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
Another full list of LaLiga matches awaits all Spanish football fans this weekend. There are some very interesting matchups to look out for as well.
Here is our preview of all ten games.
Mallorca v Athletic Bilbao
Key men: Salva Sevilla (Mallorca); Inaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao)
Prediction: Mallorca 0 – 1 Athletic Bilbao Continue reading
With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez injured for another game, the focus was on two things in La Liga: 1) How would Barcelona react after losing their first game of the season against Athletic Bilbao, 2) How would Antoine Griezmann perform?
Thankfully the Frenchman announce his arrival for the Spanish league champions and did it in style as Barcelona thrashed Real Betis 5-2 at the Camp Nou. Griezmann scored a brace and looked delighted to get off his mark with the club. The pressure was already growing for the World Cup winner after a move from Atletico Madrid which had cost the Catalan Giants over 100m euros. His first game for the club was poor and when Nabil Fekir opened the scoring for Betis it seemed as if Barcelona and Griezmann would be in real trouble.
They say timing is everything and in football it means a lot when you can equalise just before half time, it was scrappy and seemed to come off of Griezmann’s shin, but that mattered little, the fans were delighted for him and that goal seemed to reenergise the player who went on to have a very confident second half which led to him scoring again, a cracking goal too that swept into the net.
For many Griezmann was the man of the match and it mattered with the likes of Messi, Suarez and Ousmane Dembele out with injury. One wonders where Barca would be in the league had they not signed Griezmann? But what he did at the weekend was step up. It seems incredible to think that just 2 games in the pressure was massive on Griezmann to perform but this is what it is like at clubs like Barcelona, had he put in a no show again at home and Barca lost or even drew as a result, fans would have been venting their anger. But the storm has been calmed, caught in a tube and thrown away, and Griezmann and Barcelona can now look forward to their next game.
As for the league table it’s strange to see Barcelona in 9th place, though there has only been 2 games played. Sevilla and Griezmann’s former team Atletico Madrid top the league standings as they have won both of their opening games.
Barcelona’s next game will be against Osasuna. On paper that seems like 3 points but this game is away from home in Basque County just like the Bilbao match was a few weeks ago. Basque teams have an uncanny ability to turn it on against the likes of Barca and Real Madrid, and Barcelona will have to be on their game to get anything in that encounter.
One thing is for sure, it should be a cracking game.
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Real Betis fell away from the European places last season primarily due to a lack of firepower and a blunt attack in the final third. The striking position was earmarked many months ago for being their primary area of concern this summer with the aim of landing a minimum of one prolific player.
A multitude of reports now claim that the club are prepared to break their 22-year long transfer record to land Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias. The hitman has a €28m release clause at the RCDE Stadium and that would trump the signing of Brazilian winger Denilson, in then (1997) a world record transfer which brought Betis into global headlines. Continue reading
The transfer window in the Premier League opened up on May 16th and so far it hasn’t seen many players coming in but has seen quite a few leaving. There is a lot of work at Manchester United to be done and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer realises this and has acted accordingly. Two players have already been released in Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia and we should expect more in the coming weeks.
West Ham have been very active in juggling up their squad and have released 8 players which includes Andy Carroll and Samir Nasri. They have also got Roberto the goalkeeper from Espanyol on a free as a back up.
A couple of legends of the Premier League will play no more in England in Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany who will become player/manager of his boyhood club Anderlecht. Petr Cech’s last game was in the Europa League final for Arsenal and he will hang up his gloves and join Chelsea’s goalkeeping coaching team.
The big news this week regarded Tottenham and their reported pursuit of Giovani Lo Celso. The North Londoners have reportedly bid £53m for the midfielder who was on the books of PSG but was then loaned out at Spanish club Real Betis, who bought the player only in April.
With Tottenham buying no new players in the last two transfer windows this would signal the clubs first purchase in over a year. However whether Tottenham will get their man is up for debate given that Betis have him under a release clause for £88m. It is understood that the club would listen to offers though in the region of £75m but that is still over £20m what Tottenham have bid. And to further make things complicated for the club other Premier League sides have shown an interest in the 23 year old.
The connection could be a good one though for Tottenham fans hoping that their manager Mauricio Pochettino stays at the club next season given that Lo Celso is Argentinian. But this could end up being a war of words between Pochettino and club chairman Daniel Levy. If we remember a few weeks ago Pochettino hinted that he needed assurances from the club in order to stay with them, and surely one will be to bring in quality players this summer in the form of Lo Celso.
For Real Betis they would be looking at massive profits. They purchased Lo Celso only in April for about £20m, and if they did accept Tottenham’s bid they would have made a massive £33m profit in one month. Though it looks likely they will hold out for more and Tottenham will need to make a bigger improved bid.
The good news even if Tottenham fail with Lo Celso is that the club have revealed their purchasing power and that they will be buying players this summer, which must come as a relief for any Tottenham fan.
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The departure of Quique Setien from Real Betis created one of the most high-profile and interesting job vacancies in European football. In his first season at the helm, Setien led the club back to European football but inflated expectations and a greatly increased budget meant that this season’s 10th-place finish was one of disappointment.
A series of stars have arrived at Los Verdiblancos over the past 18 months: Pau Lopez, Marc Bartra, William Carvalho, Sergio Canales, Giovani Lo Celso. International standard players whose standard is competing in Europe and next season presents an opportunity for the club to focus on domestic competitions and potentially even launch a bid for a top four spot. Continue reading
The different descriptions of how to praise such genius ran out a long time ago and it is no surprise to see Lionel Messi ranked as the best La Liga striker of the season. He didn’t just amass more points he engulfed and controlled that position so that the next nearest striker, Karim Benzema was a cool 75 points behind him.
Personally for Messi it was another terrific season, true it could have been better as Barcelona ‘only’ won the league this season but the magician from Argentina still scored 36 goals in the league and assisted in another 13. That means that he was involved in 49 of Barcelona’s 90 goals, so well over 50% which is simply a stunning statistic.
Messi could have been yours this season but he would of cost the most out of every other player and was valued at 20m. He did end up collecting a huge 172 points though which as you’ve probably guessed was good enough to be ranked number 1 right across the board from strikers to any other player in any other position in any other major league. Whew! are we lucky to be able to witness his greatness in our lifetimes.
Messi started the season in fantastic fashion earning 20 points in his first 3 games including 12 alone when Barca beat Huesca 8-2 at the Camp Nou on matchday 3. In that game Messi scored 2 goals and two assists so even if that match was involved in 50% of the goals.
There were only 6 times when Messi failed to score a point and on two of those occasions the club had already won the league and so were concentrating on other competitions including the final stages of the Champions League and the Copa del Rey final.
Messi scored some huge points in games that other players could only dream about, 14 against Real Betis and 16 against Sevilla. But that wasn’t even his biggest haul, no that was saved for the game against Levante where Barcelona were playing away. The game finished 5-0 to Barca and Messi scored a hat-trick plus got two assists so was involved in every goal. To top that he picked up an extra 2 points as a bonus for getting the hat-trick.
The plaudits have long run out for him but he still amazes and seems one of the main reasons to watch La Liga football. Despite his attacking greatness it is also worth noting his disciplinary. This is important given in fantasy football how points can be lost and Messi was shown the yellow card just 2 times this season in the league.
It was another season where Messi made scoring hat-tricks seem normal and scored some fantastic goals once again, proving he is one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He will be back next season where he will most likely be the most expensive purchase but can your team really live without him?
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Is it simply a clash of styles that Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane and Gareth Bale have never got on? At the weekend in the final La Liga game of the season and what appears to be Bale’s final game for the club, Zidane did not start the Welshman, and then didn’t even bring him on as Real Madrid lost at home to Real Betis 2-0.
It was an act of cold power from the French legend and a final reminder that Zidane never really cared for Bale. The same Bale who scored countless goals for the club including single handily beating Liverpool in the last seasons Champions League final that saw an incredible bicycle kick. Even then Zidane did not start Bale and it is evident that the game changed the moment he came on.
It’s a shame that the relationship between the two has had to end like this, but it’s even a greater loss that Bale did not start the game and then get substituted late on and get one final proper applause from the home crowd. Please let’s not forget Bale’s six seasons at the club which included 102 goals and 13 trophies, 4 of those Champions League titles.
Zidane mind numbingly played it down, but we’ve been here before with Madrid and their politics and it is blindingly obvious that Bale has played his last game with the club.
It is how business seems to be done at Real Madrid and at the same time Zidane might be right to want Bale out of the club if they need to go forward. Bale in that sense is a reminder of a team from a few years ago and not now. At the same time Bale does have a contract for another 3 years and a huge salary reported to be 14m a season, so selling Bale might be harder than the club think.
At 29 Madrid will be hoping to get the 100m money back that they spent on the player when they signed him from Tottenham at the start of the 2013/14 season. While Bale still has the quality and still has at least 4-5 seasons at the top of his game he is one for picking up injuries and Madrid not always playing him this season has meant that he hasn’t been in the shop window so to speak. Plus it doesn’t help that this is unquestionably the clubs worst season in a decade.
Bale doesn’t have to walk, his contract is legit, but the most likely outcome will be a loan or swap deal and money perhaps to a club like PSG who would be able to afford hi wages, we will wait and see. But Zidane created his own faux pas at the weekend and really should have allowed Bale to say goodbye properly.
The story of Jese Rodriguez is one of missed opportunity, bad decisions and misfortune. As he rose through the youth ranks at Real Madrid and into the first-team squad, his style of play drew comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and he was widely recognised as one of the best players in the world.
Three months ago, Jese celebrated his 26th birthday and even though he should be approaching an age where most elite footballers reach their peak, his career is lurching from one underperformance to the next. Reports in Spain now say Real Betis, where he is currently on loan, will not exercise the option to sign him permanently. Continue reading
The future of boss Quique Setien at Real Betis looks increasingly uncertain and it appears likely he will be removed from his post this summer. Last week, the club confirmed via a statement that they had decided to stick with the under-fire coach until the end of the season. But for how much longer beyond that?
Los Verdiblancos have taken just four points from their last seven La Liga games and are now out of contention for a European spot. Their form since Christmas has been one of a team in the relegation mix and results, combined with the team’s sluggish style of play, has pushed fans over the edge in Seville. Continue reading