Tag Archives: La Liga Santander

Real Madrid CF – 2016-17 Champions League Winners

Congratulations on Real Madrid CF for winning this year’s trophy and their unprecedented 12th title.  This final was never really in doubt for Los Merengues and manager Zinedine Zidane has a lot of credit to take for this victory and for clinching La Liga title that preceded this triumph.

Even though Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace and is now in pole position to win a fifth Ballon d’Or, let’s remember that the appointment of “Zizou” as the manager of Real Madrid CF in January 2016 has changed a lot of things.  At the time, under Rafael Benitez, Los Blancos, despite not having a bad record, lost a few games such a 4-0 loss at the Santiago Bernabeu against arch-rivals, FC Barcelona.

President Fiorentino Perez, never shy of “pulling the trigger” when it comes time to making a manager’s change, decided to give the keys to the man who was coaching Real Madrid B team at the time.  The results since that then have been nothing short but spectacular.  Los Blancos made a run to win La Liga title up until the end of the last season, only to witness FC Barcelona win at the end.  They’ve also reached the Champions League final and beat Atlético de Madrid on penalty kicks for their 11th Champions League triumph.  This season, they’ve won La Liga (for the first time since 2012, under José Mourinho) and became the first team ever to repeat as Champions League winners.  A double.

Can Real Madrid achieve the same amount of success next and for years to come?  We shall see.  Until today, with Zinedine Zidane at the helm, it has been all business for La Casa Blanca.

Stay tuned…

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2016-17 Champions League Final – Real Madrid CF vs. Juventus FC

Ahh, the Champions League final!

An event difficult to miss, especially when two giants of European, if not, World football collide for the most prestigious prize in club football, the UEFA Champions League.  Both clubs have been impressive leading up to the final.

Juventus FC on pace for their first possible triple (having already secured Serie A and la Coppa d’Italia) have eliminated FC Porto, FC Barcelona and AS Monaco FC en route to Cardiff, Wales.  Real Madrid CF has had to deal with SSC Napoli in the Round of 16, then FC Bayern Munich and derby rivals Atlético Madrid.

For Los Blancos, it will be a chance to make history as being the first club to win back-to-back Champions League titles since the introduction of this format in 1992.  For reasons difficult to explain, no team has ever been able to repeat as champions.  As for I Bianconeri, it will be a chance to finally lift the trophy after failing to win it in 2003 vs. AC Milan and 2015 vs. FC Barcelona.  We have to go back in 1996 and their success on penalty kicks versus titleholders Ajax Amsterdam to witness The Old Lady winning the title.

It is a 50/50 final.  Despite the tremendous amount of talent and money Real Madrid has at its diposal, la Juve has been able to inject more funds and more quality players to their side in the past few years.  The recent additions of Gonzalo Higuain, Paulo Dybala, Juan Cuadrado, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Mario Mandzukic etc. have made this team more dangerous than ever.  And after beating Real Madrid, two years ago, to reach the final of this same competition, the confidence level will be high for the Italians.

Prediction – Juventus FC ends its 21 year drought and complete their treble by winning 2-1.

Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball 2017 – Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo

The season has come to an end in the Spanish League and Real Madrid CF have won the championship in front of their arch-nemesis FC Barcelona.  Los Blancos held a three point advantage and were able to hold on to it until the very last game of the season.

Furthermore, Real Madrid will play, for the second year in a row, the final of the Champions League, against Juventus FC this time.  Since the introduction to the Champions League format in 1992, no club has been able to repeat as champions.  History is not on Los Merengues side on this one.

Meanwhile in Barcelona, Los Blaugranas have won the Spanish Cup (la Copa del Rey) by beating Alaves 3-1 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. and Paco Alcacer.  It provided the near perfect farewell to manager Luis Enrique who will leave the club this summer.  His replacement is supposed to be officially named soon and the current manager of Athletic Bilbao is the favourite to take on the job.

As for individual statistics and awards, Lionel Messi has won the European Golden Shoe for this season.  Cristiano Ronaldo is very far away in the standings.  It is the fourth time (equaling the record of the Portuguese international) that La Pulga has won this award.  Luis Suarez was the winner last season.

As for the Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball France Football is concerned, here is a look at the statistics and trophies won by Messi and Ronaldo so far from January 1st to May 28th, 2017 (in bold, the player with the advantage):

Lionel Messi Cristiano Ronaldo
Games 33 28
Goals 32 27
Assists 8 6
Trophies 2
(Copa del Rey, European Golden Shoe)
1
(La Liga)

Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball) France Football 2016 – The Case for Lionel Messi

Last week, Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned winner of the Ballon d’Or 2016 (the fourth of his career) ahead of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. While I congratulate the Portuguese winger for his success, I do not agree with the decision and I would like either a reform of the trophy or simply put, a repeal of it. And there are several reasons why.

Earlier this year, France Football (a French football magazine whom created the trophy and distributed it for decades) and FIFA parted ways with the gala and the trophy, which meant full control of the criterias by the magazine and the hope that we would have more winners and more diversity. Well, it seems like France Football picked up exactly where FIFA left off and awarded the Ballon d’Or to a player who is very good, with great statistics, four trophies won, but ultimately was not the best player in 2016, in my opinion.

I even doubt that he was he second best, even third best (Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez could have been in front of him in 2016). I have ranked Lionel Andrès Messi first because of his complete performance (with club and country) from January 1st to the end date of the voting (November 27th). Goals, assists, chances created, trophies won and runner-up, Messi was, once again, in a league of his own.

While CR7 has been very good as mentioned, created his share of chances and won several important trophies during the year, he was also helped by his teammates while struggling to make an impression on the big stage (UEFA Champions League and European Championship finals) or being absent (UEFA SuperCup). Real Madrid CF won the Champions League final against Atlético Madrid FC on penalties where Ronaldo was invisible the whole game. He eventually dispatched of the winning penalty (only Juanfran from Atlético missed his during the penalty kicks).

Ronaldo didn’t have a great European Championship, missing several scoring chances, missing an important penalty versus Iceland if I recall with his country barely qualifying for the round of 16 in a group where they were largely favourites to win and featuring a mere twenty minutes in the final. His attitude during the whole tournament was unworthy of a “superstar” like him as well. The man of the tournament was French striker Antoine Griezmann.

Lionel Messi won the domestic double (LaLiga BBVA and the Spanish Cup). He was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Atlético de Madrid FC in the UEFA Champions League, but led Argentina to the Copa America Centenario final lost on penalties to Chile for the second year in a row. Messi, having a superb tournament, missed his penalty kick during the shootout session.

In his return to Europe, him and FC Barcelona lifted the Spanish SuperCup versus Sevilla FC, adding a third domestic trophy to his cabinet for the year. His statistics were excellent through the year as you can regularly see in my blog. He outscored, “outassisted” by 16 assists, Cristiano Ronaldo. He created more chances and showed (as usual) more team spirit and more engagement than the Portuguese international.

All this leads me to ask…what is the Ballon d’Or’s purpose? Do we reward the best player of the calendar year? Of the season? Is it a popularity contest? Do we simply attribute the trophy based on winning the FIFA World Cup, Champions League and/or the European Championship despite not being the best player of the tournament or even the team (Nani, Pepe, a Champions League winner as well this year, Ricardo Quaresma, Rui Patricio and others were excellent and clutch during the tournament for La Seleção and let’s not forget Lille player Eder who put the nail in the coffin to clinch the title)?

Last, but not least, it may not be a good idea to hand out a trophy right in the middle of a season. After all, trophies are given at the end generally.

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or France Football) – Week 49

The Ballon d’Or France Football will be awarded tomorrow in annual gala by football magazine France Football who re-gained the rights to the trophy thanks to their disassociation with FIFA earlier this year. The three favourites, not finalists, for the trophy are FC Barcelona/Argentina player Lionel Messi (the holder and record five-time winner), Real Madrid CF/Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo (three-time winner and favourite to win it this year) and Atlético de Madrid FC/French international striker Antoine Griezmann (first-time finalist).

Here are the updated statistics between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo including this weekend’s action which saw La Pulga increase his goal tally by two goals in a win at Osasuna (3-0), while the Portuguese winger was rested by Zinedine Zidane against Real Club Deportivo de La Coruña in a last-minute victory by Los Merengues/Blancos.

L. Messi 61 games 58 goals 32 assists 3 trophies won
– La Liga BBVA
– La Copa del Rey
– Spanish Supercup
C. Ronaldo 55 games 51 goals 17 assists 3 trophies won
– UEFA Champions League
– UEFA European Championship
– UEFA SuperCup
Total Messi 6 games Messi 7 goals Messi 15 assists Tie

The Ballon d’Or France Football will need to be reformed in order to gain more credibility, in my opinion. Lionel Messi should win tomorrow based on many factors that point in his favour, but Cristiano Ronaldo will lift the trophy. And that is the problem with the current format with or without FIFA involved.

Stay tuned…

Messi vs. Ronaldo (Golden Ball/Ballon d’Or) – Week 48

El Clásico is behind us and both teams could not come up as victorious.

Luis Suarez opened the scoring for FC Barcelona while Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid CF captain, scored at the end of the match. Final result: 1-1.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were kept off the scoresheet. While the voting for the next France Football Ballon d’Or/Golden Ball winner has ended officially on November 27th, 2016, we will still keep the calendar year statistics going until the end.

Both superstars’ statistics until today are the following for 2016:

L. Messi 59 games 55 goals 32 assists 3 trophies won
– La Liga BBVA
– La Copa del Rey
– Spanish Supercup
C. Ronaldo 54 games 51 goals 17 assists 3 trophies won
– UEFA Champions League
– UEFA European Championship
– UEFA SuperCup
Total Messi 5 games Messi 4 goals Messi 15 assists Tie

 

El Clásico – FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid CF

Here we go again.

Another El Clásico. Another battle between the two giants of Spanish football. The winners of the last three Champions League will square off for the first time this season with Los Blancos currently holding a six-point lead at the top of la Liga Santander vs. their Catalan arch-rivals. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are available for the match, it does not get any better than this.

While Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona are currently first and second of the Spanish league, it is difficult to say that they have really dominated, this season. We have seen both teams struggle against several opponents and drop some points, especially Los Blaugranas who can not let Zinedine Zidane‘s team get away with the three points today.

Last year, FC Barcelona won at the Santiago Bernabeu, in Madrid, 4-0 in a complete demolition. At the Camp Nou in Barcelona, it was Real Madrid CF who obtained the last word by winning 2-1. At the end, FC Barcelona went on to win the Spanish league and the Spanish Cup while Real Madrid CF lifted the Champions League trophy for the 11th time in their history.

Andrés Iniesta, for the Catalans, will be back in action for this match while the Welsh international, Gareth Bale, is sidelined with an injury for Madrid.

My prediction: FC Barcelona takes it 2-1 and gets closer to their rivals at the top of the table.