Premier LeagueForty percent have come with Manchester City
The statistics and records of Pep Guardiola‘s coaching career continue to astonish, and the Catalan has now hit 500 victories as a professional coach.
Ruben Dias and John Stones both scored as Manchester City beat West Ham 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon, a result which tipped Guardiola towards the aforementioned milestone.
It was City‘s 20th victory in a row and 27th match unbeaten in all competitions, which sees the team move to within one of the current record holders, The New Saints, who went 28 matches without defeat in 2016/17.
Of Guardiola‘s 500 victories, 179 came with Barcelona, 121 with Bayern Munich and now there has been 200 with Manchester City.
Guardiola won 200 matches with an English club in just 273 matches, bettering the record set by long-time counterpart Jose Mourinho, who took 303.
Guardiola can now look forward to breaking the record for successive league victories, with Liverpool‘s 18 successive victories in 2019/20 the current milestone, although his current side are still a way off with 14 league wins in a row.
Lionel Messi scored a goal and added an assist to lead Barcelona to a 2-0 victory over Sevilla on Saturday afternoon at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
Overall, it was a very good performance from the Catalans, beginning with a revamped formation that laid the groundwork for a solid first 45 minutes, capped by Ousmane Dembele‘s opener. Sevilla responded nicely in the second half, but the greatness of Messi proved one hurdle too many for the hosts, as the Argentine scored late to complete the scoreline, which now lifts Barcelona to within two points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid.
An injury in pre-match warm-up to starting goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made it seem like the German would have to be a late scratch, however he recovered in time for the opening whistle. Ronald Koeman elected to go with a back line of three centre-backs, while Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest played more as wing-backs than traditional full-backs. Antoine Griezmann found himself on the bench once again, meaning Dembele was the man tasked with helping Messi up front.
Koeman’s tweaked formation had Sevilla reacting to Barcelona’s play rather than dictating the tempo in the early parts of the first half. There wasn’t much in the way of chances though until right before the half-hour when Messi picked the Sevilla lock with a simple pass into the streaking Dembele, who finished past Bono for a 1-0 Barcelona lead.
Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui had seen enough and made a trio of changes to begin the second stanza, with En-Nesyri, Suso and Rekik on for Munir, Papu Gomez and Diego Carlos. With the changes, Sevilla gained more of a foothold in the second half and played with more of an edge after a lucklustre first 45 minutes.
Barcelona’s slick passing didn’t go away though and it almost led to a second right before the hour mark when Dest hammered a shot off the post. That led to a sequence that had to be seen to be believed when Dembele did well to surge into the area to set up a gilt-edged chance for Messi, only to see the Argentine improbably miss badly over the crossbar.
Koeman’s first substitution came midway through the half, with Ronald Araujo on for Gerard Pique as a precautionary measure, followed shortly by Pedri replaced by Ilaix Moriba after suffering a knock.
By the final 20 minutes Sevilla had wrestled back control of the affair and thought they had an equaliser through En Nesyri, but a handball quickly negated it. On the play Araujo, who had just returned from injury, suffered a strain and was forced to leave, with Samuel Umtiti replacing him. It also marked the end of Dembele’s day, with Martin Braithwaite on for the Frenchman.
Sevilla were creeping closer, but any hopes of a late equaliser went down the drain when Messi put them to the sword with just minutes left on the clock, starting with a nice one-two combination with Ilaix that put Messi in on goal. The initial shot from the argentine was blocked by Bono, but Messi scrambled first to the rebound and finished from a few yards out to put the finishing touch on the 2-0 victory.
0.- Sevilla: Bonus; J. Navas, Kounde, Diego Carlos (Rekik, min. 46), Escudero; Fernando, Jordan, Rakitic (Oscar Rodriguez, min. 63); Munir (En-Nesyri, min. 46), Papu Gomez (Suso, min. 46), De Jong (Oliver Torres, min. 63).
2.- Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dest, Pique (Araujo, min. 67) (Umtiti, min. 82), Lenglet, Mingueza, Jordi Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Pedri (Ilaix, min. 71); Dembele (Braithwaite, min. 82), Messi
Goals: 0-1, min. 29: Dembele; 0-2, min. 86: Messi
Referee: Hernandez Hernandez (Las Palmas). Yellow cards: Diego Carlos (Min. 38) for Sevilla, Messi (Min. 42) for Barcelona, Escudero (Min. 45) for Sevilla, Rekik (Min. 46) for Sevilla, Dembele (Min. 82) for Barcelona, Jordan (Min. 88) for Sevilla
Sevilla vs Barcelona | LaLiga SantanderKicks off at 16:15 CET
THEne of the standout fixtures in the LaLiga Santander calendar is taking place on Saturday afternoon, as Sevilla welcome Barcelona to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.
The Catalan side cannot afford any more slip-ups, while the Andalusians will want to keep pace with those at the top with a positive result. There are currently just two points separating Barcelona in third and Sevilla in fourth, with the latter also having a game in hand.
This is the first of two matches between these two in the space of five days, as this LaLiga Santander meeting on Saturday will be followed by the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final tie, which Sevilla are leading 2-0 ahead of Wednesday’s match at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona remain optimistic about not only catching league leaders Atletico Madrid but also mounting a comeback in the Copa del Rey. Yet, Sevilla will do their all to make this a miserable week for Ronald Koeman‘s charges. After all, the chances of the Blaugrana mounting a comeback in the Champions League are slim to none.
There has been some very positive news for Barcelona this week, though, as Ronald araujo has been included in the squad list for Saturday’s match away at Sevilla. The 21-year-old has already established himself as the first-choice partner for Gerard Pique in the heart of defence, but it seems that Koeman is not ready to rush him back, so Clement Lenglet could start.
Sevilla, meanwhile, are in their best form of the season. Julen Lopetegui‘s side have lost just one of their last 11 games, and the rest have all been wins – four in the Copa del Rey and six in LaLiga Santander. They recovered from a disappointing defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League by immediately responding with a win away at Osasuna.
Now, they will be looking to improve on their disappointing record at home to Barcelona, as they have only won three of their last 19 league games against the Blaugrana.
Antonio Conte was a sensation at Juventus as a player. He played 420 matches with the Turin side, scoring 44 times and winning fives league titles, a Champions League, a UEFA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, the Coppa Italia, five Supercoppas Italiana and the Intertoto Cup.
He returned to the Old Lady in 2011 as head coach. The club were still in a bad state after their relegation to Serie B due to match-fixing allegations, and they had finished seventh in Serie A their two previous campaigns.
He brought in Andrea Pirlo and Arturo vidal and built his side around Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, winning the Scudetto in his first season without losing a single game.
Conte won three of the nine league titles in a row that Juventus have won since 2011 before leaving in 2014 due to disagreements with club chairman Andrea Agnelli.
Conte returned to Italy last summer to take down the side he started to rebuild back in 2011. He failed to win the league in his first season at Inter, but after spending 290 million euros bringing in a raft of players, his side are league leaders.
Inter currently sit four points clear of city rivals AC Milan after their 3-0 win in the recent derby, and they are eight points ahead of Juventus, although the Bianconeri have a game in hand.
Conte will be hoping to see out the rest of the season strongly and end his old side’s dominance over Italian football.
Premier LeagueDiscussed his performance against Barcelona
Jack Wilshere was tipped for greatness after his midfield display for Arsenal in 2011 against a Barcelona team that contained the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi.
However, the 29-year-old, who now plays for Bournemouth in the Championship, went on to have a plethora of injuries that held back his progress at the Emirates Stadium. Nevertheless, he doesn’t view that period as being his prime.
“In terms of having no problems with my body, that was my prime,” Wilshere told the Daily Mail.
“But I had a few seasons after that where I felt good, too. Everyone remembers that Barcelona win because it was against the best midfield of the last 20 years.
“When the draw came out, we were written off. You’re in the tunnel standing next to Lionel Messi. I don’t think we touched the ball for 20 minutes! You’re thinking, ‘This is going to be a long night.’
“Then I made a big challenge and won the ball before beating Iniesta. It lifted everyone. Even now, I think about moments like that.
“I remember sitting next to Samir Nasri later and he told me, ‘You’ve taken your game to another level now. You need to stay at this level.’ That was a great night. [But] I’m not sure I’d say it was my peak.”
Wilshere is particularly excited about Phil Foden and the current crop of English midfielders coming through, such as Jack Grealish, James Maddison and Mason Mount. Foden, though, stands above the rest for the former Arsenal man.
“I was probably the only English midfielder playing at a top club at that age,” Wilshere noted.
“Now there are so many. I love Phil Foden. I’ve been saying it for years. I told my best mate Benny [Benik Afobe] years ago, ‘Watch Foden.’
“Foden reminds me – and this is a big compliment – of Messi in the way he drifts with the ball, using his balance. He’s not big and strong but he can take the ball in tight spaces and get out. He can manipulate the ball.
“If I was the England manager, he’d be one of the first names on my team sheet. I love watching Jack Grealish and James Maddison as well. They’re different players and it’s a nice problem for Gareth Southgate to have. They’re all comfortable on the ball.
“Going back 10 years when I was coming through, people were saying I was different and we were crying out for that. Now we’ve got four or five players who can do it. I do look back at clips, just to get confidence and remind myself of what I can do.”
One thing that the midfielder does regret is not listening to Arsenal‘s medical team when he was younger.
“I remember having conversations with the physios in my first year in the Arsenal team,” Wilshere said.
“They were like, ‘Look, you’re playing a lot…’ I told them, ‘I want to play.’
“I was living the dream. I was 19, playing for Arsenal. We were challenging for the Premier League, in the Champions League. No one was going to tell me I needed a rest.
“That’s one of my biggest regrets – I wish I’d listened to physios a little more, learned more about my body.
“Now everyone wears a GPS. You’re looked after. That wasn’t around when I was younger.
“I’ve heard many people over the years say I attract the challenge. That’s my game – get the player close, do a one-two, dribble around. I still try to play like that.
“But if I could go back and change one thing, it would be to manage the games, manage myself better and listen to the physios more. It’s easy to say now.”
Martin Odegaard is starting to show the kind of form that many expected from him at Arsenal after fighting for a loan move away from Real Madrid, where he was struggling for game time.
This spell at Arsenal isn’t going to be forever, though, and Real Madrid still believe that he has a big part to play in their midfield in the future.
One reason why Odegaard wasn’t performing to his best at Real Madrid was the problem he had in his knee due to tendinitis, which he had had treated in the summer but was still bothering him until a few weeks ago.
He started off the campaign with hardly any training under his belt and without having completely recovered from the tendinitis – an injury that can be played with, but which holds a player back from performing to their absolute best.
The issues with his knee are now a thing of the past and he’s playing like the player we all know he is under Mikel Arteta at Arsenal.
In his first month in London, Odegaard has played six matches – four in the Premier League and two in the Europa League – while over his last five months in Madrid he featured just nine times.
Champions LeagueCall went against them in Real Madrid tie
Atalanta president Antonio Percassi has vented his frustrations at the refereeing decisions that went against his team in their defeat to Real Madrid.
Remo Freuler‘s red card in the 17th minute prevented the hosts from playing their natural game before Ferland mendy struck the winner late in the contest.
“It was a shock,” Percassi told La Gazzetta dello Sport on the red card incident.
“I got goosebumps when I saw the referee get the red card out. I thought he’d made the wrong decision and I was sure that VAR would intervene. We were all so confused. It was shameful – a grave injustice.
“I had a clear impression that has stayed with me: there was submissiveness and they favoured the bigger team, on paper and historically. Well, it wasn’t an impression.
“I could’ve used that word if it was just one dubious decision. There were so many I could point out.
“There were fouls from Nacho and [Luka] Modric on [Joakim] Beautiful and [Matteo] Pessina which had to be bookings and they weren’t. The same with a handball by Lucas Vazquez.
“The referee went to book [Casemiro], realised he’d already had a yellow and thought twice, saying I don’t know what… One of our players would’ve been thrown out on the street and it would’ve been far.
“It’s impossible to play like that: everything against Atalanta, as usual. Or you’re not fit [to referee] a Champions League game… or it’s a question of submissiveness.”
FC Barcelona – La LigaA closer look at his situation
Barcelona‘s presidential elections are just around the corner. Members will vote for one of the three candidates on March 7, bringing closer an end to the Lionel Messi saga.
Once elected, the new president will sit down with the first team captain to try and convince him that the best thing to do would be to stay put.
After the burofax last summer and Barcelona‘s tough season, the vast majority think that Messi will leave the Camp Nou when his contract expires in June.
The reality, though, is different. Every door remains open for the 33-year-old and his future will depend on the offer the new president presents to him.
Messi wants a strong sporting project which will allow Barcelona to compete for silverware in the near future. If the forward does agree to sign a new deal, money won’t be a problem for him.
Messi has never been motivated by money and, although his earnings are extortionate, he didn’t ask for many of the clauses in his current contract. The club offered them to him.
Club sources have told MARCA that Messi is much more open to the idea of staying at Barcelona. Sources close to the player have also refused to rule out this option.
For the time being, Messi hasn’t made a decision. Yes, he did want to leave the Blaugrana when Josep Maria Bartomeu was president, but lots has happened since the former president’s resignation and every option remains open.
The player himself is in fact growing disgruntled by the constant rumours surrounding his future. He didn’t take a liking to recent comments coming out of Paris Saint Germain or mock-ups of him in the French club’s kit in the local media.
Messi and his father and agent, Jorge, are not listening to offers from other clubs. Jorge has been in Argentina for some time now and has had no contact with any other teams.
In the end, it’s Messi‘s decision and everything will depend on what the elected president comes to the table with.
Perhaps the names within the project will be key. Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Aguero are also out of contract this summer and would be cheaper to sign than, for example, Erling Haaland, Matthijs de Ligt or Jules Kounde.