoever wears the shirt, but I did think Griezmann’s purchase was another ‘statement’ signing without looking at whether he’d fit in well with the team. So far, the season has proved difficult for him further highlighting that not every big signing will automatically succeed.

4) Should Barca bring back Neymar for the 2020/21 season? And why?

No, I definitely would not welcome it. There are just too many concerns and negatives when it comes to bringing back Neymar. Too much money. Too much baggage. Too many injuries. Too many absences. It is just a long laundry list.

5) Moving on from Neymar, what do you make of BVB’s Erling Haaland? Should Barca invest in signing him?

Haaland has shown an incredible appetite for scoring goals, and his movement is beyond his years. Barça should be in the queue to sign the best players if and when they become available, but they shouldn’t sign him just for the sake of piling up talent.

If the technical department believe he’s a good fit and that he can improve, then he’s worth spending money on. Otherwise, let someone else take him. Don’t get me wrong, he’d be a great potential signing for almost all big clubs but Barca have had their share of big name signings who haven’t worked out exactly- Coutinho from Liverpool, Griezmann so far as discussed earlier and Ousmane Dembele due to injuries.

6) Are you for resuming La Liga this season or for voiding it, and why?

Not even a question for me. People are losing their lives. Football isn’t that important when considering the bigger picture. Just void this season and reassess in the upcoming few months.

7) If the league is voided, does Barca get the title despite being only 2 points ahead with over 10 Rounds remaining on schedule?

Nope. You can’t realistically argue that Barça would have gone on and won it at this point. Anything could happen over the course of 10 Rounds let alone a single match when you consider the gap between first and second is only two points.

Are Bayern Munich focusing more on the Champions League than the Bundesliga?

Bayern Munich and winning the Bundesliga seemingly goes hand in hand but this has been a difficult season for the German champions who have sacked Niko Kovac this season after a slow start.

His replacement has been Hans-Dieter Flick who made an immediate improvement where the club climbed from 4th and are now in 2nd place and from his first 11 games, Flick has won 9 of them. His win rate is an astounding 81%, and that has proven fans and pundits alike in Germany wrong. Indeed when Flick was appointed there was a surprise because he hasn’t managed a club side since Hoffenheim back in 2005.

So what was Flick doing in that 14 year gap? Well he was the assistant for the German national team which of course included winning the World Cup in 2014, so he has hardly been on an extended holiday.

Currently Bayern are four points behind surprise league leaders RB Leipzig and it seems only a matter of time before Bayern eclipse them, or will they?

There have been quite a few stories circulating in the German media that Bayern much like Manchester City in the Premier League want to focus more this season on winning the Champions League. Bayern have not captured Europe’s greatest prize since 2013 and there is a feeling in doing so the club will reestablish themselves as one of Europe’s great teams. That they are is always questionable to an impressionable youth one that now has less and less attention spans. Perhaps they don’t see past Real Madrid and Barcelona and Bayern will want to remind everyone of their status.

The German giants have of course advanced to the knockout stages of the competition and in their two group stage matches put 10 goals past Tottenham who also managed to qualify for the last 16.

Bayern will play Chelsea in the knock out rounds which, of course, will be a repeat of the 2012 final when Chelsea scrapped through on penalties. The league of course will be important for the club but the situation as it stands is that Flick can’t really lose. He has come in to pick up the pieces and a deep run in cups and maintaining 2nd place even if they don’t win the league shouldn’t affect his job this year.

The rallying cry has been led by Philippe Coutinho who said: “We want to do our best, survive the next round and win the Champions League at the end of course. I think we have the quality.”

So if Bayern drop more points in the league which could happen once the Champions League starts up again in a months time, don’t be surprised, there is a focus and it is not on the league title this year.

 

 

How will Barcelona use all its attacking talent this season?

Antoine Griezmann

Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Ousmane Dembele, Malcom and Philippe Coutinho.

Not a bad selection, is it?

They are the attacking players available within Barcelona’s first-team squad at the moment.

If the club had the necessary funds this summer, you could have added Neymar‘s name to that list.

Antoine Griezmann’s signing from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid freshens up the frontline with the Frenchman expected to make it into the starting eleven right from the off. Continue reading

Christian Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s Philippe Coutinho

Real Madrid aren’t always the most discreet in their transfer business. When they want a player, the world tends to know about it. Take their pursuit of Eden Hazard over a number of years, for instance. There was no element of surprise left by the time the Belgian actually completed a move to the Spanish capital this summer.

Their pursuit of Paul Pogba is another saga which has played out in front of everyone, with Manchester United still holding firm in their £150 million valuation of the player. Real Madrid, according to reports, are unwilling and unable to pay that amount for the French midfielder and so it’s becoming increasingly likely Pogba will stay where he is for at least another season.

eriksen

For a long time, it has been presumed that Christian Eriksen would be Real Madrid’s alternative to Pogba. The Dane has already confessed his desire to leave Tottenham Hotspur this summer and the Santiago Bernabeu outfit are believed to be long term admirers. Rumours continue to swirl.

But where would Eriksen fit in at Real Madrid? He is a very different type of player to Pogba. It’s easy to see where the Frenchman could be accommodated in Zinedine Zidane’s side – on the left side of a midfield three – but Eriksen isn’t someone who likes to drive forward with the ball. Instead, he is the player who picks the final pass.

He usually does this from a position on the left side. Sure, he drifts into the middle, sometimes dropping back into the centre of midfield, but his position as it reads on the team sheet is on the left wing. He might not be a winger in the traditional sense, but that is his best place.

Real Madrid don’t have room for another left-sided attacker. They were already well-stocked for options (Vinicius Junior, Marco Asensio, Lucas Vazquez) before this summer and now they have added Hazard to their squad. How would Zidane possibly fit Hazard and Eriksen into the same side without moving one of them out of position?

Eriksen would be a signing for the sake of a signing much like Philippe Coutinho was for Barcelona 18 months. The Brazilian arrived at Camp Nou without an obvious role to play, with Coutinho now likely to be sold this summer after failing to make much of an impression. Eriksen could become Real Madrid’s very own Coutinho should he leave Spurs for the Santiago Bernabeu.

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