La Liga Best 11 Players from the Weekend: Matchday 21

Real Madrid went top after they beat Valladolid to win their 3rd game in a row. And Madrid took 1st place after Barcelona lost 2-0 away to Valencia. Atletico Madrid continued their poor form when they could only draw 0-0 at home to Leganes. After 21 games the league title and top 4 places are still up for grabs and we look at the players who performed the best in matchday 21. Do you have any of them? Now is the time to look!

Formation: 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Thibaut Courtois- Real Madrid 7pts

The goalkeeper choice goes to Thibaut Courtois because Real Madrid were the only side at the weekend to play away and keep a clean sheet and that was the goalkeeper’s 10th of the season.

Defender: Nacho- Real Madrid 8pts

Nacho played out the perfect game as he helped keep a clean sheet in a 1-0 win for Madrid over Valladolid and he also scored the winning and only goal of the game. An unlikely hero that is valued at 6.5m and has scored 21 points so far in total.

Defender: Roberto Rosales- Leganes 5pts

Roberto Rosales starred well for Leganes who stunned Atletico Madrid at their own stadium to hold out for a 0-0 draw, even with 10 men in the end. Rosales is valued at 5.5m and that was third clean sheet of the season.

Defender: Jose Angel- Eibar 5pts

Eibar held off Celta Vigo away with that game finishing 0-0 and Jose Angel was thick in the action and made some crucial tackles as he earned 5 points for the clean sheet. He can be part of your team for 8m.

Defender: Sergio Ramos- Real Madrid 5pts

Now with a total of 54 points for the season Sergio Ramos is the best performing defender in La Liga. He has played in 10 games where Madrid have kept a clean sheet and the veteran star does not come too cheap at 9m, but seems worth it.

Midfielder: Portu- Real Sociedad 8pts

Portu had a man of the match game after he assisted in Real Sociedad’s first goal and then  scored later on as his team won 3-0 against Mallorca in a one sided game. He has 42 points so far this season and is valued at 8.5m.

Midfielder: Ruben Garcia- Osasuna 6pts

Osasuna’s game was 0-0 with just 10 minutes left when they were awarded a penalty and Ruben Garcia under obvious pressure scored and that goal was vital as the home side went onto win their game 2-0. Having earned 32 points this season Garcia looks like a great deal, valued at just 4.5m.

Midfielder: Toni Kroos- Real Madrid 4pts

Kroos was part of a Madrid midfield that stayed firm in a difficult match and helped the defence keep a clean sheet and the German international then assisted in Madrid’s only goal of the game. Kroos currently has 35 points.

Midfielder: Jesus Navas- Sevilla 4pts

Sevilla beat Granada 2-0 and the opening goal which helped the home side to win the game was assisted by Navas, who has had another solid outing for the club he has become most associated too. He has 24 points so far this season and costs 4.5m.

Striker: Carlos Bacca- Villarreal 4pts

It was a low earning week for strikers, and Carlos Bacca scored one of Villarreal’s goals as they beat Alaves away from home 2-1. It was Bacca’s first league goal of the season but he has only started a handful of games for the club. His value is 10.5m, perhaps this could kick start his form?

Striker: Angel- Getafe 4pts

Angel got Getafe’s goal as they earned 3 valuable points at home to Real Betis winning the game 1-0. It was the players 9th goal of the season and he has 35 points already this season and his value is 7.5m.

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Ligue 1: Weekend Picks for Matchday 21

Cup competitions have dominated French football this month as they usually do in January but the league returns this weekend as Marseille will be trying to close the 8 point gap to PSG at the top. They will also be trying to fend off the threat from Rennes. The top 4 then is up for grabs still and the relegation battle, well take your pick from the bottom 8 teams. If anything Ligue 1 is a super close contest.

Below we pick the players who could make an impact at the weekend, based on form and also the teams that they will be up against, maybe you will fancy having some of them in your team?

Formation: 4-4-2

Goalkeeper: Steve Mandanda- Marseille

Steve Mandanda has conceded just 3 goals in the last 5 Marseille games and the club will be at home to Angers at the weekend where they will start as the favourites. Mandanda has 33 points and has 7 clean sheets so far, he is valued at 8.5m.

Defender: Hiroki Sakai- Marseille

Hiroki Sakai has been in brilliant defensive form for Marseille who should get all three points at the weekend when they play Angers. Sakai has been involved in games where he has kept 6 clean sheets. He has 21 points and is valued at 7.5m.

Defender: Joris Gnagnon- Rennes

Joris Gnagnon has 21 points and Rennes have been very impressive lately in not conceding goals, just 2 in their last five games. On Friday night the club will play Nice away from home and on the road they have not conceded a goal for their last 3 matches. Gnagnon can be yours for 8m.

Defender: Damien Da Silva-Rennes

Da Silva alongside Gnagnon has built a very good partnership and the player has started 18 games for the club. With 33 points so far he is ranked as the best defender for his club. He has kept 7 clean sheets and can be bought for a bargain 5m.

Defender: Axel Disasi- Reims

Reims have a really good defensive record in the league and it is even better at home. The club have conceded just 5 goals all season and Axel Disasi has been involved in 10 clean sheets. He has earned 48 points and Reims will be at home this weekend against Metz who are in 17th place.

Midfielder: Yoann Court- Brest

Yoann Court has started 13 games and has acquired 32 points. He has been involved in 10 goals with 7 assists. Brest are at home to Amiens and they have a very solid record at home losing just one game this season and that was to PSG. Court could make an impression here and he is valued at 6m.

Midfielder: Aleksandr Golovin- Monaco

Golovin has scored 3 goals and been involved in a further 3 and has really spearheaded Monaco’s season which has been a massive improvement on the last one. He is always involved in attacks and Monaco will be the favourites and be at home against Strasbourg.

Midfielder: Jason Denayer-Lyon

Denayer has had 17 starts but has just 12 points. He has faced a few problems this season and can be bought for just 3.5m. He isn’t always picked so this could be a risk including him but Lyon are at home to the bottom side Toulouse and will be big favourites not just to beat them but to do it convincingly.

Midfielder: Xavier Chavalerin- Reims

Reims will be big favourites to score goals and win when they take on Metz at the weekend. Chavalerin has only scored 1 goal and assisted in one but he is due more and Metz could be the perfect opponent for him to impress. He can be bought for 6m.

Striker: Wissam Ben Yedder- Monaco

Ben Yedder has been brilliant since Monaco signed him, and he is the top goalscorer in Ligue 1 with 14 goals. Monaco will be at home to Strasbourg and who would bet against him scoring at the weekend? He is valued at 7m which is simply a bargain and he has 62 points so far.

Striker: Andy Delort- Montpellier

Andy Delort performed well in the Coupe de France and he scored 2 goals as Montpellier sailed into the round of 16, after beating Caen 5-0. Delort will have a ton of confidence coming into this game and could be a good pick. He has 27 points so far this season and can be brought in for 7m.

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Real Madrid have fight, but for how long can they scrape results?

In the context of this season’s title race in La Liga it could prove be a big moment. Sevilla have ambitions of their own, with Julen Lopetegui taking the Andalusian side into the top four. Some have even suggested that Sevilla might make themselves outside challengers for the Spanish title this season. They must have fancied their chances of leaving the Santiago Bernabeu with something on Saturday.

Real Madrid, though, claimed a 2-1 win to establish a three-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga with their Catalan rivals set to play Granada at home on Sunday evening. This was the sort of game Zinedine Zidane’s side likely would have dropped points from earlier in the season. It could even be argued that Sevilla were the better of the two teams on balance.

With Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Sergio Ramos and Fede Valverde all out through injury or suspension, Real Madrid were short-handed. The absence of Benzema in particular posed Zidane with a real problem. The French striker is enjoying the season of his life, but the drop off in quality in Benzema’s absence is dramatic.

Luke Jovic set up the opening goal with a clever backheel flick for Casemiro, but the Serbian striker has struggled to find his place at Real Madrid since joining from Eintracht Frankfurt in the summer. In the main, Jovic doesn’t facilitate others around him in the way Benzema does. Thus Real Madrid are a poorer team in attack with the Serbian leading the line. This was evident against Sevilla.

And yet Real Madrid still managed to find enough within themselves to claim a crucial three points at a critical point of the season. This has become a trend for Zidane’s side over the past few weeks. It was a similar story against Atletico Madrid in the final of the Spanish Supercopa, with a penalty shootout getting Real Madrid over the line when they probably should have lost in 120 minutes of open play.

This is obviously a good quality to have, but for how long can this sustain Real Madrid? There is still a sense that they have yet to find top form and top gear this season. They have scraped through games at time, just getting over the line when they probably should have fallen short. Zidane still has to take Real Madrid to a higher level.

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How badly will Real Madrid miss Fede Valverde against Sevilla?

It was the moment that essentially decided the Spanish Supercopa final. Real Madrid’s win over Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia last weekend won’t be remembered for the penalties in the shootout, nor will anything during the 90 minutes stick in the mind. Instead, Fede Valverde’s cynical, last-ditch tackle on Alvaro Morata will be remembered.

The Uruguayan midfielder didn’t really have any other choice. With five minutes left of extra time, Morata was released clean through on goal. Valverde was the only one chasing back and so it was up to him to fell the Atletico Madrid striker, taking the straight red card for his troubles.

Valverde picked up the Man of the Match award almost purely for his tackle, raising a debate over whether such a decision was in the spirit of the game. Whether it was or wasn’t, the 21-year-old will now miss Real Madrid’s home match against Sevilla on Saturday, a landmark moment in this season’s title race at the top of La Liga.

The Uruguayan has become a key member of Zinedine Zidane’s side this season. He has filled a hole in Real Madrid’s midfield, leaving Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to fight over just two positions. It’s no exaggeration to say Valvede is now one of the first names on the team sheet.

Against Sevilla, Real Madrid will need to win the battle in the centre of the pitch. Julen Lopetegui will have revenge on his mind, returning to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since he was sacked as Real Madrid manager last season, and his team, currently sitting in fourth place, are a strong outfit capable of beating the best.

This is a critical point of the season for Spain’s top two. The fixtures will come thick and fast over the next few weeks as the Copa del Rey and Champions League start to clutter their schedule. A lot will be demanded of players like Valverde, but the 21-year-old will miss Saturday’s important match.

It will instead be up to the likes of Casemiro and Kroos to disrupt Sevilla’s play through the middle of the pitch. The Andalusians are excellent in transition and so Real Madrid must provide protection for their back four. Valverde would have helped do this. Finding someone to perform his duties will be key to what happens on Saturday.

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Best 11 Players in Spain’s Copa del Rey

The top teams were not involved in the latest round of the Copa del Rey as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Valencia contested a new format of the Spanish Super Cup which was being played as a mini tournament in Saudi Arabia. That means that this week let other players shine. With no league matches over the weekend we will take a look at the best performing players in the Copa del Rey.

Goalkeeper: Alejandro Remiro- Real Sociedad

Alejandro Remiro made some good saves as Real Sociedad his team then went on to beat Ceuta by 4-0. But it was his initial saves early in the game that enabled the team to grow in confidence and win. Remiro is valued at 6m and has kept 3 clean sheets in the league so far.

Defender: Sergi Gomez- Sevilla

Sergi Gomez was a rock in defence for Sevilla and whilst the other two defenders by his side also played their part they got booked. But Gomez played a clean game and the 27 year old looked impressive as his side beat Escobedo 5-0.Gomez is 6.5m to buy.

Defender: Lucas Olaza- Celta Vigo

Celta Vigo overcame Merida 4-1 and Lucas Olaza held his own as left back. He made some brave challenges and even though he was part of a defence that conceded a goal, it’s harsh to be critical of his over all performance when his team wins so well.

Defender: Jesus Navas – Sevilla

A supremely gifted footballer and Jesus Navas put in a great display as Sevilla won their game 5-0. He kept a clean sheet and he assisted in the 5th goal to round up a great game for him. It’s worth noting that Navas normally plays in midfield for Sevilla, but they deployed him in defence for this cup game

Defender; Ander Capa- Athletico Bilbao

Ander Capa had an excellent game as his side won 4-0 and of course he kept a clean sheet. He is having a really good domestic season in La Liga too where he has scored 26 pts and can be bought for 5.5m which looks like a very decent price.

Midfielder: Maxime Gonalons- Granada

Maxime Gonalons had a very solid game in the middle of the field as his team Granada won 1-0 against Tamaraceite. Many pundits thought the score would be bigger, but Gonalons simply put his head down and knew this would be a tough physical battle and he left the pitch with no cautions against him. In La Liga he has only earned 3 pts so far but can be snapped up for a relatively cheap 5m.

Midfielder: Carbo Bellapart- Badalona

True you may not have heard of Carbo Bellapart who plays in the lower leagues for Badalona. But he played such an important part as his team stunned and knocked out La Liga team Getafe, by winning 1-0. He was assured and confident and local media praised him.

Midfielder: Matias Vargas- Espanyol

Espanyol faced a potential tricky tie against San Sebastian Reyes who talked up a good game before the match. They made Espanyol work hard for the win and Vargas distributed the ball well, as his side eventually won 2-0.

Striker: Soriano – Girona

Soriano scored two goals and helped his club overcome a resiliant round of football. Girona were playing in La Liga only a few years ago and they will want to get back, they played some good football in this cup game as they look to have a deep run. Soriano is 34 now and has been around for a while and the veteran striker would have been very happy to have scored a brace to help his team.

Striker: Asier Villalibre- Athletico Bilbao

Asier Villalibre had a fantastic game as he scored two goals in Athletico Bilbao’s 4-0  win away to Sestao. He was really on his game and perhaps is deserving more of La Liga game time. He certainly had his own personal match of the season with this performance.

Striker: Enes Unal -Valladolid

Enes Unal has been lightning up La Liga lately and he came through in the Copa del Rey also. He scored both goals as his side Valladolid beat Marbella 2-1. Even though they were the favourites to win the match finished at 1-1. But Unal was able to strike in extra time to get the winner. He is valued at 5.5m to bring into your team.

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A preview of this weekend’s LaLiga action

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 matches.

Sevilla v Celta Vigo

Key men: Jordan (Sevilla); Aspas (Celta Vigo)

Prediction: Sevilla 2 – 1 Celta Vigo

Sevilla are the early LaLiga leaders and I can’t see that changing after this game. They should overcome Celta Vigo on Friday night. Continue reading

Fantasy LaLiga picks for this weekend’s matches

How did your LaLiga fantasy team get on over the opening weekend?

I’m sure, like all of us, you’ll need to make some changes throughout the squad. Well, that’s what we’re here for.

Have a read and see if any tips stick out which might suit your fantasy LaLiga team this weekend.

Goalkeeper – Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao) – 5.5 million

A good budget option, Unai Simon is only half the price of last week’s pick, Jan Oblak. Simon managed a clean sheet against Barcelona so another one is very possible away to Getafe. Continue reading

LaLiga fantasy picks for the opening weekend of the season in Spain

LaLiga returns this Friday night when Atheltic Bilbao welcome the reigning champions to San Mames.

Will anyone be able to stop Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez and co from winning Barcelona’s third successive Spanish league title?

As always, we’ve taken a look at the fixtures from a LaLiga fantasy football viewpoint to help you with your picks for the first weekend of the season.

Have a read and see if any tips stick out which might suit your fantasy LaLiga team this weekend. Continue reading

Monchi brings summer overhaul at Sevilla

Monchi

Famed sporting director Monchi has returned to Sevilla after two years away and is making up for lost time by conducting somewhat of a squad overhaul. The Andalusian club were hailed as the model of a modern and well-oiled machine in terms of their sporting direction under the former goalkeeper but in the 24 months in-between they had notable lost their way.

A lot of money was spent but Sevilla’s on-field success – whilst not totally drying up – notably dipped with successive league finishes outside the top five in La Liga and not landing any further cup success. This was always going to be a busy summer of comings and goings in Seville, and the first few weeks have born this out. Continue reading

Atalanta Demonstrate Ambition Ahead of Champions League debut

When Atalanta clinched top four on the final match-day of the season, the critics were out. With vultures circling their side after an impressive year, it looked likely that Gli Orobici’s carefully constructed roster would be dismantled piece by piece. The fear, of course, was that Atalanta, with many key players on their way out, would embarrass Italy on the world stage. However, nothing of the sort appears to be happening.

First, Roma were heavily interested in Gian Piero Gasperini, offering him a long-term deal in the nation’s capital. Opting to lead the side into Europe’s elite competition for the first time ever, the veteran tactician quickly rebuffed their advances. Since joining Atalanta, Gasperini has revived his managerial career, and has transformed the side into a high-flying attacking machine. It’s only right the former Inter manager sees this experience through to the fullest, and leads the side into their first Champions League campaign ever.

In a recent press conference, Gasperini spoke about Roma’s interest. “It would’ve been difficult to leave Atalanta right now,” said Gasperini. “It would’ve almost been a betrayal. Roma were tempting, but what we achieved kept me here,” added the tactician, as per Football Italia.

After keeping their leader aboard, the next step was securing the futures of their regulars. In the early goings of the transfer window, Napoli made strong moves for Josip Ilicic and Hans Hateboer, and reportedly agreed to terms with both players. Despite their interest, the club pushed hard for their stays and both players inevitably decided that remaining in Bergamo was their best option for the upcoming season.

Then, it was Gianluca Mancini that was on every team’s shortlist. Roma, among others, were interested, but the Italian international now appears set to stay. Mancini broke out last season under Gasperini, and established himself as one of Gli Orobici’s leaders in the locker room. His presence at the heart of defence and fearlessness will be much needed in Europe, especially considering Atalanta’s group will be no cakewalk. Currently, the Bergamo-based outfit are in pot four, meaning there’s a strong possibility they will be drawn with at least one of the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, and current holders Liverpool.

But this doesn’t scare Gasperini or Atalanta one bit. When asked about who he wants to play, the 61-year-old had no doubts. “The best. That’s what we want,” said Gasperini. “If I had to choose, I’d go to Madrid against Real Madrid because they have a historic stadium. And then England. Our chances aren’t very high, so it’s better to go and play with the best,” added the tactician.

As the weeks passed, every one of Atalanta’s standout players were linked with moves away, yet June has now come and gone, and their side is still completely intact. In fact, Atalanta have recently confirmed the arrival of Luis Muriel. After a successful loan spell with Fiorentina that saw him bag nine goals in 23 appearances in all competitions, Gli Orobici identified the forward as a priority and quickly put pen to paper on an 18 million euro deal with Sevilla.

The 28-year-old will fit like a glove in Gasperini’s high-press system, and will be deadly on the counter-attack alongside Papu Gomez, Duvan Zapata, and Josip Ilicic. Last season, Atalanta scored the most goals in league play with an astonishing 77, and look set to continue their offensive ways. While depth was previously a concern now that they’ll be competing on three fronts, Muriel’s arrival now gives Gasperini’s more options in the final third, and will allow him to rest Zapata when need be.

With just one month of the summer transfer window gone, the early signs are positive for Atalanta. They’ve kept their coach, rejected advances from many of Italy’s top sides for their key performers, and are slowly improving their roster with standouts from fellow mid-table sides. While it may be premature, Atalanta could very well go from being Italy’s surprise package to Europe’s latest darlings in just one summer.

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