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How jaded fans can still appreciate Lionel Messi on the 15th anniversary of his Barca debut

Fri, 16 Nov 2018 05:00:00 PST

The fact that Lionel Messi makes the extraordinary look ordinary at times shouldn't diminish just how brilliant he is. Sporting greatness is a form of anesthetic -- it has a numbing effect. The first time you watch Simone Biles skip across the floor, Roger Federer execute a perfect drop shot or Lewis Hamilton take a corner in the driving rain, you're utterly enchanted. By the hundredth time you see them do it, there's a danger that you will become immune to the sheer wonder, the same way you might if you'd grown up with your bedroom looking out toward the Northern Lights. For that reason, there's a risk that...

Transfer Talk: Liverpool plan record £85m move for Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 03:59:00 PST

La Liga correspondent Sid Lowe and the FC crew weigh in on the drama surrounding Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona and his links to Liverpool. The FC panel answer your tweets on Liverpool's precarious position in Group C, how Cavani's absence affected PSG and if Ousmane Dembele or Malcom is more likely to leave Barca. With the winter window opening soon, the rumour mill is beginning to gather pace. Who will be moving where come January? Transfer Talk has the latest. TOP STORY: Liverpool ready record move for Barca's Dembele Liverpool are set to shatter their transfer record to sign Ousmane Dembele from Barcelona, according to the Sun. France forward Dembele joined Barca last summer but could be on his way out amid questions over his attitude, with the Sun saying Jurgen Klopp "wants him to boost his team's Premier...

Power Rankings: Manchester City stay top but beaten Barcelona fall

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 11:06:00 PST

Shaka Hislop reveals his latest power rankings which see Manchester City on top while Barcelona take a tumble following their loss to Betis. Craig Burley breaks down Manchester City's 3-1 win over Manchester United, which he says demonstrates the gap in quality between the two rivals. Sergio Aguero shrugs off talk of an unbeaten Premier League season after Manchester City's victory over rivals Manchester United. Derby day victory kept the English champions atop Shaka Hislop's Top 10, while Porto and Juventus are on the up. Barcelona, though, pay for their defeat. (function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk')); Dropping out: Inter, Chelsea, Arsenal. Agree? Disagree? Let us know, and watch Shaka defend his picks on ESPN FC TV!

Jordi Alba is the best player in La Liga right now, something Luis Enrique cannot ignore

Wed, 14 Nov 2018 12:19:00 PST

Despite his reported falling out with Luis Enrique, ESPN FC's Sid Lowe explains why Jordi Alba couldn't be ignored ahead of Spain's clash at Croatia. After Barcelona's home defeat to Real Betis, the FC crew examine the club's issues in the back, and Gab Marcotti questions their preparation. "I think I've talked about Jordi Alba enough," Luis Enrique protested, but there was one more thing to say, left to the last minute. In the end, even he couldn't resist. On Thursday, the Spain coach returned Alba to the national team for the first time since the World Cup and the first time since he took over, finally ending one of the oddest absences anyone could remember. Luis Enrique said he didn't change his mind because of the "clamour," but the noise, like the evidence, had become overwhelming....

Real Betis expose Barcelona using the tactics that made modern Barca great

Tue, 13 Nov 2018 01:07:00 PST

To immediately understand the principal reason Betis humiliated Barcelona this weekend at the Camp Nou, you can go back to mid-July 2008 on a training pitch in St. Andrews, Scotland. Yes, Ernesto Valverde was soundly beaten on tactics by Quique Setien. Yes, if you compare Pau Lopez's superb first-half save from point-blank range, when Clement Lenglet thought he had scored, against Marc-Andre ter Stegen's limp-wristed effort that let Betis go 3-1 up, they can tell one tale of why the points went...

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets gives signed shirt to Betis coach Quique Setien, boss tipped for Camp Nou

Mon, 12 Nov 2018 06:00:00 PST

Lionel Messi scored twice in his return from injury, but Real Betis netted four goals of their own to win 4-3, spoiling the Blaugrana star's return. After Barcelona's home defeat to Real Betis, the FC crew examine the club's issues in the back, and Gab Marcotti questions their preparation. After becoming the first coach to inflict a home defeat on Barcelona in 26 months, Real Betis manager Quique Setien's stock has never been higher. With a reputation for prioritising attractive, attacking football, the word on the wire in Spain is that Setien may well end up plying his trade with Barca, and sooner rather than later. Indeed, with Ernesto Valverde's future uncertain beyond the summer, there are some who believe the Catalans will make their move to bring the highly-regarded Betis boss...

Transfer Rater: Denis Suarez to Chelsea, Exequiel Palacios to Manchester United

Mon, 12 Nov 2018 01:30:00 PST

Things change in the blink of an eye in football. The Football Whispers Index takes the latest transfer rumours and gives them a score out of five; the higher the score, the more realistic and reliable the Whisper. Here are today's top five emerging whispers. And keep an eye on Transfer Talk for all the latest gossip. Alexis Sanchez to Paris Saint-Germain Less than one year after joining Manchester United from Arsenal, the Chile international wants to quit the club as he is isolated, bored...

Lionel Messi stars in return but Marc-Andre ter Stegen's error costs Barcelona vs. Betis

Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:12:00 PST

Shaka Hislop unveils his latest club power rankings, then has to answer to the rest of the baffled FC crew. Real Betis edged out Barcelona in a seven-goal thriller as they became the first team to win at Camp Nou in La Liga since Alaves over two years ago. Junior Firpo and Joaquin helped Betis into a 2-0 lead at the break but a Lionel Messi penalty dragged the league leaders back into the game. A rare error from Marc-Andre ter Stegen allowed Giovani Lo Celso to restore Betis' two-goal cushion before Arturo Vidal moved Barca back within one. Sergio Canales wrapped up the three points for Betis in...

Paul Pogba future far from sure at Manchester United but where could he go?

Sat, 10 Nov 2018 01:16:00 PST

Stewart Robson takes a look at the tactics that Jose Mourinho could deploy against City in the Manchester derby. ESPN FC's Mark Ogden sits down with Man City's David Silva to discuss how the Manchester derby has evolved and his favourite moments in the rivalry. Paul Pogba's performances in his past two games, which ended in late, late wins for Manchester United over Bournemouth and Juventus, are a microcosm of his time at the club. Over the course of those matches, he was pivotal yet peripheral, inspirational yet underwhelming. When United looked to him against Bournemouth, he was often sublime, floating past the challenges of desperate opponents and conjuring an assist for Marcus Rashford's winning goal. Yet against Juventus, whose supporters raucously...

Barcelona's trip to Inter Milan recalls Ronaldo and what might've been

Tue, 6 Nov 2018 06:28:00 PST

The FC crew laud Barcelona's Champions League performance, in a draw with Inter that could just have as easily been a victory for the Spanish side. Editor's note: This article has been translated from an original piece on ESPN Deportes. MILAN -- Memories of Ronaldo Nazario, the Brazilian legend, were evident at San Siro on Tuesday when Inter Milan faced Barcelona in the Champions League. Indeed, many minds rewound to June 5, 1997 -- the date that Inter paid his release clause and snatched up Barca's phenom. ESPN took a step back to remember the 1996-97 season through the recollection of five of Ronaldo's former teammates at the Camp Nou. Each...

Transfer Talk: Man United and Barcelona battle for Ronaldo... Camara

Tue, 6 Nov 2018 03:59:00 PST

Gab Marcotti cites Arsene Wenger's rocky relationship with Ivan Gazidis as a primary reason why he's unlikely to take over at Milan. The FC crew answer your tweets on what constitutes a bad day at work, if Alvaro Morata or Romelu Lukaku will score more goals this season and more. The transfer window for all of Europe's big five leagues is closed, but that doesn't stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around to find out who will be moving where come January. TOP STORY: Man United and Barcelona battle for Ronaldo... Camara Transfers Revealed: How FIFA wants to fix transfers ESPN's Gabriele Marcotti obtained a FIFA report revealing the biggest overhaul to the transfer system in decades. Are they finally serious about cleaning up football? How a transfer works With help from former Tottenham and Liverpool director of football, Damien Comolli, we show you how a transfer works through Iain Macintosh's tale of fictional rising star Dave Thumper. FC Exclusives - Man United eye Everton Soares - Galatasaray target Liverpool's Origi - Mourinho eager to keep Darmian - Inter's Skriniar set for new deal - Sevilla eye Liverpool's Moreno When your name is Ronaldo and you are Portuguese, it's fair to say there's going to be a fair amount of pressure on your shoulders as a young player. So it's no surprise that Benfica's 15-year-old star Ronaldo Camara is attracting attention from Man...

Malcom scores first competitive goal for Barcelona in 7/10 showing at Inter

Tue, 6 Nov 2018 02:32:00 PST

The FC crew laud Barcelona's Champions League performance, in a draw with Inter that could just have as easily been a victory for the Spanish side. MILAN -- Barcelona qualified for the Champions League knockout rounds despite conceding a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 with Inter at the San Siro on Tuesday. Malcom came off the bench to give Barca the lead with seven minutes remaining, firing under Samir Handanovic after being sent clear by Philippe Coutinho. It was Barca's 25th shot of the game and it looked like it would be enough to earn them the three points until Mauro Icardi scored an 87th-minute equaliser after some slack defending. Positives A...

Manchester United not in top 10 of European fan club Power Rankings

Tue, 6 Nov 2018 04:30:00 PST

Manchester United took on Liverpool in the 2018 International Champions Cup at the Michigan Stadium. With global fan bases more important to big clubs than ever before -- as well as the revenue streams in lucrative foreign markets they bring, of course -- Europe's superpowers are all striving to rule the world. Liverpool recently announced the welcome addition of 18 new official supporters' clubs dotted around the globe and there are now pockets of assembled Reds fans located in countries as diverse as the United States, Montenegro, Canada, Tanzania, China, Malaysia, Costa Rica and the Maldives...

Transfer Talk: Man United, Arsenal, Barcelona to fight over Medhi Benatia?

Mon, 5 Nov 2018 03:56:00 PST

The FC panel answer your tweets on the atmosphere inside Southampton's locker room after their defeat at Man City and Romelu Lukaku's future at Man United. The transfer window for all of Europe's big five leagues is closed, but that doesn't stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around to find out who will be moving where come January. TOP STORY: Man United, Arsenal, Barca to fight over Benatia? Transfers Revealed: How FIFA wants to fix transfers ESPN's Gabriele Marcotti obtained a FIFA report revealing the biggest overhaul to the transfer system in decades. Are they finally serious about cleaning up football? How a transfer works With help from former Tottenham and Liverpool director of football, Damien Comolli, we show you how a transfer works through Iain Macintosh's tale of fictional rising star Dave Thumper. FC Exclusives - Man United eye Everton Soares - Galatasaray target Liverpool's Origi - Mourinho eager to keep Darmian - Inter's Skriniar set for new deal - Sevilla eye Liverpool's Moreno Medhi Benatia has expressed his unhappiness at his lack of game time at Juventus, and has opened the door to a potential January exit from the Italian champions. But who is interested in the 31-year-old defender? Well, Tuttosport believe that Jose...

It's too early to judge Ousmane Dembele, but he's already proving his doubters wrong

Mon, 5 Nov 2018 02:16:00 PST

What an astounding season Ousmane Dembele is enjoying at Barcelona. Critics vanquished, or on the run, he's using almost every important game to impose his mercurial quality and scoring or creating goals without which the Spanish champions would be looking vulnerable and in a tailspin. You didn't realise? Come on. Pay attention. The gamine French kid won Barcelona their first trophy this season with his sensational goal against Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup, but that was just the beginning...

Transfer Talk: Fabinho 'bored' at Liverpool as PSG eye Brazil midfielder

Sat, 3 Nov 2018 04:59:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno has his say on whether Alexis Sanchez, Edinson Cavani, James Rodriguez and more could be on the move in Transfer Rater. The FC crew raise questions about whether Jose Mourinho can be trusted with £100 million to spend on Manchester United reinforcements in January. The transfer window for all of Europe's big five leagues is closed, but that doesn't stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around to find out who will be moving where come January. TOP STORY: Liverpool summer signing Fabinho seeking loan to PSG? There was much optimism around Anfield when Liverpool signalled their intent and -- somewhat surprisingly -- signed central midfielder Fabinho back at the end of May for over £44 million from Monaco. Five months on and things have changed a bit, as Fabinho...

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba star again for Barcelona in Lionel Messi's absence

Sat, 3 Nov 2018 04:04:00 PDT

Rayo Vallecano gave Barcelona all they could handle at a packed Campo de Fútbol de Vallecas, however a late push from Luis Suarez sealed their fate. Barcelona scored twice in the final three minutes as they came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 3-2 on Saturday and move four points clear at the top of La Liga. Luis Suarez opened the scoring in the first half, but goals on either side of the break from Jose Pozo and Alvaro Garcia gave Rayo a surprise lead. Substitute Ousmane Dembele got Barca back into the game in the 87th minute, and Suarez sealed the win with his second goal of the game two minutes later. Positives Winning while not...

Transfer Rater: Fabinho to Paris Saint-Germain, Suso to Real Madrid

Fri, 2 Nov 2018 05:21:00 PDT

Things change in the blink of an eye in football. The Football Whispers Index takes the latest transfer rumours and gives them a score out of five; the higher the score, the more realistic and reliable the Whisper. Here are today's top five emerging whispers. And keep an eye on Transfer Talk for all the latest gossip. Matthijs de Ligt to Manchester City Ajax have set their asking price for the teenage centre-back at £60 million and, according to Mundo Deportivo, Manchester City and...

Transfer Talk: Liverpool exploring offer for Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele

Fri, 2 Nov 2018 03:00:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno has his say on whether Alexis Sanchez, Edinson Cavani, James Rodriguez and more could be on the move in Transfer Rater. The transfer window for all of Europe's big five leagues is closed, but that doesn't stop Transfer Talk from rummaging around to find out who will be moving where come January. TOP STORY: Liverpool fancy Dembele deal Liverpool are exploring the possibility of offering Ousmane Dembele an escape route from his Barcelona limbo in January. The Sun claim that Jurgen Klopp is monitoring the 21-year-old, who has apparently been told he is free to find himself a new club when the transfer market...

Power Rankings: Barcelona leapfrog Juventus after Clasico triumph

Thu, 1 Nov 2018 02:36:00 PDT

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop reveals his latest power rankings which see Barcelona leapfrog Juventus into the top spot. Ernesto Valverde still wants Lionel Messi back as soon as possible despite Barcelona's 5-1 win in El Clasico on Sunday. A five-star showing vs. Real Madrid was enough to see Barcelona climb above Juventus into first place. Meanwhile, Inter return to the Top 10. (function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(d.getElementById(id))return;js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src='https://embed.playbuzz.com/sdk.js';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}(document,'script','playbuzz-sdk')); Dropping out: Napoli.  Agree? Disagree? Let us know, and watch Shaka defend his picks on ESPN FC TV!

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