Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two of the best players in the world right now, at least in terms of statistics. However, former Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk says that he would make Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben over these duo any time. Robben has mixed success when it comes to club and international football over the last decade. He has won several major titles, but he has also been on the end of several losses at the final stage. His failure to win a World Cup title despite having come close is one such example.
Van Marwijk is a manager who knows the 31-year-old extremely well. For all his disappointing qualities like selfishness and simulation, Van Marwijk believes that Robben has the all-round ability that will be the difference between winning and losing. He says that Messi and Ronaldo have become too individualistic and this is undermining the team as a whole. Ronaldo is the favourite to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or award for 2014 after having won the Champions League. He also scored 17 goals, which is a new record, during the last season’s European run. Despite such statistics, Van Marwijk says that he would nominate Robben as the best player right now.
Robben reached the semifinals of the Champions League, while he finished third at the World Cup 2014 with Netherlands. However, he won the German Bundesliga title for a third consecutive season in record fashion. “If I’m a coach and I could choose Messi, Ronaldo or Robben, I’d choose Robben. Out of the three players, he’s the most complete. Robben ahead of Ronaldo and Messi in that regard but not everyone sees that. The focus is on goals and attacking. I get the idea that this is the thinking for individual prizes like the Ballon d’Or.”
Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez was heavily linked with a move away from the Catalan club this summer. Several reports suggested that he was ready to bring an end to his Barcelona days, where he has been playing throughout his career, after interest from several clubs in the MLS and Middle East. They were ready to pay the former world and European champion a huge sum of money in order to entice him towards the end of the career. Xavi has not been as influential as he was a few years ago and this has largely been down to his age.
The 34-year-old is fast approaching the end of his stellar career, but he says that he is not ready to leave Barcelona at any point in the future. The midfielder made his debut for the Catalan club back in 1998 and has gone on to make close to 500 appearances in the league. At the prime of his career, he oversaw a revolution started by Pep Guardiola that made Barcelona one of the best teams in the world. He is widely expected to announce his retirement like several other Barcelona stars of recent years – Carlos Puyol – in the coming seasons. Xavi’s decision to stay at Barcelona is a major blow to the likes of New York Red Bulls.
“If it was up to me I’d never leave Barcelona. I could have left many times but my feelings always won out. I told the club that I didn’t want to play for another team in Europe; I didn’t want to play against Barcelona. I would like to end my career here. But circumstances are what decide these things,” said Xavi. Under the leadership of the 34-year-old, Barcelona have once again made a strong start to the season and have won all of their matches until now.
According to a statement released by Barcelona, Neymar is recovering pretty well from the blow that he had suffered while playing for his country Brazil in the World Cup quarter final round. However, it’s still not clear when the striker would be back to training.
Neymar himself is believed to be willing to make a comeback in the team’s last pre-season match against Leon.
Neymar has already made his way to Barca and he has also gone through a few tests there.
The outcomes of those tests are quite good and that’s certainly relieving news for the Barcelona fans.
Barcelona is going to face Napoli in their third pre-season game this Wednesday in Geneva. One of the new signings of the club, Jeremy Mathieu and the Spanish midfielder Xavi will not feature in that match as they are suffering from slight muscle issues.
Barcelona’s talisman Lionel Messi as well as the Brazil international Dani Alves, who has started training just a couple of days back, are also not going to travel to Switzerland.
Barcelona has already played two pre-season games i.e. against the Spanish club Recreativo Huelva and the French club Nice respectively. They beat Huelva quite easily, but, Nice stopped them on draw the other day.
Barcelona’s first match in the La Liga 2014-15 is against Elche on 24th of this month.
Barca had lost their La Liga crown last season to Atletico Madrid. They would be really eager to get that back this season. They are trying to strengthen the areas in which they had faltered in the 2013-14 Season.
One of Barca’s weak points in the previous La Liga was their defence. It was looking fragile and it got weakened even more when Carles Puyol quit in May after being associated with the club as a player for one and half decades.