Sometimes I think about Michael Owen. It’s a certain thought experiment pertaining to Owen joining Manchester United in 2009 as a 29-year-old on a two-year deal and playing very, very little. With most expecting him to find a new club in 2011 after starting only six Premier League matches in two seasons, he instead signed a one-year extension while explaining his decision thus:
Valencia eased into the Copa del Rey quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory over Las Palmas at the Mestalla on Tuesday, the Cup match playing out entirely like La Liga’s third-place side going up against the club in 20th. Valencia’s Luciano Vietto, who’s on loan at Los Che from Atletico Madrid, scored an amazing hat-trick of ever-increasing quality to lead the way.
The 24-year-old Argentinian gave Valencia a 1-0 advantage (2-1 on aggregate) in the 30th minute with a side-footed finish on the rebound after Simone Zaza’s header was miraculously saved by Raul Lizoain.
Are Real Madrid in CRISIS? Should they purchase Mohamed Salah, Mauro Icardi and Harry Kane tomorrow, forming the attacking trifecta SIK? In turn, should they offer BBC + Keylor Navas to Manchester United in exchange for David de Gea? After losing three of their opening 17 La Liga matches, these are the questions facing the back-to-back European champions and manager Zinedine Zidane.
Aged 31, Mexico international Andres Guardado recently told FIFA.com that he now prides himself more on bringing “balance to the team” rather than being the “box-to-box player” of old, so the Real Betis midfielder is probably less than pleased with the club’s defensive record this season — they’ve allowed 34 goals in 18 matches, third-worst in La Liga.
Philippe Coutinho’s official presentation as a Barcelona player took place at the Camp Nou today with the world’s second-most expensive footballer of all-time going through the usual rigamarole, only with the price tag of $192.7 million attached to him.
A trip to the Balaidos in Galicia is never tepid waters — Barcelona were made to weather their own storm in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula on Thursday in a frantic 1-1 Copa del Rey Round of 16 draw — and Celta Vigo again showcased their formidable home fortress in a 2-2 La Liga draw with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Philippe Coutinho is coming, but before the Little Magician is able to impact his new side, Barcelona neatly summarized their 2017-18 season so far with a 3-0 victory over Levante that oozed class all around the pitch. The Camp Nou was witness to three beautiful goals on the day, one from Lionel Messi, another from Luis Suarez and the final from Paulinho off a mesmerizing Messi assist.
Real Madrid traveled to face second-tier Numancia in the first leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 matchup on Thursday. They were fortunate to come out with a 3-0 victory, scoring two penalties and riding their luck against a Numancia side that was inches away from greatness.
Real Madrid rested a number of stars for the cup match but still fielded a team with Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez. Numancia, which is currently in fifth place in the Segunda Division in Spain, fielded none of its $100 million stars, probably because it has none.
Ousmane Dembele made his long-awaited return from injury in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match versus Celta Vigo, but the headlines were written by the man he replaced in the 72nd minute, 22-year-old winger Jose Arnaiz.
Atletico Madrid gave themselves an unassailable four-goal advantage heading back to Madrid for the second leg of their Copa del Rey Round of 16 encounter with third division side Lleida Esportiu on Wednesday. Diego Godin and Fernando Torres opened the scoring in the first half, and then Lleida had to contend with second half substitute appearances from both Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann, both furthering Los Colchoneros’ advantage.