Argentina legend Javier Zanetti believes Lionel Messi is under more pressure to deliver for the national side after witnessing them lose in the finals of the previous three major tournaments. The Barcelona star has won everything within reach at club level but he has yet to taste any form of glory with the Albiceleste.
Speaking to Mediaset, Zanetti admitted that Messi will once more be the focus of Argentina’s World Cup campaign and feels the burden will only increase on him, should the nation reach the final stages of the tournament, he said: “There is a lot of pressure on him, but not only in this competition but also in the past. Everyone expects it to be his World Cup and that Argentina can win, but it will be difficult because I see other more equipped national teams. The defeats in the two Copa America and World Cup finals further increases pressures on him and the team from the press. We expect a lot. It [the World Cup] stops all the country, there is great enthusiasm and passion for this national team and we hope to get to the end of the competition.”
Barcelona director Javier Bordas believes Neymar is not entirely happy with his stay with Paris Saint-Germain but he would not fancy the prospect of watching the attacker in the colours of Real Madrid. The 26-year-old made the world-record switch from Camp Nou to Parc des Princes last summer but this has not ceased the speculation over his future.
Speaking to reporters, Bordas suggested that Neymar may have not settled following his record move to the French capital, but he would still not want him to join arch-rivals Real Madrid in the near future. He said: “Neymar can sign for anyone. For me, personally, I’m not dreaming of Neymar signing for Real Madrid. It seems as if he’s not happy in Paris, we figured as much. In Barcelona he was doing well and Neymar regrets having left [for PSG]. I saw the Europa League final.”
We are tired of this debate. When things like these happen, it prompts the debate all over.
Then there is a period of peace before the hostilities resume. Let us indulge today.
As Madrid continue their unparalleled dominance on the continent, the final is Cardiff dubbed ‘Bale Final’ quickly turned into another show by Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese star dominated the final unlike the other times he won it. This was the third time he lifted the Champions League title in four years.
Ahead of the final, Ronaldo was on a brilliant run that saw him score 16 goals in ten matches. The potential Ballon d’Or winner scored a brace that sunk a previously very hopeful Juve team. Max Allegri built a solid team that stopped everyone – they did not concede four goals all through the season until they met Ronaldo.
Ronaldo is the greatest goalscorer of all times. His consistency is unparalleled. He keeps adjusting and reinventing his style of play best suited to goalscoring. The Messi-Ronaldo debate will continue until the end of time but on the Art of Goalscoring, not many would side with the diminutive Argentine. Messi has not changed his fundamentals much – he is that brilliant whizkid from La Masia. Continue reading
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.
Gerardo Martino has been given the charge of the Argentina national football team. This is going to be his second tenure as manager in international football. He has already had a fairly long run with Paraguay in the past.
Martino’s work as Paraguay boss was hailed by many. He guided the South American side to Round of 8 in the World Cup in South Africa 4 years ago. Los Guaranies also made it to the title round of Copa America under his guidance one year later i.e. in 2011. Continue reading
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.
Pepe Reina is going through a season long loan deal with Napoli after circumstances with Liverpool got tough which forced him on finding playing time somewhere else and the Italian club Napoli was his ultimate decision.
The Spanish goalkeeper was being considered to be as a possible successor for Victor Valdes in Barcelona as well as being as a backup option for Spain in the upcoming 2014 World Cup.
It seems likely that Reina will not be joining Liverpool for the rest of his career as he already wrote a goodbye letter to the fans of the Premier League club and the veteran shot-stopper expressed his satisfaction about being taken into consideration for a top club such as Barcelona.
“It pleases me that they’re speaking of me as a possible Barcelona goalkeeper, but now it’s difficult to speak about what will happen. I’m happy at Napoli. We’re facing the end of the season trying to reach second place, even if now it will be difficult. But we will not let up. Obviously, there’s also the final of the Coppa Italia, which we have so much desire to win.” Reina revealed.
Unless Barcelona can appeal their recent transfer ban, Pepe Reina or any new player will be able to join the club but the former Liverpool player still said that if feels good knowing that a club such as Barcelona is keeping close tabs on him and they know what he has to offer.
Napoli President Aurelio de Laurentiis is hoping that a permanent deal involving Pepe Reina is done soon as he wants to keep the Spanish goalkeeper performing with Napoli in Serie A.
Ever since Pepe Reina joined Napoli, he has been a consistent starter for the Italian club and has helped them this season on enjoying a fairly successful and impressive campaign as they are currently located in the 3rd spot of the Italian League Serie A.
Ahead of the crucial second leg match with Manchester City, Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has rejected suggestions that he is not the right man for the job. Questions have been asked about the quality of the Argentine boss, as Barcelona have been going through a sticky patch in the last few weeks. They have lost three out of the last six league matches and it has seen them concede their lead in the league table to Real Madrid with only 10 matches remaining in the season. However, they are on course to reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League after a 2-0 win over Manchester City in the first leg.
It was arguably their best performance of the season so far, as they dominated the match from start to finish. Barcelona do not come into the second leg in the right frame of mind after having lost yet another league match on Sunday. The 1-0 defeat against Real Valladolid has put them four points behind Real Madrid after 27 matches. The team has not been achieving the heights of the last few years. They have been able to come this far only because of individual performances from the likes of Lionel Messi, who is also not hitting the heights of last season.
Rumours suggest that the manager will be sacked if Barcelona do not retain the league title.
“I have to be strong and powerful otherwise I should not be a manager. I am not listening to all of the criticism. I’m not here to express how you should do your work. I have to train my team and make them play better. It’s not an issue of motivation, Barcelona has enough good players to think about being successful this season. I am not here to talk about the criticism. If we play good then the criticisms will change,” said Martino.
Carles Puyol is nearing the end of his career no matter how much fans and players will hate it when he finally decides to hang up his boots. Injuries have been something that has always troubled the 35 years old defender and the Spanish defender has admitted that he would like to play until he was 40 but he doesn’t want to be a disturbance for the team.
Puyol said: “I want to continue playing, but I don’t want to be a passenger. The moment I don’t feel okay, I’ll stop, regardless of my contract.”
In these recent few seasons Puyol is being blocked out from the first team as Gerardo Martino usually opts to go with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano as the preferred combination at the heart of Barcelona’s defence.
Marc Bartra is another candidate that is fighting to find his place into the main squad of Martino and he is looking to be like a promising figure for the upcoming years.
Vicente Del Bosque revealed not too long ago that Puyol is still being taken into consideration for the upcoming 2014 World Cup as it will probably be his last one as well.
‘’Look, no one, absolutely no one, is currently ruled out for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. And much less Carles Puyol. Carles Puyol is a special case for me. What happens will depend on whether you have minutes on the pitch, whether or not you are playing regularly at your club, how you are at the end of season’’.
‘’Carles and other possible call-ups, everyone. I’ve already told him when he was recovering that we would expect him to sharpen. His recovery has been remarkable for the dedication and effort he has put in’’. Del Bosque stated.
Puyol has a contract that runs up until 2016 with Barcelona but it might end sooner if he is not able to snatch a spot in the starting lineup of the coach.