No event defines an athlete’s career quite like the World Cup. It’s why people still look at Lionel Messi like he’s got something to prove (he doesn’t) and why the name Chris Wondolowski still brings a tear to the eye of many Americans. The 2014 World Cup made Mario Gotze an international icon, turned James Rodriguez into the hero of Colombians everywhere and earned DeAndre Yedlin a Spurs contract.
Dismayed over Virgil van Dijk’s decision to join Liverpool, Manchester City have gone and broken their own club transfer record (the $77 million paid to Wolfsburg for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015) by signing La Liga’s most promising young defender, 23-year-old center back Aymeric Laporte, from Athletic Bilbao for $80 million.
After weeks of speculation linking Mexican international Miguel Layun with La Liga side Real Betis — where international compatriot Andres Guardado currently plays — derby rival Sevilla has announced the capture of the 29-year-old right back on loan with an option to buy in the summer, pending a medical scheduled for Tuesday.
The Real Madrid vs. Valencia match delivered a much-desired awakening.
Having been eliminated from the Copa del Rey earlier this week against Leganés, Real Madrid seem to be back in the game after beating Valencia 4-1.
The narrative of FC Barcelona always highlights their attack, and we all know the reason for that (Paulinho). But this season, Barcelona boast the joint-best defense in La Liga with only nine goals conceded after 20 matches (0.45 per game). The impressive nature of the balance they’ve struck is demonstrated by the fact that they’ve scored 28 more goals than their defensive rivals, Atletico Madrid (57 bulges of the ol’ onion bag versus 29).
Ballou Tabla is making history as the first academy player from the Montreal Impact to make a move to Europe. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder completed a transfer to Barcelona on Thursday. He’ll join Barcelona B.
This Marc-Andre ter Stegen attempt at a La Liga clean sheet record is starting to look serious. Ter Stegen actually has a chance of breaking Deportivo La Coruña goalkeeper Francisco Liaño's 1994 clean sheet record, when he managed to keep his goal unbeaten 26 times in one season.
Currently, Barcelona are leading La Liga with 54 points, 11 more than Atlético Madrid who sit second with 43. An important element to consider in Barcelona's outstanding performance is their defense. Out of 20 league fixtures, Ernesto Valverde's team has managed to keep a clean sheet on 13 occasions.
Is the magic gone at Real Madrid? That’s an impossible thing to say about the back-to-back world champions, but a shocking Copa del Rey quarterfinal elimination at the hands of Leganes (a club from the outskirts of Madrid that plays its home matches in front of 11,000) is the lowest it’s gotten for Zinedine Zidane when coupled with the 19-point gap in La Liga.
The French manager went with an understrength side after defeating Leganes 1-0 away in the first leg, although understrength still means starts for Sergio Ramos, Isco, Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio.