As Atletico Madrid appear to be closing in on their best season ever, they have a big dilemma: should we focus more on the Champions League or La Liga? Here you will find cases for both.
Atletico appears to be on track to end the duopoly that Barcelona and Real Madrid have held over La Liga for so long. Winning La Liga probably was what Diego Simeone dreamed of when he took over Atletico Madrid because the Champions League trophy then would have been considered such a far-fetched idea. This brings me to my next point.
Atletico Madrid have never won the UEFA Champions League. It is by far the most prestigious trophy in club football. Another great thing about winning the esteemed, elusive trophy is that it will assure Atletico’s participance in the Club World Cup. Thus giving them the chance to be crowned the world’s best football club. Another pro to winning the Champions League is the fact that it may very well convince star striker Diego Costa to stay next season instead of departing to Chelsea, Atletico’s semifinal opponents.
In the comments, have your own say! Comment which competition you think Atletico should focus more on.
Louis Van Gaal
It has been officially announced that after the World Cup, Louis Van Gaal will step down from the Netherlands manager job. Van Gaal has had talks with Manchester United executives about taking over the reigns as manager. Don’t be surprised if he is the man leading Manchester United at the beginning of the next campaign.
Borussia Dortmund’s manager has proved himself on the European stage. He has a Champions League final appearance and two Bundesliga titles is nothing to scoff at. He is Manchester United’s first choice to replace David Moyes.
This move is very unlikely considering how prolific a team Simeone has turned Atletico Madrid into. But, it would be hard to resist taking over the helm of the best English club ever.
Today Manchester City triumphed over Southampton 4-1. Here you will find valuable things learned from this game.
Lesson 1: Yaya Toure can’t be stopped
Yaya Toure converted a penalty in the second minute to give the Citizens the lead. After that Toure was unstoppable. Toure won a mind-boggling 7 out of 8 tackles.
Lesson 2: You can’t beat Manchester City at the Etihad
After demolishing Southampton 4-1, Manchester City moved to an incredible 14-1 at home in the Premier League. They have scored 52 goals and allowed only 10 in these games.
Lesson 3: Luke Shaw can be overrated at times
Luke Shaw did put in a decent performance today. But not one of a player attracting attention from European football giants. He played more of an attacking role than usual today which didn’t suit him very well. He was handed a 6.17 rating out of ten today.
It is time to start thinking about who will win the 2014 Ballon D’or. There are a few clear-cut candidates already. Here you will find my predictions of who the top 5 finishers will be.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Easily the best current footballer to have not won a Ballon D’or, Zlatan Ibrahimovic improves as he gets older. Currently playing for Paris Saint-Germain, the Swede must play even better than his current impeccable form to have a chance at the esteemed trophy as his nation won’t be in this summer’s World Cup.
4. Luis Suarez
The Liverpool and Uruguay striker has been unstoppable lately. He is on track to break the record for most goals in a Premier League season even though he missed the first six games (for biting Bransilav Ivanovic of Chelsea). Currently the lone leader in the EPL in both goals and assists, Suarez has done all but given his acceptance speech to collect the PFA Player of the Year Award. Suarez must also impress at the World Cup this summer and lead his team out of a difficult group to at least the quarterfinals. While playing very well along the way.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
The reigning Ballon D’or winner has a much harder path to the trophy this year. He has had a recent small dip in form with Real Madrid and now faces much stiffer competition in the form of Luis Suarez and a fully fit Lionel Messi. Although he easily won the last trophy, come January not many bookies will have him first on their list.
The Brazilian wunderkind has played fairly well with club team Barcelona of late. But the key to him winning the golden ball of the whole world in January, is winning the World Cup with Brazil and winning that golden ball.
1. Lionel Messi
The 4-time Ballon D’or champion has the biggest chance of winning the trophy next year. He finished a close second to Cristiano Ronaldo last time around, even though he was injured for much of the season. If the stellar forward can keep up his current form and continue winning trophies with Barcelona, all he will have to do is finally have a good World Cup with Argentina (a title wouldn’t hurt).
Tata Martino’s first season in charge of FC Barcelona has been fairly successful. His team remains very much in the La Liga title race, has reached the Copa Del Rey final and are in the Champions League quarterfinals. They just haven’t played with the same allure and dominance as the Barcelona of late.
In La Liga, Barcelona is second, a solitary point separates them and leaders Atletico Madrid. They remain ahead of Clasicorivals, Real Madrid. They have come up big and won both Clasicos this year. They drew 0-0 with Atletico in their one league match. They did, however, beat Atletico this year on away goals in the Supercopa de Espana. In the Champions League, they have progressed to the quarterfinals with relative ease where they face Atletico. They drew the first leg at the Camp Nou, 1-1. They have progressed to the final of the Copa Del Rey where they will face Real Madrid.
Tata Martino had a fairly successful transfer window this summer. He did sign acclaimed Brazilian forward, Neymar, but he failed to bring in a much needed centre-back. Now it seems, that Barcelona won’t be able to bring in any new talent in the next two transfer windows now that they have been banned from activity in the next two windows by FIFA. This means that their starting goalkeeper may be 39-year old Jose Pinto and they won’t be able to replace retiring centre-back Carles Puyol.
In conclusion, Barcelona must improve on their performance this season. They also must win their appeal of the transfer ban to compete in anything more than domestic competition.