Barcelona: Building Momentum

Confusion, disorder and chaos filled the air during the build up to Real Madrid’s trip to Galicia in the weekend but the match against Celta Vigo was never played. The terrible winter weather and Galicia’s geographical location on the Atlantic Ocean meant that winds travelling at a speed of 150 kilometers per hour had dislodged parts of the roof at the Balaidos stadium. Thus, for obvious safety reasons, Celta Vigo’s game with Real Madrid had to be called off.

Lionel Messi

Real Madrid who already had one game postponed from earlier this season against Valencia will now have to fit in their busy schedule another tie against Celta. Madrid still have Champions League football to fill their upcoming weeks while Celta Vigo who kicked Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey have to play in the Europa League. The postponement could be a blessing or it could be harmful for Los Blancos who continue to lead the table despite playing two games less than their rivals Barcelona.

On the other hand, Barcelona took advantage of Real Madrid’s inaction and made a statement by registering a 3-0 win over Athletic Bilbao. Aleix Vidal, who was an outcast in the earlier half of the season, seems to be back in the squad and he was even on the scoresheet. Barcelona are now just one point behind their historical nemesis Real Madrid. They will be hoping that European distraction could make Zinedine Zidane’s team falter in the league, but Los Merengues need to falter in three games for Barcelona to be able to take advantage. Barcelona built up further momentum by securing a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid to make their way to the Copa del Rey final against Deportivo Alaves. Can Barcelona continue their form and avoid dropping points in the league?

It’s highly unlikely but possible. Last season Real Madrid managed to close a big gap with Barcelona only to finish the season just behind. This season, things have been reversed, Barcelona are the ones who have a mountain to climb. The difficulty of the task makes one wonder, should the Catalans put more focus on the Champions League or should they fight on both fronts equally? The Blaugrana will be facing PSG next week and have a high chance of advancing since PSG has been having a tough season in the Ligue 1 and is not known to be a big player on a European level. The football season is nearing its peak and this is the most crucial time of the season. Real Madrid’s postponed game means that the title battle has been reignited at least for the time being.

13 Teams Broke Their Transfer Records This Summer

The news is no longer a novelty; over £1 billion has been spent in the Premier League only in this transfer window. However, many other teams across Europe have spent heavily on new players. In total, 13 European clubs have broken their own transfer record. Ideally, that could mean that 13 clubs signed the best player in the history of their club this season. Nevertheless, it doesn’t work like that. The market has been inflated and so huge transfer fees do not mean that the signed players are going to be the best out there. In fact, some may feel the pressure and end up being a flop.

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Schalke 04 signed a 19-year-old striker, Breel Embolo. The player is yet to be tested on a big stage. His performance in Euro 16 was average yet the German side had no problem breaking the bank for the young man. Borussia Moenchengladbach sold Granit Xhaka to Arsenal for a huge fee and that set them up to break their own record to make Christoph Kramer’s move permanent. Elsewhere in Italy, Ante Budimir joined Crotone for a club-record £850k. The same player was sold just four days later for £1.53m to Sampdoria.  Staying in Italy, Torino signed former Roma, Inter and Fiorentina forward Adem Ljajic and even Pescara broke their club record twice by signing former Roma midfielder Valerio Verre and Cristiano Biraghi. Even in Spain, newly promoted Deportivo Alaves and Leganes signed Daniel Torres and  Gabriel respectively. In France Angers broke their own record by signing Famara Diedhiou and finally of course, Juventus and Manchester United did the same by signing Gonzalo Higuain and Paul Pogba respectively.

This isn’t going to be an easy season at all. Small and big teams alike were forced to spend in order to improve the quality of their teams and this means that the risk is even higher for all teams. Surprisingly, Real Madrid did very little business this summer while teams like Juventus, Manchester City, Manchester United and Barcelona are under pressure to justify the money they spent but they surely improved their teams significantly. The Premier League title is definitely returning to Manchester this year, whether to the blue side or to the red one. Meanwhile Juventus and Barcelona will be hoping to replicate last season’s success domestically and go one step further in Europe. A big season awaits us, we’ve already seen glimpses of what is waiting for us and it is quite promising.

Real Madrid and Barcelona Building Momentum

The 86th La Liga season is about to start this weekend. The competition has evolved a lot since 1929. Back then, 10 teams were competing, many teams no longer exist or have been relegated but one thing remains constant: Barcelona and Real Madrid’s dominance. The two clubs have won 11 of the past 12 league titles, with Atletico Madrid making an exception and winning it in 2013-2014. After a summer of transfers, preparation, Olympic games and Euro 2016 both clubs are back to business and preparing themselves for the new campaign.

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Both teams started their season by winning a trophy after defeating Sevilla. Real Madrid waited till extra-time to win the European Super Cup while Barcelona eased 5-0 past Sevilla over two legs. The success of both clubs is a major boost in confidence for the two teams. Zinedine Zidane seems to have the backing of all his players and the same can be said regarding Luis Enrique who managed to win back-to-back La Liga titles. The two have a lot in common, they both were legends at their clubs and both won the Champions League in their first season as managers at their respective clubs.

Zidane took Real Madrid out of crisis to help them win their 11th Champions League title. Today he had the chance to build his squad prior to the start of the season and surprisingly his only signing was to bring Alvaro Morata back. Zidane has had a full summer to prepare his team. He refused to sign players for the sake of signing players, something his predecessors were very good at. Instead, he’s hoping to get the best out of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, and the return of Alvaro Morata gives Madrid an extra fire-power up front.

On the other hand, Madrid missed out on signing Paul Pogba and it is still hard for them to win the league title, something they haven’t done since 2012. Their rivals Barcelona have strengthened their team with defensive signings like Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne but also midfielders such as Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez. The Catalans had the best attack in any of the top leagues last season and it seems that Arda Turan is finally fitting in with his team-mates, this would help them rely less on MSN as an attacking force.

There is no doubt that Barcelona and Real Madrid are the top two candidates to win the title. However, Atletico Madrid are still in the race, Diego Simeone is still there and they haven’t lost any of their stars. Atletico may not have a strong attacking force like BBC or MSN but their defensive line is surely one of the world’s best and something that can help them get extra points during the season. An exciting new season awaits us. It is hard to imagine who will win it but we can foreshadow that it will be a long race and a tough one especially with all three teams looking in shape ahead of the start.

A Hiccup for Madrid

After Real Madrid defeated Barcelona in El Clasico at the Camp Nou, it was natural to expect them to travel to Germany with a boost in morale and confidence ahead of their showdown against 8th placed Bundesliga team, Wolfsburg. However, a dreadful performance left Los Merengues trailing 2-0 down at the end of the first leg and the hype of an away Clasico win is now history. The win over Barcelona has little significance in La Liga but it was meant to prove that they still have a say in Europe’s elite competition, the Champions League.

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during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg match between VfL Wolfsburg and Real Madrid at Volkswagen Arena on April 6, 2016 in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Brazilian duo, Casemiro and Danilo were catastrophic at the back, one gave away a penalty and the other was passive throughout the whole game. It was obvious that Zinedine Zidane had placed more importance on defeating Barcelona than reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. He decided to rest James Rodriguez, Isco and Dani Carvajal for the midweek tie and he paid a heavy price. Despite the result, the tie is still open and either side can still qualify to the semi-finals. Now, Zidane is hoping to achieve what Madrid had failed to do since 1987 when they managed to turn a 4-2 deficit and go through. In fact, Wolfsburg is not the toughest team Madrid had faced this season and they have managed to win by two goals or more over 20 times this season. They have all the reasons to believe that they can win the second leg but they need to prove that they are up for the challenge just like they did in the weekend against Barcelona.

Now even if Real Madrid manage to overturn the 2 goal deficit, they are going to face a much tougher opponent in one of Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester City, PSG or possibly Atletico Madrid. There is no doubt that on their day, Zidane’s men can beat any of those, they have already beaten Barcelona and PSG this season but do they have what it takes to do it again?  Psychologically, Madrid are unstable but nothing can be taken for granted and the unpredictability of the next round is what makes it more interesting.

Things did not go as planned and Los Blancos failed to make use of their win over Barcelona but they are still the favorites to make it to the semi-final. Real Madrid have nothing to fight for on a domestic level and now the home game against Wolfsburg will be the most important game of their season, they need to react properly and have their full squad available and fully fit for the clash if they are to change things around at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Who Will Win La Liga?

After Atletico Madrid’s big surprise last season in La Liga, both Real Madrid and Barcelona want to rid the champions of their title, the title race has been quite close so far although Real Madrid lead with a slight advantage over both Atletico and Barcelona. In this week’s poll we give ask you to vote for the team that will win the league title this season.

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