Archive for the ‘ LaLiga ’ Category

Ronaldo Must Be at His Best for Real Madrid to Beat Borussia Dortmund

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

When Real Madrid faces Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semifinals, you might think that the Spanish side is the prohibitive favorite to advance to the final.

You would be incorrect, I’m afraid.

Borussia Dortmund still hasn’t lost a single game in this year’s Champions League, beat Los Blancos 2-1 in Germany during the group stage in November and tied them 2-2 in Madrid two weeks later, after Mesut Ozil tied the game for Real Madrid in the 89th minute. For that reason, it will be up to Cristiano Ronaldo to lead his side to victory.

Again.

It may seem obvious that Ronaldo must be on his form against Dortmund, but generally Los Blancos have enough talent to beat opponents even if he isn’t the man of the match. Against Dortmund, I’m not so sure that’s the case.

While Bayern Munich has already wrapped up Bundesliga, Dortmund has lost just once in all competitions since the beginning of March and has proven to be one of the elite sides in Europe this season. Players like Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski would start for most clubs in the world.

Plus, Dortmund has the look of a charmed team after scoring two goals in stoppage time against Malaga to advance to the semifinals. Sometimes, nothing in sports is more insurmountable than a team with a bit of luck on its side.

And seeing as they would have moved forward on aggregate had the team’s group stage meeting been a semifinal, some folks might even consider Dortmund the favorites.

Real Madrid is the more popular squad, however, so it’s no surprise that over at Bovada Los Blancos are considered the favorites to reach the final. The fact that Ronaldo is the best player in the game might alone be the reason Real Madrid is favored.

And Ronaldo will have to play like the best player. He’s once again having an epic season, with 50 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Los Blancos. He’s been particularly dangerous of late, scoring in seven straight games for Real Madrid (with nine goals during that time).

With a league title pretty much out of the question at this point, winning a Champions League title is now the top priority for Real Madrid. And you have to think Ronaldo would like nothing more than leading his team to that title rather than seeing it go to Lionel Messi and Barcelona.

Not that it’s a given that Barca can get past Bayern Munich, of course. In fact, I think it’s the German side that will win that tie, but that’s just me.

In the end, must like Messi must come up huge for Barca against Bayern Munich, Ronaldo must be at his very best against Dortmund. Barcelona and Real Madrid might be considered the top superpowers in European football, but these German sides are the real deal and aren’t about to be intimidated.

Radamel Falcao Would Not Be the Answer for Manchester United

Falcao

 

 

Radamel Falcao is a world-class striker, but is he really going to solve Manchester United’s problems?

 

Sir Alex Ferguson and the Red Devils apparently believe so, as the club is reportedly throwing its name in the hat

It’s almost impossible to argue that United’s attack isn’t strengthened by bringing in the Colombian striker. A partnership of Falcao and Robin van Persie would be the most intimidating in the world.

Goals haven’t exactly been a problem for Manchester United, though. The Red Devils have scored 71 times in the Premier League, which is 10 more than Chelsea, who is in second place.

The Wayne Rooney transfer rumors are seemingly neverending, so the arrival of Falcao would likely either precede or follow the departure of Rooney. You can see where United would want to replace a striker of Rooney’s reputation with another big-name player.

But what about Javier Hernandez?

Chicharito is still only 24 years old. While not the quality of Falcao at this point, there’s every reason to expect the Mexican striker would be able to suffice in the absence of Rooney. Hernandez has scored 11 goals in 26 domestic and European league matches this season. He’s energetic and always manages to pounce on any chance in the box. You could very easily see Hernandez scoring 20 goals next season if he’s given a starting role. Plus, the money spent on Falcao would inevitably subtract money from the transfer budget that could be spent much more wisely elsewhere. Ferguson is not a heavy spender during the summer, so it’s unrealistic to expect him to break the bank this season.

United spent a little over £50 million on the trio of David de Gea, Ashley Young and Phil Jones back in the summer of 2011. Something comparable could be expected this summer. But with Falcao taking up £27 million, that doesn’t leave much to spend on what has been United’s biggest issue: midfield.

Surely the club would be much better off spending the lion’s share of the transfer budget on a player like Kevin Strootman, Sven Bender, Mario Gotze, Isco, Victor Wanyama, Etienne Capoue or any combination of those players.

Manchester United is built for success in England. There’s no doubt about that. Bringing in Falcao would be a shot across the bow of Europe’s elite that the Red Devils are back to take their place atop the throne of club football. But what good will Falcao be if Ferguson leaves the midfield untouched?

It’s hard to envision United being any more successful in Europe than it currently is by continuing to rely on Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Anderson to occupy the midfield. You can have the best strikers in the world, but there rendered ineffective against good clubs when you don’t have a ball-winner or someone to pull the strings in the midfield.

Falcao is a great player, but he should not be the top transfer target for Manchester United this season.

 

Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain 2nd Leg UCL Preview: Vilanova’s side counting on Camp Nou boost

Villa and Messi

 

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is racing to recover from a hamstring strain in time for the crunch encounter against Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou.

Cesc Fabregas is likely to be preferred in attack if Messi fails to return, while Pedro is also in contention for a starting berth after recovering from a calf injury.

Blaugrana boss Tito Vilanova may deploy either Sergio Busquets or Alex Song in central defence in place of the inexperienced Marc Bartra to counter the attacking threat of the visitors.

PSG captain Thiago Silva is expected to play despite missing the weekend win at Rennes with a bruised knee.

Thiago Motta (groin) and Alex (thigh) should also be fit, but Blaise Matuidi is suspended after picking up his third booking of the competition in the first leg.

  • Barcelona are on a 20-match unbeaten run at Camp Nou in the Champions League, winning 16, since a 2-1 defeat against Rubin Kazan in October 2009.
  • The Blaugrana‘s overall home record against French opposition is W5, D1, L1, with their most recent encounter against a Ligue 1 club ending in a 5-2 second-leg victory over Olympique Lyonnais in the 2008-09 Champions League round of 16.
  • Barcelona have gone on to win 18 of 23 European ties in which they have drawn the first leg away from home.
  • Paris Saint-Germain have won three of their four away matches in the Champions League this season.
  • The Ligue 1 leaders have never lost a two-legged European tie to Spanish opponents before. Their overall away record against clubs from Spain is W4, D1, L3.
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic  is the only player to have scored for six different clubs in the Champions League: AC Milan, Ajax, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus and PSG.

Borussia Dortmund vs Malaga 2nd Leg Preview: Last-four place up for grabs

Reus celebrating

 

PROBABLE LINEUPS

 

DORTMUND

Weidenfeller
Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer
Bender, Gundogan
Reus, Gotze, Grosskreutz
Lewandowski
MALAGA
 
Caballero
Gamez, Lugano, Demichelis, Antunes
Toulalan, Camacho
Joaquin, Baptista, Isco
Saviola

Borussia Dortmund are set to receive a fitness boost in the form of Mats Hummels, who failed a fitness test to face Augsburg on Saturday but is likely to have recovered for the Malaga game to replace Felipe Santana in defence.

Sven Bender may get the nod ahead of Sebastian Kehl alongside Ilkay Gundogan in midfield, while Jakub Blaszczykowski is in a race to recover in time to replace Kevin Grosskreutz.

Malaga, meanwhile, will be without Weligton and Manuel Iturra, who both picked up costly yellow cards in the first leg of their meeting with Dortmund.

The likes of Sergio Sanchez, Francisco Portillo, Seba Fernandez and Pedro Morales are all expected to drop to the bench

  • Dortmund have drawn the first leg of a knock-out match on eight occasions and qualified six of those times.
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side are the only remaining unbeaten side in the competition following Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win over Juventus.
  • BVB have won all four of their home games this season in Europe, conceding just once in the process.
  • Malaga have progressed on both occasions that they have been held at home in European competition, against Leeds and AEK in the 2002-03 Uefa Cup.
  • Manuel Pellegrini is bidding to take a debutant team to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second time, having done so with Villarreal seven years ago.
  • The Andalusians have won just one game away from La Rosaleda in Europe this season, however.

Galatasaray vs Real Madrid 2nd Leg Preview: Terim’s side face mammoth task after first-leg mauling

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

Galatasaray striker Burak Yilmaz is ruled out of the Champions League quarter-final second leg clash against Real Madrid through suspension.

Centre-back Dany Nounkeu also misses out after picking up a yellow card in the first leg, but Albert Riera and Selcuk Inan return to the side after being suspended for Saturday’s win over Mersin Idman Yurdu.

Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso are both banned for the trip to the Turk Telekom Arena.

Boss Jose Mourinho has no fresh injury concerns and is likely to field his strongest possible line-up as he looks to build on a 3-0 advantage from the first leg.

  • Galatasaray have won just once at the Turk Telekom Arena in the Champions League this season but have suffered only two defeats in their last 13 European home outings.
  • The Turkish outfit’s home record against Spanish opposition is W5, D2, L5, with the most recent victory being a 3-2 success against Real Madrid in the 2000-01 Champions League quarter-final first leg.
  • Galatasaray have scored fewer goals (11) and conceded more (12) than any other side still involved in the Champions League.
  • Real Madrid are on a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions (W10, D2).
  • Los Blancos have progressed in 41 of 54 European ties in which they have won the first leg at home, including all seven when they initially triumphed 3-0.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo  is the Champions League top scorer with nine goals in as many games.

Barcelona vs Mallorca Preview: Vilanova’s side seek return to winning ways without Messi

Villa and Messi

 

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has a hamstring strain and will miss the Primera Division encounter against Mallorca at Camp Nou.

Javier Mascherano is also out after picking up a knee injury in Tuesday’s 2-2 draw at Paris Saint-Germain, so youngster Marc Bartra is set to be handed a start alongside Gerard Pique in central defence.

Pedro is recovering from a calf problem and is unlikely to feature, while Victor Valdes serves the last of his four-game ban.

Mallorca defender Pedro Geromel is suspended after picking up his 10th booking of the season in the defeat against Deportivo La Coruna.

Pedro Bigas and Kevin Garcia are both poised to return to the starting XI for the 19th-placed visitors, who have no fresh injury concerns.

  • Barcelona are on a 10-match winning run at home in La Liga.
  • The Catalan side have won 13 and drawn one of the 14 matches they have played without Lionel Messi between 2010 and 2013.
  • Barcelona have won their last four meetings with Mallorca by an aggregate score of 14-2.
  • Mallorca have lost five of their last six away matches in La Liga.
  • Only bottom club Deportivo La Coruna (61) have conceded more goals in the Primera Division this season than Mallorca’s 58.
  • Alejandro Alfaro  has scored four goals in his last four appearances for Mallorca.

Real Madrid vs Levante LaLiga Preview: Merengues out to notch seventh straight home Liga win

Ronaldo Celebrating

 

Real Madrid have a full squad to choose from for Saturday’s Primera Division encounter with Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Boss Jose Mourinho is likely to make changes to the side to conserve energy for the midweek Champions League trip to Istanbul to face Galatasaray, with Alvaro Arbeloa, Marcelo, Pepe and Kaka all in line for recalls.

Midfielder Valdo has recovered from a knee injury and is poised to start on the bench for Levante.

David Navarro is suspended but Sergio Ballesteros, Pedro Lopez and Nabil El Zhar all return after serving one-match bans.

  • Real Madrid have won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions.
  • The Castilian giants have kept just one clean sheet in their last eight outings in La Liga.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo  has scored 106 goals in 94 appearances for Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu.
  • Levante ended a seven-match winless run in La Liga with a 1-0 home win over Sevilla.
  • Los Granotes have lost their last four away encounters against Madrid by an aggregate score of 19-4.
  • Levante’s last win at the Bernabeu was a 1-0 success in February 2007.