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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Top LaLiga Midfielders in 2018/19 – Philippe Coutinho

Philippe Coutinho

Despite something of a nightmare season for Barcelona’s Brazilian playmaker, Philippe Coutinho still managed to accumulate the third-highest fantasy football points total for a LaLiga midfielder in 2018/19.

Coutinho was expensive, however, costing 10.5 million for any fantasy LaLiga managers who wanted him in their teams.

He made 22 starts in the Spanish league and another 12 substitute appearances, meaning he played in 34 league games altogether for Barca during the campaign.

Coutinho contributed five goals and only two assists as he underwhelmed the Camp Nou crowd on a regular basis. Continue reading

Julen Lopetegui keen to put his stamp on Sevilla ahead of 2019-20

Lopetegui Sevilla wasted little time in appointing a new manager following the conclusion of the 2018-29 La Liga season, with former Real Madrid boss Julen Lopetegui stepping into the hot seat at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Despite a difficult 12 months, in which Lopetegui controversially left his post as head coach of the Spanish national team – to take up the post with Los Blancos – which ended poorly, after just three months, he is hopeful of resurrecting his career in Andalucia.

Caretaker boss Jaoquin Caparros’ strong end of season run secured Europa League football for the incoming Lopetegui, but there is still work to be done at the club.

Continue reading

Top La Liga Strikers in 2018/19: Wissam Ben Yedder

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Wissam Ben Yedder has just finished his 3rd season with Sevilla and it was his personal best yet as he helped the team to finish in the top six and qualify for the Europa League next season.

There were improvements in all of Ben Yedder’s game this past season and at 28 his best years could still be ahead of him.

Before this season Ben Yedder had never scored more than 11 goals in La Liga but he managed 18 and on top of that he assisted in another 9 goals, meaning that he contributed to 27 of Sevilla’s league goals. Overall Ben Yedder earned 91 points finishing just 2 points behind Barcelona’s Luis Suarez.

Ben Yedder started the season very slowly earning zero points from his first two games. And then against Levante where Sevilla were away from home, everything changed. The match finished 6-2 to Sevilla and Ben Yedder was the man of the match as he scored a hat-trick and assisted in another goal, with bonus points he earned 16 points in one game.

Another match that should be highlighted came in March when Sevilla now at home beat Real Sociedad 5-2. It was another hat-trick that earned Ben Yedder 14 points and so in those two games alone, even though they were months apart he was able to acquire 30 points.

Ben Yedder’s most consistent period during the season was in December and over the Christmas and New Year period where the striker scored points in five consecutive games totalling 15 points. And his worse single game of the season came against both Celta Vigo and Real Valladolid where he earned -1 point as he was booked in both games. Indeed while some players worst points is -3 or -5 points or more, to have the lowest points at -1 is actually decent and it only happened twice during the season when his points dipped into the minus category. This is due in part to the fact that he wasn’t sent off this season and was booked only 3 times.

In the last 4 games of the season, 3 of them ended with zero points which was disappointing. But the forward made up for it a little in Sevilla’s last game of the season which ended in a 2-0 win at home to Athletic Bilbao and Ben Yedder scored and made an assist in that game.

This season Ben Yedder would have cost you 7m to have in your team but he has just had his best season for Sevilla. In his debut one he earned 54 points, last season that was just 39 and now a massive 91 points, so his fee may rise for next term.

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Top La Liga Strikers in 2018/19: Lionel Messi

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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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Top LaLiga Midfielders in 2018/19 – Pablo Sarabia

Pablo Sarabia

There is much to love about Sevilla’s 27-year-old Spanish midfielder, Pablo Sarabia.

Signed from Getafe in 2016 for just €1 million, Sarabia has turned out to be quite the bargain for Joaquin Caparros’ side.

Sarabia can play out wide or through the centre in an attacking-midfield role and is the almost-perfect playmaker to have to create chances for the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder and Quincy Promes.

The left-footer worked well in midfield all season alongside Ever Banega and co as he helped Sevilla to a sixth-place finish in LaLiga and qualification for the Europa League in 2019/20. Continue reading

Sevilla braced for big money bids for their star players

Pablo Sarabia

Sevilla are preparing for a summer of transfer speculation over their top players, after a strong finish to the 2018-19 La Liga season.

Interim manager Joaquin Caparros confirmed earlier this week that he would be leaving the club, after leading them to a fifth place finish and another Europa League qualification spot.

The club will look to appoint a new permanent boss as soon as possible, with links to former AS Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco and Alaves’ Head Coach Asier Garitano.

Continue reading

Fantasy La Liga picks for the final games of the season

La Liga

Girona will fight for LaLiga survival while Valencia, Getafe and Sevilla battle it out for that final Champions League spot in the last round of games in the LaLiga season.

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

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

Goalkeeper – Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid) – 11.0 million

Jan Oblak is the usual safe option in goals as Atletico Madrid still prove to be one of the strongest defensive options in LaLiga. Oblak has 119 points this season. Continue reading

Week 37: Best 11 Players of the Weekend in Fantasy La Liga

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Just one team- Barcelona won from the top 3 as they increased their lead at the top to 11 points over Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid lost again as they just want the season to end but they will finish in 3rd anyway and be ready for the Champions League.

But the excitement is all about who will get that 4th and final Champions League spot. Currently Valencia have 58 points and lead on goal difference from Getafe who also have 58 points and there is also Sevilla in the mix with 56.

Below we take a look at the best performers of this past weekend in La Liga- did you have them in your team?

Formation 4-4-2.

Goalkeeper: Diego Lopez- Espanyol

Diego Lopez has kept his 2nd clean sheet in a row after Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 to go into 9th place. Lopez gained 7 points at the weekend and now is valued at 4m.

Defender: Jordi Alba- Barcelona

Yet another clean sheet for Jordi Alba and that is why he is rated as the best defender in La Liga Fantasy rankings. 5 points earned as Barcelona eased to a  2-0 win over Getafe.

Defender: Gerard Pique-Barcelona

People talk about Lionel Messi and the main reason that Barcelona have retained their league title. But the pairing of Alba and Pique at the back for the club has been instrumental, and their chemistry is unique. Pique made some great tackles and earned 5 points and his value is 7.5m.

Defender: Roberto Rosales- Espanyol

Roberto Rosales seemed like he was at the heart of everything happening for Espanyol as he helped to keep another clean sheet for the team who are now inside the top 10. Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 and Rosales is valued at 5.5m.

Defender: Jaume Costa- Villarreal

Jaume Costa starred in Villarreal’s vital 1-0 win over Eibar which now guarantees the club safety for next season. Costa has 22 points for the season and is valued at 6.5m.

Midfielder: Raul Garcia- Athletic Bilbao 

Raul Garcia earned 8 points for Bilbao as they beat Celta Vigo 3-1 to shoot up into a Europa League spot. Garcia had the weekend of his season though as he scored the opening 2 goals of the game for his club including a penalty. Garcia is valued at 8m and has acquired 41 points.

Midfielder: Joaquin Sanchez- Real Betis

Sanchez was influential as the midfielder earned 7 points at the weekend to take his total tally to 37. He scored both of Real Betis’ goals including getting a last minute winner in a memorable weekend for the player.

Midfielder: Arturo Vidal- Barcelona

Vidal earned 5 points to make this team for league leaders Barcelona who brushed aside Getafe 2-0. Vidal got the opening goal and that was his 3rd of the season for the Catalan giants.

Midfielder: Sarabia- Sevilla

Sarabia continues to be an outstanding player for Sevilla and earned 4 points at the weekend. The player is ranked as the best midfielder in La Liga Fantasy rankings with 87 points and is valued at 7m. Sevilla just remain outside of a Champions League place and drew against Atletico Madrid 1-1 at the weekend.

Striker: Borja Iglesias- Espanyol

Borja Iglesias earned a brilliant 8 points as Espanyol beat Leganes 2-0 and the striker scored both goals including a nervous penalty which sealed all the three points. He has 69 points for the season and has scored a terrific 17 goals, claiming to be one of the best forwards in Spain right now.

Striker: Enes Unal- Real Valladolid

Enes Unal wouldn’t see his name on a player of the weekend too much but the Rayo Valladolid player opened the scoring against Vallecano and then assisted in his team’s 2-1 win over the club. Unal has 23 points and is rated at 5.5m.

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