Is The Serie A Title Race Already Over? Top 5 League Talking Points

Bundesliga

The Revierderby

While Dortmund’s game against Bayern is always a huge fixture, their game against Schalke is arguably just as big. Both sides are only a 23 minute drive away. They are both located in a real working class area and this derby has produced 152 meetings, with Schalke coming out as the better of the pair. Going into this game, it was clear that while Schalke have picked up some form in recent weeks, Dortmund were the favourites. While it was close, it was Dortmund who came out as victors, thanks to goals from Thomas Delaney and Jadon Sancho. Schalke did bring the game level thanks to Caligiuri’s penalty, but it just wasn’t enough.

Let’s discuss the victors, who weren’t great on the day, but still managed to win the game. The Veltins-Arena is not an easy ground for Borussia Dortmund, with their last win coming in October 2013, so the fact they were able to pick up the victory is still very impressive. However their performance wasn’t their best showing. They only managed 3 shots on target. Schalke managed the same but they have a valid reason being they lack forward options at the moment, with Mark Uth and Breel Embolo both picking up injuries. Dortmund didn’t have any massive injury troubles going into this game. They started all of their big performers, with Reus, Sancho, Alcacer and Brunn Larson all starting as their attackers. Reus was very good on the day. He has been revived this season, and while isn’t the brilliant winger in his earlier days, he has evolved as a player, similar to how R9 changed from a player who relied solely on physical power, and instead used his technical prowess to his advantage. Reus is the leader in this young side, and knows what it means to play for the club. In this game he created 3 chances, more than any other player on the pitch, and got the assist with a delightful free kick into the box. Other than Reus, their attackers weren’t good enough on the day. Both Sancho and Brunn Larson were lack lustre, but they are young players. This is a game that is so hard to predict, and it can be overwhelming. Paco Alcacer was arguably the worst out of the three. He didn’t manage a single shot on target, and was taken off for Mario Gotze. While Dortmund should be happy with the win, it wasn’t vintage from them. Lucien Favre has garnered a reputation for completely misleading xG. They are currently top of the table, yet xPTS claims they should actually be 2nd, with Bayern as the comfortable leaders. They are actually the luckiest team in the league, with Favre’s side only expected to score 27, 12 less than they have actually managed. Dortmund have been very good this season, there is no denying that. But with Bayern being more dominant, Hoffenheim taking more shots and Leipzig having a better defense, it does show how maybe they’re fortunate to be where they are. I still hope they can keep it up. The Bundesliga has been very boring for a while now and it needs this refresh. Not only does it throw Dortmund right back at the top, but it will make Bayern really reconsider how well they think they’re ran.

La Liga

Atletico Madrid show quality against in form Alaves

Onto La Liga, which has had a predictable, yet interesting week. The high scoring game between Levante and Eibar, but let’s look at Atletico Madrid. They have truly disappointed me this season. With the huge additions they made in the summer, it was expected for them to finally push on. They have been fine enough. They still have a very good defense, but Simeone has faced some real problems. The first was his midfield. Since the loss of Gabi, a player so similar to Diego Simeone, it was as if there were two of them. The signing of Rodri from Villarreal was so good. I’ve already gone through previously why he’s so good, but there was doubt he could be the guy to replace Gabi. But after a start to a season which lacked minutes, he has finally found his place in the side. Only Koke completes more passes a game than Rodri. He also completed the most tackles in the side and the most clearances out of any midfielder. He holds the ball very well and is a great shield for the defense. I bring this up because he was one of Atletico’s best players on the day. He scored, completed more passes than any other Atletico Madrid player, and made 3 tackles and 8 clearances. He was very good on the day, and it seems Simeone finally has put his trust in him.

The Rojiblancos were deserving of the victory. They created better chances, and kept Alaves quiet and unable to create real substantial chances. While Alaves did take more shots, they only managed 3 on target. Atletico Madrid are one of the best sides in Europe at ensuring the chances you make are poor ones. It is why they are such a good side, and even with aging defenders, they are still rock solid at the back. One of their stand out defenders in this game was Santiago Arias. The Columbian was brought in as a replacement for the departing Sime Vrsaljko, and has been a worthy successor. He had a very successful time at PSV, where his dribble numbers and attacking threat were his most notable attributes. He was very good in this game, and showed all these qualities. He created 2 chances, more than any other defender, and even got an assist. It was a very good display from a player who will need plenty if he is to replace Juanfran.

Let’s quickly touch on Alaves, who while didn’t deserve the 3 points, they still had some chances in this game. Ibai Gomez managed more shots on target than any of his teammates, with 2. Alaves have been fine this season. While they don’t score many goals, they take the chances they get and play a very direct style. They can seem old fashioned, with Alaves being near the bottom of the table in shots, possession and pass accuracy, but right now they are just taking advantage of the state that is La Liga right now. The league is a mess, which has left teams like Alaves and Levante to climb the table, in times where they really shouldn’t be this high. While they are having a good season, it’s mainly because of how bad some other sides in La Liga have actually been.

Ligue 1

Ligue 1 will not be spoken about this week. The yellow vests protects have brought up security concerns. France is not exactly the happiest nation at the moment. 5 games have been suspended this weekend, including the game I most looking forward to, St Etienne against Marseille. It is still unsure when these games will be played, but I will cover Ligue 1 when it eventually comes back.

Premier League – Manchester City stunned by Sarri

Arguably the game of the weekend, Sarri was the first manager in the Premier League to truly dismantle Pep’s side. While City did dominate, Chelsea took their chances and limited City to create chances that aren’t as high quality as usual. It was arguably the most interesting game of the season.

Let’s start with Chelsea, who were truly great on the day. They came into this game in arguably the worst of situations. They lost 2 in their last 3, with their win coming against Fulham, a side even United could put 4 past. There was reason for worry, and even in the first half that worry was still there. City dominated and definitely should have got on the score sheet, but Chelsea rode their luck, and thanks to a goal from N’golo Kante and a late header from David Luiz, the blues managed to get the win. When I say that City dominated that first half, it was no exaggeration. Kante’s goal was Chelsea’s first shot on target. It’s Kante’s 4th goal contribution this season, the same as he’s managed in his last 2 seasons for Chelsea. While he is still learning his new role of box to box midfielder, it cannot be argued that he is definitely showing progress. While both Kante, Hazard and David Luiz will be remembered for what they did going forward, the man of the match was comfortably César Azpilicueta. The Spaniard was a monster at the back, that if you just add up all his defensive actions, he made 24. That is unheard of and it could be the first time I’ve ever seen a player amass that many. No matter where he plays Azpilicueta will always be one of the most consistent players in the side. He is just a delight to have for any squad. What Chelsea did so well is actually realise they are a lesser team than Man City. They might have played a 4-3-3, but in defense, it looked more like a 4-5-1. They were fine to have less of the ball, because they knew they could score a goal at the perfect opportunity. Both Kovacic and Kante are incredibly athletic, and could definitely help transition. It’s was a great approach from Sarri, and seems to be doing well at Chelsea, playing a different style to many of his predecessors.

This did seem like a huge off day for Manchester City. The champions dominated the first half, but late in the game they failed to get back a goal, and the pressure seemed to have got to them. The biggest talking point of the game was Man City’s lack of striker. Pep after the game said he was happy with how they played and the how his side set up, but I disagree. While he has played a striker-less team before, it just didn’t work here. Sterling just doesn’t have the same ability as someone like Jesus, to get in behind and make very intelligent runs. Sterling has been incredible this season, but it’s more as a winger, not a striker.

While Liverpool might be top of the table, City are still comfortably the better side. Every result they have had all been earned, with no luck to speak of. Let’s hope the better side actually win it this year.

Serie A – Juventus extend lead at the top

With Serie A going back to its one horse self, let’s look at their Friday night battle against Inter Milan, a side who have massively disappointed me so far this season. They have a very good manager, and made additions that should have seen them skyrocket up the table, but have been labouring on. While Icardi and Brozovic have been their usual great selves, Perisic, Nainggolan, Candreva and Vrsaljko have all underperformed this season. Perisic has always been their main creator, so having him slow down is a massive problem. Luckily, Keita Balde has been in good form recently and has helped his side. However even Keita couldn’t make the difference, with Juventus winning 1-0.

Inter had 2 incredible chances to get ahead, but thanks to Icardi creating them, instead of being on the end of them. Gagliardini hit the post and Skriniar hit it over the bar It meant they didn’t have their most clinical striker taking the shots. Other than those two chances, Inter only managed a single shot on target. They were wasteful in the final third and but the fact they created the chances they did, does earn credit. Vrsaljko was arguably their best player. While he hasn’t been as good as I expected, he did definitely bring his a game in this one. He completed 2 crosses, more than any other Inter player, and had their only shot on target. He was arguably one of the only highlights from a defense that wasn’t good on the day. xG had this game at 1.41 to Juventus, and 0.95 to Inter.

Let’s move on to the victors, who while weren’t great, still managed to get the job done. It’s classic Juventus. They are a winning machine. They have a team full of players who know how to win games, through the more dirtier side of the game, with players who have played at the top level for a long time, and know what it takes. They were good in this game, creating better chances than their opponents, with their forwards performing very well. Paulo Dybala was very impressive on the day. He created 3 chances, took 4 shots and even completed 4 crosses out of his 5 attempted, which is frankly ridiculous to see a player be that accurate. Mandzukic scored the only goal, and also had the most shots on target, and created 2 chances. Ronaldo wasn’t stand out in his game, but it’s good to see his teammates performing even when their main man isn’t. However another full back stole the show, this time it was João Cancelo. The Portuguese, while disappointing in Spain, has simply been brilliant since arriving from Valencia last summer. He was signed permanently by Juventus in the summer, after his loan spell with Inter came to an end. He has arguably been the signing of the season in Serie A. He created 3 chances, made 2 tackles, 2 interceptions and got the assist with a delightful ball to Mandzukic.

It’s hard to see how Juventus aren’t favourites for practically every competition they’re in. They have a deep squad, quality in every position, and huge competition for places. I still think their midfield is a bit weak. It’s the only thing truly holding them back from being the best side in Europe. While Atalanta and Napoli might be more fun to watch, Juventus are winners, and that is what’s most important when winning league titles.

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Are Liverpool Overrated? Champions League Heroes and Zeroes Game Week 4

Hero – Atletico Madrid

For redeeming themselves after their horrific defeat at the hands of their opponents in their last meeting. They beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0, thanks to goals from Saul and Griezmann. Before complimenting how good Simeone’s men were in this half, let’s discuss just how bad Dortmund were. They didn’t manage a single shot on target. They have been pretty good in attack, while overachieving in some sorts. So seeing them not even test the keeper is disappointing. Anyways, on to Atletico Madrid. They were back to their best in the Champions League after their biggest defeat in the competition. They only managed 32% possession, yet dominated the game. They blocked Dortmund out completely, and reminded Europe why they are so difficult to beat. Their stand out player in the game was comfortably Saúl Ñíguez. The Spaniard played on the left side of midfield, and not contributed in attack, with him scoring the first, but also had 2 shots and created 2 chances. While his form in the league can vary, no one can question he has been one of the best players in the Champions League. Felipe Luis is another who stood out on the night. Simeone is an expert at getting the best out of his players. 2-3 years ago you could say that the Brazilian was the best left back around. Now 33, his ability is dropping but he is still a solid defender in this system. He put in 4 tackles and 5 interceptions. He also created 2 chances and got an assist. After all their summer spending, it’s good to see Atletico looking like the prospect I thought they would be.

Zero – Liverpool

Who else to talk about her. The reds suffered a humiliating defeat to the hands of Red Star Belgrade. This was actually the Serbian side’s first ever win in the competition, which was just mind boggling to find out. Liverpool were truly terrible. While they had 23 shots, they only managed 4 on target. Salah and Van Dijk were the only ones who managed to test the keeper, meaning 8 other out field players didn’t even manage to get a shot on target. It’s crazy to think that a team with such an apparent good attack, failed to have many stand out chances against a side that they walked over at Anfield. Two players were pretty disappointed, being Sturridge and Wijnaldum. Sturridge had the chance early on to put his side ahead, but missed a simple chance to give his side the lead at that point. It was a chance for him to challenge Firmino for a place in the side, and failed. I really dislike Wijnaldum as a player. I just do not think he offers enough to justify the amount of games he starts. This game perfectly shows this. In a game where you want your most advanced midfield to help the attack, he offered nothing. That isn’t necessary true. He had 2 shots and made an interceptions. You just want so much more in a game where attacking is all you’ll be doing. It serves another example of when Wijnaldum vanishes in away games. A poor day all round for the Reds, and will need to finally step up this season.

Hero – Harry Kane

Spurs were in a bad place before this game. After consecutive loses in their first two, and a draw against PSV, it left them in a difficult place. They had to win against PSV and Inter if they wished to have any chance of progressing. After falling behind thanks to a great header from De Jong, they had a mountain to climb. But as usual, it was their captain who dragged them through it. Kane was the reason why Spurs were even able to win the game. He was absolutely sensational and seemed to be be back at his best pre ankle injury. He had a monsterous 8 shots in this game, which means he had a shot roughly every 6 touches. That is just incredible. He also completed 3 dribbles as well, which is impressive for a guy who seriously lacks pace. Kane hasn’t been at his best this season. Thanks to a world cup hangover and spurs suffering an injury crisis, he has had to sacrifice a lot of his game. He has still managed 6 goals in the league and is now on 4 in 4 in Europe’s competition. He has brought his A-game when he needed to and credit needs to be given to him for that.

Zero – Thierry Henry

Oh Monaco. They went quickly from Europe’s new hipster club, to a side in serious trouble. After Jardim decided he couldn’t do anything else with this side, Henry was brought in to try and salvage something out of this season while there was still plenty of it. To say he’s had a bad start is an understatement. He’s been in charge for 5 games and has now only managed 2 points out of a possible 15. Of course it’s hard to judge a guy who has only been charge for a month, and I do sympathise with him. He’s under an immense amount of pressure, and is probably quite unsure what to do with these players. Monaco signed a lot of players in the summer, using their model of recruiting prospects and hoping they work. After underwhelming France last season and losing Fabinho, Lemar and Moutinho, all key players, they are really struggling. Their game against Club Brugge might be their worst. They lost 0-4 to Brugge, which is their biggest defeat in the Champions League. There nearly had as many chances as Brugge, having 6 efforts on target to Brugge’s 7. But conceding the goals they did must have drained them of confidence. Antonio Barreca blatantly handballed it and allowed Brugge to sit back and defend the goals they already scored. It’s such a shame to see a team once seen as one of the most exciting in Europe, to now struggling to stay in their own league.

Hero – Real Madrid

For the first time in Champions League Heroes and Zeroes, we welcome Real Madrid. The European champions looked to finally show why they even have that title, with a comfortable 0-5 victory against Viktoria Plzen. After the sacking of Julien Lopategui, Santiago Solari was brought in temporarily, until a replacement was found. He has definitely got Madrid playing much better, and due to this, results have definitely picked up. They have won every game under Solari, and are creating much better chances. Speaking of creating, Toni Kroos was outstanding. He was one of many players who completely dropped off near the end of Lopategui’s reign, and is back to his majestic best. At point, he was the best midfielder around. But thanks to his legs beginning to go and Kroos generally doing less defensive work, he has lost that title. He was magnificent against Plzen. He created 6 chances, had 3 shots and completed every long ball he attempted. He also capped his performance off with a delightful finish to chip the keeper. Another player who performed well is Benzema. The Frenchman has been on the decline for years now. He was criticised heavily last season for lacking in goals, but that was because he was making space for Ronaldo. This season however, the pressure is on him. He wasn’t actually great in this game, scoring with every shot on target he had. I have credited other players in the past for being that clinical, but for a Madrid player, they need be taking so much more shots when they are dominating games. Kroos, Bale and Ramos all had more shots than Benzema. He seems to be getting in less goal scoring positions, and it just shows how much he is decreasing by the season. He has been a good servant, but he will need serious replacing. A good performance from Madrid, and it’s good to see the champions showing why they have won it 3 times in a row.

Zero – Juventus

While Manchester United do deserve credit for somehow getting 3 points, when they didn’t deserve it at all. Juventus deserve plenty of criticism for not putting this game to bed, and failing to deal with United’s changes. Juventus had 23 shots compared to United’s 9. Dybala, Khedira and Cuadrado all had chances to seal the win, yet failed to take it. The worst of all was actually Allegri. He has been incredible in recent years, for getting the most out of aging players, and being smart when on the pitch. However his decision to bring on Barzagli, and switch to a 3 in the back was what spurred United on to win the game. It gave so much more space for United to get near the box. They won the game from set pieces. They are areas you expect an Italian side to be able to defend. They truly struggled to deal with the aerial threat of Fellaini. If they wish to win the Champions League, they cannot allow a weaker side to take advantage of them like this.

Hero – Gabriel Jesus

Because of the monsterous form of Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus’s minutes have been limited. He’s only started 2 games in the league, but has started 3 games in the Champions League. Pep seems to trust Aguero more in the Premier League (where he is performing at an incredible level) and is using Jesus in competitions where Aguero can be rested. This could be the last season where this can be used. Jesus will want more minutes as he gets older. Pep probably does have a solution in how to use him, but I’m unsure how long Jesus will remain happy with this role. He was truly amazing for City, scoring his first hat trick in the Champions League, and being only the third Manchester City player to score a hat trick, joining Negredo and Aguero who also have scored hat tricks. He must have reminded Pep why he was brought in to begin with. His movement and off the ball work is still top level, and is a great box predator. He is reminiscent of Icardi some ways. He doesn’t need too much of the ball to have an effect. He managed 28 touches in the game, the least out of any player who started for the Champions. However he still managed 6 shots, 4 on target and made 2 key passes. He’s just so effective whenever he plays. It’s the game he needed. Pep now has a dilemma. He has two strikers in red hot form. Pep only had this dilemma because of Jesus’s incredible game, so credit to the Brazilian.

Zero – Lyon

Last time Lyon and Hoffenheim met, I said it was by far one of the best games in the Champions League so far. Their second battle was still a spectacle, with the game ending 2-2. While last time I gave credit to anyone who was able to watch the game, it is time to look at it with more of a critical eye. Lyon are zeroes here, because they squandered a 2 goal advantage. What makes it even more disastrous is Hoffenheim were down to ten men. Lyon could have won this game rather comfortably. They comfortably had more shots, 28 to Hoffenheim’s 16. The goals they conceded were soft. Kramaric was given room to shoot freely, and they drew due to a set piece, an area where they had an advantage. Both teams have been impressive in this Champions League so far, but this game was Lyon’s for the taking.

How Important is Messi? Champions League Heroes and Zeroes – Game week 2

Hero – Paulo Dybala

Because of the signing of Ronaldo, it has put Dybala in a very strange place. He seems to no longer be the centre piece of the side because of the arrival of the Portuguese and all the fame and arrogance that comes with it. He has so far become a bit part player this season, with Allegri still unsure one where he fits in. However after Ronaldo’s suspension, it was Dybala’s chance to show Allegri that he needs to find a place for him, and boy did he take it. Dybala scored a fabulous hat trick against Young Boys, to put Juventus at the top of their group. That first goal was excellent ball from Bonucci, and an even better finish from Dybala. It’s his fourth hat trick for his side. It now pressure on both Ronaldo and Dybala, to see who is truly fit to lead the line for the side.

Zero – Bayern Munich

For not being able to bounce back after their first league defeat of the season. They played a very good Ajax side, but you still expect the champions to put aside any team. Ajax truly took the game to them and arguably should have won the game. The away side completely outdid their opponent, using Tadic as a false nine to confuse the Bayern defenders, and use Van Der Beek to exploit the space that Tadic was making. Bayern don’t usually deal with a false nine, which it made it so difficult to deal with. Both Lewandowski and Ribery had strangely ineffective games, which saw both of them fail to register a shot on target. It was very out of the ordinary for the forwards. It shouldn’t be too difficult for the German side to progress to the next round, but Ajax did show how vulnerable they are during Kovac’s early days.

Hero – Sergio Aguero

For helping Manchester City end their 4 game losing streak in the Champions League, and to drag his side over the line, against a very resilient Hoffenheim side. Hoffenheim caught the champions out very early on (in fact the fastest goal since El Shaararwy’s goal against Chelsea last season) and it left city with a mountain to climb. However thanks to Aguero scoring not long later, it made it much easier for them. David Silva was also at his silky best in this game, but Aguero’s performance, included taking a crazy 7 shots, is what got the win for his side

Zero – The Real Madrid Fringe Players

This was a chance for players like Ceballos, Vasquez, Nacho and Reguilon to make a statement to Lopategui, that they all deserve a chance in this star studded eleven, however it wasn’t a day to remember. Thanks to an early error from Toni Kroos of all people, Real just didn’t turn up at all in Russia. While they did amass a crazy 26 shots, only 4 were on target. Because they conceded a goal so early, it left Real desperate to get back into the game, resulting in many half chances that were wasted. While the players I previously mentioned didn’t impress, it was actually Karim Benzema who stood out in the worst way. The Frenchman struggled without his Welsh superstar beside him. He had 5 shots, yet didn’t manage to get one on target, or make a key pass or complete a dribble. It just wasn’t his night. Madrid will get out of their group, but hopefully Lopategui has learnt not to rest players in Europe’s elite competition.

Hero – Lionel Messi

For just showing why he is the best player to ever play the game. On paper, Spurs away is a tough fixture, but Barcelona made it look easy. It is a huge part thanks to their little magician. Messi was at his unearthly best. The Spurs backline just couldn’t get near him. The amount of times he would receive the ball and drive at the spurs defense and make it look like they weren’t even there was outstanding. His stats even show this, with the Argentine scoring 2, having 4 shots on target, and making 3 key passes. He was just excellent as ever.

Zero – Romelu Lukaku

I had to sit and suffer through a very flat and slow Manchester United performance. Mourinho chose the same static midfield again, and it was ineffective, again. However by the far the worst performer was Romelu Lukaku. I do not know what happened to him after the world cup, but he just doesn’t look his usual lively self. His movement wasn’t there. He was giving his teammates no forward option, because of his lack of willingness to find space and keep United moving forward. Throughout the game you could see Pogba screaming at him to make a run, because he just wasn’t giving anything to the side. I think what shows his lack of involvement in the game was his lack of touches. The Belgian only managed 33 touches, which is 31 fewer than Sanchez and Rashford’s 64. Both of them were trying to get the ball forward and create opportunities. If I was Jose, I would be considering leaving Lukaku on the bench for the next game against Newcastle.

Hero – Antoine Griezmann

For helping his side secure their first home win of the campaign. After a slow start, Atletico Madrid are finally showing what we all expected from them. Lemar looks to have finally settled, and Arias seems to be playing a big part for the side. However the best element of their side remains Griezmann. The Frenchman has been a key reason for why they are back on track, and he showed this against Club Brugge, who after scoring an absolute wonder strike, just couldn’t contain him or Costa. Costa’s game has been sacrificed massively for Griezmann, but it is definitely working. They might have just formed the most deadly partnership in Europe. The second goal highlights this, with Costa making the run, and instead of shooting, decides to play it to Griezmann, who puts it away comfortably. The world cup winner had a hand in all the goals, and seems to be one of the most in form players in the tournament.

Zero – Jürgen Klopp

Liverpool have now not won a game in 3. The reds have been tipped to be team to dethrone Manchester City at the top, but their performance against Napoli did show some real vulnerability. They didn’t manage a single shot on target throughout the game. In games against possession based sides, Liverpool can usually use their workman ethic and ball winners in midfield to attack the side quickly. But Napoli completely outperformed their opponents. They won more tackles and aerial duels. The reason why this is impressive (and why Liverpool were pretty poor) is because these are stats where Liverpool usually excel. It was a bad day for Klopp, and with Manchester City next on the calendar, it could be a change to make a statement in England.

Hazard to WIN Player of the Year? Top 5 Talking Points From The Top 5 Leagues

Bundesliga – Leipzig’s 5 goal thriller. Mönchengladbach Keep Pushing

Leipzig have not been so great this season. They began their season with a defeat to Dortmund, and then drew against newly promoted side Fortuna, a team they should be beating. But they finally got their first win, with a 3-2 victory over Hannover, thanks to goals from Werner and Poulsen. Leipzig went for a more defensive set up here, starting 3 in midfield, with Kampl being the only real attacking threat from it. It worked in a way, with Leipzig winning more tackles and aerial duels. It didn’t stop Hannover’s threat however, with the away side getting more shots and dominating possession, with 68% in their favour. It was a scrappy game for Leipzig, but having a clinical striker like Werner is what gets you through tough games like this, when you are not at your best. Werner was particularly good in this game. He only touched the ball 34 times, but still managed 6 shots. It shows how he was getting in good areas when taking shots, because of the lack of build up play he was involved in. Hannover will feel hard done by here. They should have won the game based on how much of the ball they had, but just failed to capitalise. Asano had 6 shots, yet only got 1 on target and failed to score. It’s the difference between the two sides. Leipzig seem to be missing Keita. His ability to cover the defence and advance the player, just isn’t seen in the current side. It is a big season for Leipzig, so let’s see where they go from here.

Mönchengladbach have started the season very well so far. Their 2-1 win over Schalke keeps them unbeaten, and puts them at 5th in the Bundesliga. It was a very equal in most ways. The possession was split evenly in half, and both sides had similar shot numbers. The difference in this game was that Mönchengladbach took their chances. Ginter wasn’t marked for the first goal and was given a chance, and he took it. Schalke just didn’t do the same. While Ginter did score the opening goal, one player who had an excellent game was Alassane Plea. The Frenchman was key in linking the attack, with his 4 key passes being the highest for the home side. He also completed 2 dribbles. While his shot numbers weren’t the highest, only managing a single one goal, he was instrumental in keeping their attack ticking. As for Schalke, it seems they will get out of this rot soon. Their forwards just haven’t been performing, resulting in their only goal in this game being their third this season. Mark Uth did manage to get 3 shots on target, but didn’t manage to score. Eventually the ball will start to hit the back of the net, and when it does, they will finally start fighting for the top 4. What makes it even more difficult for Schalke now is they have Bayern next, and judging by not only their form, they also have a Champions League game, which could not help in their hope to stay competitive in the Bundesliga.

La Liga – Girona Win in Style

It wasn’t exactly an eventful week in La Liga. I’ve already spoken enough on Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid. With Madrid dropping points, Atletico continuing their awful start, and Barca winning again, there just isn’t much to add. So I thought let’s take about the most exciting game of the weekend, being Girona’s win over Celta Vigo, which ended with Girona beating their opponents by 3 goals to 2. It was definitely a deserved win as well. While Celta did control the game, it was a great counter attacking lesson from Girona. They only managed 11 shots compared to Celta’s 20, but they made their chances count. Christian Stuani in particular was excellent. The Uruguayan only managed 3 shots on target, but still scored a brace. He has been excellent for Girona since his arrival from Middlesbrough. He scored 17 last season and seems to be continuing where he left off. Girona’s defending in this game was very balls to the wall. What sums that up is Stuani’s contribution. He managed 3 tackles from an attacking position, showing how much of a team effort it was. However when talking about defensive work, one cannot leave out Álex Granell. The Spanish veteran managed a frankly ridiculous 12 tackles and interceptions in this game, while also making 3 key passes, the most in the side. On a side note, the 2nd goal from Stuani was excellent showing of a counter attack done right. They moved so fast and made quick short passes to move the play up. Girona are a good side, and it’s good to see them win games like this, by playing a very straight to the point way of football. As for Celta, on another day they would have won this, but they were exposed. Girona noticed that they were weak on set pieces and in the air in general. They exploited this through crosses. The first two goals came from the full backs advancing far up the pitch and just putting in a ball in the box. Celta tried a similar way, to take advantage of Maxi Gomez’s superior aerial ability, but didn’t work. Hugo Mallo, the Celta Vigo captain, attempted the most crosses for them, yet out of the 7 crosses he managed, only 1 caused significant danger. Like I said, on another day, it could have went their way. But it cannot be argued that Girona deserved the victory.

Ligue 1 – Lille’s Great Start. A Payet Inspired Win

With PSG cruising the league as usual, let’s put some focus on a side who have started excellently, being Lille. The 2011 Ligue 1 champions have started the season in great fashion, already getting 3 wins this season. While their wins haven’t came against tough opponents, they are scoring goals and doing well defensively. They beat Amiens 3-2, with Pepe getting all three goals. He was absolutely great in this game. He managed 5 shots on target, made 3 key passes, and completed 2 of his dribbles. He played in the game more as a striker than a winger. He was constantly getting in central positions, which explains why he was able to get so many shots on. He also won the penalties he converted. He is now on 4 goals in 5 games, and his opposite winger, Bamba, is on 3. Both are performing well for their new side, and look to help push Lille back to their successful period when the likes of Hazard, Cabaye and Gervinho were performing in that side.

Marseille had another good week. They followed their dramatic win over Monaco, by beating Guingamp 4-0. It was definitely a deserved win, They had much more possession, allowed their opponent zero chances to attack, and completed 86% of their passes, compared to the away side’s 75%. This is Marseille’s third win of the season, leaving them on equal points with Lille, and 5 behind Paris. While they are not in a good place to challenge for a title, it will leave with an advantage in the fight for top 4. Back to the game, Marseille actually didn’t score until the second half of the game, and for a reason. They failed to capitalise on the many chances they were creating in that first half. Mitroglou notably missed a header from a couple of yards away, which perfectly summed up Marseille in that first half. However in the second half, they just came out with a a bang. Marseille took their chances against a Guingamp side that just couldn’t keep up with them. The midfield partnership of Strootman and Sanson performed very well, with the pair completing a combined 15 tackles and interceptions. They did a great job in shielding the back four. Their captain, Dimitri Payet, was another who performed excellently. He was at his creative best with the Frenchman making 5 key passes. His goal was by his highlight. It was easily the best goal scored this season. It was as if it was a cross more than a shot, but yet still got it in the goal. What a great talent, who will always be remembered as the player who should have been at a higher level. While Payet was fantastic, Thauvin was the man of the match. The world cup winner scored two and had a great game. He was a constant threat on that right side, and was key to Marseille getting over the line. He has been their best performer in their recent resurgence. In this game he showed that, by completing 3 dribbles, and making 3 key passes. It just shows how much of a complete winger he is, being able to score, dribble and create. He is the whole package. Marseille have a big season ahead of them, and they have started it in great fashion.

Premier League – Hero Hazard. Villain Vorm

Chelsea have been very good at the start of the season. Sarri was able to fix a majority of the issues that Chelsea had at the time. He brought in a very good goalkeeper to replace the unhappy Courtois, one of the best game controllers in Jorginho, and a guy I’ve been wanting to see move for so long in Kovacic. However while all three have been good in their first season, one cannot compliment Chelsea without discussing Eden Hazard. The Belgian has been on fire since the World Cup (where he should have won the player of the tournament) and has continued his form into the new season. In his previous four, where he only made brief cameos in the first two games, he has contributed to four goals. He has been in the form of his life so far. In this game he more than doubled his tally, scoring his first hat trick in 4 years (and getting me plenty of points in fantasy football). It was the icing on the cake for his recent form. He was so involved in this game, getting on the ball 97 times, more than midfield star Jorginho. Hazard has always been key in driving the attack, but this is just insane. He is now carrying the attack on a new level. He completed 3 dribbles, scored all of his shots on target, and had an 89% pass accuracy, the third highest on the pitch. It was a perfect performance from Chelsea’s key man. With the way he’s playing, he could end the season as the player of the season.

While Hazard was the hero, Michel Vorm was far from that. The Spurs number 2 was at fault for the first goal and had an overall poor game as Liverpool won at Wembley, flattering Spurs with a 2-1 victory. Spurs continued to struggle against the top four, as again, they seemed to not know what they are doing. The full backs were travelling too far up the pitch, leaving Salah and Mane all the space in the world to press the centre backs, giving them no options to move the ball. However the biggest talking point by far is the continual poor form of Harry Kane. The golden boot winner has been absolutely dreadful at the start of the season. He just looks doesn’t look sharp, with the forward failing to get into good positions in the final third and seems to pass the game by. He reminds of Wayne Rooney in his later years at Manchester United. He lost his pace as the years went on, and just couldn’t lead the line in the same way. I am not saying that Kane has lost his ability, but he just isn’t playing as a traditional number 9 this season. He is dropping far too deep, instead of leading the line. Compare him to Icardi. The Inter captain has been compared to Kane over the years, because both started scoring an insane amount of goals at roughly the same time. However the difference is Icardi does not get too involved in build up play, and instead waits in the box and looks for space to exploit. Kane had a 16% conversion rate last season, and Icardi had over 25%. It proves that Icardi takes better shots than the Englishman. Kane needs to start playing as more traditional number 9, and allow the build up play to be done by the more creative players. A bad day for spurs, but a worse day for Kane.

Serie A – Ronaldo Finally Scores. The Sampdoria Show

By far the biggest talking point is Cristiano Ronaldo finally scored his first 2 goals for Juventus. The Portuguese forward scored a simple tap in to start, but then ended a good counter attack with an excellent side finish. He was a threat throughout the game as well. He has his usual incredible amount of shots, with the forward taking 9 shots. Which was more than half of Juventus’s total shots (14). This could be the boost he needs. Many expected Ronaldo to hit the ground running. While it has taken longer than expected for him to begin his scoring account, it will now push him to continue to score more, and break even more records. On another note, Douglas Costa was the opposite of a professional on the pitch. Never should a player hit or most of all spit at an opposing player. He should have been banned for more than 4 games, but a punishment is still a punishment. It will hopefully prevent players from doing these unacceptable actions no longer.

Sampdoria followed their absolute beating of Napoli, by beating Frosinone by 5 goals. They were better than their opponent in every department. Sampdoria had more possession, more shots, completed more tackles and had a better pass accuracy. The stand out performers again were their forward two. Quagliarella and Defrel have created one deadly partnership so far this season. Defrel bagged a brace, while his partner in crime scored and assisted. Both of Defrel’s goals were excellent. The first was a well taken volley, while the second was a great individual effort. While his goals have been impressive, what’s surprised me the most about the striker has been his work rate. Any player who starts alongside Quagliarella has to cover more yards, simply because the Italian has not got many years left in him, and needs to safe his energy. Defrel did this job to best of his ability, while contributing in an attacking sense. He made 4 tackles in the game, the second highest in the game. He is just the perfect partner for Quagliarella. Sampdoria’s run now is a difficult one. They have Fiorentina at home, and then Inter Milan. Getting points against these two could show us all where Sampdoria are heading this season.

UEFA Champions League 18/19 Preview – Group H

And last but not least, the final group. One of the toughest groups here, it contains Scutdetto winners Juventus, 2x winners Manchester United, Marcelino’s Valencia side and last but not least, Swiss champions Young Boys. It’s going to be an interesting group.

Juventus

Let’s start with Juventus. The Old Lady to into this tournament as one of the favourites, based on 2 words, Cristiano Ronaldo. The five time Balon d’Or winner is by far the best player in the history of the tournament. Juventus have signed the top scorer in the Champions League, who has been the main reason why Real Madrid were able to win three champions leagues in a row. Their other signings were also very good. João Cancelo was great for Inter Milan last season, and will give them a real attacking addition. Mattia Perin has performed well for Genoa over the past few years, and will give competition to Wojciech Szczęsny. They have a very good squad, but the only issue is their midfield. It just isn’t as strong as the other sides, like Barcelona, Madrid and Man City. I like Pjanic, but Matuidi and Khedira are just not as good as they used to be. If they just invested more in that area, they would be definite be main challengers. They will top the group, because of their solidarity at the back, and their attack.

Manchester United

Just the perfect draw I wanted my team to get. United go into this tournament a slight mess. The loss to Sevilla is still fresh in the minds of the supporters. After a summer of disappointment in the transfer market, it has left the manager in a tough place. Mourinho is one of the few managers in the world that can only succeed if he is fully backed. There is no point having Mourinho if you are not going to give him what he wants. The squad is full of players who are not good enough, and players who seem unhappy. There have been a few positives this season. Luke Shaw has been excellent in every he has played, Lukaku has already got 4 in 5, De Gea is at his best, and United have finally started putting some wins together. United have some excellent individuals, and are able to punish any team on their day. But the problem is holding onto those leads, and making the changes count. Lukaku needs a lot of chances to score, and United struggle defensively in every sense of the word. I think they’re better than Valencia and Young Boys, and could challenge Juventus at home. They will finish second, but that might be me being biased.

Valencia

Valencia started last season like a rocket. They had Zaza, Guedes and Rodrigo in great form, but by the new year, their form started to slip. Now they have started the new season quite poorly. Besides a good point against Atletico, they have lost against Espanyol, and draws against Betis and Levante. They just haven’t hit the ground yet and need a win desperately. They have some very good players that can damage any team. Geoffrey Kondogbia was great last season at recovering the ball and driving the ball forward and Santi Mina was excellent in the second half of the season. The signings of Gameiro and Batshuayi give them extra options up front. Batshuayi is great addition. His form for Dortmund was excellent and hopes he can do the same for Valencia. Marcelino is amazing at setting up a defense, as seen by Gabriel actually being good. But it’s the other end of the pitch they have been struggling with. They have only managed 3 goals so far, and have only been managing 3.8 shots on target per game. Valencia will always make it hard for other teams, but because of their lack of goals, they will not be getting to the round of 16.

Young Boys

Besides the strange name for the team, Young Boys are in the competition after winning their domestic title for the first time in 30 years. However even after losing their manager, they still look great. They have won every single game this season, with their three top scorers, Fassnacht, Hoarau and Ngamaleu, have contributed to 14 goals in 6 games. They are in excellent form right now and are ready to bring it into Europe’s elite competition. However, while I think they could shock a side (my money would be on United), Juventus and United have the pedigree and the quality to compete. But I do think they will still come out of this competition with their pride in tact.

Final Table

1. Juventus

2. Manchester United

3. Young Boys

4. Valencia

Top 10 Signings of the 2017 summer window

10. Jordan Pickford

Everton’s biggest concern last season was defending, and while Michael Keane was an excellent bit of business, Jordan Pickford was just even better. Pickford last season made the most saves in the premier league, instantly making him the best part of a terrible Sunderland team. And when they eventually got relegated, everyone was wondering who would sign him. And to everyone’s delight, it was Everton. They had some real goalkeeper issues last season. Robles had a terrible save percentage and Steklenburg constantly made mistakes. They signed a young keeper with so much promise and is already showing his value. He is definitely England’s next number 1.

9. Benjamin Mendy

Man City ended last season with no Fullbacks, after not giving 3 of them contracts and selling Kolorov to Roma. That position was key for Pep to strengthen, and after signing Danilo and Kyle Walker, Pep was finally addressing his real squad concerns. So then they go and spend £50m on the best left back they could buy (meaning they couldn’t buy Marcelo). Mendy was brilliant for Monaco last season. He plays like a winger but has the energy of a midfielder. He can dominate the entire left side on his own, meaning more players are able to push further up the pitch and join the attack. Mendy will know how to play Pep’s way, making him a good deal for both parties involved.

8. Keita Balde

Speaking of Monaco, to replace the outgoing Mbappe, they signed a promising winger from Lazio. Keita, like Mbappe, is given a free role upfront. To be able to come deep or stretch the play, because Falcao will be staying central. It will give Monaco the same edge they had last season. They’ll be able cause teams all sorts of trouble, and with amount of goals and assists Keita got last season, PSG are looking like they have their usual challenger back.

7. Nemanja Matic

One of United’s biggest concerns last season was we didn’t have a real defensive midfielder. Someone who has the legs and intelligence to play at the top. Mourinho did as he always does. If he knows a player personally who could fix his issue, he will buy them. Like he did with Carvalho many times. And this time he signed a real quality defensive midfielder in Nemanja Matic. The 2 time title winner was signed for £40m, and from how he’s started the season, is really looking like a bargain. Matic already has given Pogba more space and freedom to push forward. He’s added a winning mentality and some needed experience to a group of hungry young players. He will be a player who will help transition the old to the new, and might add a view trophies while doing that.

6. Nelson Semedo

It was clear that Barcelona were in desperate need of a right back after Dani Alves’s departure. Sergi Roberto filled in at right back but just couldn’t do the same work as the Brazilian. The first big signing they made was Nelson Semedo from Benfica. A fast right back with a real quality going forward. The improvement shown instantly when he was brought on against Madrid on the Supercopa final. He replaced Aleix Vidal and Semedo just added so much more than his team mate. He gave Barcelona a tempo and some energy on that right side. If he keeps this up, he will prove to be a good long term fix.

5. Mohammed Salah

Liverpool have the best attacking three in the league, as much as it pains me to say it. They have pace, creativity and intelligence in their 3. Their biggest issue was depth. Coutinho and Mane both missed many games last season. It forces Klopp to change the players and ruin the dynamic three they had. But with Salah, they’ve added another player who plays similar to their best three. He is quick and great on the counter. He had 2 great seasons at Roma and now is ready to show Chelsea what they’ve missed out on.

4. Ousmane Dembele

The first £100m player. Dembele is beginning to be underestimated only based on his price. But a player who dribbled as much as Messi and got the second most assists in the league deserves credit. Barcelona are buying a future Balon Dor winner, a player who will stay in their team for years to come. They just have to make sure they don’t sell this one to PSG.

3. Romelu Lukaku

Easily placed on a subjective view, Lukaku has been performing consistently since joining Everton, and it was about time he returned to a big club to show Europe all his qualities. At first it seemed Chelsea were going to sign him but United swooped in and got the man. And so far, he’s the perfect fit. He is strong, powerful and most importantly, clinical. He gives united another dimension to play. Instead of a slow Zlatan, we have a player who will let us play on the counter. Although his build up play isn’t as good as the big Swede’s, he certainly can improve and be a world class no9

2. Neymar

A player who has changed the course of football with his world record transfer. PSG didn’t win the title because they didn’t have enough goals. Don’t get me wrong, Cavani had an amazing season but it takes him a few shots to score. They’ve bought a goal and assist machine in Neymar. He will instantly fix their problem and make them competitive in the Champions League. He’s given them the ultimate step up and ruined of their European rivals.

1. Leonardo Bonucci

Not much needs to be said here. Milan have signed the best defender in the world for only £35m. He has made me take them seriously. Their other signings all seemed like just good players. But Bonucci is the real icing on the cake. He gives them a solid defense and a winning mentality. Something that Milan team has missed over the years

Players that could change club in the summer

The summer transfer window is almost here and already there are plenty of rumours of players wanting to leave and clubs placing massive bids, so let’s look at the players who are already being talked about that could leave their club in the summer.

Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez has had his best season or his career, yet it is clear he is extremely unhappy at Arsenal. He is in a team of underperformers and he wants to win, and that is justified, every player like Sanchez wants to end their career with as many trophies as possible. So a big move away could be the answer. He’s easily the most talked about because of all the different destinations he could end up at. The most talked about is Chelsea, because a few weeks ago he mentioned that he wants to play for a club in London. So everyone instantly assumed Chelsea. Even though he definitely could be implying the blues. I do think he is only toying with the press here. Chelsea have shown their interest and if Hazard does go to Madrid which is becoming ever so likely, then Sanchez would be the best replacement. The only issue here is the chances of him being sold to a Premier League rival is very low. The last thing Arsenal want to do now is strengthen one of their rivals. If not Chelsea, where else? Another club that is been mentioned is Juventus, where I can see him moving. Juventus have had this habit in the past of buying players who are not wanted by their club or players who are aging and can help the old lady win more trophies, and Sanchez could fit that bill. He is being rumoured to be worth roughly £30m, which is a reasonable price. A price Juventus could definitely afford.

David De Gea

Ever since the broken fax machine interrupted De Gea’s last attempt to go to Madrid, this will be his chance to move to the club he wants to play for, and I will be heartbroken if he does. De Gea has been excellent for us for the past 4 seasons. Without him, I have no idea where we would be. The rumours of David leaving have been growing much more in the past month, with even  rumours of Mourinho telling the Spaniard he is free to leave if he is unhappy. If the player is unhappy, then he should leave. There is no purpose in keeping an unhappy player. Manchester United need players who want to play for the club. This scenario can be seen as a similar one to the Ronaldo situation. A player who was at the top of his game who became unhappy and wanted to leave. There’s nothing going against the shot stopper from leaving the club in the summer, and with a rumoured price of £60m, he could be the record breaking goal keeper Madrid need.

James Rodriguez

Speaking of Madrid, the rumours of a certain Columbian coming to United have been never ending since last summer, and I can see it happening. Ed Woodward loves a big name signing like Paul Pogba, to increase shirt sales and to gain a massive profit oversees. James Rodriguez is still a big name around the world and him coming to United just seems like a signing Woodward wants. As for Mourinho, he has shown his interest in the player in the past, so if both want him, there’s nothing stopping United from buying an unhappy Columbian, one who isn’t playing many games for Madrid because of the form of Modric, Kroos and Isco. With De Gea and James going both ways, it makes sense on both sides to get the players they want.

Alvaro Morata

Morata is a player that every club in the world just seems to want, and it’s understandable. Morata might not have played many games this season, but his goal to game ratio is phenomenal, and any big European team will want to take the advantage of his lack of game time and offer him more. There is no doubt he has the quality and physique, we just need to see his consistent​y on a bigger scale. The rumoured club for him is Chelsea. With Costa being a very form player this season. Conte seems to want to replace the target man with someone younger and more consistent. I can only see this transfer happening if Costa eventually leaves for China or another club, and if Zidane wants to sell. If Madrid purchase Hazard, Morata going the other way wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Napoli Vs Juventus Match Preview

This could be a title deciding game, if there was a title to play for. I really want to stay optimistic for other Italian teams like Roma and Napoli, but it is difficult. Juventus are just too good for this league, always weakening their rivals and being able to have a huge amount of depth in their squad. With this game being at home, Napoli could have a chance of getting something out of this, but this isn’t a usual team, this is Juventus. Even though most of the time Napoli have looked excellent and exciting, some days they just look off the paces, with Dries Mertens unable to do anything. We’ve seen before how bad Napoli can be, like against Atalanta, but other days look excellent, like through December and January. So Napoli just need to make sure Dries Mertens won’t be pinching any noses and will be banging in the goals. Juve on the other hand have a champions league game coming up so key players might be rested. If Napoli have any chance of gaining some ground on the leaders, this will be it

Absolute Bargains! – Top 5 free transfers of all time

Free transfers are usually there to take younger players leaving an academy or a player coming to the end of their career. They are normally used for squad depth and never for a main starter, but there are some exceptions. Some free transfers can be seen as some phenomenal business from the club buying. But before I start, here are some honourable mentions:

Sami Khedira – Real Madrid to Juventus

Dani Alves – Barcelona to Juventus

James Milner – Manchester City to Liverpool

Henrik Larsson – Celtic to Barcelona

Sol Campbell – Spurs to Arsenal



5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – PSG to Manchester United

At the time Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on Top of the World. He carried PSG to another league title and became their record goal scorer. And to top that, he said he would only stay if he was given a statue. Classic Zlatan. Ibrahimovic was rumoured to be joining United as soon as the transfer window opened, and there was plenty of criticism. Involving his age, being able to adapt to the league, and only scoring all his goals against so called ‘farmers.’ And turns out all of this criticism was incorrect. At this moment of writing Zlatan has scored 26 goals for Man United. An unbelievable amount for a player who only scored against farmers. The reason he’s on this list over the players on the honourable mentions is because Mourinho brought in a leader, a player who would be able to give plenty on the pitch as well as off the pitch. He’s an experienced player who added a lot to a team that needed a massive boost, after 3 years of underperforming.

4. Paul Pogba – Manchester United to Juventus

The third free transfer involving Juventus is easily their best one. Paul Pogba was a player with high potential, with him being seen as the future for Man United’s midfield, but because of a lack of game time he was getting and the typical manipulation of Mino Riola, Pogba was persuaded to move somewhere else for game time. At Juventus he showed his talents, being heavily involved in the champions league final team. Playing in a very balanced midfield with Pirlo, Marchisio and Vidal, where he was able to show his talents, and eventually being named in the FIFA team of the year back in 2015. This is regarded as Fergie’s biggest mistake. Because 4 years later, Man United came back to buy him, only for a record fee. Giving Juventus a giant profit on the Frenchman.

3. Jay-Jay Okocha – PSG to Bolton Wanderers

Not many people outside of the England will understand this pick but you have to hear me out. Jay-Jay Okocha was at PSG for two years after being signed for £10 million, which at the time was a decent amount of money. But Sam Allardyce, releasing his contract was almost at it’s end, signed the Nigerian on a free, and boy what a signing he was. Bolton not only signed the best dribbler the Premier League has ever seen, they also signed someone who was an expert with the dead ball, something you need when you’re fighting a relegation battle. Okocha saved Bolton by contributing with 14 in 124 games. He helped massively in keeping Bolton in the Premier League. But that’s only the objective reason why he is on this list. Subjectively, he is one of my favourite players of all time. I never saw anyone in the Premier League play with opposing playing with insane trickery, until I saw Jay-Jay Okocha kick a ball. He is on the list for revolutionizing the Premier League, and reminding everyone why it’s called the beautiful game.

2. Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski does not need any introduction. The man who showed himself as one of the best strikers around, consistently scoring for Dortmund for 3 years. One when they won the league title and another when they reached the Champions League final. He left under very controversial circumstances, letting his contract running out and deciding to go to Bayern Munich. Where he continued his insane goal scoring form. Bayern signed the best striker in the world, during a time where they needed a striker who would play the Pep way and still score plenty of goals. He can be seen as the main reason why they won the league 2 years ago. Carrying Bayern during a time where they had so many injuries to key players. And his second season where he scored over 30 goals in the Bundesliga. Bayern signed a player who is worth a record amount for nothing. And that just makes the signing even better.

1. Andrea Pirlo

Even though this pick is very unoriginal, it can’t be stressed how brilliant this signing was. Pirlo was at AC Milan for years, becoming one of the best deep line playmakers in the world for years. But as Pirlo began aging, Milan thought he was no longer needed for them, so they didn’t offer him a new contract and let him leave the club, and what a mistake that turned out to be. Juventus decided to sign him to complete their already brilliant midfield. The best way i can describe this is Gigi Buffon describing him as the best signing of all time, although i wouldn’t go that far, i do agree with it being one brilliant signing. He was given a very free role under Antonio Conte, allowing him to be the extra quality, while Pogba, Vidal and Marchisio provide the energy he doesn’t have. Pirlo thrived in that system. Scoring 19 and assisting 35 in 119 games. He is the perfect example of age not being a problem, and he helped guide Juventus to years of success.

Champions League Quarter Finals Preview

Besides Leicester, the Champions League has been quite predictable so far. With Barcelona making one of the most remarkable comebacks in football to beat PSG, to Bayern Munich scoring ten in two games against Arsenal. It has already been very predictable. With some very interesting draws being made for the next round of the Champions League, now is a better time than ever to see who will be progressing to the final four.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid

This easily has to be the most eventful game. Surrounded by the the student against the teacher, it’s the holders of the trophy against the favourites for it. This fixture is what i thought the final would be, because both teams include a great depth in squad and both contain some world class players that could get into any team. Real Madrid have the advantage of it being the identical team that played last season, giving them the boost of experience of playing with each other, and it’s proven to be the boost it is. From them being top of La Liga and not lost a game at home all season. But Real have consistently getting injury troubles. With the likes of Bale, Casemiro, Pepe and Modric all missing games at one point in the season because of injuries. A big depender on the result of this tie would be how much of Real’s squad will be playing. Bayern on the other hand, don’t have many issues. Even with an out of form Thomas Muller, Bayern are still dominating the Bundesliga and rolled Arsenal over like it was nothing. When watching Bayern aren’t even at 100%, they seem to be playing at 70-80%. The idea of of them at full potential is terrifying. A squad containing world class players like Lahm, Thiago, Alaba and the main man Lewandowski. On paper, this should be a win for Bayern, and having Ancielotti instantly increases their chances. But Real Madrid are too unpredictable, so a late goal from Ramos will never be off the table.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-3 Real Madrid on Aggregate

Borussia Dortmund Vs Monaco

This is the game I’m most looking forward for and will definitely be watching. Both of these teams have scored bundles of goals threw their leagues and the Champions League, and knowing this going into the game instantly a must watch. Dortmund haven’t been the force i thought they would be in the league, but in the Champions League they have been flawless, scoring the most goals in the competition so far. The likes of Aubameyang and Dembele have flourished so far, both being some of the stand out players in the competition. Dortmund know how to grind out their away games and how to dominate their home games, making them a tough opponent especially in the Champions League. Monaco on the other hand have learnt their lesson against City on how to close a game down, and they were phenomenal in both legs against Man City. Monaco just have to use their full backs correctly and get as many crosses in the box as usual. Dortmund on the other hand have to take advantage of Monaco’s high line. I’m expecting a high scoring game, but I can see the Germans progressing because of their previous experience in the competition.

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 7-6 Monaco on Aggregate

Athletico Madrid vs Leicester City

This could be a good fixture for Leicester, or the worst fixture. This all depends on which Athletico turn up. The one that beat Bayern or the one that got beat by a Real Madrid team that didn’t even have some of their best players. Athletico have changed their style over the last few years. From the title winning side that were aggressive, quickly winning the ball back and punishing teams, playing midfielders outside to increase the work rate, to now playing less aggressive players in midfield in Koke and natural wide players such as Carrasco. I prefer their old way. It made them more organised and harder to break down. Now they are easier to break down, and now have turned into more of a form team in some aspects. But they are still strong in the champions league. Oblak keeping 17 cleansheets out of 20 games. And that is going to be Leicester’s biggest worry. Athletico are still very very hard to break down, so Leicester will have to be creative in breaking them down. Leicester have been very good in the last few games and especially against Sevilla, where they showed why you shouldn’t take them lightly. Both teams play a classic 4-4-2 so will be interesting what happens. I do however believe Athletico will progress. But i will be rooting for Leicester through out.

Prediction: Athletico Madrid 3-2 Leicester City on Aggregate

Barcelona Vs Juventus

This is a game that might surprise some people. Barcelona were very lucky against PSG, because of the typical biased referee including a Suarez dive, and PSG playing poor in the last 15 minutes. But the comeback was very impressive anyway and should be credited. But Juve are a different team. They have the best defence around and the best striking partnership in Europe, and in my opinion they are favourites. Juventus haven’t lost a game at home so their home game will make the difference. They just need to be strong in their game in the Nou Camp. Which can be done if they prepare correctly. But this should be a win for Juventus, but a team with Messi is always unpredictable. 

Prediction: Juventus 4-3 Barcelona on Aggregate