Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) Week 18

While the race for La Liga BBVA title is heating up with the top three teams (FC Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid CF) winning their respective games, the race between the two best players of the last decade also continues with a week of two games for Cristiano Ronaldo who could not feature in either of them because injury while Lionel Messi, out of the Champions League with FC Barcelona, had to play only one game in which he provided two magnificent assists. After Week 18 in 2016, the statistics are the following:

L. Messi 30 games 28 goals 15 assists 2 trophies available
C. Ronaldo 23 games 23 goals 8 assists 2 trophies available
Total Messi 7 games Messi 5 goals Messi 7 assists Tie

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Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball / Ballon d’Or 2016) – Week 17

Another week and two games in La Liga BBVA except for the Portuguese international who is currently on the sideline with a thigh injury and is a doubt for this week’s match vs. Manchester City FC, at the Etihad Stadium, in their first leg of the Champions League semifinal.

Lionel Messi took advantage. The table below will tell us where each of them currently stands:

From January 1st to April 24th, 2016 (in all competitions, friendlies included):

L. Messi 28 games 28 goals 13 assists 2 trophies available
C. Ronaldo 23 games 23 goals 8 assists 2 trophies available
Total Messi 5 games Messi 5 goals Messi 5 assists Tie

Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or 2016 – Luis Suárez

Can Luis Suarez “snitch” the FIFA Golden Ball (FIFA Ballon d’Or) from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, this year? So far, the FC Barcelona hitman has been firing on all cylinders. This week, the man from Salto, Uruguay not only scored 2 four-goal games, but also assisted on 3 goals from his teammates. Stunning statistics from arguably the best pure striker in the world today.

As a result of this fruitful week for the Uruguayan international which saw the club win its 2 matches, he has overtaken Ronaldo as the best goalscorer of the 2015-16 season in La Liga BBVA and for this calendar year (34 to 31 with Messi trailing at 25 goals), he has a production of 28 goals and 15 assists which matches the production of Lionel Messi who also had a productive week with 2 goals and 3 assists giving him 28 goals and 13 assists in 2016 alone.

In my article upcoming regarding Week 17 and the race for the Ballon d’Or, Luis Suarez will be included along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Stay tuned…

Kicking Diving Out of Football

Several football governing bodies have currently lot of issues to deal with.

Corruption scandals which have hit FIFA, for example, in the past few months and years have given the main football institution several headaches and might take, for the Swiss -based organization, a long time to recover.

On a positive side, it has accomplished some positives such the “kick racism out of football” campaign. Banners have been displayed before matches and during national anthems to make sure that the message is loud and clear that the biggest governing body in the game does not tolerate it.

Unfortunately, another problem, of a different nature, is putting the game into more shame. And it is called diving or playacting. Football is not the only collective sport who suffers from it, but it is often mentioned as an example when an incident occurs. A few weeks ago, there was another sordid embarrassing example during a Champions League match, out of all competitions, when the Real Madrid and Brazilian defender, Marcelo, did one of the worst playacting that you would ever see. After slightly kicking his opponent, the latter reacted slightly and Marcelo went down as if he was either shot down or badly beaten.

This “incident” reminded us that the phenomenon is still present and not disappearing anytime soon. It was a disgraceful gesture, plain and simple. Marcelo and the VlF Wolfsburg player were cautioned, but it just goes to show how deep the issue currently runs in football, that even during a match such as a Champions League quarterfinals tie, some players are still keen on trying to deceive referees, even if it has the potential of failing, making them look ridiculous in front of a large audience and give them a reputation for being actors.

Marcelo is obviously not the only one who does it. There are many. Many who are great footballers are well. and while there is no need to mention any names, at the end, football associations have “to tackle” the problem with more muscle and more desire than ever. Issuing a yellow card when a referee sees that a player has committed a dive is a very good step. Now, it need to be “kicked out of the game”.

Other possible solutions could be to act retroactively when a player is accused of playacting. Issuing suspensions and fines to the player and also the club. Increasing the penalties if there are repetitions from the same players and clubs.

Playacting/diving is an attack and an insult on the game of football and its integrity. It can also change the outcome of a match and leave a bitter taste to teams, fans and journalists. The Beautiful Game, as Mr. Pelé wonderfully described it, deserves better and its governing bodies have to take on this problem with more hunger and desire than ever before. To see it happen would be fantastic. We shall see.

Stay tuned…

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Week 16)

The race for the FIFA Ballon d’Or 2016 is on, on a weekly basis, and this week is no exception.

Both players played two games this week, one in the Champions League which saw Cristiano Ronaldo scored 3 goals for Real Madrid en route to a 3-0 win vs. VlF Wolfsburg, qualifying Zinedine Zidane’s team to the semifinal of the competition in which they will face Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side which dispatched Paris Saint-Germain 1-0.

Lionel Messi was, once again, shutout against Atlético Madrid in the return leg of their quarterfinal match-up and subsequently lost the game 2-0 which meant an early elimination for the title holders. on Sunday, Messi started against Valencia, at the Camp Nou, and notched his 500th career goal in a losing cause as Los Blaugranas are continuing  their losing streak with a 2-1 loss vs. Valencia CF.

The following statistics, since January 1st:

L. Messi

26 games

26 goals

10 assist

2 trophies available

C. Ronaldo

22 games

23 goals

8 assists

2 trophies available

Total

Messi 4 games

Messi 3 goals

Messi 2 assists

Tie

Arsenal FC – What Is The Problem?

Season 2003-04: The Gunners did not know about it at the time, but the team from North London was going to make history in British football. The club went on to be unbeaten in the Barclays Premier League for the entire season. A feat that has never been achieved before and after, so far. The future was supposed to be promising. It yielded a F.A. Cup title against Manchester United and a second place in the league behind José Mourinho’s Chelsea in 2004-05; and a Champions League final, at the Stade de France in Paris, lost versus FC Barcelona thanks to a late goal from Julian Belleti. Since then, Arsenal FC has been struggling to win titles. They have finished no higher than 3rd in the league. No FA Cup titles until the triumphs 2014 and 2015. No European titles (the closest was a seminal appearance against the Red Devils in 2009 which was lost 4-1 on aggregate). In the League Cup, they appeared in one final at Wembley Stadium in London, Birmingham City, which were just promoted by the score 2-1 with a last-minute goal.

In the meantime, several big name players left the club such as Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri, Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Alex Song, Alexander Hleb, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna etc. Others came in such as Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Nacho Montreal, Gervinho (left the team since), Marouane Chamakh (left), Nicklas Bendtner (left), Gabriel Paulista, Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Petr Cech, Mohamed Elmeny, David Ospina etc. Young players have given Arsenal’s fans some hope such Hector Bellerin from Spain, Francis Coquelin from France and youngster Alex Iwobi from Nigeria. It is not enough to win the title though. This year was a year where, if done right, Arsenal could have challenged Leicester City FC most decisively. But now, with six games to play, they are 14 points behind with two games in hand. A task almost impossible to achieve.

Regrets and maybe frustration will continue to mount and the current manager, Arsene Wenger, will continue to be at the centre of it all. For years, fans and experts mentioned that the club was lacking several players to compete for titles a good defensive midfielder, a world class centre-half and a goal scorer. Interesting observations since Arsenal used to always field those type of players on the pitch (Tony Adams, Sol Campbell, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Robert Pires, Ian Wright, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Robin van Persie). Where are those kind players been ? Why has Arsenal changed a winning formula? Is the construction of the Emirates Stadium good enough of an excuse to explain the lack of trophies by the former “Invincibles”? We shall see.

True, it is not easy to find those type of quality players, but Arsenal FC is not a club like any other. Based in London, England, with a successful history, big stadiums in the past and present and with ambitions, it is time for the Gunners to take that step ahead.

Stay tuned…

2016 Ballon d’Or – Messi vs. Ronaldo (Week 15)

This week, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ave been shutout statistically wise. No goal, no assist. This leaves us with the following numbers since January 01st. We count all competitions such club competitions and country competitive games and friendlies.

In La Liga, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored one goal and two assists this Saturday, at home, against Eibar in a 4-0 win for Real Madrid, while Lionel Messi was shutout once again, at la Real Sociedad, with a 1-0 defeat for the Catalan giants.

So far, Messi leads in every aspect of the game and is on course to win a sixth Ballon d’Or. Of course, we are still way early. (In bold, the leading statistic).

Lionel Messi 25 games 25 goals 10 assist 3 trophies available
Cristiano Ronaldo 20 games 19 goals 8 assists 1 trophy available
Total Messi 5 games Messi 6 goals Messi 2 assists Messi 2 trophies