This Weekend’s 7 Must-Watch Games From Around Europe

?We were treated to some absolute crackers last weekend – as has become something of the norm this season – with upsets galore across Europe after another exhilarating round of fixtures.

This weekend promises to be no different, as the fixture Gods have coughed up another batch of mouth-watering ties that will certainly require your attention unless, y’know, you have something ‘better’ to do with your time.

In all corners of the continent there are games to look out for, but here are seven of the tastiest clashes across the footballing calendar.


Saturday: Tottenham vs Southampton (Premier League)

Mauricio Pochettino

In case you weren’t aware, ?Tottenham are in disarray.

A dismal run of form in 2019 still yielded a Champions League final appearance, but their struggles in domestic matters were compounded with a bitterly disappointing Carabao Cup exit at the hands of lowly Colchester United. Two wins from their opening six league matches leave Mauricio Pochettino’s side seventh in the ?Premier League, and anything other than victory on Saturday will increase the pressure on the Argentine ten-fold.

The ?Saints fell to a 3-1 defeat against Bournemouth in their last league clash, but despite sitting six places below Spurs, are only one point adrift of the north London side. Furthermore, humbling their local rivals in the Carabao Cup could give them the lift they need to replicate Newcastle’s success earlier this season.


Saturday: Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid (La Liga)

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The importance of Saturday’s clash was made all the more evident after both sides chose to rest key players for their respective midweek excursions. Alvaro Morata could have returned to the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time with the Rojiblancos had he not have been sent off against RCD Mallorca, but there are still plenty of battles to watch out for in the Spanish capital.

The last time these sides met was in pre-season, where ?Atletico ran out remarkable 7-3 winners. And, if that is anything to go by, we’ll set to be treated to something special.

Sitting pretty atop ?La Liga without looking spectacular, the league leaders will have the perfect opportunity to stamp their authority on the division with victory over their cross-city rivals. Likewise, just one point adrift of ?Los Blancos in second, Atletico could do the same and leapfrog Zinedine Zidane’s men into first place. This is the game to watch this weekend.


Saturday: Bordeaux vs Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1)

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For once it appears we may have a slightly tighter Ligue 1 battle than in recent seasons, after PSG fell to their second defeat of the season with a shock 2-0 loss at home to Reims.

While they still occupy top spot in the division, two losses so soon into a campaign is unheard of for the French giants. Therefore, fifth-placed Bordeaux may pose a decent threat to Les Parisiens when the champions come to town. Since an opening day defeat to surprise package Angers they’ve remained unbeaten, so another shock could be on the cards in the South-West.


Saturday: Sampdoria vs Inter (Serie A)

Romelu Lukaku

You want goals? This is how you’ll get goals.

While ?Inter sit atop ?Serie A without dazzling, they travel to northern Italy to take on a Sampdoria side that are rooted to the foot of the league table. With 11 goals conceded in their five games this season, Saturday presents Antonio Conte’s side with the perfect opportunity to go attack-heavy and boost their goals difference – even if it still sits at a healthy league-high +9.

No side in Serie A has looked on top of their game thus far, but with ?Juventus breathing down their necks, the Nerazzurri could turn on the style at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.


Saturday: Getafe vs Barcelona (La Liga)

Antoine Griezmann

A quick glance over at the Spanish league table may have you double-taking. Yes, that’s right, after six matches, ?Barcelona are fifth. A somewhat unfathomable scenario is actually developing before our eyes, as a miserable 2-0 defeat away at Granada handed La Blaugrana their second defeat of the season – which was followed up by an unconvincing win over Villarreal.

With mid-table Getafe next on the fixture list, nothing other than a convincing win will do as they look forward to a ?Champions League clash with Inter next week. Ernesto Valverde’s men are under pressure, so in the absence of ?Lionel Messi it may be time to unleash 16-year-old sensation Ansu Fati once more.


Sunday: Leicester vs Newcastle (Premier League)

Youri Tielemans,Brendan Rogers

A fixture that may on paper seem uninviting, when you consider that ?Leicester are the third-best side in the country (totally valid based on league position) then hosting lowly ?Newcastle could see them continue their resurgence under Brendan Rodgers.

If ?Jamie Vardy and co keep up their fine form then the early season predictions of them breaking into the top four may very well have had legs after all. The club have been solid all season, barring the slip-up at Old Trafford, and will rate their chances over overcoming a beleaguered Magpies side.

?A superb victory over Tottenham aside, Newcastle look exceedingly poor, and this clash will test Leicester resolve against heavily defensive outfit.


Monday: Manchester United vs Arsenal (Premier League)

Jonathon Moss

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, this was England’s answer to El Clasico. The two giants of English football were battling it out over titles, and the clashes between the two often boiled over into on-field (and off) scraps.

Nowadays, its all about securing top-four football with these two, but it doesn’t detract from what is more often than not a tasty encounter between two clubs who are still among the most decorated in the division.

Given the state of ?United this season – and the host of injuries they must contend with – ?Arsenal may very well be heading to Old Trafford as favourites. However, you have to go back to September 2006 to find the last time the Gunners emerged victorious in the north-west, as Emmanuel Adebayor netted the only goal of a tight clash. Either way, can you think of a better to spend Monday night than with these two at loggerheads? Nope, didn’t think so.


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Getafe vs Barcelona Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

Barcelona will hope to secure their first victory away from home this season when they travel to Madrid to take on José Bordalás‘ Getafe on Saturday at Coliseum Alfonso Pérez.

The Catalan giants defeated Villarreal 2-1 at Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Antoine Griezmann’s goal and a sublime strike from Arthur Melo sealing the win on matchday six in La Liga.

Manager Ernesto Valverde will be hoping his side can build on that victory as Barca aim for their first win away from home this season. ?Barcelona previously suffered a shock 2-0 defeat on the road at Granada last weekend.

His side currently sit fifth in ?La Liga, four points off leaders ?Real Madrid, and three points ahead of Getafe, who currently lie tenth.


Where to Watch

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When Is Kick Off? Saturday 28 September
What Time Is Kick Off? 15:00 (BST)
Where Is it Played? Coliseum Alfonso Pérez
TV Channel/Live Stream? N/A
Referee? Jesús Gil Manzano

Team News

Lionel Messi was taken off at half-time against Villarreal on Tuesday, on his 400th La Liga start, and the 32-year-old is expected to miss the match due to a strained thigh muscle.

The Blaugrana talisman made his first start of the season against Javier Calleja‘s side after he missed the four opening games of the campaign due to a calf issue.

Junior Firpo is also expected to continue at left back following the absence of Jordi Alba, who suffered an injury to his left biceps femoris muscle against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Frenkie de Jong is in contention to start on Saturday. The 21-year-old was a substitute against Villarreal, but came on in the 63rd minute to replace Sergi Roberto.

Ansu Fati could drop to the bench following the return of Ousmane Dembélé. The 16-year-old has been pivotal for Barça so far, and will most likely make an impact if being brought on. 


?Predicted Lineups

Getafe Soria; Suárez, Dakonam, Cabrera; Nyom, Fajr, Maksimovi?, Arambarri; Kenedy, Mata, Rodríguez.
Barcelona Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Firpo; Busquets, De Jong, Arthur, Dembélé; Griezmann, Suárez.

Head to Head Record

Here’s some stats for you:

  • The clubs first met for an official fixture in the 1978 Copa del Rey, and the unfancied Getafe managed an impressive 3-3 draw at home before being thumped 8-0 at Camp Nou.
  • Getafe have only scored two goals in the last eight meetings against Barça, which have included two 6-0 drubbings, but also a couple of 0-0 draws.
  • Since becoming a first division club in 2004, Getafe have faced Valverde’s side 27 times and only won two of those encounters, the last time in 2011.

Last season saw Barcelona defeat Getafe 2-1 away from home, back in January with goals from Luis Suárez and Messi. In the reverse fixture, which was Barça’s last home game of the 2018/19 campaign, Valverde’s men secured a 2-0 victory, with goals from Arturo Vidal and a Mauro Arambarri own goal.

Arturo Vidal


Recent Form

Barça will hope to claim back-to-back wins and their first away victory of the season. A positive for the Blaugrana is there has been nine different goalscorers so far. It shows, with Messi’s absence, other players are capable of stepping up and delivering the goods.

Four of Getafe’s six league games thus far have ended in draws. Their sole defeat was in their opening fixture at Wanda Metropolitano against Atlético Madrid, while the only team they have beaten is Real Mallorca.

With ten goals scored so far, Getafe are four goals behind Barça. They most recently came from behind to draw 3-3 with Valencia at the Mestalla with goals from Mata, Jason and Ángel Rodríguez. They’re also involved in the Europa League this season and got off to a winning start in Group C by beating Turkish side Trabzonspor 1-0.

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Here’s how each team has performed in their last five games:

Getafe Barcelona
?Valencia 3-3 Getafe (25/9) ?Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal (24/9)
Getafe 4-2 Mallorca (22/9) Granada 2-0 Barcelona (21/9)
?Getafe 1-0 Trabzonspor (19/9) ?Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona (17/9)
?Real Betis 1-1 Getafe (15/9) ?Barcelona 5-2 Valencia (14/9)
?Getafe 1-1 Alaves (31/8) ?Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona (31/8)

Prediction

Barcelona may have suffered their worst start to a La Liga season in 25 years, and not yet kept a clean sheet, but Valverde’s men will want to claim their first away victory of the season. In a difficult venue in the Spanish capital, it won’t be easy for Suárez and co.

Coming back from 3-1 down against Valencia ?shows Getafe’s fighting spirit and they will try and make it as difficult as possible for Barca.

Barcelona should however, pick up their first away win this campaign.

Prediction: Getafe 1-2 Barcelona

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Barcelona Set to Appeal Minuscule €300 Fine for ‘Tapping Up’ Antoine Griezmann

Barcelona are set to appeal against the meagre €300 fine they’ve been handed for their tapping up of Antoine Griezmann ahead of his €120m (£107m) transfer from Atletico Madrid. 

In the immediate aftermath of that switch, Los Rojiblancos filed a complaint with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), claiming the Catalan club had prematurely entered into negotiations with the French striker, and that they thus had to pay the €200m release clause that was present in his contract before it reduced in July.

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The RFEF subsequently found that La Blaugrana had circumvented the laws by speaking to Griezmann without asking for Atletico’s permission, but handed out a fine of just €300 for this infraction.

However, if you ever that football clubs were beyond pettiness, think again, as, according to journalist Marcelo Bechler on Twitter, Barca are now set to appeal against this pitiful fine. 

Bechler writes: “Barcelona was fined €300 because the Competition Committee of the Spanish Federation considers that the club contacted Griezmann outside the allotted time frame.”

For greater context on the sum, he added: “By comparison, in Spain, if you ride a bicycle using a headset, you may be fined €200.” But the biggest nut of them all, of course, was his revelation that Barca would indeed be lodging an appeal against this levy. 

It must be added that the RFEF absolved Griezmann himself of any wrongdoing in their investigation, with the World Cup winner now able to focus on his on-field activities. 

After a difficult start to life at the Nou Camp, Griezmann seems to be righting the ship, as he notched his third goal for the club in the 2-1 win over Villarreal on Tuesday evening. 

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Barcelona Legend Carles Puyol Turns Down Opportunity to Become Sporting Director at Camp Nou

?Barcelona and Spain legend Carles Puyol revealed today that he has rejected a move back to La Bluagrana as the club’s sporting director. 

The 41-year-old spent his entire playing career at Camp Nou and won the Champions League three times with los Cules. 

Carles Puyol

Puyol has been rumoured for a while to be in contention to return to Barcelona as sporting director. However, the former club captain took to ?Twitter to reveal that he has decided not to accept the role at the Catalan club. 

He tweeted: “In recent weeks, various reports about my possible role at ?FC Barcelona as Sports Director have been published. 

“That is why I feel obliged to communicate to the whole Culé family that, after considering everything, I have decided not to accept the club’s offer. 

“It has not been an easy decision, since I have always said that I would like to return to what I consider to be my home, but various personal projects in which I am immersed would prevent me from giving it the exclusive dedication that the position deserves.

“I would like to thank the club for the trust placed in me by offering me this position of so much responsibility.”

Carles Puyol

Puyol’s rejection will come as a blow to Barcelona, who would have been keen to have a man with such ties to the club on board. The ex-Barça captain made over 390 league appearances for la Blaugrana, scoring 12 goals in his 15-year career. 

The former Spain international was also part of his nation’s first World Cup winning side, beating Holland 1-0 in the 2010 final. 

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Barcelona Confirm Lionel Messi Injury After Substitution in Villarreal Game

?Barcelona have confirmed that Lionel Messi suffered a fresh injury in the club’s 2-1 win over Villarreal on Tuesday night.

The newly crowned The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2019 was making his first start of the season in the clash at Camp Nou, but was withdrawn at half-time in what Ernesto Valverde described as a precautionary substitution.

The Barcelona manager ?said: “When something happens to Messi, the world stops, but it doesn’t seem to be anything more than a nuisance in the adductor and we substituted him as a precaution.”

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However, ?Barcelona have now released an ?official statement confirming ?Messi strained his left thigh during the encounter and is undergoing evaluation. There is no word yet on how much longer the latest setback could sideline the Argentine for.

Messi, who assisted ?Antoine Griezmann for the first goal on Tuesday, missed the start of the 2019/20 campaign with a foot injury.

After picking up The Best FIFA Men’s Player award on Monday, Messi acknowledged how he is still struggling with fitness.

He ?said: “I have been out of action for two months and I notice this. I feel fatigued and heavy, lacking rhythm. They spoke to me about the seriousness of the injury.”

Lionel Messi

Barcelona face tricky clashes against Getafe, Inter and Sevilla in the next two weeks, while the first Clasico of the season is one month away on 26 October, where Messi’s presence will certainly be desired.

In addition to Messi’s renewed fitness doubts for the testing period of fixtures, Barça are also facing the possibility of losing 16-year-old breakout attacker Ansu Fati to the Under-17 World Cup between 26 October and 17 November.

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The Best FIFA Awards: Some of the Weirdest Votes You Might Have Missed

?The Best FIFA Awards are done and dusted for 2019, and it was Lionel Messi who took the Player of the Year award.

The Argentine finished ahead of Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo in the race for the award, which was decided by ?votes from captains, managers and media representatives from all around the world.

A lot of votes made sense, but there were a few things which did not add up.


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Tactics?

Cristiano Ronaldo

?Messi’s competitive rivalry with ?Ronaldo has dominated the last decade, and it appears as though the ?Juventus man is not prepared to let it lie just yet.

Messi actually had Ronaldo in second place, but Ronaldo completely ignored Messi in his voting, instead opting for teammate Matthijs de Ligt in top spot.

Only Ronaldo, Mauritania captain Abdoul Ba and Eswatini’s Dlamini Banele went for the Dutch defender as number one, so it certainly looks to have been a tactical move from Ronaldo, but maybe he’s just been really impressed with De Ligt since he moved to Turin.


Gareth Southgate Forgets About Harry Kane

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?Harry Kane was always an outside shout to win the award anyway, but he will likely have been relying on the support of England manager Gareth Southgate. Unfortunately for the ?Tottenham man, that didn’t come.

Southgate actually went for Messi, Ronaldo and Van Dijk as his top three, meaning Kane’s name was nowhere to be found. It’s not all bad for Kane, because Spurs teammate ?Son Heung-min had him in top spot. Ooh, Spurs friend.?


Egyptian Controversy

Mohamed Salah

There’s plenty of drama surrounding the Egyptian votes, or rather the lack of them. 

According to the ?Daily Mail, manager Shawky Ghareeb and captain Ahmed Elmohamady both voted for ?Mohamed Salah, but their votes were not registered, and now there’s a fresh dispute amongst the Egyptian FA to try and find out what went wrong.

The only Egypt representative who did manage to vote was journalist Hany Danial, who only had Salah in third. How’s that for support?


Virgil van Dijk Exposed

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When captains are given the chance to vote, they often give a lot of love to their teammates. Van Dijk definitely did that, but he went for his ?Liverpool allies over his fellow Dutchmen.

With Messi in his top spot, Van Dijk had Salah in second and ??Sadio Mane in third. Not only does this totally (not) expose Van Dijk’s preference for Salah over Mane, but it also meant there was no space on his voting sheet for Dutch teammates De Ligt and Frenkie de Jong.

Brutal.


Mick McCarthy Does Mick McCarthy Things

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Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy doesn’t like to do things normally, and that was clear by his voting.

Staying loyal to his fellow centre-backs, McCarthy went for Van Dijk at number one, which is fair enough. However, in second was ?Barcelona’s De Jong, and Kane came in third. No Messi, no Ronaldo.

He was definitely in the minority of voters to leave out both, but at least he went for Van Dijk, so there is some normality here.


Joachim Löw Doesn’t Care About the Finalists

Joachim Loew

?McCarthy may have omitted both Messi and Ronaldo, but Germany boss Joachim Low left out all three of the eventual finalists as he declined to vote for any of Messi, Ronaldo or Van Dijk.

Low had ?Eden Hazard in his top spot, ahead of ?Kylian Mbappe and Mane. Of course, they are all great footballers, but none of them managed to earn a place on the podium this year.

There were no Germans on the list, so maybe Low decided to just take the night off.


The 7 Coaches Who Got it All Wrong

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In Low’s defence, he was certainly not the only coach who decided against voting for any of the finalists. 

Alongside Germany, managers from Barbados, Mali, Singapore, Suriname, Tajikistan and Tunisia? all forgot about Messi, Ronaldo and Van Dijk.

Chin up, lads, there’s always next year.


The 3 Coaches Who Got it All Right

Erik Hamren

Pretty much every manager around voted for at least one of Messi, Ronaldo or Van Dijk, and plenty voted for all three in some capacity, but only three managers managed to get them in the correct order.?

Managers from Belarus, Cuba and Iceland had Messi first, Van Dijk second and Ronaldo third, which was how the podium looked when all was said and done.

Get these guys hired as your scouts, because they clearly understand talent.


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Barcelona 2-1 Villarreal: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Lionel Messi’s Return Inspires Barça Win

?Barcelona returned to winning ways in La Liga with a 2-1 win over Villarreal at Camp Nou, just days after a humbling defeat at Granada.

Barely five minutes were on the clock when a returning Lionel Messi, who made his 400th start in La Liga, stepped up to take Barcelona’s first corner of the evening, with the Argentine floating a perfect cross to the near post where Antoine Griezmann nodded the ball past Sergio Asenjo via the underside of the bar.

Arthur Melo then doubled their lead soon after with a stunning long-range effort which left Asenjo completely wrong-footed, but Santi Cazorla matched the Brazilian’s strike with a shot from distance of his own that halved the deficit just before half-time.

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Barcelona survived a handful of dangerous moments during what ultimately proved to be an uneventful second-half, also seeing a hopeful penalty shout from Ansu Fati waved away as the hosts held on for all three points.

Here’s 90min’s report of the game.


Barcelona

Key Talking Point

For all of Barcelona’s ability on the ball, it was their work off it that gave Ernesto Valverde’s side a much-needed boost against Villarreal to get an upper hand in the match.

Antoine Griezmann got the better of left-back Xavi Quintillà time after time in the first half, while full-backs Nélson Semedo and Junior Firpo enjoyed too much space when they roamed forward as Villarreal became very narrow out of possession.

Scoring goals from set-pieces and long-range hardly screams ‘trademark Barcelona’ either, but it was a performance from Ernesto Valverde’s that showed a significant improvement compared to their recent matches against Borussia Dortmund and Granada.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Ter Stegen (7); Semedo (7), Pique (7), Lenglet (6), Firpo (7); Roberto (6), Busquets (7), Arthur (8); Messi (7), Suarez (6), Griezmann (8*).

Substitues: Dembele (6), De Jong (7), Fati (6).


Star Man

For everything that Tuesday’s opening goalscorer Griezmann offers in the attacking half of the pitch, it’s his work at the other end that stood head and shoulders above everything else at Camp Nou.

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The France international proved exactly what working under Diego Simeone for a number of years can do to an attacking player, often finding himself in the right position to help break up attacks from Villarreal.

That didn’t take away from Griezmann’s threat going forward, however, as the 28-year-old should have added to his early goal and could have even picked up a handful of assists on Tuesday evening.


Villarreal

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Asenjo (5); Pena (5), Albiol (6), Torres (5), Quintilla (3); Anguissa (5), Iborra (4), Chukwueze (7), Cazorla (8*), Ontiveros (5); Moreno (6).

Substitutes: Ekambi (6), Gomez (5), Bacca (5).


Looking Ahead

Barcelona will be hoping that their away form can turn around when they travel to Getafe on Saturday, although one eye will be on their Champions League group stage match against Antonio Conte’s Inter next Wednesday.

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7 of the Best Players Excelling Outside Europe’s ‘Top 5’ Leagues

?European football has returned, and with it the platform for players from the lesser-known sides of the continent to impress and potentially set themselves up for a lucrative future move.

While teams from the so-called ‘top five’ leagues have monopolised the world’s best players, there are still a number of talents plying their trade in the likes of the Netherlands, Portugal and even Croatia.

Here, 90min will run you through seven of the best players currently demonstrating their talents in the continent’s more obscure leagues – all of whom have returned to the European stage in the ?Champions League and Europa League…


Ruben Dias

Ruben Dias

Benfica have a new homegrown hero at the heart of their defence, and he’s called Ruben Dias. Aged just 23, the Lisbon-born star has been a stalwart for the Eagles since earning a first team spot two years ago, earning high praise for his consistent performances.

90min has learned that Manchester City are currently weighing up a January move for the centre-back following the serious injury to Aymeric Laporte – evidence of just how good he has been.

Although the side from the Portuguese capital slipped to defeat against RB Leipzig in their opening Champions League group match, Dias has played every minute for Benfica this season – helping the club keep four clean sheets in six Primeira Liga games.


Dominik Szoboszlai

FC Salzburg vs KRC Genk  - Champions League Group E

As seems to be the case with every technically gifted, diminutive attacking midfielder in world football, the 18-year-old Hungarian international has already been linked with a move to Arsenal.

However, unlike in so many other cases, they would have good reason to go after Szoboszlai. 

A typical modern day flair player, the youngster has an eye for a pass, has excellent shooting technique and is adept from set pieces – as he demonstrated against Slovakia in Euro 2020 qualifying for Hungary.


Considering his tender age, his potential is quite frankly frightening – Jadon Sancho levels of frightening. Capable of operating out wide or centrally, his three assists and two goals in seven games suggest he will be terrorising defences for years to come


Dani Olmo

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It is remarkable that this 21-year-old remained in the Croatian capital beyond the summer, given his dazzling dribbling ability and eye for goal.

Olmo has improved year on year at Dinamo, and he followed 12 goals and nine assists last season with a stellar display at the Under-21 European Championships during the summer as part of the winning Spain squad.

The ?Barcelona youth product had seemed destined for a move following that tournament, with Barça, ?Manchester United and ?Tottenham reportedly interested. However, Dinamo blocked any move and Olmo has endured something of a strange season as a result. 

Although he has picked up four goals and as many assists in all competitions, he has only played once in the league having rejected a new contract. His other games have all come in the Champions League, suggesting Zagreb may be putting him in the shop window.


Fyodor Chalov

Fyodor Chalov,Vedran Corluka

It sometimes feels as though it is simply localism that means the Russian Premier League is not considered one of Europe’s elite divisions, given the number of teams capable of challenging.

CSKA Moscow are one of the sides that would argue their case, and their front man Fyodor Chalov takes his place on this list. The centre forward scored 17 times last season – including a pearler against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu – and has started the new campaign in the same vein.

However, while the Moscovite has maintained his high standards, his team’s have dropped – CSKA losing 5-1 to Ludogorets in the Europa League last time out. With an impressive touch, pace and finishing ability, Chalov may soon see his hometown club as being below his station.


Lovro Majer

While Dani Olmo has been taking the headlines, Lovro Majer will be the next homegrown talent to depart Dinamo Zagreb for one of Europe’s top five leagues.


The attacking midfielder didn’t feature in the Champions League romp against Atalanta, but he has already racked up four assists in eight games this season – including three in five in the league.

He possesses a wand of a left foot and his smooth playing style is similar to that of Marco Reus – just in a deeper role. Just 21, his future is bright.


Edson Alvarez

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A summer arrival from Club América in Mexico, Alvarez has already broken into the starting lineup in Amsterdam and scored twice. Although he was expected to fill the gaping void left by Matthijs de Ligt, the 21-year-old has instead stepped into the deep-lying midfield slot vacated by Frenkie de Jong, who departed for Barcelona in the summer.

Erik ten Hag has recognised his passing and dribbling ability and opted to deploy him in that more advanced role, but his pace and tackling mean he is a more than capable defender.

Den Hag’s resurgent young side are unbeaten at the top of the Eredivisie, and should they retain the league title AND go on a good run in Europe once again, Alvarez may become their latest hot property.


Erling Braut Haaland

FC Salzburg vs KRC Genk  - Champions League Group E

The world revolved around Haaland following his devastating Champions League debut, in which he netted his fourth hat-trick of what is already a ridiculous goalscoring campaign.

The towering Leeds-born forward combines height, pace and finishing ability to devastating effect. His *17* goals so far this term (yes, 17) suggest the 19-year-old is perhaps already too good for the Austrian Bundesliga.

He only arrived from Norway’s Molde in January, but there is a feeling this could be his one and only season in the Alpine city. With Robert Lewandowski ageing and no obvious successor at this time, he would fit the profile that Bayern Munich will be looking for to take the place of the prolific Pole.


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Xavi Names Premier League Clubs He Would Like to Manage as He Discusses Coaching Goals

?Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Xavi has set his sights on returning to Catalonia as a manager but revealed that he would also be interested in a ‘big’ Premier League job. 

Xavi, who called it time on his playing career in May this year, made over 700 appearances for Barcelona and won 133 caps for his country, making him the third most-capped Spanish international.

The former central midfielder was pivotal in a Spain side that won the European Championships and World Cup back-to-back-to-back between 2008 and 2012. He also helped his boyhood club to eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.

FBL-EUR-C1-JUVENTUS-BARCELONA-FINAL-TROPHY

After leaving Barca in 2015, Xavi went on to make 82 appearances over four years for Al Sadd in Qatar, the side that he now manages.

Despite being a relative novice in the world of football management, the Spaniard is setting his sights high for the future.

He said, as quoted by Sky Sports: “I don’t hide it, my goal is to return to Europe and return to Barca, it is my challenge ahead, but I’m still learning in this project and I’m also enjoying it.

“My idea, which also happened to me as a footballer, is to be in Barcelona.

“Training this type of team would be a privilege and the greatest privilege for me would be to return to Barca.”

Paul Scholes,Xavi

Despite Barça being his number one choice, Xavi hasn’t ruled out the possibility of managing in the Premier League if an opportunity presents itself.

He added: “That is my goal, but obviously, who doesn’t like the Premier League? The football atmosphere, the packed stadiums and the people who play in the Premier League say it’s extraordinary.

“Obviously if I had to choose, I would choose a big team, [Manchester] City or United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Tottenham.”

Barcelona FC head coach Josep Guardiola

Xavi may want to take inspiration from Pep Guardiola, who transformed himself as a player at Barca to the manager.

Speaking about the Manchester City boss, Xavi said: “Guardiola is a reference for me. As a player, he already was, because we played in the same position,

“He is a brilliant, demanding, passionate, obsessive person, that’s why he’s doing so well. It transmits a lot to the footballer. I learned a lot and enjoyed my time at his side.”

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Twitter Reacts as Lionel Messi Beats Virgil Van Dijk & Cristiano Ronaldo to Prestigious FIFA Award

Lionel Messi has been crowned as the Best FIFA Men’s Player of 2019 and, of course, Twitter had their say on the matter.

With Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo also vying for the honour, there was considerable competition for the Argentine to see off.

He certainly didn’t have the backing of a couple stars from the US women’s all-conquering side…


Messi’s credentials certainly came into question…


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But, it doesn’t really matter what his doubters say. The little magician went and won the award anyway…


Messi lovers were obviously out in force to back their boy…





But, for every person who celebrated the 32-year-old’s victory, there was another who was disappointed not to see their guy get it…


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It sounds like you’re taking a lot away from Messi there, Mr Stha. Well, at least you didn’t openly mock the GOAT…




There were some reasoned views put across, with one lad called Josh giving a balanced opinion on matters…

However, it seems young Josh didn’t receive particularly balanced responses…

To be fair, there was plenty of clamour for van Dijk to get the gong…


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As for the women’s award, that went to Megan Rapinoe…


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Some trolls targeted the USWNT superstar, but others had her back…




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??Rapinoe was dazzling at the ceremony, just as she dazzled for her country at the World Cup in France…



Solid arguments were made for Lucy Bronze to have collected the honour, though far less fans pointed towards fellow nominee Alex Morgan…

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So, all in all it was a splendid night for Messi, a splendid night for Rapinoe and a splendid night to celebrate football.

Not everyone can win and awards will always, always, always be disputed. Let’s just enjoy getting to watch such magnificent footballers!

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