Tag Archives: Xavi

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.

My Perfect Footballer #5 – Kendall Rowan

Being a 90’s baby means I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some of the G.O.A.T footballers, from Zidane to Ronaldinho and more recently Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

All of them have different abilities and excellence in different areas – so without using a single player for more than one attribute, I’m going to build my perfect footballer.


Brain
Andrea Pirlo

Pirlo had the ability as a player to almost stop the game in real time and scan the length of the pitch in the middle of an attack. If he was a yard behind in pace, he made up two anticipating the ball and was fascinating to watch. He even himself famously said, “football is played with the head, and your feet are just the tools.”

Heading Ability
Didier Drogba

A man mountain on the pitch and a character off it, Drogba ranked very highly for me in terms of players who had an eye, or rather a head, for goal. Scoring some of the greatest goals of his career with his head, Drogba had as much skill up top as he did down at his feet. With heading being almost a dying part of the modern game, an aerial threat like the Ivorian’s is hard to come by. Huge mention to Alan Shearer in this category as well.

Physique
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

I have to go with Zlatan for this one. It’s hard to ignore the slender, ripped physique of the man that has allowed him to play at the very highest levels of the game worldwide for over two decades. Not many players have the longevity and the strength to compete like Zlatan has.

Hands
Gianluigi Buffon

One of the greatest goalkeepers of all time who has consistently performed at top level for over 20 years, you cannot deny the shot-stopping ability of this Italian beast. Buffon made incredible saves with ease in his pomp and that makes him my top candidate for this category, alongside being the most capped player in Italian history. A testament to his greatness.

Tackling
Carles Puyol

This Spanish international had a defensive career matched by very few, and in terms of trophies is as decorated as any. Puyol was a master tackler and timed challenges with precision we could only dream of seeing today, meaning he only received one red card in his whole career.

Agility
Neymar

Known for the silky way he dribbles past defenders and his showboating, Neymar for me just simply floats across the pitch with or without a football at his feet. He can zip effortlessly all ways around a defender, has a wicked change of direction and on his day is a sublime watch.

Passing
Xavi

The man who is known for completing the vast majority of his passes in every game and controlled the tempo when the ball was at his feet, Xavi was another easy pick for me here. Any type of pass – short, crossing, through balls; he could do it with ease and accuracy and was a joy to watch for me.

First Touch
Andres Iniesta

Iniesta for me is one of the best to ever do it when receiving a ball. It didn’t matter if it was a long or short pass, the ease with which he could bring it under his spell on the first touch was a thing of beauty to see.

Speed
Kylian Mbappe

This category was one of the hardest to choose because the fastest players change year on year, but I went with this man due to the heights he has reached at such a young age, and consistently for the past 3 years has ranked as one of the fastest players in the world.

Dribbling
Franck Ribery

In the 2000’s, this Frenchman was massively underrated in certain areas of the game, but was amazing to watch when taking on defenders one on one. Stats also don’t lie – for dribbling attempts in a single year, Ribery attempted an enormous 1084 dribbles (2013), compared to Messi’s 331 and Ronaldo’s 252.


Skills
Ronaldinho

If you know and watch football even the tiniest bit, you still know how great this man was. One of my favourite footballers of all time, he had the ability to get you off your seat with the way he moved a football, gracefully but with purpose anywhere on the pitch. He is a master of the art of football.

Crossing
Kevin De Bruyne

A lot of people would’ve opted for Beckham here, so to be different I opted for one of the best attacking midfielders in the world right now, Kevin De Bruyne. He has lit up the Premier League with his accurate passing, eye for goal and electric crosses and has statistically ranked in the best crossers amongst Europe’s top leagues for a few seasons now.

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo

I don’t think this list would even be complete without including the two greatest players of this era. The albeit contested greatest goalscorer of all time, the weapon that is CR7’s right foot has allowed us to see some amazing goals for club and country, and has cemented him in history.

Left Foot
Lionel Messi

As above, these two categories practically picked themselves for me. You cannot deny the prowess these two possess in front of goal, and it’s hard to even ever imagine a player with the ability in both feet of the two greats.

FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League : News Photo

My Perfect Footballer

I was born in 1993 which means I have been blessed enough to see to see some of the greatest footballers of recent memory, and even of all-time.

All of them have excelled in different areas that if you combined them together, would make the perfect footballer. But which players would have which attribute if you did merge them all together? Without using a single player for more than one attribute, lets build the perfect footballer from top to bottom.


Brain
Phillip Lahm

One of the most intelligent footballers I’ve ever seen, he was world class in three different positions during his career. Able to play in both full-back roles as well as central midfield, Lahm has one of the best football IQ’s ever seen.

Heading Ability
Sergio Ramos

It was between two but Ramos gets the nod due to the other player being picked elsewhere on this list. Ramos’ aerial ability is phenomenal in both boxes, with the central defender scoring over 100 goals during his career including a vital header the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final : News Photo

Physique
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Standing at 6ft 4′ and standing at the top of the European scene for the best part of two decades, Zlatan’s physique is paramount to his success. Still scoring goals at age 39 without a problem, his longevity makes him the perfect choice here.

Hands
Peter Schmeichel

If my player ever had to do a Kyle Walker and go in goal for whatever reason, then I’d want him to have the hands of the Great Dane. The greatest goalkeeper I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes, he has to get the pick here.

Tackling
Alessandro Nesta

For me, the best defender I’ve ever seen. A calmness on the ball that is more often associated with modern defenders, Nesta was the epitome of old school when it came to tackling. He mastered the art of defending and was one of the best when it came to nicking the ball back from an opponent.

Agility
Sadio Mane

This may seem like a strange pick on paper but I can’t think of many players more agile than the Senegal international. He can go both ways as comfortably as the other and incredibly quickly, making him a nightmare for defenders.

Passing
Xavi Hernandez

Quite simply the best passer of a football in his generation. He was the focal point of the greatest midfield we’ve ever seen in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona side and had a phenomenal range. Whether short, long, through the lines or one-touch to beat a press, he had it all.

First Touch
Zinedine Zidane

The first name that comes to mind when someone talks about a player’s first touch is Zidane and therefore he’s my pick. I’ll never forget my reaction when he took down Barthez’s long throw with a flick and beat a man all with a single touch. Genius.

Speed
Thierry Henry

I could have put this man in plenty of these categories but I opted for this one because of the way he used to glide across the pitch. In his peak he would outrun anyone even with the ball at his feet, as his famous Bernabeu goal proved.

Dribbling
Neymar

Flying past opponents with absolute ease I could easily have switched Neymar and Ronaldinho around here. His creativity, speed, agility, ability with both feet and skill in tight spaces make Neymar the obvious choice.

Skills
Ronaldinho

The man that truly made me fall in love with the game of football. The smile on his face while he was getting kicked to pieces tells you all you need to know. He showed me football is an art and the things he could do with a ball still to this day bring me to my feet. What a footballer.

Crossing
David Beckham

Well, duh. Without a doubt in my mind David Beckham is the greatest crosser of a ball that has ever played football. He could put the ball wherever he wanted, from anywhere on the pitch. Genuinely one of a kind.

Right Foot
Cristiano Ronaldo

It had to be. One of the greatest players of all time, I couldn’t not pick his greatest weapon that got him that accolade.

Left Foot
Lionel Messi

The best player of all-time, much like Ronaldo there was no other option. It’s essentially a magician’s wand and he can do absolutely anything he wants with it. The easiest pick on this list.

La Liga 2017-18 - Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona : News Photo