Griezmann Signs with Barcelona

It’s finally happened, after months of speculation, Antoine Griezmann is a Barcelona player. More than 12 months after the broadcast of The Decision, a documentary where Griezmann was agonising over the decision to transfer to either Barcelona or Atletico Madrid, only to turn down Barcelona, Griezmann is making his way to Camp Nou after all. He regretted his decision to play for Atletico Madrid and reversed it rather quickly to now play for Barcelona.

The Transfer of Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona initially hoped to negotiate the transfer of Griezmann by paying the large sum of the cash through several instalments. However, in the end, the buyout clause had to be paid in full. This was always going to take place as the buyout clause is essentially what made this possible for the club and the player. Because the buyout clause decreased from €200 million to £120 million, it was primarily seen as an open invitation for Barcelona, and they accepted it with open hands.

Paying the buyout clause took longer than expected, which we considered being quite silly. Barcelona knew months in advance that Antoine Griezmann would play for Barcelona in the 2019/20 season and they knew it was going to take place on 1 July 2019. Barcelona had to gather the large sum of the money, prepare the paperwork, get it signed off, and assist Griezmann with the transfer. Thankfully, everything has been taken care of. Before Griezmann joining the team for preseason warm-up, he will need to participate in photoshoots, thumbs up pictures, and a couple of words on his recent transfer. From there, it’s full steam ahead.

The Possible Transfer of Neymar

This takes us to our next topic of discussion where another football star is trying his best to make his return to Barcelona where he recently left the club to play for Paris Saint Germain. We are talking about Neymar and his desire to return to Camp Nou. With Griezmann taken care of, six long weeks in the transfer window could end up with Neymar on the squad for the 2019/20 season. However, it’s way too early to make any concrete statements on this subject.

Neymar has stated on numerous occasions that he would like to make a return to Barcelona and his teammates, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, have also shown their interests to have the player back on the attacking side of Camp Nou. It’s also worth mentioning that PSG is no longer interested in Neymar after forking out such a large sum of money for the Brazilian striker. Many supporters of Barcelona will start asking themselves if the transfer of Neymar is worth it, especially with Griezmann now on the team.

Most people don’t think it is and that’s because the player has way too much baggage at the moment. Barcelona won’t lose anything if they don’t sign Neymar and we believe they already have a fantastic line-up of players on the attacking side.

Copa America Semi-Final – Argentina vs Brazil

The Gods of Football have given us a genuine rivalry in the semi-finals of the Copa America which will take place on 3 July 2019 between Brazil and Argentina.

History of Brazil vs Argentina

These two teams have faced each other for over 100 years and managed to reach 12 World Cup finals combined, winning a total of 7. They have also produced three unquestionable GOAT players, including Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, and Pele, spawning loads of sociological treaties surrounding the importance of football when it comes to their national psyches and has often been considered the yin to each other’s yang.

In a total of 105 meetings between these two teams, Brazil has taken 41 victories, while Argentina have won 38 matches and there’s only 26 draws between them. If you exclude friendlies from this equation, Argentina currently has the lead with 18 against 17.

However, there hasn’t been loads of encounters that were deemed friendly between these two teams; from the 1925 pitch invasions to the 1937 incident when Brazil walked off. In 1939 when Argentina walked off allowing Brazil to score a winning penalty with no goalkeeper and 1946 when police invaded the pitch to stop a fight. During 1978 when the Battle of Rosario occurred, to the 1982 World Cup when Maradona made a horror tackle, to the 1990 holy water controversy, to the 1991 Copa America when 5 players were sent off, to the 1995 hand of the devil goal by Tulio, this rivalry is bursting at the seams with controversy.

The last time these two teams played against each other in Copa America was during the final of the tournament in 2007. Now, twelve years later, you can still find two football players on the field, including Dani Alves who managed to score in a 3-0 Brazil victory, and Lionel Messi who was only 20 years old at the time.

Copa America Semi-Finals

Some believe that the clash between Brazil and Argentina this time around will be completely different since most of the players on the pitch are teammates when it comes to their day jobs. Philippe Coutinho is with Lionel Messi at Barcelona, while Gabriel Jesus is with Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi at Manchester City. Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes share a dressing room with Brazil’s Marquinhos, while Dani Alves and Thiago Silva do the same at Paris-Saint Germain. You can also find Alex Sandro and Paulo Dybala together at Juventus.

The fact is, commercialization, globalization, and cold hard cash, has managed to transform these players into friends, but there’s no denying that this game is going to be completely different. This is on an international level, and each player will be playing for their country.

Brazil is still trying to forget about the 7-1 upset against Germany at the stadium where they will be playing against Argentina, while the White and Sky-Blue team haven’t claimed a major trophy in more than two decades.

Matthijs de Ligt’s Possible Transfer Options

Matthijs de Ligt has managed to emerge as one of the hottest topics in this summer’s European transfer window after he captained Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League at only 19 years of age.

Paris-Saint Germain, Manchester United have tracked the centre-back, and Barcelona, with speculation, also linking the football star to Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Juventus. De Ligt has recently stated that he will take his time to decide where he will go after his much-needed vacation this month. However, with all these elite clubs at his feet, which one will be the best for his career?

Barcelona

The most significant selling point when you consider a club like Barcelona is the fact that you will get to play alongside Lionel Messi and call him a teammate. However, with Gerard Pique now at 32 years old, the team needs to rebuild and improve their defence. De Ligt can easily be regarded as the kingpin for the Barca defence which can last for the next decade. This will allow him to take his game to a brand-new level while playing next to Pique. He will also be guaranteed to win massive trophies while playing with Frenkie de Jong who is also from the Netherlands.

Paris-Saint Germain

Reporters have recently stated that PSG is currently ahead of every other club in the race to acquire De Ligt. Should he decide to join PGS, he could be looking at a cabinet full of domestic trophies with the French champions. Learning more about football while playing next to Thiago Silva is another appealing factor that De Ligt will consider. There’s no denying that a move to PSG would be one of the most lucrative decisions of his career.

Manchester United

A transfer over to Manchester United would be extremely lucrative for a young player like De Ligt. Once he arrives, he would play every single week and will have a defence formed around the young star. Manchester United are currently in a difficult situation, but they are still considered one of the largest clubs in the world. De Ligt might be interested in the challenge to get the team back on track. Thanks to his incredible skills and abilities, he would be ideally suited for the English Premier League.

Liverpool

The prospect of forming a defensive partnership with Virgil van Dijk in the Liverpool squad is a compelling aspect for De Ligt. And thanks to the recent victory at the Champions League, Liverpool can offer De Ligt the chance to play with the best European club in the world and probably the next Premier League winners for 2020 due to the extraordinary leadership qualities of Jurgen Klopp.

Verdict

Regardless of what De Ligt decided to do this summer, he will undoubtedly find himself at one of the most elite clubs in Europe. However, if he is smart and has the opportunity to hand-pick a club, Liverpool should be his top pick.

Juventus To Face Atletico Madrid in Champions League Round of 16

It might not offer the most impressive technical football in Round 16 of the Champions League. There’s something amazingly intriguing about the match between Juventus and Atletico Madrid when they clash in the first leg on Wednesday evening.

Juventus vs Atletico Madrid

These two elite teams in the competition have both been defeated finalists on two occasions. Juventus are losing to Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2017 and 2015, and Atletico Madrid is falling to Real Madrid in 2016 and 2014. However, that status, and the fact that both Massimiliano Allegri and Diego Simeone are struggling to finish another evolution within their clubs shouldn’t hide the fact that both teams have been punching way above their weight classes recently. Juventus transformed Series A into a parade and Atletico Madrid converting the big two for Spain into a big three.

Both teams have managed to achieve success thanks to clever tactics and disciplined defending, and in an era where Europe’s elite clubs are obsessed with delivering attractive football, these two teams manage to place the result above the scene.

While Atletico Madrid is forced to be more proactive within La Liga, they are less concerned about scoring goals and more focused on keeping a clean sheet when it comes to the knockout stages of the Champions League. When playing against technical-minded opponents, defending deep usually does the trick, with Atletico Madrid refusing to let anyone disband their low block. However, against Juventus, their practical approach could prove fatal.

Christiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic

Juventus is somewhat of a throwback when it comes to the threat they pose in the penalty box. Most elite sides no longer provide an aerial specialist. However, Juventus currently has two. The arrival of Christiano Ronaldo has allowed Juventus to place him in the same team as Mario Mandzukic, allowing Juventus to become a fearsome opponent once the ball is out full.

The journey to Madrid is unique for both these players. Christiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly be booed as a legend for Real Madrid, while Mario Mandzukic only wore the colors of Atletico Madrid for a single season before he decided to switch over to Juventus. Even if you take that connection away, they will still be considered key players in this match.

Juventus rarely field a 4-4-2 system. It usually includes a 4-3-1-2 system, but they like to take a hybrid approach on the pitch where Mario Mandzukic will act as a wide midfielder when he doesn’t have the ball and a second striker when the motors forward, usually getting into the penalty box quite late. Together, these two players form a fantastic duo where Ronaldo needs other players to do his running and defense work, while Mario Mandzukic maximizes the ability of other players. He is never the football star on the pitch, but usually the center-forward for a very successful side. This will all have a huge role to play on Wednesday evening.

Manchester City’s Impressive Goal-Scoring Chart

The hat trick scored by Sergio Aguero against Arsenal in the Premier League was the 10th of his career which places him just one behind Alan Shearer with a record of 11 hat tricks. It was arguably the easiest treble he scored in his career from a combined distance of only 12 yards. It composed of two open goals and a header that was impossible to miss.

That is exactly why it was such a stunning hat trick by Sergio Aguero. Not because it emphasises the finishing ability of Aguero, not because it rivals Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s for The Blues against Tottenham Hotspur in 2002 or Dennis Bergkamp’s for Arsenal against Leicester City in 1997 for the quality of their strikes, but because it flawlessly emphises everything Man City is all about. 

Manchester City in the Premier League

Manchester City is currently playing catch-up for the title but remains the most potent attacking force in the league, having scored ten goals more than Liverpool who are currently in the lead. The primary reason they boast with more goals is not that they take the most shots on goal, but because they take shots from close range. Pep Guardiola emphasised how vital it is to work the ball in scoring positions with the highest percentage of getting it past the goalkeeper. This is evident when you look at how regularly Manchester City finds an empty net when they score.

Sergio Aguero’s third and second goals were both open goals during their match against Arsenal, making it the 6th and 7th time Man City have scored open goals this season. Sergio Aguero has managed to score three of those goals while the rest were provided by Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, and Leroy Sane.

Sergio Aguero is considered an excellent finisher in front of goal, while Sterling is regarded as erratic when he is in front of goal. Aguero has transformed into a ruthless goal scorer of late, not because he improved on his finishes, but because he always finds himself in the perfect position to ensure a shot on goal is unmissable.

Manchester City’s Metrics for Scoring

There are several metrics to emphasize Manchester City’s shooting range. For instance, they take the most shots from inside the 6-yard box, with a total of 36, City’s shots are closer than any other club, apart from Burnley, and City boasts with the highest expected-goal value, ranking in at 63.06. However, the most appropriate aspect is simply that the team consistently score open goals. So how on earth does Manchester City do it each and every time?

Well, there are four key factors that play a role in their scoring chart. They manage to stretch the opposition’s defense both in depth and in width. They provide perfect balls for wingers after patiently building up a play. They assist with low crosses from positions that are deemed quite narrow, and they manage to run on the blind side when it comes to centre-backs.

Why Barcelona Wants Jean-Clair Todibo

Jean-Clair Todibo joined a small football club, located in the north of Paris when he was just six years old. In the French League system, he is currently competing with a first-team in the fifth tier. Todibo used to train in Les Lilas three times a week until the age of 16 before he decided to leave to make his way to Toulouse.

Two years ago, Todibo was still playing at the club where he captained the under 17’s. However, now he is set to play at Barcelona, alongside Lionel Messi, next season after accepting a deal on a free transfer during the summer.

Jean-Clair Todibo’s Football Career

Up until the 2018/19 season, Jean-Clair Todibo had never participated in a professional match in his life. However, after 10 Ligue 1 matches for Toulouse, he is well on his way to Barcelona. It’s essentially a fairy-tale story that can only be written within the world of football. But how on earth did the defender manage to get here?

Bruno Coton-Pelagie, the Les Lilas sporting director, trained under 19’s and 17’s for more than two decades, stated to reporters,

“Les Lilas is essentially a family club, and Todibo formed part of the family. We witnessed how he matured, developed, grew, and become stronger since he arrived at the club. He was always extremely ambitious, driven, and determined. However, Todibo was a local kid from Bagnolet and was hard-working and very respectful. He obviously had the talent, but he had to work very hard to reach the top.”

At the age of 14, Jean-Clair Todibo was not considered one of the best players at the club in Les Lilas. So he did only a few kids would do in such a situation, he continued to work on his skills and abilities. When he turned 16, he managed to become much stronger as a football player and his incredible talent started to shine.

Jean-Clair Todibo’s Transfer to Barcelona

Todibo, a 6-foot-2 versatile centre-back with great technical abilities and pace, had trials at Le Havre, Man Utd, and other European clubs but he decided to sign for Toulouse in 2016 during the summer. Although he played for the under 19 squad, he was never offered a professional deal until he managed to make a remarkable breakthrough with the first-team.

It took Toulouse a total of 2 years before they realised his talent, but it was far too late by then as Todibo avoided signing for the club. After only ten matches, the defender was benched by the club and hasn’t played a match since 3 November 2018 due to his contract situation.

Once Barcelona made their intentions clear, it was quite an easy choice for Todibo. There isn’t a lot of players who will refuse to play at Camp Nou, and Todibo was overjoyed with the idea to play for such a prestigious football club. Now we merely need to wait until next season to see what he is capable of.

Premier League Predictions for 2019

The Premier League returned this weekend with some of the most incredible matches to date, both for the title race and for Champions League qualification. Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool managed to reignite the title race, while United has created a three-way battle with Arsenal and Chelsea for the top-four finish, especially after their sensational win against Tottenham Hotspur. So, who will finish where in the Premier League, and why?

Manchester City

Manchester City will be facing back-to-back home games against Chelsea and Arsenal in February, and if Pep’s team can get 6 points from these games, they will fire off a warning shot to The Reds. Man City is vulnerable against lower-ranked teams as they suffered defeats against Leicester and Crystal Palace this season. However, victories over the top-six will allow them to reclaim the top spot in the premier league.

Liverpool

Liverpool’s defeat against Man City was their first for the 2018/19 season, which means they are definitely not out of form. However, their biggest danger is injuries. Liverpool has three players that they cannot afford to lose, including Alisson as its goalkeeper, Mohamed Salah as the forward, and Virgil van Dijk as the central defender. If any of these players are out, Liverpool will be in real danger. Liverpool is currently boasting with 4 points, but the lack of reliance and success with certain players definitely makes them vulnerable.

Tottenham Hotspur

If Tottenham wants to be a serious contender in the Premier League, they need to claim victories on the matches they are expected to win. This is a huge problem this season as they managed to lose against Wolves and Watford. They have also failed to win against Man City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Man United this weekend which was a huge shock to Tottenham supporters. They are quickly turning into chokers as they fail to produce the goods when its needed most.

Manchester United

Manchester United managed to defeat Tottenham this weekend, bringing Solskjaer’s record to five consecutive wins since he took over from Mourinho. The victory against Tottenham managed to revive the momentum for the team and allow them to re-enter the race to finish in the top-four of the Premier League. Manchester United certainly has the necessary firepower to succeed this year, and with Solskjaer managing the team, they can definitely pull it off.

Arsenal

Chelsea’s visit on 19 Jan is an important game for both squads, but it’s one that the Gunners cannot afford to lose. An Arsenal win will be good for the Premier League title race and for Manchester United as they will be one step closer to claiming the fourth spot in the Premier League standings. Unai Emery has managed to make progress with the squad he received from Arsene Wenger. However, a lack of strength has become a problem again at the back. Unai Emery needs time and patience to rectify this going forward. However, the likelihood of rectifying this before it causes more problems is near impossible.  

Xherdan Shaqiri Is The Answer To Liverpool’s Success

Liverpool’s complicated move for Nabil Fekir, and it’s predictable collapse that took place last summer, created a huge frenzy among fans, so much so that when Liverpool eventually turned its attention away from Fekir, their ‘Plan B’ was considered a bit overwhelming. However, while there are plenty of contenders for the Player of the Season award at Liverpool this year, including James Milner, Andrew Robertson and even Virgil van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri is right there with them.

Shaqiri’s two sensational goals during the 3-1 victory against Manchester United earlier this month were definitely considered the most noticeable contributions the star has made at Liverpool, but most fans believe that his presence has been felt much earlier.

Xherdan Shaqiri Contributions to Liverpool


The addition of Xherdan Shaqiri, who was signed from Stoke for approximately £13.5 million during the summer, has worked perfectly on a number of levels for Jurgen Klopp, with individual performances being the most basic of them. Klopp has described the midfielder’s contributions as ‘not normal’ and ‘genius’ on several occasions and is regarded as a symbol of how amazingly the Liverpool side functions as a machine. Xherdan Shaqiri slotted in seamlessly and was absorbed into the club like a dancer who joins a group routine without ever missing a single step. That’s primarily down to him as well as his attitude but also due to the overall unit being so amendable and flexible to brand-new arrivals.

Usually, players are signed by huge clubs to act as backups, to place additional pressure or to replace already established stars. However, Shaqiri immediately complimented the marvellous attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mane last season. To introduce Shaqiri to that attacking line-up was a massive gamble for Klopp to undertake.

Given the problems Liverpool had last season at the back of 91 goals scored by the attacking trio, no one would have criticized Shaqiri for leaving the club alone and focusing on his skills elsewhere. However, Klopp was well aware that his forwards were struggling at times to break down lesser sides which meant a different approach was required. The approach involved a 4-2-3-1 formation where Shaqiri played alongside others to make the team whole and excel individually.

Liverpool’s Gamble Paid Off

Acquiring a low-profile footballer from a relegated club, especially when you have title aspirations, seemed like a huge gamble. However, Liverpool made it work as it’s a recipe that the club has tried before. Georginio Wijnaldum and Andrew Robertson were brought in from Newcastle and Hull, following their demotions, and if you include Shaqiri, the three of them cost a mere £45 million.

This indicates how flexible the transfer policy is at Liverpool and it makes the statement quite clear that the club is after the right player for the position as opposed to the most expensive player that is currently the most popular. Klopp definitely made a gamble for Shaqiri, but if you look at what the player is bringing to the table, you can see why Liverpool is at the top of the log at the moment.

Man Utd Hire Solskjaer After Sacking Jose Mourinho


By the summer, Man Utd will have five managers appointed after the era of Sir Alex Ferguson, including Jose Mourinho, Louis Van Gaal, David Moyes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as caretaker, and another permanent boss that has yet to be decided. Every time, the debate regarding the identity of the newly appointed manager has focused heavily on the identity of the club. Does the manager get the club? Does he understand the traditions? Is the new boss considered a Man Utd manager?

Ole Gunnar Replaces Sacked Mourinho

The decision to hire Solskjaer to take the role of the new Man Utd manager after the club sacked Mourinho is probably the most shocking decision in Premier League history. Solskjaer might be a temporary fix for the club, but more than half the season still remains, and Man Utd are also in the Champions League Round of 16.

Solskjaer is regarded as a bright and experienced coach, but he only managed to succeed in Norway where the top-flight team can be compared against the Kazakhstan Premier League as per the coefficients of UEFA, and he contributed to the relegation campaign for Cardiff in 2014. Manchester United might be struggling at the moment, but they remain the biggest club in England and its impossible to recall another coach who made such a sudden leap into the Premier League.

The main reason for Solskjaer’s appointment is purely based on the fact that he known the club. He spent more than a decade up front for Man Utd and managed to coach the reserves for several seasons. To be honest, it’s not about Solskjaer knowing the club, it is about the club knowing Solskjaer. Man Utd fans are delighted to see a familiar face again after they got sick of the gloomy frown always presented by Mourinho.

Is there a benefit to Solskjaer?

In all honesty, it is hard to imagine any real benefit when it comes to Solskjaer knowing Manchester United. Solskjaer will probably be familiar with most faces around Carrington and won’t require any directions to find the dressing room in Old Trafford. However, the implication is that he understands the playing traditions of the club.

What this means is still unclear. The modern history of the club is completely dominated by Sir Alex Ferguson who is the only manager for Man Utd to win the title in the last 50 years. Under Ferguson, Man Utd had no permanent approach, no grand philosophy, which is exactly why the club was so feared and so successful. They managed to win in any manner that was possible.

Ferguson’s Man Utd squad played positively and were always title contenders, pushing for wins in situations that other clubs wouldn’t dream of. This allowed them to become England’s richest club which allowed them to acquire top-class players who provided imagination and flair. What exactly should Solskjaer do to formulate such a brilliant team going forward? That is the biggest question on everyone’s mind at the moment.

Virgil van Dijk Disappointed at Liverpool Football Club

Virgil van Dijk states that he hasn’t achieved anything as a Liverpool player as of yet, telling reporters that he “expected a great deal” from his world-renowned transfer to Anfield at the start of the year, while also adding that there’s something special brewing at the club at the moment.;World’s Most Expensive Defender.

The captain for the Netherlands national team became the most expensive defender in the world when he decided to leave Southampton in a £75 million deal to play at Liverpool in January 2018 where he quickly emerged as an important figure in Klopp’s squad.

Van Dijk played a crucial role in last season’s Champions League final for Liverpool, ending in a defeat in Kiev against Real Madrid, and he has played a key role of Liverpool’s defense that has only conceded 5 Premier League goals this year as Liverpool has mounted a constant challenge to Manchester City in the Premier League title race. However, although there are several signs of progress at the Liverpool club during the 2018/19 season, Van Dijk believes that there should be more in order for him to see the move to Anfield as a successful one.

Van Dijk stated in a recent interview,

“I expected quite a bit from my transfer.I expected a great deal from myself to further improve as a player as well as a human being.Obviously, things have been going extremely well, but we currently don’t have anything apart from loads of improvement and ensuring we’re on the right track. However, I get the feeling that something is taking place at the club. We’ve got incredible momentum at the moment. All of us are feeling great although we can all still improve when it comes to the game, but as I stated before, we’re definitely on the right track.”

The £75 million Transfer Fee

Although van Dijk made headlines due to the massive transfer fee from Southampton to Liverpool, the 27-year-old’s performance for the squad has ensured that the huge figure is barely mentioned at the moment. However, while Van Dijk admits that he has improved as a player in Liverpool, he agrees that the transfer fee can still be used against him if he can’t maintain his consistency.
Van Dijk believes things can turnaround stating,

“In the off chance that things go wrong, people will obviously start bringing up the huge transfer fee. This is something that I cannot control and therefore I merely need to accept it.I’m extremely honoured that Liverpool decided to pay that much for me to join the club this year. The only thing that is required of me is to work extremely hard and play well at the club. Thankfully, I am progressing as a player with a lot of pressure, a different environment, and different tactics in each and every game where it’s crucial to win. It’s something I love doing which is also the main reason why I started playing football.”