Valencia vs Barcelona La Liga preview

Valencia vs Barcelona Preview: Tough test for Messi and co.

After what can only be called the Lionel Messi show on Wednesday night at Wembley, Ernesto Valverde’s team travel from London to Valencia as a stiff test awaits them in La Liga.

They made it six points out of six to start off their Champions League campaign with Lionel Messi running the show for them, but will they be able to turn it around and pick up a victory in the Spanish championship?

While Valencia drew 0-0 in their Champions League encounter against Manchester United, they’re at least able to say they recently won a match in La Liga as they defeated Real Sociedad 1-0 last Saturday.

For FC Barcelona, they have gone win-less in their last three matches with their last victory, ironically enough, also coming away from home in a 2-1 win against Real Sociedad. Since that game, they have drawn twice and lost once, with the defeat coming against bottom of the table Leganes. However, coach Valverde finally appeared to have got the starting eleven correct against Tottenham. Read More

Barcelona vs PSV Eindhoven Champions League preview

Barcelona vs PSV Preview: Are Barca Champions League favourites?

Football’s premier club competition the Champions League kicks off for the season this week, and FC Barcelona’s search for a first title win since 2015 begins at home against PSV Eindhoven.

Ernesto Valverde’s men have been drawn in a relatively difficult Group B alongside Tottenham Hotspur of England, Inter of Italy and PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands. The first test for the Catalan club is arguably the easiest of the three opponents with PSV having qualified for the tournament by defeating BATE Borisov 6-2 on aggregate over the two legs.

Lionel Messi’s main focus this season appears to be the Champions League and he has made it abundantly clear that he would very much like to win it this year. Addressing the fans at the Camp Nou at the beginning of the season, here’s what the little magician had to say: Read More

Barcelona vs SD Huesca Preview: Can Suárez Get Back On Form?

Joint top of the table, FC Barcelona host third placed SD Huesca at the Camp Nou on Sunday in what should be a routine victory for the Catalan club.

Coming off a somewhat unconvincing 1-0 victory away from home against Real Valladolid, Barcelona will look to make it three wins on the trot against a Huesca side who snatched a 2-2 draw away to Athletic Bilbao on Monday. French forward Ousmane Dembélé was one of the stand out players during Barcelona’s win against Valladolid as he scored the only goal of the match.

Luis Suarez’s form surely has to be a worry for blaugrana fans though as the Uruguayan has not only failed to score in the opening two matches of the season but hasn’t particularly impressed either. Coach Ernesto Valverde still seems to trust the number 9 but a goal can surely do no harm in helping to continue spread the list of goal scorers. Forward Paco Alcacer was recently loaned out to German club Borussia Dourtmind, which means Munir El Haddadi remains as the only other striker available for Ernesto Valverde. Read More

Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves Preview

Barcelona vs. Deportivo Alaves Preview: Will the champions’ new men feature?

FC Barcelona open their 2018-2019 La Liga campaign against a Deportivo Alaves side which finished in 14th position last season and go into the first match day as massive underdogs.

Lots of changes occurred during the summer for last season’s champions, not least being the departure of Andres Iniesta to China. The exit of the legendary number 8 left a big hole in midfield which will hopefully be covered by the new players brought in during the break. The captain’s armband now belongs to Lionel Messi meaning this is now his team and it’s not a bad supporting cast by his side.

World Cup winner Ousmane Dembele scored the winning goal in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla and that should definitely boost his confidence even more after lifting football’s greatest prize with his country. Coutinho finally had a pre-season with the Catalan club and new signings Arthur, Malcom, Lenglet and Arturo Vidal will bring some much needed depth to the team. Read More

It’s not coming home for England

A berth in the final of the World Cup was at stake and England were 120 minutes away from having a chance to bring football home, but a 2-1 loss to Croatia means they will instead play for third place on Saturday.

England came off a 2-0 win against Sweden while Croatia defeated hosts Russia on penalty kicks. England’s inability to close out the match after scoring early saw Croatia grow in confidence. A lone goal by Kieran Trippier was followed by an equalizer by Ivan Perisic and an eventual winner in extra time by Mario Mandzukic. Emotionally, Gareth Southgate’s team went from the highest of highs to the absolute lowest of lows across the 120 minutes.

Kieran Trippier gave the Three Lions a dream start. Just minutes into the semi-final match, Trippier gave England a 1-0 lead following a fantastic free kick. Gareth Southgate’s men looked sharper and quicker when compared to their counterparts on the day but as the match went on, Croatia grew in confidence and England let the match slip away.

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Sweden 0-2 England: Jordans key to victory

In their first quarter final appearance at a FIFA World Cup since losing to Portugal on penalties in 2006 in Germany, England ensured that the dream of football coming home is alive and well after a 2-0 win against Sweden. A fantastic display once more by Jordan Pickford along with two headed goals by Harry Maguire and Dele Alli meant that the Three Lions are in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since the 1990 edition.

A goalkeeper who is capable of playing with his feet helped Gareth Southgate’s team to build from the back, and Pickford made 20 passes (13 of which came from inside his area). Not only that, against Sweden, England kept their first clean sheet of the entire tournament thanks to his impressive saves. That and coming off the back of a first ever penalty shootout win at a World Cup can only help the team grow in confidence.

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France 4-3 Argentina: Messi’s World Cup dream is over

Despite scoring three goals in a knockout stage match, the World Cup dream has ended for Lionel Messi and his country. Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Mercado and Sergio Aguero all found the back of the net but a powerful France side were too much for the Albiceleste.

For the fourth time at the FIFA World Cup, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli set out a different eleven with a different formation altogether. This time, he benched both Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain, robbing the team of any real threat in and around the penalty area as Lionel Messi was supposed to play the false number nine role. While hindsight may be 20/20, it ended up failing.

Starting the match without a real out-and-out striker may have cost Argentina, especially when combined with the defensive fragility of the team. Lionel Messi played in the false number nine role yet despite coming on as a second half substitute, Sergio Aguero measured higher than him on the Twelve leaderboard. The Manchester City man finished second overall in Argentinean players behind Gabriel Mercado.

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Nigeria 1-2 Argentina: Messi bailed out at last

One draw, one loss and one magical win were enough to see Argentina progress to the second round of the FIFA World Cup, in large part thanks to Lionel Messi, Ever Banega and Marcos Rojo. Still unsure as to whether it was coach Jorge Sampaoli or the players themselves which picked the starting eleven against Nigeria, all that can be said is whoever picked the team ensured it was better than what we saw against Croatia. Lionel Messi cannot do it alone, no player can, and the inclusion of midfielder Ever Banega helped in Messi seeing much of the ball.

Banega, who received his first ever start at a FIFA World Cup was arguably man of the match. Looking at Twelve’s overall leaderboard, there’s no surprise he was in the top three alongside Messi.

Taking a look at the graphic below, when in attack, Banega was everywhere and it all started with the lovely assist for Lionel Messi’s goal. A ball through the air found Messi who controlled the ball in a way only Messi can, and he finished with his right foot.

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Argentina 0-3 Croatia: Messi and Argentina outclassed by Croatia’s midfield

All eyes and pressure were on Lionel Messi and his Argentina team during their second group stage match against Croatia. Unfortunately for the little magician, it was his Barcelona team mate Ivan Rakitić and club rival Luka Modrić who stole the show.

Up against a very talented, hard working and organized Croatian side, Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli was naïve enough to completely give up the midfield and put the emphasis on wing play which cost his team dearly. For a country (which historically speaking) has produced world class midfielders such as Juan Román Riquelme, Pablo Aimar, Fernando Redondo and Juan Sebastián Verón (to name but a few), it was frustrating to watch the team pull away from tradition and completely give away the middle of the pitch.

The midfield duo of Rakitić and Modrić gave Argentina a footballing lesson in how to control, press and dominate the game from midfield as if the Albiceleste were a country with no footballing past.


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