Positive early signs for Pato at Villareal

Euro 2016

Throughout world football this summer there have been many notable transfers, one of which involved Alexandre Pato moving from Corinthians to Villareal.

After enduring a disappointing loan spell with Chelsea last season, the immensely talented Brazilian now has another chance to prove his ability to prosper at the highest level of European football, just as he did for AC Milan earlier in his career.

Pato’s emergence as a prodigious young talent

The Rossoneri signed Pato in August 2007 from Internacional, whom he helped to win the 2006 FIFA Club World Cup seven months earlier.

Whilst doing so Pato, then just 17 years and 102 days old, broke Pele’s record as the youngest player to score in a FIFA arranged competition against Al Ahly in the semi-finals, as Internacional won 2-1 to advance to the final, where they overcame Barcelona 1-0, with Pato playing an hour of that game.

Relative to Pele’s record, Brazil’s all time leading goal-scorer set that almost half-a-century earlier by scoring against Wales in the 1958 World cup aged 17 years and 239 days.

Subsequently after being influential in Internacional’s 2006 FIFA Club World Cup success, Pato continued his excellent form for the club and was instrumental in them winning the 2007 Recopa Sudamericana, to earn himself a move to AC Milan.

Mixed spell with Milan

Throughout the first four of his six seasons in Italy Pato performed consistently well, as in 125 appearances he scored 57 goals, 14 of which arrived during Milan’s 2010-2011 Serie A winning campaign. Early on in Milan’s title defence, Pato sustained a serious thigh injury, from which he struggled to recover, as he made just 25 further appearances for the club, before joining Corinthians in January 2013.

In his debut year with Timao, Pato scored 17 goals in 57 appearances and although he remained a Corinthians player for the next two seasons, he spent those on loan with Sao Paulo and Chelsea.

Whilst his two – season temporary stay with Sao Paulo was relatively successful, whereby he made 95 appearances and scored 38 goals, as a result of both injury and an inability to adjust to the demands of the frenetic and physical English game, Pato failed to make a positive impact for Chelsea. Specifically despite being with the club for four months, he made just two appearances, as Chelsea’s management team waived the opportunity to sign Pato permanently.

Pato’s new adventure with Villareal

Therefore he returned to his parent club Corinthians at the end of the 2015-2016 English Premier League season, with the expectation of recommencing his club career in Brazil. Nevertheless that will not at present materialise, since Corinthians’ hierarchy accepted an offer of approximately 3m euros for Pato from Villareal, for whom he made his competitive debut, as they lost the first leg of their Champions League Qualifying Play-Off tie 2-1 against AS Monaco.

As well as continuing a remarkable record of scoring on his debuts, whereby he has now netted during his first appearances for Internacional, AC Milan, Corinthians, Chelsea and Villareal, Pato produced an extremely positive performance, to immediately endear himself to his new club’s supporters.

Subsequently Pato’s prospects of resurrecting his career in European football with Villareal seem bright as the 27-times capped Brazilian internationalist, who last appeared for this country in 2013, has made a promising start to being a new member of Fran Escriba’s El Submarino Amarillo – Yellow Submarine.

Serie A kick-off completes European lineup

This weekend sees the fourth weekend of action since seasons across Europe kicked off, and we’ve got some cracking games to take a look at, and with the league campaign getting underway in the Italian Serie A we finally have a full program of action.

In France, Ligue 1 gets underway on Friday evening when Marseille take on Nice, with several games taking place on Saturday and three fixtures on Sunday. Bordeaux will be looking to continue their 100% start to the season when they host Bastia on Sunday, and with striker Diego Rolan already on 45 points thanks to two goals so far he will be looking to add to that tally, but Bastia are still looking for a sign of which way their season is going with a win, a loss and a draw thus far. Elsewhere in the league, champions Paris Saint-Germain will want to improve on their single win and two draws when they take on St Etienne at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1’s last game of the weekend on Sunday evening. Keeper Salvatore Sirigu has managed 70 points so far, with PSG defenders David Luiz and Serge Aurier on 60 each, so the defensive record of the home side is great so far – top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be hoping to add to his tally of two goals and 30 fantasy points as well.

In the Premier League next, we see a particularly juicy fixture on Saturday afternoon as title favourites Chelsea travel to Merseyside to take on Everton. Aside from the fact that these two sides are among the top few in the land, the Toffees recently signed Cameroon striker – and former Chelsea star – Samuel Eto’o, who could be up for making his debut against his old club here. Eto’o arrived at Goodison Park despite reported interest from several other Premier League outlets, as well as some parties from across Europe, following a successful season at Stamford Bridge last year. He is valued at only €7.50m in our fantasy competition, so perhaps get him into your side and hope he can hit the back of the net against his former employers on Saturday. Chelsea’s defence, however, has been fantastic, with Branislav Ivanovic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois (50 points and 40 points respectively) particularly impressing, so it is likely to be a tough afternoon for Eto’o and co.

Moving towards the Bundesliga, the German top flight kicks off its second round of games following last weekend’s curtain raiser, with a particularly interesting game coming in the form of Bayer 04 Leverkusen against Hertha BSC on Saturday afternoon. Hosts Leverkusen have, much like the aforementioned Chelsea, done well defensively so far, keeping a clean sheet in their first outing – one of only five sides to manage it in the league – and that puts their defensive players right up there already as far as fantasy points go, but arguably the most interest and attention to be paid here would be on the pair of Karim Bellarabi (midfielder, 40 points) and Stefan Kießling (striker, 20 points). If these two can link up they can give Hertha’s defence some worries by the end of the match. Hertha’s strikers, however, were their prized assets last time around, with Julian Schieber on 40 points and Roy Beerens on 10, so the game could really go either way.

In La Liga, the match between Villarreal and Barcelona will be the focus owing to both sides having won their opening games, and both are clubs with Champions League experience. Much like both Chelsea and Leverkusen previously, Villareal’s strength in their opening game was easily at the back, but Barcelona’s front line are notoriously difficult to keep out, and so one must surely fancy the visitors in this one. Villareal have the quality to make it difficult though, with midfielder Denis Cheryshev (30 points) able to both provide and score goals of his own, but Barca surely have enough quality to do enough to grab the points. The Catalans are also in something of a unique position fantasy football-wise (at least in the contexts of this preview) as they have two players at the top of their points charts – one a goalkeeper, and one a striker. Claudio Bravo’s clean sheet from his one start last weekend gives him his total, while the incomparable Lionel Messi shares that total thanks to bagging a brace on opening day. Looking at Barcelona’s top pointsmen from then on, however, it was a starring performance on opening day from the defence – so expect last year’s runners-up to go all out to build on last week’s win over Elche and continue making it difficult for title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

Moving towards other Mediterranean shores now, the Italian Serie A also gets going with only two Saturday fixtures, as the rest of the games take place on Sunday. There are two fixtures in particular that would offer some intrigue, with Roma welcoming Fiorentina to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday whereas Milan play hosts to Roma’s rivals Lazio on Sunday. Roma ended last season as runners-up to champions Juventus, who travel to Chievo on Saturday, finishing some way behind their title rivals. Fiorentina ended up fourth, so this is another game that would come under a top match banner, but the hosts will be hoping that they can keep the goal threats of Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez at bay. They only conceded two goals more than Juve last season, though, so Roma’s defence is among the finest – it’s an early test for both sides that could reasonably end in a draw, but could also go to a big win for either side – it’s tough to call.

That’s it folks – we now have a full lineup of football across Europe once again. Best of luck to all fantasy managers out there!