Tag Archives: La Liga

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round, current reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid take on Premier League giants Manchester United for a place in the quarter-finals.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to Last 16

Atletico Madrid made it through to the knockout stages by the skin of their teeth in a poor group stage by their own standards.

Diego Simeone’s side suffered defeat home and away to Liverpool and they were beaten at home by AC Milan, but a final day win over FC Porto saw them claim the runners-up spot in the group.

They scored seven goals in the six games, conceding eight but crazily there were seven red cards in their group stage games too to show the frustration they carried.

Manchester United overcame a tough start to their group win finish top with a game to spare, despite changing managers during the group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored in all five of his appearances to help United claim wins over Villarreal home and away and Atalanta at Old Trafford but they failed to beat lowly Club Brugge at all.

United scored a total of 11 goals int heir six group games, conceding eight and only managing to keep one clean sheet.

Team news

Atletico Madrid are facing several injury issues with all of Daniel Wass, Matheus Cunha and Yannick Carrasco ruled out of the game, while Thomas Lemar, Koke and Mario Hermoso doubtful.

Simeone was seen in training with a lineup consisting of a back-five, with January signing Reinildo as a centre-back, while Joao Felix and Luis Suarez could start together. Angel Correa is pushing for a start though following his good form.

Ralf Rangnick’s options are much better, with Edinson Cavani expected to be fit following a groin injury that has seen him miss the last few games.

Marcus Rashford has recently found himself on the bench after some poor form, so Anthony Elanga could get a start while Jadon Sancho will look to continue his excellent form. Ronaldo will continue up front.

Breakdown and Prediction

Atletico still have a reputation of being a defensive side with little intention to play attacking football, but that isn’t the case anymore.

The team have kept just three clean sheets since the turn of the year and have lost eight of their last 15 games in all competitions.

Manchester United on the other hand have been struggling with their performances in recent weeks, but the results haven’t taken a massive hit so far under Rangnick.

Across 90 minutes, they’ve lost just once since he became manager in 14 games but they’re yet to win three games in a row in all competitions this season. They won their last two, with a 3-0 win over Brighton and 4-2 win over Leeds.

This game is likely to be tight with both sides relatively low on confidence in their performance, despite the difference in their results.

Home advantage is likely to play a big part in both games, but I do feel that Man United will be able to progress because they have more goals in their team.

Atletico Madrid 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United 2-1 Atletico Madrid
(Manchester United qualify 2-1 on aggregate)

Villarreal vs Juventus – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the Europa League holders Villarreal take on Serie A giants Juventus, who have just bolstered their squad with a £66 million striker in Dusan Vlahovic during January.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

La Liga outfit Villarreal were able to secure their path into the knockout stages after pipping Atalanta to the runners-up spot in their group.

Unai Emery’s side suffered defeats home and away to Manchester United, but went undefeated beyond that and had their place confirmed prior to the final group game.

Juventus on the other hand were able to clinch top spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Malmo in their final group game, while Chelsea were held by Zenit.

Max Allegri’s team earned five wins from their six games, but it was a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues that will give Emery’s side confidence heading into the final game.

Team news

Villarreal will be without their top scorer Gerard Moreno for the game, while Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena will also miss the game. January signing Giovanni Lo Celso is a doubt, while Etienne Capoue is also expected to be racing against time to be available.

Arnaut Danjuma has been one of the stand out players for the Yellow Submarine so far this season, and his performances have seen him ear-marked as the true danger man for Juventus to deal with.

Juventus welcome Vlahovic to Europe’s elite competition for the first time in his career after his big money move from Fiorentina, and he should start.

Paulo Dybala is expected to miss the game, while Federico Chiesa is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will miss the game, which will likely see Danilo partner Matthijs De Ligt in the heart of defence.

Breakdown and Prediction

This is a game that will be decided by who plays less badly over the two legs, because neither team are particularly good right now.

Villarreal will be sturdy off the ball with their setup there to contain Juventus and pick them off on the counter with Danjuma’s pace.

Juventus are trying to become a ball dominant side who can sustain attacks and apply constant pressure to their opposition, but they’re in shocking form and really struggling this season.

Neither team have much chance of doing big things in this tournament this season, but in a game likely to be close you’d have to make the assumption that individual quality will make a difference.

Ultimately, the goals of Vlahovic will likely prove vital in this tie and the home tie back in Turin for the second leg should see Juventus qualify – just.

Villarreal 1-1 Juventus
Juventus 2-1 Villarreal
(Juventus to qualify 3-2 on aggregate)

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In arguably the tie of the round we’ll see last season’s semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid go head-to-head in a star-studded two-legged affair.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.



Route to the last 16

Paris Saint-Germain were planted right in the middle of another group of death scenario as they were last season, alongside Man City, RB Leizig and Club Brugge.

They made hard work of it, ending the group stage in second place some way behind City after draws with both Brugge and Leipzig as well as a defeat by City at the Etihad Stadium. It wasn’t until victory in the final game that they secured qualification.

Real Madrid had an easier time of qualification in their group, alongside Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk and minnows Sheriff.

They were shockingly beaten at the Bernabeu by Sheriff, but were able to win all five of their other fixtures to top the group and pull clear of Italian champions Inter on the final day to secure that spot.

Team news

PSG are likely to be without former Madrid captain Sergio Ramos for the first-leg of the game, with the Spaniard still suffering from calf problems that have restricted him to just four appearances this season.

Neymar is back in training after injury but will likely only make the bench at best for the first leg, meaning old foe Lionel Messi and Madrid-bound Kylian Mbappe will lead their attack.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is likely to get the nod ahead of Keylor Navas in goal, while Achraf Hakimi will also be making a return to the Bernabeu during this tie.

Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish defender Sergio Ramos and Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe run during the warm-up sesson ahead of the...

For Madrid, they’re struggling to get key man Karim Benzema fit following a thigh injury.

The French striker has missed each of the last three games, and Ancelotti’s side have managed just one goal in his absence. Vinicius Jr has also seen his form dip since, which is bad news for Los Blancos.

Eden Hazard is fit but out of favour, but as a man always ready for the big occasion he could get the nod in Benzema’s absence. Ferland Mendy is also a doubt at left-back, so Marcelo could start.

Breakdown and Prediction

Tactically these two teams are very similar on the pitch with the way they set up defensively and the way they attack.

Both managers have formed a solid defence during the season, with a midfield that is all about control rather than creativity or solidity.

They complete plenty of passes on the ball and play their way out of tight situations, using pace and individual skill to create goalscoring opportunities in the final third.

With Benzema likely to be out of the game and Vinicius’ form struggling without him, PSG have a huge chance of progression.

Messi’s best form has come in Europe this season, with five goals in the six group games while Mbappe has been sensational this season and is the club’s top scorer.

Away goals are no longer a factor in the tournament so home advantage in the second leg is less important, and PSG must look to take advantage of a weaker Madrid team that they’ll be coming up against.

It’ll be a close but entertaining affair for sure, simply because of the quality on the pitch, but I do expect PSG to have the added X-factor in attack and be able to eliminate the 13-time champions.

Paris SG 2-0 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 1-1 Paris SG
(Paris SG qualify 3-1 on aggregate)

Ousmane Dembele won’t be renewing Barcelona contract – report

Ousmane Dembele will not be renewing his Barcelona contract beyond this summer after negotiations between the two parties broke down.

The French winger joined the club in a €145m deal from Borussia Dortmund to replace Neymar when he left for Paris Saint-Germain back in 2017, but he has suffered hugely with injuries ever since.

In fact, Dembele has featured just 126 times for the club in four-and-a-half years, scoring 30 times.



The 24-year-old’s contract is due to expire in the summer and Barcelona had been confident that they would be able to convince him to re-sign with the club, with manager Xavi publicly admitting they want to keep him.

However it emerged on Wednesday night that negotiations between the two parties had broken down over wages, with Barcelona claiming they can’t afford his demands.

Dembele’s agent leaked a statement to the press in Spain, where they questioned Barcelona’s claims considering they just signed Ferran Torres in a €55m deal from Man City and are also keen on signing Erling Haaland in the summer from Dortmund for his €75m release clause.

While their statement may be factually correct, the feeling behind it seems more like an excuse than a reason to not re-sign.

Dembele’s injury problems mean he can’t be relied upon for a prolonged period of time and if Barcelona are planning to sign Haaland alongside Torres then they won’t want to waste their wage budget on someone who’s rarely available.

With that said, ‘Dembouz’ is without a doubt one of the most talented wingers in the world when he’s fit and would definitely be a big asset to the club if he were to stay.

Barcelona are right to not be held to ransom by the player, it’s part of the reason they’re in the financial mess they’re in to begin with. But Dembele has every right to feel aggrieved too that Barcelona want to pay others more than him after initially agreeing terms.

All signs point to the end of the road between the two parties now, so it will be very interesting to see if Dembele leaves the club in January so that Barcelona can get some cash for him instead of losing him for nothing.

Ferran Torres close to joining Barcelona in £55m move from Manchester City

Barcelona are close to agreeing a £55m deal with Manchester City for forward Ferran Torres to join the club in January.

The La Liga giants are looking to add firepower to their squad after the retirement of Sergio Aguero earlier this month due to heart problems and have returned to the Etihad Stadium to get a deal done.

Torres is keen to join the club and return to Spain, just 18-months after joining the Premier League champions from Valencia.



Torres started the season well with Man City, taking ownership of the central striking position following the departure of Aguero and the failure of the club to sign a striker in the summer window.

However an injury on international duty with Spain meant his campaign was cut short and he hasn’t featured for City since October.

His form for the international team under Luis Enrique in the number nine position has convinced Barcelona that he is the answer to their attacking problems and according to The Times a fee agreement has been reached.

Barcelona will pay £46.7m up front for the 21-year-old, with add-ons of £8.5m allowing the deal to reach almost triple the amount that they paid for him.

The deal makes a lot of sense for all parties too, so the fact they could agree on a fee is a positive.

Torres wants to play more regularly and as a Spaniard, playing for either Barcelona or Real Madrid is always the pinnacle of their career.

He will start far more regularly at Barcelona than at City, where he was competing with six other players for just three positions in a highly successful team. Even playing extremely well doesn’t guarantee your spot in the team.

Torres will be back with his family in Spain, will be a key player for a team looking to rebuild as one of the best in the world again and City make good money on a player who doesn’t weaken their squad with his absence.

Barcelona keen on signing Ferran Torres from Manchester City

After starting the season as Manchester City’s first-choice striker, it now seems that Ferran Torres could be on his way back to Spain in the January transfer window.

The Spain international started the season well in the number nine role for Pep Guardiola’s side and with his performances for the national team too, Barcelona are reportedly very interested in bringing him to the club.

All three parties are reportedly willing to make a deal happen during the winter window, but what would that mean for Man City’s season?



Torres had made the central striker role his own ahead of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling at the start of the season, before suffering an injury while on international duty with Spain.

It means he hasn’t featured for City since scoring in the 6-1 Carabao Cup win over Wycombe Wanderers back in September.

Despite that though, City have been able to top their Champions League group ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and currently sit second in the Premier League table just one point behind Chelsea.

Only Chelsea and Liverpool have scored more goals than the 27 they have managed in the 13 Premier League games they’ve played so far, while Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and more recently Sterling have all been having good seasons. They’ve not missed him much.

Head coach Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and Ferran Torres of Manchester City gestures during the UEFA Champions League group A match between...

However allowing him to leave mid-season is unlikely to be much help to City, so if the reports are true then they will need to replace him adequately.

Whether City will renew their push for Harry Kane as a central striker option or whether they would rather target a wide man to replace Torres is unknown, but the apparent €70million fee would open up plenty of potential options for them.

After spending just €20m on him from cash-strapped Valencia two summers ago, it would be a deal that represent big profit for a player who’s hardly ripped up any trees since joining.

Torres is a good young player with plenty of potential and talent, but he’s far from indispensable to this City side and they’re more than capable of replacing him if they need to.

Ferran Torres of Spain celebrates his team's fifth goal during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Spain and Germany at Estadio de La...

He would fit in well at Barcelona with their new crop of young players coming through and would be able to establish himself with the national team while earning regular minutes at club level.

It’s a move that suits all if they can get it done, but the replacement will be key to if this one gets over the line.

Sergio Aguero forced to retire with heart problems

Sergio Aguero has been forced to retire aged 33 after being diagnosed with heart problems.

The Argentina striker joined Barcelona in the summer on a free transfer after 10 years with Manchester City in the Premier League, where he became the club’s all-time top goalscorer.

After joining the Camp Nou side to play with Lionel Messi, he was left angered when Messi was forced to leave the club after financial problems meant his contract could not be renewed.



Aguero suffered a calf injury which delayed his debut for the club until October, before scoring his first goal for the club as a substitute in El Clasico during the 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid.

He completed his first 90 minutes for the club in a defeat to Rayo Vallecano, but in his next appearance ‘Kun’ would only last 42 minutes before going down unchallenged with breathing problems.

He has since been diagnosed with a cardiac arythmia and although Barcelona announced that he would unavailable for a period of three months while his health was monitored, it’s now believed he will retire.

According to leading Barcelona journalist Gerard Romero, the club will host a press conference this week to officially confirm the player’s retirement from professional football at the age of 33.

Aguero scored an amazing 260 goals for Man City in 390 appearances for the club during a ten-year stint where he won five Premier League titles, six Carabao Cups and an FA Cup.

The shock retirement will come as a blow to new Barcelona boss Xavi, who earmarked Aguero’s experience and quality as something to build on when taking over from Ronald Koeman.

It means Memphis Depay will be tasked with being the club’s chief goalscorer this season along with youngster Ansu Fati, while Luuk de Jong, Martin Braithwaite, Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho will also need to chip in when they play.

Dani Alves makes stunning return to Barcelona

Barcelona have re-signed legendary right-back Dani Alves to their playing squad in a shock transfer.

The Brazilian played for Barcelona 391 times between 2008 and 2016, where he made up part of one of the greatest club teams in history and drummed up a brilliant partnership with Lionel Messi.

He left the club on a free transfer and has since played for a number of clubs, but after leaving Sao Paulo recently following a payment dispute he has now returned to the Camp Nou.



Alves is regarded as one of the best attacking full-backs in the history of the game, with his brilliant dribbling, passing, pace and skill all key aspects of his game.

His technical ability was so great that despite playing the vast majority of his career as a right-back, Alves took the number 10 shirt and played in midfield during his latest stint in Brazil.

A disagreement with Sao Paulo over a non-payment of his wages meant he terminated his contract early, midway through his third season with the club and is now a free agent.

That means he is able to sign for any club outside of the transfer window, although he won’t be able to be registered until January. Reports suggest that he has re-joined Barcelona to help new manager and former teammate Xavi set the new standards in the dressing room.

With Barcelona in financial ruin currently, Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Alves will be the lowest paid first-team player at the club as part of the deal.

In a brief statement announcing the contract agreement until June 2023, Barcelona said;

“FC Barcelona and Dani Alves have reached an agreement in principle for the player to join the football first team for the remainder of the current season. The Brazilian will be joining training from next week but will not be able to play until January.

The club will announce the full details at his official presentation as a new FC Barcelona player.”

Alves is the most decorated footballer in football history having won an incredible 45 trophies throughout his career with Bahia, Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Sao Paulo and Brazil, including an Olympic gold medal and three Champions League titles.

Fantasy Matches: Real Madrid 15-18 vs Barcelona 08-11

When you think about the best teams of the modern era, there are two that stick out like a sore thumb.

During a period where Spanish football was the home of the best players and managers in the world, it was obviously Barcelona and Real Madrid that had periods of dominance across Europe and domestically.

But what would have happened if you put those two teams, at their best, head-to-head with each other? We’re here to break it down and try and figure it out.



Barcelona between 2008 and 2011 were and are considered one of the greatest club sides in the history of football.

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, they revolutionised the way attacking football was played up until this day. They dominated possession, scored countless goals, passed opponents to death and were the home to arguably the greatest player of all-time in Lionel Messi.

Their 4-3-3 system with attacking full-backs and technically secure players all over the pitch set the benchmark as they won two Champions League trophies, three La Liga titles, three Spanish Super Cups, a Copa Del Rey, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups across three-and-a-half seasons.

Real Madrid couldn’t compete with them during that period, but they made their own mark half a decade later when they not only became the first team to retain their Champions League trophy but they also made it three-in-a-row.

Add to that a La Liga title, a Spanish Super Cup, two UEFA Super Cups and two World Club Cups under Zinedine Zidane (plus an extra World Club Cup under Santi Solari after Zidane’s resignation), this is a team synonymous with success and winning.

The brilliant goalscoring of Cristiano Ronaldo, the majestic midfield play of Luka Modric and Tony Kroos, the playmaking from full-back by Marcelo and the leadership of Sergio Ramos at the back, this was a complete squad.

The difference between these two powerhouse teams is that Real Madrid were able to adapt their style of play depending on the opponent.

Against weaker opposition they had the ability to dominate the ball and carve open defences to score goals, while pushing high up the pitch to sustain pressure.

When they came up against quality outfits though, Zidane would ensure they sat a bit deeper defensively, were compact in midfield and explosive on the counter attack with the pace of Ronaldo, Benzema and even Gareth Bale leading the way.

Barcelona on the other hand were the same no matter what. Much like today’s Guardiola, it was all about controlling the ball and dominating possession. Short passes, lots of sharp movements and rotation across positions and technical security meant they were unshakeable on the ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane pose for a photo accepts The Best FIFA Men's Player award during The Best FIFA Football Awards at The London...

But the Catalan legend also instilled a hunger in the team to win the ball back as soon as possible when they did lose it, famously starting a seven-second press that if the opponent was able to surpass would usually result on them being in on goal.

It’s fair to say that Zidane’s Madrid side would ultimately allow Barcelona to have the ball in midfield and be compact, while using their own technical abilities and brilliant quality to try and pick them off on the counter as they did to so many top sides during their Champions League wins during that period.

The difference however, is that this Madrid side never came up against this Lionel Messi.

The little Argentine was a totally different animal under Guardiola, which is terrifying considering all he has achieved since they parted ways in 2012.

Lionel Messi of Argentina and Barcelona FC receives the FIFA player of the year award during the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2010 t the congress hall on...

I have no doubts that Ronaldo would likely have a say on the game himself, because during this period of time he was at his goalscoring best and most clutch. But Messi could effect the game without just putting the ball into the net.

David Villa and Pedro were also huge goalscoring threats from the wing, while Dani Alves in his peak was arguably the best right-back of all-time. It’s hard to imagine this Real Madrid side keeping this peak Barcelona side goalless for 90 minutes and while I wouldn’t bet against them scoring themselves, ultimately the greatest player of all-time would separate the two best club sides we’ve seen in this era of football.

Prediction: Real Madrid (15-18) 1-2 Barcelona (08-11) / Messi masterclass.

Ronald Koeman sacked by Barcelona

Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after a 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday night.

The Dutch coach has been under severe pressure this season since the departure of Lionel Messi and financial constraints meant that he was unable to strengthen his squad.

Fans have been unhappy about his style of football and results and it now seems that the club have had enough too, sacking him the night of the game.



According to Spanish outlet SPORT, the defeat to Rayo thanks to a first-half goal from Falcao was the final straw on the camel’s back and following the result the club’s board held a meeting where it was decided to sack him.

Koeman took charge of the club in August 2020 and led them to a third-placed finish in La Liga last season. He won the Copa Del Rey thanks to a thumping 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the final.

But this season the Catalan club have really struggled, with four wins from their opening nine games in La Liga and just one win from their first three Champions League group games leaving their chances of qualification hanging in the balance.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi is the heavy favourite to replace Koeman, having just won a seventh trophy as manager with Qatari outfit Al Sadd and currently on a 34 game unbeaten streak in the league.

He has been heavily linked with a return to the club since president Joan Laporta was re-elected and with Koeman now gone, it seems likely he will return to the Camp Nou for the first time since leaving as a player in 2015.

Another potential candidate for the job are Belgium manager Roberto Martinez, although that is a far more difficult deal to do and Xavi is the firm number one choice of the board.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the plan is for a caretaker coach to take charge of games against Alaves, Dynamo Kyiv and Celta Vigo before Xavi takes over during the next international break.