Messi vs. Ronaldo (FIFA Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 24-26

Lionel Messi and Argentina reached the final of La Copa America Centenario versus Chile last Sunday and once again, lost on penalties. Which means that La Pulga is still in search of his first senior’s title with La Albiceleste. Messi compiled an impressive 5 goals and 4 assists in five games during the tournament (he was a substitute against Panama and Bolivia in the group stage).

Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal have reached the Quarterfinals of the Euro 2016 in their Round of 16 match against Croatia thanks to a late goal, in extra-time, by Ricardo Quaresma. CR7, so far, has had two goals in four games in the competition.

Here are the stats from January 01st to June 28th, 2016 between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (including all competitions from club to country):

L. Messi 39 games 34 goals 23 assists 2 trophies won
C. Ronaldo 32 games 31 goals 10 assists 1 trophy won
Total Messi 7 games Messi 3 goals Messi 13 assists Messi 1 trophy

Stay tuned….

2016 Copa America Centenario Final – Messi vs. Sanchez II

The best two teams of this year’s competition will square off, this Sunday, for a chance to win either a 15th Copa America for Argentina or a second trophy in a row for Chile. Both squads have been breathtaking and have dismantled teams along the way.

Argentina and Chile met, earlier in the tournament, which saw La Albiceleste without Messi winning 2-1 in the group stage. Let’s remember that this will be a rematch of last year’s Copa America final between the two countries won by La Roja, on home soil, via penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.

Argentina’s road to the final:

1st game – Argentina 2 – 1 Chile

2nd game – Argentina 5 – 0 Panama

3rd game – Argentine 3-0 Bolivia

Quarter-finals Argentina 4 – 1 Venezuela

Semifinals United States 0 – 4 Argentina

Chile’s path to the final:

1st game – Chile 1 – 2 Argentina

2nd game – Chile 2 – 1 Bolivia

3rd game – Chile 4 – 2 Panama

Quarter-finals Chile 7-0 Mexico

Semifinals Chile 2-0 Colombia

Prediction

Argentina takes its revenge and wins la Copa America Centenario, its 15th and ties Uruguay.

Messi avec l'Argentine

2016-17 Managers – Barclays Premier League

It is packed, to say the least. Pretty much all the big name managers will feature in the Barclays Premier League this upcoming season. Let’s take a look at the current situation:

Leicester City FC – Claudio Ranieri (Italy)
The defending champions.

Arsenal FC – Arsène Wenger (France)
3-time Barclays Premier League winner.

Tottenham Hotspur FC– Mauricio Pocchettino (Argentina)
Finished third last season and went toe-to-toe versus the champions until the last two games of the season.

Manchester City FC – Pep Guardiola (Spain)…does he need any introduction?

Manchester United FC – José Mourinho (Portugal)…Him as well?

Southampton FC – Ronald Koeman (The Netherlands) was the manager but is on the verge of signing for Everton FC, this summer.

Liverpool FC – Jurgen Klopp (Germany)
Two lost finals last year (the Capital One League Cup and the UEFA Europa League) along with an impressive resume with Borussia Dortmund.

West Ham United FC – Slaven Bilić (Croatia)
The Hammers will move into the London Olympic Stadium and with Dimitri Payet and more players, they can become an even bigger threat.

Chelsea FC – Antonio Conte (Italy)
We assume that the Blues will come back and challenge for the title and they will try to do with a new manager and he is from Italy.

The only observation is the lack of British managers currently working, especially with the top clubs. We have to go down to Stoke City FC and Mark Hughes, a Welshman, to find the first British manager in the Premier League in last season’s table (9th). A trend that is worrying for British managers.

On a more positive side, it clearly shows that the Barclays Premier League can attract the best managers in the world. On the other hand, it can handicap the local and national managers. It was a phenomenon felt with the players for about 20 years (even since the Bosman ruling and the freedom of movement for workers, mainly). For a few years now, it is at the managerial level that a shift is occurring and we will have to wait and see where this will bring British managers into.

Cristiano Ronaldo and the Euros

The Portuguese superstar, fresh winner of his third Champions League medal, will feature in his fourth European championship, in France this year. Here are his results:

2004 – Loss in the final against Greece, in Portugal, 1-0.

2008 – Quarterfinal loss versus Germany, 3-1, in Austria/Switzerland.

2012 – Semifinal loss against future champions, Spain, on the penalty kicks (0-0, 5-3 a.e.t.), in Poland/Ukraine.

2016 – ?

Portugal, despite difficult results in recent tournaments, has always been a difficult team to play against. At some point, during the last decade, boasting players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Deco, Maniche, Rui Costa, Vitor Baía, Costinha, Pauleta, Ricardo Carvalho and others, the country of the late Eusebio was very close to actually win the 2004 UEFA European Championship at home (see the result above) and the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany (losing to France, 1-0, in the semifinal).

Although, I do not expect the Portuguese national squad to win it all this year, I would not be surprise if they make a good run and goes good deep in the tournament.

Unfortunately, the lack of depth will probably be a major key, especially if facing teams such as Germany, France, Belgium or Spain.

Stay tuned…

Lionel Messi and la Copa América

The Argentine captain will feature in his fourth Copa America, this month. So far, the results are the following:

  • 2007 – Loss in the final versus Brazil 3-0, in Venezuela.
  • 2011 – Argentina hosted the tournament, but was eliminated by eventual winners, Uruguay, on penalties after a 1-1 draw and 5-4 loss on penalties.
  • 2015 – Loss in the final against Chile, in Santiago again on penalties (0-0, 4-1 a.e.t.). Messi was voted as the tournament M.V.P. but declined to accept the award at the podium after the loss.
  • 2016 – ??

This year, the tournament is back to celebrate its 100th anniversary and it may be a blessing in disguise for the native of Rosario. In normal times, the next Copa America would have taken in Brazil in 2019 and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Brazilians will be a different team than the one who showed up for “their World Cup“, which ended in a nightmare as we all know.

Furthermore, the Brazilian talisman Neymar Jr., who will play in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year, will probably add several more trophies to an already jam-packed cabinet and a Copa America and a World Cup are on his list.

Time for La Pulga to win these two, before the Brazilian takes over.

Stay tuned…

2016 Copa America Centenario – Time for Messi and Argentina to raise the trophy

Argentina, this is your moment. After years, even decades of frustration, this competition, which celebrates its 100 years and will be played in the United States for the first time ever, is the moment for Lionel Messi and his group to finally bring some silverware back home. And there are several reasons why we believe they can do so:

  1. The team itself is jam-packed with world-class talent. Messi, Aguero, Di Maria, Higuain, Pastore. Lamela, Rojo, Otamendi, Mascherano, etc. Enough said.
  2. Brazil, their biggest and regular threat, will be without their talisman and captain Neymar Jr., who will feature in the 2016 Summer Olympics Games instead, in Rio de Janeiro this August. Furthermore, football fans can sense that La Seleção is still trying to search itself after the 7-1 loss at home, two years ago, and after its second consecutive elimination at la Copa America, last year, versus  the same opponent and in the same fashion (penalty kicks), Paraguay.
  3. Uruguay will challenge for the title, but without the “Pichichi” (La Liga BBVA<s top scorer) and European Golden Shoe winner, Luis Suarez, and it should hurt them a lot since the native of Salto has been on fire for about one year and half now, after a slow start with FC Barcelona.
  4. Chile is the defending champion and a good side with tons of heart. This year, not playing at home, compounded with the resignation of their former manager, Jorge Sampaoli, last January, will definitely make them more vulnerable and less likely to repeat from their success of last year.
  5. Colombia. A Talented team with talented players, but just not having enough to win it all, it seems. They do know how to play and irritate Brazil in recent years, but their elimination on penalties against Argentina, last year, and the fact that they have not won a competition since la Copa America 2001, without Argentina a with a lackluster Brazil, played on home soil, demonstrates that Colombia will most likely not be crowned champions again this year.

Others selections such as Mexico, with Javier Hernandez, Andres Guardado will not be easy to deal with. Paraguay, who have been second and fourth respectively of the last two Copa Americas, can do some damage. Ecuador has been a force to be reckon with in the CONMEBOL qualifications for the 2018 FIFA World Cup especially with a win in Argentina. The United States of America play at home and could very well be the surprise of this competition. We doubt though that it will be enough to raise the trophy since it lacks the quality to match the likes of Argentina and Brazil in particular.

Prediction ? Argentina wins its first senior’s title since 1993 and ties Uruguay for the most Copa America triumphs with 15.

Stay tuned.