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The Barcelona Espanyol match decoded



Xavi Hernandez marked his managerial debut with Barcelona with a win as the Blaugrana picked up a 1-0 Catalonia derby win over Espanyol.

Here are four factors that caught our eye during the match:

Observation 1: The Feel Good Factor Is Back

There has been a sense of doom and gloom around Barcelona lately.

The club is under unfathomable debt, had to let go of their best player in Lionel Messi, and experienced some dreadful results under Ronald Koeman.

With almost nothing going their way at the moment, Barcelona fans were not much eager to come to Camp Nou and watch their team play. 

Barcelona had been posting their lowest average attendance figures in two decades as the club’s 99-thousand seat stadium welcomed only 40,054 spectators per match.

But, the attendance number burgeoned to 74,418 last night as the Barca faithful celebrated Xavi’s return to the club. 

There was a buzz all around the city as the pubs and bars were brimming with locals who could not make it to the arena.

Barcelona fans are hopeful that Xavi will be the second coming of Pep Guardiola, leading the five-time European champions back to their glory days.

It is way too premature to make an educated guess about Xavi’s future impact at the club, but one thing is for sure that Barcelona fans have recovered their love for football upon Xavi’s arrival.

Observation 2: Use Of Wings

When was the last time you saw Barcelona channelling most of their attacks through both flanks?

If you have been following Barcelona regularly in recent years, you would know that Barcelona have not exploited their wings as much as they should since their outstanding 2015/16 campaign under Luis Enrique.

The role of wingers was clear to see last night.

Xavi deployed his wingers to unsettle the Espanyol defence, and they did a pretty good job of it.

Gavi and Ilias Akhomach occupied the wider areas in the first half. While Gavi impressed, Ilias performed in bits and starts, which is normal since it was the 17-year-olds first senior cap.

Xavi introduced Abde Ezzalzouli, another teenager, to replace Ilias in the second half.

Abde provided a livelier presence in the Barcelona attack and dangerously breached the Espanyol backline quite several times.

Both Gavi and Abde operated as classic wingers rather than acting as inside forwards.

Gavi had a game to remember as he won more duels and made more successful tackles than any other Barcelona player last night. On top of that, he also had a hand in Barcelona getting the penalty.

Abde tormented Espanyol defenders throughout the second half with his lightning-fast speed and ingenious feet work.

Observation 3: Senior Players Also Seemed Inspired

Barcelona is a team full of young talents at the moment, but no youthful side can develop properly without the seniors setting the standard.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique; all these players had been a shadow of their past selves under Koeman.

Ter Stegen’s fall from grace, in particular, seems incredibly staggering.  

The German shot-stopper used to be in the ranks of the world’s best goalkeepers, only a few seasons back.

In recent times, however, he has been nowhere near that level.

Ter Stegen has conceded nine goals from the very first shot he faced this season, so one can imagine that his level of self-belief is not the highest currently.

But, the 29-year-old was instrumental in Barcelona claiming all three points as he made a string of fine saves.

Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique were also magnificent. Without a shred of a doubt, the presence of their former colleague in the dugout was revitalizing for them.

Observation 4: Barcelona Fell Fatigued In The End

Vicento Moreno’s Espanyol was on the back foot for most of the game, but after the seventy-minute mark, they had ample opportunities to draw the match level or even win it!

The high-press made Barca players fatigued, and they almost paid the price for it towards the dying stages of the game.

But, it was somewhat expected.

Under Koeman, Barcelona focused more on possession and the tempo was slower.

Possession is still one of the preferences, but Xavi wants his team to win the ball back as soon as possible.

So, we will be watching a more high-pressing Barcelona side under Xavi. 

The transition will not be easy, of course.

It will take some time for the players to build endurance, and some will not fit the system.

Barcelona fans would hope that they will get to see a more energized Barcelona team

in the coming months after the players get used to this high-intensity brand of football.

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WATCH: Georgina Rodriguez makes huge claim on Cristiano Ronaldo’s retirement in Football




Cristiano Ronaldo

Georgina Rodriguez made a huge claim on the future of her husband and star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, in Football. In a brief interaction with a host recently, Rodriguez was asked about the time left for Cristiano to make an impact at the highest level. Georgina looked honest in her approach to the question of the host and claimed something the fans would not love to hear.

Georgina claimed that the Portugal star has maybe one year more from him at the highest level. She felt that Ronaldo might play two more years before retiring and not more than that. She was however not sure if he would play for just one or two years and added that the Al Nassr star could also play more than that.

Watch the video of Georgina Rodriguez here –


“Cristiano one more year, then it’s over. Maybe two, I don’t know,” said Rodriguez in the little chat she had with the host. The video has gone viral on X and the fans have started sharing it on different platforms. Some of the fans feel that Georgina might be right, while others feel that she could be wrong, given the fitness and longevity of the star player.

Legacy of Cristiano Ronaldo

On the 5th of February, Ronaldo celebrated his 39th birthday. He is currently one of the oldest players in the world. In the past, players at this age would have retired way back. But the fitness and consistency of Ronaldo make him play the sport as long as he wishes. In his career so far, Ronaldo has won many major leagues for Portugal and league teams like Real Madrid, Al Nassr, and Manchester United.

With United, Portugal won some major leagues like the FA Cup and the Champions League. With Real Madrid, the 39-year-old won the leagues like the UCL, Copa Del Rey and La Liga. He won it three consecutive times for Real Madrid. For Portugal, Cristiano had a huge contribution to Portugal. He has the most number of appearances and goals for an international team and won the Euro 2016 with Portugal.

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Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham slapped with Red Card as he argued with referee




Jude Bellingham shown Red Card
Jude Bellingham shown Red Card (Image Credit: Twitter)

England and Real Madrid player Jude Bellingham was slapped with a Red Card during the La Liga game against Valencia. In the game, the home team, Valencia was leading by 2-0 after 30 minutes before Madrid scored in the injury time of the first half. Vinicius Junior opened the scoring for Madrid while Hugo Duro (27′) and Roman Yaremchuk (30′) scored a goal each.

In the 76th minute, Junior scored an equalizer to keep the team in the game. However, in the injury time of the second half, Bellingham was given a red card as he argued with the referee against calling it a full-time before he could score. In reply, the match official decided to slap the England international with a Red Card. The team coach Carlo Ancelotti wasn’t happy with the verdict as the Three Lions player was making a pass at the time.

“I think what’s just happened is unprecedented. It’s never happened to me,” Ancelotti told reporters.

“We had possession of the ball and the match should have been finished when Valencia had the ball.

“What bothers us is the red card for Bellingham because he didn’t say anything insulting. He was frustrated of course,” said Ancelotti, adding that Bellingham had used a common English swearword when telling the referee it was a goal.

We are annoyed with Jude Bellingham’s Red Card: Carlo Ancelotti

“We were annoyed with Bellingham’s red card. He didn’t say any insults. He said in English ‘it’s a f—ing goal,’ but he was just saying what we were all thinking … [The referee] allowed play to continue. I think he made a mistake.”

“[Bellingham] was clear in what he said,” Ancelotti added. “He was quite vehement [in his reaction] but that’s normal, after what happened. It wasn’t an insult, not at all.”

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PL 2023-24: MCFC vs MUFC Dream11 Prediction, Playing XI, Fantasy League Today’s Captain, Vice-Captain, and more for Manchester derby




MCFC vs MUFC, PL 2024 Dream11

Super Sunday is set to witness the Manchester Derby in the Premier League 2023-24. The match between Manchester City (MCFC) and Manchester United (MUFC) is set to take place in Etihad Stadium, the home ground of Manchester City. The two teams have had a contrasting journey in the league till now. The fortunes of City changed ever since Pep Guardiola took over the club as the manager.

While the home side are placed in the second position in the points table currently, United are in the sixth place in the points table. In their previous encounter, City hammered Luton Town by 6-2 in the FA Cup. United have shown massive improvements in the last few weeks after not having a good start to their campaign. United were involved in a thrilling game where they beat Nottingham Forrest by 1-0 in their last game.

Both teams feature some of the best players in the world. The likes of Julian Alvarez, Erling Haaland, Marcus Rashford, Kevin De Bruyne, Bruno Fernandes, Casemiro, and others would be taking part in the match. Manchester City will start the match as the favourites, given their record in the ongoing league so far and the match taking place in their home. United with their improved record can challenge the home side.

MCFC vs MUFC – Match Details

Match – Manchester City (MCFC) vs Manchester United (MUFC), Premier League 2023-24

Venue – Etihad Stadium, Manchester

Date and Time – 3rd March 2024, 21:00 IST

Live Coverage – Star Sports Network and Disney plus Hot Star

MCFC vs MUFC – Head-to-Head

Both the teams from Manchester have a rich history in the sport. they have been up against each other in 191 instances. In as many games, Manchester United have been historically the better side with 78 wins to their name. City have managed to win 60 wins, as 53 games ended in a draw. In the last five games between the two sides in the Premier League, City have won four of the five games.

MCFC vs MUFC – Likely XI

Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Dias, Ake, Akanji, Rodri, De Bruyne, Silva, Alvarez, Haaland, Foden

Manchester United: Onana, Dalot, Varane, Lindelof, Amrabat, Casemiro, Manioo, McTominay, Fernandes, Rashford, Garnacho

MCFC vs MUFC – Fantasy XI

Grand League Team

Goal Keeper – E Moraes

Defenders – M Akanji, K Walker, H Maguire

Mid Fielders – Kevin De Bruyne, B Fernandes, R Hernandez, Casemiro

Forwards – E Haaland (VC), J Alvarez, M Rashford (C)

MCFC vs MUFC, PL 2024 Dream11, Grand League

MCFC vs MUFC, PL 2024 Dream11, Grand League (Source: X)

Head-to-Head Team

Goal Keeper – S Ortega

Defenders – M Akanji, K Walker, R Varane

Mid Fielders – K De Bruyne (C), B Fernandes (VC), B Silva, Casemiro

Forwards – E Haaland, J Alvarez, M Rashford

MCFC vs MUFC, PL 2024 Dream11, Head to Head

MCFC vs MUFC, PL 2024 Dream11, Head to Head (Source: X)

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