How Barcelona will beat Man Utd

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They might be favourites to win the tie over two legs, but there’s no way that Barcelona will be taking Manchester United lightly, particularly at Old Trafford.

Playing at the Camp Nou for the second leg may seem to afford the Catalans an advantage of sorts, but Ernesto Valverde and his team will want to make that a formality.

In order to do so, they’ll need to take the game to the Red Devils and quieten the expected 75,000 crowd.

But just how are they going to manage it?

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What’s gone wrong with ter Stegen?

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When Victor Valdes left Barcelona, there was genuine concern that the Catalans were never going to find anyone as good as he, and for a season or so it looked like those concerns were justified with Claudio Bravo never really winning the critics over.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen had appeared sporadically in the cup competitions but hadn’t convinced either.

Eventually, after a stuttering start and a few harsh lessons learned, the German began to come into his own. Continue reading

La Liga Team of the Week Match May 38

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An enthralling La Liga season has drawn to a close and many of the division’s stars will now be turning their minds to the upcoming World Cup in Russia. But who made a final in the last round of fixtures to secure a place in the last Team of the Week?

Marc ter Stegen, Barcelona – seven points

A final clean sheet of the campaign rounded off what has been a wonderful season for the German.

With 113 points to his name, ter Stegen will be eyeing a starting berth for his national team come the World Cup. Continue reading

Barcelona unbeaten streak ends in shock loss at Levante

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Our game of the week looks at the blockbuster fixture at Estadi Ciutat de València that saw Levante put an end to Barcelona’s unbeaten streak in an enthralling 5-4 win that will be etched on the minds of both players and fans alike for some time to come.

A much changed Barcelona side came into the tie with a lethargy that suggested they believed this result to be a mere formality.

However, they were given an early shock when Boateng just managed to force a whipped cross into the goal off the underside of the bar to open proceedings in the ninth minute.

The 21-year-old Ghanaian then doubled the lead just after half an hour into the tie when he capitalised on a Continue reading

La Liga Game of the Week: Barcelona close out Valencia in tight affair

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This week’s La Liga Game of the Week saw Barcelona overcome a challenging Valencia side to secure a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou.

Barca will have been justified had they come into the game with a degree of trepidation, knowing full well that the fourth placed side posed a credible threat to their unbeaten record.

However, the hosts put the handle on the game from the early stages – taking the lead in the 15th minute when Luis Suarez netted near post after Philippe Coutinho’s exquisite slide-rule pass.

The Uruguayan’s emphatic celebrations have been a regular occurrence this season, with him having hit 23 goals in 28 games on his way to 100 points.

Equally, the Brazilian will have been delighted to have contributed to the goal.

The 25-year-old has dropped off the exceptional rate of goals and assists he was delivering at Liverpool following his big money move but moments like this show he is certainly beginning to settle in at his new club.

He again highlighted his ability once again when Umtiti headed in from his whipped cross to double Barcelona’s lead on 51 minutes – punishment for a Valencia side that had missed a number of high quality chances.

With nine goals and 11 assists across the two leagues, Coutinho’s 77 points this season and will be a hot favourite to really kick on next campaign.

With the game seemingly tied up, Dani Parejo added a touch of spice when he converted from the spot to score his seventh goal of the campaign after Dembele was penalised for a foul in the 87th minute – the hard shot squirming under Marc ter Stegen’s body.

ter Stegen will have been disappointed to have conceded the goal so late on, with the German on the cusp of an 18th clean sheet of 2017/18.

The penalty added a touch of drama to the final moments of the game but the hosts were good value for the victory in truth, seeing the tie through to the finish as they secured an 25 win of the campaign to put them on 82 points.

The victory puts Barcelona another step closer towards claiming this season’s La Liga title, though second placed Atletico Madrid did secure a 3-0 victory over the weekend.

The Catalans next see action against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final, whilst Valencia travel to Celta Vigo as they look to consolidate a qualification place for next season’s Champions League.

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Intrepid Barcelona fight back at Sevilla in Game of the Week

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Our La Liga Game of the Week saw Sevilla and Barcelona play out an entertaining 2-2 draw at La Bombonera as the visitors valiant fightback saw them come from two goals behind to retain their unbeaten streak in this season’s campaign.

Having lost two games on the bounce in a season that has seen them undergo intermittent periods of bad form, the hosts came into this tie with an attitude suggestive that they believed they had a point to prove.

With Correa having missed an early opportunity to put his side ahead, he made amends by setting up Franco Vasquez to open the scoring, the latter scuffing home the Argentine’s ball from six yards out. Continue reading

Germany and Spain lay out draw in La Liga-studded clash

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With La Liga action being suspended for the international break, we took the opportunity to take a look at how many of the Spanish division’s top stars performed in the clash between Germany and Spain at the ESPRIT Arena – a game that saw Barcelona’s Marc Ter Stegen and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos play for the hosts, as sixteen leading La Liga players featured in total.

Having come off the back of a successful qualifying group in which they won nine of their ten fixtures, Spain arrived in the game brimming with confidence and a desire to prove themselves against an elite side having whimpered out of the last two tournaments. Continue reading

Best Five Fantasy Football Strikers – La Liga – Round 15

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There were only two matches in the entire La Liga last weekend which saw clean sheets for the goal keepers. We take a look across La Liga here in the hope of finding games where the goal keeper has a good chance of keeping the ball out of the net. We feature Raúl Lizoain, Marc-André ter Stegen, Idriss Carlos Kameni, Diego Lopez and Gerónimo Rulli.
1. Raúl Lizoain: Las Palmas

Raúl Lizoain, who is valued at 2M, has started the last five matches for Las Palmas and has kept a clean sheet in two of those. His points tally of just six points is sure to improve, and with a home tie against a struggling Leganes this weekend, there is a great chance of him keeping a clean sheet this weekend.

2. Marc-André ter Stegen: Barcelona

Barcelona play bottom side Osasuna and as well being bottom, Osasuna have scored the fewest goals in La Liga. They will struggle against a Barcelona side who are needing the win to keep in touch with Real Madrid at the top and Marc-André ter Stegen has a terrific prospect of adding to his five clean sheets and points tally of 26 for the season so far. He can be picked up for 7.5M.

3. Idriss Carlos Kameni: Malaga

Idriss Carlos Kameni, who plays for Malaga has -2 points so far this season, but he has kept a clean sheet in two of his last five matches, Malaga take on Granada at home this weekend and they have only managed thirteen goals so far this season. This match is an ideal opportunity for Idriss Carlos Kameni to move into positive points for the season and improve his overall rating.

4. Diego Lopez: Espanyol

Diego Lopez is in terrific form, as are the Espanyol defence who have kept five clean sheets in their last five matches. He is valued at 5.5M and has a points return of 41 and with a home tie against Sporting Gijon, the chances of Espanyol making it six clean sheets in a row must be very high indeed.

5. Gerónimo Rulli: Real Sociedad

Gerónimo Rulli was on the wrong end of a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Deportivo La Coruna last weekend, however despite losing eight points for that performance, he is still among the top performers in La Liga this season. He is valued at just 2.5M and has a points tally of thirteen which may well improve this weekend as Real Sociedad take on Valencia who are struggling in La Liga this season.

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Top Five Fantasy Football Goalkeepers – La Liga

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It’s back to La Liga action this weekend and with all eyes on Atletico Madrid v Real Madird, a game which should see many goals, despite featuring two of the best defences in La Liga, we will take a look at alternatives for the goalkeeping position. There are some gems to be found which wont break the bank and we feature Sergio Asejno, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergio Rico, Geronimo Rulli and Diego Lopez.

We have featured Sergio Asejno previously and he is a keeper well worth sticking with. With a defence in front of him that have conceded just seven league goals this season, his value of 3.5M looks like a steal. His Price/Performance ratio of 11.4 must be one of the highest ratio’s in Football Fantasy League and his chances of keeping another clean sheet this weekend must be very high indeed.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has now had nine starts for giants Barcelona. He has kept four clean sheets in those nine starts and he looks worth every penny of his 7.5M. Barcelona line up against Malaga who have failed to score in two of their last three visits to the Camp Nou. There is every chance that ter Stegen will pick up maximum points this weekend as Barcelona will see this one as a must-win fixture.

Sevilla keeper Sergio Rico has had just nine starts this season and kept a clean sheet in three of those. They face a tricky away tie this weekend to Deportivo La Coruna, however they are the lowest scorers in the league with just eight goals and Rico, who is valued at just 2M shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping the ball out of the net.

Geronimo Rulli has been a star performer for Real Sociedad and their rise up La Liga. He has kept a clean sheet in his last three matches, making a mockery of his paltry 2M price tag. With a Price/performance ratio of 11.2 and a match against Sporting Gion this weekend, who are without a win in their last five, he is definitely one who should come under serious consideration.

Espanyol keeper Diego Lopez has kept a clean sheet in four of his last five matches and with a match against Alaves, who have failed to score in two of their last five home matches, Lopez is certainly worth further scrutiny. He is valued at 5.5M and should provide a decent run for your money in what should prove to be a tight game.

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Cillessen and ter Stegen to compete to become Barca’s no.1

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For the last two seasons, Claudio Bravo has been Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper in La Liga.

Brilliant Bravo bids farewell

During that time the 33-year-old helped Blaugrana achieve great success, whilst at the end of Barca’s 2014-2015 campaign, in addition to receiving the Ricardo Zamora Trophy for being the best goalkeeper in La Liga, he was also named in the division’s team of the season.

As such Bravo has played an extremely important role for Luis Enrqiue’s side over recent times, but will no longer do so, after being sold to Manchester City for 18m.

ter Stegen and Cillessen chief candidates to succeed Bravo

The departure of the Chilean internationalist centurion, who has made 106 appearances for La Roja, from Camp Nou, leaves Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Jasper Cillessen competing to become Bravo’s successor as Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper.

Whilst ter Stegen is now beginning his third season with the reigning La Liga champions, they have just signed Cillessen from Ajax for €14.9m in order to compensate for the sale of Bravo to Manchester City.

ter Stegen – Barca’s cup competition specialist

Since joining Barcelona from Borussia Monchengladbach for €12m in May 2014, despite Enrique preferring to field Bravo ahead of him in La Liga, ter Stegen has played all of the club’s Champions League and Copa Del Rey games. Whilst instrumental in Barcelona’s 2014-2015 Champions League success, ter Stegen has also been vital for the Catalan giants as they have won successive Copa Del Rey titles.

As such the 24-year-old 6-times capped German internationalist has proven himself as being capable of handling the considerable pressures associated with playing for Barcelona, whilst his Dutch counterpart Cillessen is still to learn of those.

Cillessen shines for club and country

After signing for Ajax in August 2011 from NEC Nijmegen for a fee in the region of 3m euros, Cillessen displaced Kenneth Vermeer as de Godenzonen’s first choice goalkeeper at the start of the 2013-2014 season, when he helped the club win the last of their 33 Eredivisie titles.

In doing so Cillessen performed brilliantly, with that being acknowledged by Holland’s then international manager Louis Van Gaal, who made the 27-year-old his first choice goalkeeper for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Subsequently Cillessen played each of his country’s games at the tournament, as they finished in third place, although he was infamously substituted for Tim Krul at the end of extra time in Holland’s quarter final against Costa Rica.

With that game entering it’s 121st minute and the score line locked at 0-0, Van Gaal made the decision to introduce Krul for the impending penalty shoot – out, which turned out to be an inspired choice since the 28-year old saved two Costa Rican spot kicks as Holland won 4-3. Ironically following Cillessen’s move to Barcelona, in order to replace him, Ajax manager Peter Bosz has signed Krul on a season long loan from Newcastle United.

Ultimately Krul faces an extremely difficult challenge to emulate his predecessor’s superb performance levels for Ajax, which were recognised as Cillessen was named as the club’s player of the year for both 2015 and 2016.

Dutch – German rivalry set to evolve for no.1 spot at Barca 

By taking into consideration Cillessen’s past achievements for both club and country, it is rational to surmise that Barcelona have undoubtedly acquired a top class goalkeeper, whilst they have one such other player in the guise of Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Therefore during the upcoming season, ter Stegen and Cillessen are set to compete keenly to become Barcelona’s first choice goalkeeper, although the German is potentially the favourite to occupy the role, given his prior experience of playing for the club. Nevertheless Cillessen also represents an excellent goalkeeping option to Enrique.