Tag Archives: Luis Suarez

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)

Champions League last 16 predictions: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

It’s Champions League time once again as the last 16 is back and the second round of fixtures commences.

Last week we saw the first eight teams compete, with some thrilling fixtures to take us through to the second leg and this week we’ll be hoping for more of the same – starting with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid taking on the Premier League’s Chelsea.

Diego Simeone’s side currently sit at the head of the table, with a six point lead over closest rivals Real Madrid. Their recent form has seen them struggle massively though, with just two wins in their last five and this past weekend they suffered their first home defeat of the season courtesy of Levante.

Chelsea on the other hand have struggled this season and replaced manager Frank Lampard with Thomas Tuchel in January. Since his appointment the Blues had won five in a row and conceded just one goal prior to this weekend, before they were held to a 1-1 draw with Southampton.

Both teams have suffered with injuries and COVID-19 problems during the season so far. The west London side were without Kai Havertz and Callum Hudson-Odoi at different points of the season while Atletico’s breakout has seen them contend with the absence of the likes of Joao Felix, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Lemar and Moussa Dembele.

Atletico de Madrid v Levante UD - La Liga Santander : News Photo

Despite that though, it’s injuries that have hampered Simeone’s side in recent weeks. Defensively they are without Jose Maria Gimenez, Kieran Trippier (suspension), Sime Vrsaljko, Yannick Carrasco and Hector Herrera which has seen them become more open despite their switch to a 3-5-2 system this season.

The incredible form of Marcos Llorente further forward started at this stage of the competition last year when he scored against Liverpool at Anfield, but he is likely to be used as a wing-back in this game because of the injuries which softens them up going forward too. Luis Suarez has been clinical this season, but his lack of physicality owing to his age means he’s often in and out of games rather than bossing them like he was once able to.

Chelsea’s lack of cutting edge going forward could prove costly. There is arguably no better time to face Atletico than right now but with Tuchel’s side struggling to create clear-cut chances despite keeping the ball for the large majority of games, whether they can take advantage of Atleti’s problems is up for debate.

Both teams will line up with three at the back but Simeone’s side will be content to let Chelsea have the ball. They will rely extensively on the attacking output of Suarez and Felix, while Angel Correa’s pace could also be used to help on the counter attack.

It should be an intriguing tactical clash between two of the more meticulous managers in the game but considering one has been at their club for much longer and has implemented their ideas more I think this tie will go the Spanish side’s way.

Southampton v Chelsea - Premier League : News Photo

Defensively we’ve seen the level they can reach, especially when motivated, and they will be keen to do what they can to win a maiden Champions League trophy this season. We still don’t know how good Chelsea can be going forward under Tuchel and that just means it’s hard to pick them in this tie.

The fact that Atletico’s home leg isn’t in Spain could work against them, but no fans means it’s less of a blow than it would normally be. Despite that, I expect a tight first leg that Atleti nick with a typical dogged display. The second leg will be more open but I think they should have some injured players back by then and at full strength they’re too much for the Blues and should progress.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Chelsea
Chelsea 1-1 Atletico Madrid
(Atletico Madrid to progress 2-1 on aggregate)

Atletico Madrid could win the Champions League with new 352 system

Since Diego Simeone took over at Atletico Madrid way back in December 2011, we’ve seen the same thing pretty much year on year.

A rigid 442 system with a solid defensive base, low block in midfield and individual brilliance in attack.

It was the way when they made it to two Champions League finals in three years, although they lost both, but also the way they won La Liga in 2014. This year though, they sit top of La Liga with a ten point lead and a game in hand over their rivals in the race to win the title.

The level of performance this season has been similar to that of previous years, but a new element has been introduced with Simeone introducing a new 352 system.

An extra defender added into an already solid back-line has seen Atleti concede just ten goals in the league so far this season after 19 games, while the addition of wing-backs and maintaining a front two has seen them score 40 times – just once less than Barcelona despite playing a game less.

A big part of that success has obviously been the form of summer signing Luis Suarez, who has scored 14 league goals this season to lead the Pichichi charts. But it’s also been the willingness of Simeone to change something that had been synonymous with his reign at the club of almost ten years.

He’s found a way to balance the excellent defending that his sides are famous for, while also managing to get more attacking options on the pitch playing well together.

Joao Felix and Suarez’s partnership has been good, while Angel Correa, Marcos Llorente, Yannick Carrasco, Kieran Trippier and even Thomas Lemar have seen their performances rise this season from last.

The tactical versatility they now have, along with the quality in their squad and the huge gap they have in the title race domestically mean they have a huge chance of winning the Champions League this season.

They take on Chelsea in the last 16, who are under new management and still adapting to a new style without firing on all cylinders and will be confident of progression over two legs. But after that they should be confident no matter who they come up against.

The power and quality in attack, the robustness in defence and the overall ability in both directions in midfield means Simeone has not only one of the best squads in Spain, but in Europe too.

After two failed attempts at a Champions League final and two successful Europa League winning campaigns, Simeone will have his best chance at winning the big one this year – and it’s all thanks to his new system.

Luis Suarez: Can History Repeat Itself for Atletico Madrid?

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of Luis Suarez from Barcelona for around £5million, meaning many fans around the world are getting a feeling of deja vu.

The manner of the deal, with Barcelona deeming the legendary striker as surplus to requirements, has seen many revisit the summer of 2013 where Atleti completed the signing of another Barcelona outcast – David Villa.

Having missed much of the previous season to injury, Villa struggled for starts with Barcelona and was made available for transfer. Atletico Madrid swooped in and struck a deal worth just €5.1 million to make Spain’s all-time top goalscorer wear the famous red and white stripes.

Partnered up front with Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid were able to beat off competition from both Barcelona and fierce rivals Real Madrid to lift their first La Liga title since 1996. Villa contributed with 13 goals in the league but it was experience and savvy to link with teammates and bring the best out of them, most importantly Costa, that was invaluable to the triumph.

With Suarez now a Rojiblanco and both Barcelona and Real Madrid failing to strengthen this summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Simeone will believe this is a big chance for his side to close the gap once again and potentially lift the title.

Simeone has let Alvaro Morata join Juventus on a season-long loan deal with the option of a €45 million deal to make it permanent next summer, paving the way for Suarez to come in as the first-choice striker. With his technique and finishing, his lack of mobility these days will likely be balanced out with a partnership being formed with young Portuguese wizard Joao Felix.

Felix is Atletico’s record signing after a €126 million deal from Benfica last summer, but he struggled to adapt to the style of Simeone’s side. He picked up lots of injuries and found the back of the net only nine times. He was in and out of the side, often partnered with a different person and never really got to make any real partnerships on the pitch.

As Suarez arrives, the pressure on Felix lifts away and the rest of the team now have a reliable and consistent goalscorer leading the line who has all the experience of winning titles and scoring in big games.

With a relatively young squad, if Atletico can keep everyone together during the final period of the transfer window then we could very well see history repeat itself.

Memphis Depay: Are Barcelona Completely Mad?

I know how the headline might look, but hear me out.

I’m a big fan of Memphis and as a Manchester United fan, I wish he was given more of a chance at the club before he was sold off to Lyon. Since joining Lyon, he’s been brilliant for them. Goals, assists, leadership and a shift of position have seen him become almost indispensable and named as captain.

With just a year remaining on his contract and no European football for the French side, Barcelona have reportedly made their move to bring the Dutch forward to the Camp Nou.

The player has agreed terms and the two clubs are in talks over a fee that would seal the deal and reunite Memphis with his former national team coach Ronald Koeman.

There’s no question about why Memphis would look to leave Lyon for Barcelona, but there are huge question marks over why Barcelona would be looking to take him.

After their battering at the hands of Bayern Munich the club made promises to completely restructure the club including the playing squad. Ivan Rakitic has returned to Sevilla for a minimal fee, while Arturo Vidal is close to joining Inter Milan and the club have told Luis Suarez that he is unlikely to be part of the squad going forward and are in talks to rescind his contract.

Koeman wants to introduce a younger core to the squad and it’s been reported that he wants to include Phillipe Coutinho in the side following his loan spell at Bayern, while Ansu Fati and Ousmane Dembele will be depended on more going forward.

The signing of Memphis would likely not be the most expensive and will provide depth to Antoine Griezmann in the central striking position, while he’s also comfortable playing on both wings too. It adds variety to the attack, plus having played well under Koeman previously for the national team he shouldn’t take too long to settle in.

The issue is simple – he’s not that good. He recovered quickly from an ACL injury last year to bounce back and help Lyon into the semi-finals of the Champions League but overall he’s never been their talisman in that way. He has quality but a club like Barcelona should be looking to strengthen with someone far better than him.

When you consider Griezmann’s struggles last year and the fact that Messi doesn’t want to be there, replacing Luis Suarez is an even tougher task than it looks on paper. Over the last two years he’s declined greatly in terms of where he was once upon a time, but Suarez is still clear of Memphis.

Barcelona’s standards have dropped if Memphis is their main target for attacking positions, although he’s definitely better than Martin Braithwaite. I expect what will happen is the deal will go through, he’ll feature here and there behind the other attacking options and then in the following 18 months he’ll be sold again (likely for a small profit because somehow Barcelona seem to do that a lot) to a club more at Lyon’s level where he’s at his best.

Some players are made for the big stage, others drown. Memphis strikes me as the type to be at his best when he’s a big fish in a small pond. Barcelona should think about that before they conclude this deal.

Lionel Messi Leaving Barcelona Is A Good Thing For Football

After it was officially announced on Tuesday evening that Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to be released from his contract, it’s been the only thing anyone has cared about in the news.

Messi is the club’s top goalscorer ever with more goals than the 3 players directly below him on the list combined, while also being second in the list of the club’s all-time appearance makers only behind Xavi.

But following continuous fall-outs with the board and the first trophyless season at the club since 2007, Messi has decided enough is enough and he wants to experience something new.

The player has options for his future, not least because he’s the greatest player of all-time but because he’s still more than good enough to effect the biggest games. He became just the second player since Opta records began to record a 20+ goal & 20+ assist league campaign after Thierry Henry in 2002/03 last season, yet it wasn’t enough to lead this Barça side to any trophies.

But regardless of who you support, unless it’s Barcelona, him moving is a good thing. Nobody cares about the Ronaldo vs Messi debates anymore, so it’s nothing to do with that. It’s more to do with the fact that him leaving will be a huge kick up the backside for one of the biggest and most successful clubs in the history of the sport.

Since the Messi era began in Catalunya, the club have clung to his coattails and relied upon him to such an extent that them spending crazy amounts of money on players has almost been overlooked. His brilliance means he’s always the star of the show, regardless of if he was sharing the pitch with Neymar and Luis Suarez or Munir El Haddadi and Cristian Tello.

FC Barcelona v Villarreal CF - La Liga : News Photo

Signings like Phillipe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele, Frenkie De Jong in recent years have struggled but because of Messi it’s not been noted. He saved them time and time again and covered up their blemishes because they kept winning. But the Messi era had to end at some point.

Whether that was through him retiring in three, four, five years time or leaving like he plans to now, the club needed to plan for it. They haven’t. It’s been said that the club would suffer a Milan-like decade following his departure, simply because of the lack of planning.

His leaving is down to the board being inept and inadequate at their jobs, in particular Josep Maria Bartomeu. The final straw was reportedly a “cold” phone call from new manager Ronald Koeman to Luis Suarez to inform him that he wouldn’t be part of the squad next season. Messi took offence since Suarez is one of his best friends, but the fact Suarez is third on the club’s all-time top scorer charts after just six years at the club means he’s probably owed a bit of respect.

Messi obviously loves Barcelona. His actions when they lose and win are clear evidence of this. While he’s putting himself first on this occasion, at 33 years old with the achievements and accolades he has he deserves too. But it’s his love for Barcelona that is making him do it. He wants the club to be secure after he goes and if leaving now means that happens quicker, then so be it.

He will leave a legend and fans seemingly understand his decision, since they stormed the Camp Nou offices to protest against the board as soon as the decision was made public. Club legend Carles Puyol tweeted his approval of the decision and with Pique also stating following the 8-2 defeat to Bayern that he’d happily leave too if the club felt that it’s what was needed, they all understand that Messi is doing the right thing not only for himself, but for Barcelona.

We need to enjoy the final years of this genius’ career regardless of where it is. We also need to see Barcelona get back on their feet as a club without Messi, because a powerhouse football club shouldn’t be so reliant. They can learn a lot from rivals Real Madrid, who went from losing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 to dethroning Barcelona as La Liga champions in 2020 with a few bumps in between.

Barcelona without Messi will be strange but they were around for long before and will be for long after the little Argentine. It’s time they act like they know it’s FC Barcelona and not Messi FC.

Luis Suarez Exit To Start The Barcelona Exodus

Luis Suarez will leave Barcelona this summer after Ronald Koeman told him that he is not part of his plans for next season, according to reports.

The Uruguayan striker has been at the Camp Nou since 2014 and is third in the club’s list of all-time top goalscorers with 198 goals for the club in 283 games. Despite his standing with the fans and club talisman Lionel Messi though, new manager Ronald Koeman has made the decision to move forward without the 33 year old.

According to reports, Koeman held discussions with Suarez on Monday and told him about his plans for the upcoming season. Reports suggest that Koeman wants to sign Calvin Stengs and Memphis Depay for Barcelona this summer and use Antoine Griezmann in his preferred central striker position. With Ansu Fati now also part of the first-team squad and Ousmane Dembele and Phillipe Coutinho to return, Suarez is the first name to be axed.

The club announced a club-wide restructuring, including playing staff following their 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.

Lionel Messi has expressed a desire to leave the club, although he’s acknowledged that it will be difficult due to his contract. The club have already let Arthur Melo leave and replaced him with Miralem Pjanic, while it’s expected that the club will listen to offers for any player minus a select few.

That means players such as Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo, Samuel Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Phillipe Coutinho and Arturo Vidal could all leave the Camp Nou this summer. The club will look to replace as they sell, with Koeman expected to install the ‘Barcelona DNA’ back into the club with his signings.

With Luis Suarez expected to be the first name to leave, it shows the club are serious about this restructuring. The club are going to be relying even more heavily on Lionel Messi during this transition period they will go through but it’s a positive start for Koeman to get a big name out of the door early on into his reign.