Isco- The Enigmatic Messiah


isco-real-madrid-celebration_ninouk1opkmb1kx2vozw19q1pThe rivalry shared between Spanish footballing giants Real Madrid and Barcelona is one of the fiercest ever in world football. Fans from both sides are eager to witness a triumph over the opposition at any cost with a top quality performance in an El-Classico more than capable of heralding a player to cult status despite all his lacunas over the years.

The rivalry extends off the field as well with players encouraged to adopt an attitude of intense dislike or hate towards their rivals at every stage which has been certainly been crystal clear over the years. Several footballers who dared to switch from Real Madrid to Barcelona or vice-versa like Luis Enrique, Luis Figo purely for footballing reasons were termed as “traitors”, enjoying a welcome capable of shaking one’s soul to the core.

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Dani Ceballos’s Coming of Age Season


992139-01-02There was an unnatural sense of excitement in the air as journalists whispered furiously amongst themselves at the end of an emphatic 3-1 win for Spain against Italy in the semifinals of the UEFA European U-21 Championship conducted in 2017. While the hero of the night undoubtedly was Atletico midfielder Saul who smashed a hat-trick under pressure, there was another youngster who had caught the eye with his spectacular performance, bewitching the audience with his tricks and mesmerising gameplay.

It was none other than 20-year-old Real Betis midfielder Dani Ceballos who made heads turn with his patience, vision and a perfectly weighted assist for Saul’s opener despite the presence of established players like Gerard Deulofeu, Héctor Bellerín. Italian midfielder Roberto Gagliardini lost his mind completely when nutmegged by Ceballos, going to the extent of knocking him to the ground in a desperate attempt to salvage some pride earning him a red card.

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Real Madrid- The only side with 2 World-Class Goalkeepers


NAVAS“This club has great history and we’re writing more now, as the club has done over the years. Madrid never give up,” Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane may be known for his hard as nails attitude but one could distinctly feel a tinge of emotion in his voice as his beloved club earned a spot in the UCL finals for the third successive season after a hard-fought win over bitter rivals Bayern Munich.

The Frenchman’s comments drew mixed responses from the experts with a certain section of the pundits perceiving his remarks as “downright arrogant” in nature. The Los Blancos certainly had the perfect response in store with a dominating 3-1 win in the Champions League finals over cup challengers Liverpool, emerging as the only side to lift the illustrious trophy for 3 consecutive years.

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A La Liga game between Girona and Barcelona in America would be a bad move


In the past we’ve seen American sports moving over to Europe to play regular season games namely the NFL which is played at Wembley Stadium every season in London and Basketball. Could European football be next?

In truth, playing a regular season game abroad has been edging closer by every passing year. The Spanish Super Cup was not played in Spain and the FIFA World Club Cup is regularly played at the other end of the world. But a proper domestic game has never happened.

More than a decade ago Premier League chief Richard Scudamore’s ill fated 39th Premier League game to be played abroad never materialised with clubs voting it down but now in Spain, La Liga’s president Javier Tebas is very confident that the first game for Spanish sides will be played as early as January in Miami.

That game has been pencilled in to be the Catalan derby between Girona and Barcelona and as a sweet spot fans of Girona who have season tickets have even been offered free plane tickets to attend the match. But is moving a game away from your host country destroying the lifeblood and the soul of football?

There are of course two answers but surely anyone that has followed the game and knows its roots knows this is a venture steered only by money and profit. To take a fiery local derby game away from the fans- because many even if offered free flights won’t be able to take that up with family/work commitments feels like a bit of a sin. If the game does go ahead where will it all end? To add to this, Girona would also lose their home advantage as Barcelona playing to a packed stadium would feel like a home match by proxy- and with all due respect how many American fans have heard of or ever followed Girona?

Tebas says that there is a 90% chance the game will happen but there is opposition including even some Barcelona players. Both Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique have spoken out about moving the game, and other players from other teams have also been vocal.

The Spanish FA are against the idea also and the proposed match could see La Liga go on strike. Whilst the idea of playing a game deep rooted in one country and changing that for another seems exciting that excitement should last for only seconds and never have got this far. And yet on the international stage we have seen example of this happening.

A decade ago Brazil played Argentina in London, Argentina also played Croatia at West Ham’s old ground of Upton Park in 2014 and there have been other examples. Each of those games were friendlies but they were also underlined by the fact that the teams had come with their star studded players in tow. If those players had refused to play would those games have gone ahead? There will be some pressure then on Lionel Messi to speak up after all his teammates have.

To add fuel to the fire if Girona and Barcelona do meet in Miami it has already been confirmed that all Catalan flags would be banned from the stadium- in what is a Catalan derby. If that isn’t ripping the heart and soul out of the game, what is?


Top La Liga Strikers in 2017/18 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona)


Lionel Messi is a great player. There really isn’t anything new there of course – the Argentinian has long been heralded as one of the finest players on the planet for quite some time now, and is widely regarded as the biggest Argentina star since Diego Maradona. Plying his trade for Barcelona, of course, helps too. At the Catalan giants he finds himself surrounded by more of the highest quality players in the world, and combined they have all managed to win this season’s La Liga title by quite some distance. For all of Barcelona’s star power, however, it is Messi who has shone the brightest in the blue and red of Barca this term. Comparisons to rival Cristiano Ronaldo have seemed somewhat further removed this season, with Messi enjoying the much better campaign of the two, despite Ronaldo’s Real Madrid lifting their third consecutive Champions League trophy last weekend.

Messi was the biggest fantasy points scorer out of all the strikers in La Liga this season, and it is easy to see why. From his 36 appearances (of which he started 32 games) he has bagged 34 league goals as Barcelona went almost the entire season unbeaten, finally losing their first game in the penultimate match at Levante, a real thriller which ended 5-4 to the hosts. On top of his 34 goals, he provided 12 assists too, meaning he was directly involved in 46 of Barcelona’s 99 league goals – not far short of half. That just goes to show how instrumental he is, yet also reinforces that Barcelona are a squad of real depth and quality at the same time. His partnership with former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has blossomed over the last couple of years, and the arrival of Phillippe Coutinho – again from Liverpool – earlier this season has far from hindered Messi’s performances.

He did miss some game time towards the back end of the season, quite probably with one eye on this summer’s World Cup in Russia. That is one accolade Messi hasn’t quite been able to accomplish just yet, and though he has won an Olympic Gold Medal with Argentina in 2008 he is yet to really establish his stature on the international stage. He performs well for Argentina, make no mistake – 61 goals from 123 caps at the time of writing attest to that – but he has not been able to lift the World Cup trophy yet, and that is something that will be high on his priority list over the coming weeks.

Regardless of how things go in Russia, it seems certain that by August he will be taking to the Spanish fields once again, helping Barcelona defend their crown as Spain’s top club. If he can continue the kind of domestic form he has enjoyed this season, it would be difficult to convincingly argue against them managing just that once again 12 months from now.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #17 – Should Jack Wilshere go to the World Cup? Arsene Wenger’s Departure, and Juventus Wrap Up Serie A Title


The lads go through the latest goings on in the Premier League, Serie A and La Liga as Juventus wrap up the Serie A title, Swansea are relegated from the Premier League and Barcelona lose in the league for the first time this season.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #16 – Bacca, Simeone and Messi Hat-Trick Heroes, Barcelona Bag La Liga Title


In the latest episode of the Euro Fantasy League Podcast, Dave shows his sensitivity relating to marriage and Jamie displays a lack of football knowledge.

Hat-Trick heroes Carlos Bacca, Giovanni Simeone and Lionel Messi are praised. Darren Moore comes in for some props as well, while the lads worry for Huddersfield.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – Episode 13 – Salah, Mauro Icardi & Cristiano Ronaldo Dominate the Goals & Dave’s Sunderland Song


Welcome back to the Euro Fantasy League Podcast! In the latest instalment, the lads discuss the goals galore from the likes of Mo Salah, Mauro Icardi & Cristiano Ronaldo, look ahead to the international break and talk about the song Dave has written about Sunderland, which went viral and featured on lots of local press a few days ago.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – Episode 12 – Wenger & Arsenal Marriage on the Rocks? Plus, A Tribute to Davide Astori


The lads return with the latest installment of the Euro Fantasy League Podcast where they give props to Juventus star Paulo Dybala, take a look at the history of SPAL and try to look ahead to West Brom’s chances.

Following a discussion on Arsene Wenger’s status and relationship with Arsenal, the lads award their Best XI of the Weekend captaincy to late Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, and pay tribute to the 31-year-old.

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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – Episode 11 – Kyle Walker’s Valentine’s Day, and Paulinho Sets La Liga Record


Welcome back to the Euro Fantasy League Podcast! The lads discuss Paulinho’s Barcelona spell, big up Kyle Walker’s Valentine’s Day conduct and discuss wages in football.

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