Valencia CF coach Javi Gracia, about the clash against Villarreal CF

Ahead of their next clash in LaLiga against Villarreal CF (Saturday 4am Malaysia Time), Valencia CF trained for the last time at Paterna sporting venue in order to ultimate the tactical details for the upcoming game.The coach Javi Gracia has talked on a press conference about how they are going to face the game after the tough defeat they suffered in matchday 25 against Getafe CF. He has said the players are ambitious and ready to play well and get the victory they need to recover good feelings.The only confirmed absence for this fixture is Mouctar Diakhaby, who has to deal with a one-game suspension due to the red card he saw in the last LaLiga game. On the other hand, Denis Cheryshev and Cristiano Piccini still don’t have the medical all clear and their presence in the game will depend on them receiving it before it or not. In any case, coming from their physical issues, it’s impossible to imagine they could make it into the game as Gracia said to the media.

PRESS CONFERENCE WITH JAVI GRACIA:

“I DON’T KNOW, I UNDERSTAND THAT THE RESULTS MUST BE BETTER, AND ON THE OTHER HAND I ALSO SEE THAT IN THE LAST FIVE GAMES, IN WHICH I THINK WE HAVE PLAYED TWO REALLY BAD GAMES, IN THAT NUMBER OF GAMES WE HAVE BEEN THE EIGHTH TEAM WITH THE MOST POINTS. I AM NOT CONSOLED BY THE FACT THAT OTHERS ARE WORSE THAN US, BUT WE DO COMPETEAGAINST TEAMS. IS THERE ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT? YES. DO WE NEED TO BE MORE AMBITIOUS? YES. DO WE HAVE TO IMPROVE OUR RESULTS? YES, BUT I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO GIVE POSITIVITY TO ALL THE WORK THAT THE TEAM DOES EVERY DAY, WHICH DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO GOOD RESULTS, BUT I AM CONVINCED THAT IN THE NEXT GAMES WE CAN PLAY BETTER, GET BETTER RESULTS AND BE IN A BETTER SITUATION”.

“WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT US, WHICH IS TOMORROW’S GAME AGAINST AN OPPONENT THAT I THINK HAVE A STYLE OF POSSESSION AND WHO WE ALREADY FACED IN THE FIRST ROUND AND I THINK IT WAS PRETTY EVENLY MATCHED. WE WERE BEATEN, THEY MADE IT 1-0 WITH THE PENALTY, THEN 1-1, WE SCORED FROM A STRATEGIC PLAY, AND THEN WE WERE 2-1 DOWN WITH A SHOT FROM OUTSIDE THE BOX THAT WENT WIDE, BUT WE ALSO HAD OUR CHANCES IN THAT GAME. WE HOPE THAT IT WILL BE A GAME THAT WILL BE HARD-FOUGHT AGAIN AND WITH ALTERNATIVES”.

“GONZALO HAS DONE THE WHOLE WORKOUT AND HE’S FINE, I THINK IT WAS JUST A LITTLE BIT OF TREATMENT AT THE END OF THE WORKOUT BUT THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH HIM. CHERYSHEV HAS BEEN STRUGGLING WITH A CALF INJURY FOR SOME TIME NOW, I’VE ALWAYS BEEN QUITE OPTIMISTIC THAT HE WOULD BE FIT SOON. LAST WEEK HE WAS TRAINING, BUT AGAIN HE HAD DISCOMFORTS IN THE SAME PLACE THAT PREVENTED HIM FROM PROGRESSING IN HIS IMPROVEMENT. TODAY WE ARE IN A SIMILAR SITUATION, HE IS WORKING BUT HE IS STILL NOT WELL. I THINK HE WILL BE READY SOON BUT IT WILL DEPEND ON HIS EVOLUTION IN A PLACE WHERE HE HAS ALREADY HAD PROBLEMS. PICCINI HAS A PARTICULAR SITUATION, HE COMES FROM A SERIOUS INJURY, HE IS TRYING TO RECOVER WELL”.

  

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Valencia CF vs Villarreal CF: a ‘new’ historic rivalry

There is a derby atmosphere in the Valencian air right now, in the city and across the Valencian Community region on Spain’s eastern seaboard. As well as the city derby coming up between Levante UD and Valencia CF in the middle of March, but there’s also a meeting between Valencia CF and Villarreal CF at Mestalla this coming weekend.  

This clash comes at a time when the recent trajectories of the two clubs haven’t exactly lined up with their historical records. Villarreal CF may be a relative newcomer in Spain’s top division when considering the entire history of the league, but they’ve become a LaLiga Santander regular over the past two decades and have often competed in European competition, making it to the Europa League time and time again and even into the Champions League. That’s what happened last season as their fifth place finish in 2019/20 earned them their latest European ticket.   

Los Che, on the other hand, didn’t qualify for Europe last season. Traditionally, though, they’ve boasted strong squads and currently have talented players who want to climb the LaLiga Santander standings and return to the top spots, the ones that bring national and international prestige. The regional derby against Villarreal CF is always a good opportunity to make such a statement, for the morale that a derby win can bring and for the points that can have a great effect on the standings.  

Ironically, few teams know and understand Valencia quite like Unai Emery’s side. As well as the coach himself, there are five players in the current Villarreal CF first-team squad with a past at Valencia. Just this past summer, the Yellow Submarine signed both Francis Coquelin and Dani Parejo, the former Valencia CF captain, from their neighbours. They have joined Raúl Albiol, Jaume Costa and Paco Alcácer, who also know what it’s like to call Mestalla home and who experienced some great moments during their time in white. On the other side of the divide, Denis Cheryshev and Gabriel Paulista are currently in the Valencia CF squad but previously wore yellow. Before them, the likes of Roberto Soldado, Carlos Marchena, Víctor Ruiz, Javi Fuego and Andrés Palop all spent time at both these east coast clubs.   

ATHLETIC CLUB DE BILBAO-VILLARREAL PARTIDO

From historic ‘germanor’ to a serious rivalry in just a few years   

The movement of players has marked the change in the relationship between the two clubs, from one of ‘germanor’ – the Valencian word for brotherhood – to one of increasing rivalry. Villarreal have even started to compete with Valencia in the transfer market. The Jorge López transfer in 2003 marked a before and after, seeing him move to Valencia from Villarreal after the player put pressure on the Yellow Submarine’s directors to authorise the move. Then there was Fabián Ayala, one of the best defenders in Spain in the early 00s, who didn’t renew his Valencia contract so that he could go to Villarreal for free – though he eventually ended up playing for Real Zaragoza instead.   

On the pitch, the clashes between the two clubs intensified from 2004 onwards, when Valencia eliminated Villarreal from the UEFA Cup with a goal from Mista. Since then, the sporting rivalry has grown continuously and there was another memorable moment in 2011 when it was Villarreal who knocked their rivals out of a competition, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to send Los Che packing from that year’s Copa del Rey with a 4-2 win. One year later, it was Valencia who sunk Villarreal down to LaLiga SmartBank level with a Jonas Gonçalves goal in a 1-0 win on the penultimate matchday of the 2011/12 season.   

After spending just a single season back down at LaLiga SmartBank level, Villarreal have remained in the top division ever since and have enjoyed some memorable results at the home of their rivals. Across 2016 and 2017, Villarreal won three times in a row at Mestalla with Roberto Soldado leading the line for them. The team in yellow have really grown since their last promotion back into the top division and have only once finished below sixth over the past seven seasons. This consistency and strength has made them a reference for football in the Valencian Community and they have truly become a rival that can look Valencia in the eyes.   

A derby for the Valencian Community crown  

The recent performances of these two institutions contrasts with their history, as Villarreal didn’t enjoy their first top-flight season until 1998. Even though they slipped back out of the top tier on two occasions since then, their leadership stuck to their plan each time and they achieved bounce-back promotions. That has allowed them to keep dreaming of European football. Even though their city has a population of just 50,000 – around half of whom could fit in their 23,500-capacity Estadio de la Cerámica, the tallest building in the city – this team managed to reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2005/06 and were a penalty away from the chance to go to the final.   

Valencia, conversely, have been one of the classic clubs of Spanish football’s top division and are one of just nine teams to have crowned themselves champions of LaLiga Santander, while they haven’t suffered a relegation since 1985. Although they won the Copa del Rey title as recently as in 2019, they haven’t enjoyed the solidity and consistency of their regional rivals in recent years. Despite the different histories of these two clubs, the balance in this derby is much more even than their respective trophy cabinets would suggest. This regional rivalry match has, therefore, become one of the hottest fixtures around in recent years, one that stands out for all football fans.  

Watch Valencia CF vs Villarreal CF live this Saturday at 4am on beIN Sports. 

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Five things you may not know about the Madrid Derby

With the city of Madrid boasting two of the very best teams in Spanish and European football history, the capital city rivalry is an exciting and fascinating one. So much history… but here are five things you might not know about the fixture.  

1. Atlético were formed in reaction to Real Madrid 

A group of Basque students living in Madrid attended the first ever Copa del Rey final in 1903 between Bilbao’s Athletic Club and Madrid FC, the team that would go on to become Real Madrid. They disliked the way Madrid FC played and 18 days later created a Madrid-based subsidiary of Athletic… which would go on to become Atlético de Madrid.  

2. Atlético once went 14 years without a derby win, but it’s a very different story now 

Between 1999 and 2013, Atlético de Madrid endured derby hell. They didn’t win in 25 meetings with Real Madrid, until the arrival of Diego Simeone eventually changed their fortunes. Since that rojiblancos victory, the derby balance has shifted; they’ve won 9 of the 30 derbies played since then, while also drawing 10 and losing 11 (all competitions). The record in LaLiga Santander is 4 victories and 4 defeats in 15 derbies. 

3. Atletico fans began the tradition of celebrating at Cibeles fountain, not Real Madrid! 

During the 1970s, the tradition of celebrating titles with fellow fans of your team at certain points in the city began to emerge in Spanish football. The Cibeles fountain, located in the very centre of Madrid, emerged as an ideal meeting point for such fans and though today closely associated with Real Madrid it was actually Atleti fans to first started to hold their celebrations there, after a LaLiga title win in 1977. Over time, other fans began to copy them and it became the fan meeting point in the city for title wins; throughout the 1980s, Real Madrid fans would celebrate the victories of the iconic Quinta del Buitre generation there. By the time Atletico won another title in 1991 – the Copa del Rey – Cibeles had become so closely associated with Real Madrid that their fans decided to move their celebrations 600 metres down the city’s Paseo de la Castellana avenue to Netptune’s fountain.   

4. This used to be a bigger fixture than ElClasico 

Today Real Madrid’s arch rivals are FC Barcelona but the Madrid derby was a bigger deal in the first couple of decades after the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939. As the all-time great Alfredo Di Stéfano once said: “Forget Barcelona… the team that can frustrate us is Atlético.” 

5. Nine of Atlético’s Copa del Rey wins have come at the Bernabéu 

Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium is, funnily enough, a very special place for Atlético de Madrid fans. Los Colchoneros have won the Copa del Rey on 10 occasions, with a remarkable nine of those successes coming at their arch rivals’ stadium. Of their 10 cup final successes, only the 1996 victory against FC Barcelona was held at a different ground: Real Zaragoza’s La Romareda. 

Watch Atletico de Madrid vs Real Madrid this Sunday at [LOCAL TIME] on [LOCAL BROADCASTER]. 

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The Madrid’s Derby: Zidane vs Simeone

The two coaches have met several times as coaches in the Madrid derby, while their head-to-head rivalry goes back to their playing days. 

Zinedine Zidane and Diego Simeone will take their places in the Wanda Metropolitano dugouts for the Madrid derby on March 7th with a long history of rivalry between the two.  

The French and Argentine icons have met in the Madrid derby on 13 occasions, 12 times as coaches and once as players. Beyond the Spanish capital, they also faced off against each other a further eight times during their playing days in Italy where Zidane played for Juventus and Simeone represented Inter Milan and Lazio.  

Their one Madrid derby meeting on the pitch 

These two players’ high-profile careers in the Spanish capital only just overlapped, providing only one direct derby match-up, in December 2003. Neither will forget the game in a hurry; it was the night that the great Ronaldo Nazario scored the fastest goal in the fixture’s history (16 seconds) to send Real Madrid on their way to a 2-0 win.   

Simeone played at centre back that night instead of his usual midfield role. Zidane set up in the middle of the park and played a part in the build-up to the goal, which neither Simeone nor his former long-time coaching assistant German ‘El Mono’ Burgos, Atleti’s goalkeeper that day, could do anything about. 

That encounter turned out to be the final meeting between Zidane and Simeone as players and tilted the balance in favour of the Frenchman. Their final head-to-head record as players, taking into account their appearances in Serie A, ended with four wins for Zidane, two draws and three wins for Simeone.    

The rivalry moves to the dugout 

That 2003 derby came at a time when Real Madrid completely dominated the fixture. Real Madrid went from 1999 to 2013 without losing to their neighbours but Simeone was the man to turn the tide, leading his side to victory in the 2013 Copa del Rey final. From that day on the initiative looked to be in Atleti’s hands, and Zidane actually lost his first derby as Real Madrid coach: a 1-0 reverse at the Bernabeu in 2015/16.  

Today Zidane has the edge with six victories, four draws and two defeats in his head to head with Simeone. That second defeat, though, didn’t really feel like a loss for Zidane as it came in the second leg of their 2016/17 Champions League semi-final: Real Madrid advanced to the final on aggregate anyway.   

The European Cup final between these two tacticians also fell in Zidane’s favour, as Real Madrid won the 2015/16 Champions League final in Milan against their city rivals on penalties.  

Interestingly, the four draws between these coaches have all come the league. There have been eight LaLiga Santander meetings between the coaches, with the first being an Atletico win, the second going to Real Madrid win, then four finishing with the spoils being shared before Los Blancos edged the two last derbies: 1-0 in the Matchday 22 of the season 2019/20, and 2-0 in the first derbi this season. 

It promises to be another tight affair when these two giants meet again on March 7th, the 14th meeting between these two LaLiga icons – in particular with LaLiga title on the table and Atleti riding high in the table as standalone leaders.  

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LaLiga’s Week Review

A huge LaLiga Santander matchday took place over this past weekend, just after some thrilling European matches involving Spanish sides. Off the pitch, there have been award nominations and boardroom moves too. All of that and more is discussed below.  

LaLiga Santander leaders get back to winning ways 

Atlético Madrid had had a tough February, winning just one of their five games across all competitions before their game against Villarreal CF on Sunday night. After back-to-back losses, one against Levante UD in LaLiga Santander and one against Chelsea in the Champions League, they needed a positive result and got one, winning 2-0 away at the Yellow Submarine. Diego Simeone’s side still have a cushion at the top of the table.  

Ferland Mendy’s sensational strike 

Real Madrid returned to European action this past week and they did so with a win, overcoming Atalanta 1-0 away from home in their Champions League last 16 first leg. It was left-back Ferland Mendy who produced the winning goal, doing so in style in the final moments of the match. That gives Los Blancos a good result to defend in the second leg later in March.  

Granada’s historic night in Naples 

The 2020/21 season is Granada’s first ever in European competition and they’re still alive, reaching the Europa League last 16 after overcoming historic Italian side Napoli 3-2 on aggregate. Their win in Naples will go down as one of their best ever moments and made the front page headlines across Spain the following morning. Meanwhile, Villarreal CF also progressed to the last 16 by beating RB Salzburg, while Real Sociedad bowed out away at Manchester United.  

Real Betis win the Andalusia Day derby 

Sunday February 28th was Andalusia Day and there was an Andalusian derby in LaLiga Santander to celebrate it, with Real Betis making the short trip to take on Cádiz. As these two colourful teams met under the Sunday afternoon sunshine, it was an even contest for the most part. But, a late goal from Juanmi saw Real Betis earn a 1-0 win to make it an extra special Andalusia Day for them.  

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LaLiga Santander Matchday 25 preview: A blockbuster weekend lies ahead

Matchday 25 of the 2020/21 LaLiga Santander season is set to be a momentous one as the top six sides in the standings face off against each other. Leaders Atlético de Madrid visit sixth-placed Villarreal CF at 9pm CET on Sunday night, while second-placed Real Madrid host fifth-placed Real Sociedad at the same 9pm CET time slot on Monday night. Before that, fourth-placed Sevilla FC welcome FC Barcelona, third-placed, to the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán at 4.15pm CET on Saturday.  

The first of the weekend’s three blockbuster matches is the Saturday afternoon showdown between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona. These two teams have already met each other twice this season, having played out a 1-1 draw in LaLiga Santander at the Camp Nou in October and having just met in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals at the start of February when Sevilla secured a 2-0 advantage.  

Sevilla haven’t finished above the Catalan club in the end-of-season standings since 1969/70, but they have an excellent opportunity to achieve that this year as Julen Lopetegui’s side were ahead of this weekend’s opponents until this Wednesday. The Rojiblancos are in an excellent run of form as they have won their past six matches in league play and haven’t conceded a single goal in the past five of these fixtures.  

With Moroocan keeper Bono in goal and with a solid central defensive partnership of Diego Carlos and Jules Koundé, Sevilla have, along with Atleti, the joint-best defensive record in the division with just 16 goals conceded. Barça, though, boast Lionel Messi and there is no team that the Argentine has scored more frequently against in his career than Sevilla, with a mindblowing 37 goals from 41 games. It’ll be thrilling to see who comes out on top.  

Villarreal CF vs Atlético de Madrid is the next of the weekend’s heavyweight bouts, a match between two teams desperate to return to winning ways. Villarreal have been struggling of late in LaLiga Santander and are winless in their past six league matches. Atleti, meanwhile have only won one of their past four games and have already dropped the same number of points in the second half of the 2020/21 season as they did in the entirety of the first half.  

Atleti dropped points against Villarreal earlier this season when they played out a goalless draw in the Spanish capital. They meet again this weekend knowing it will be a fascinating tactical battle as Unai Emery and Diego Simeone are two of the best coaches in European football. It’ll be interesting to see how this footballing chess match plays out on Sunday night.  

The last fixture of Matchday 25 is also one of the best, with Real Madrid hosting Real Sociedad on Monday evening. They played out a 0-0 draw when they met in the Basque Country earlier in the season, but their matches before that had been very entertaining. In their seven previous meetings before this season, there were 4.4 goals per game on average across four Real Madrid wins and three Real Sociedad wins.  

Making this showdown even more exciting is the fact that La Real’s Alexander Isak is the most in-form striker in LaLiga Santander right now. The Swedish forward has scored in each of his past six league outings, netting a whopping nine times. With the reigning champions missing several players, especially in defence, Isak will look to take advantage in this match that could significantly influence the title race and the push for Champions League qualification.  

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LaLiga unites with UNAOC on ONE HUMANITY campaign to promote global change

Both organizations join forces to promote and raise public awareness around social responsibility 

Madrid , February  25  2021   LaLiga and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) have signed a global memorandum of understanding (MoU) under which they will work together to promote and raise public awareness around social responsibility for the next two seasons (21/22 and 22/23).  

Both organizations will work to promote and raise public awareness around social responsibility through different projects and tools. The pillars of the agreement will be promoting education, combating racism and discrimination based on religion, belief, ethnicity or gender, social integration and gender equality.  

By signing the MoU, both institutions have agreed to work together on a set of promotional activities with the launch of the first communication campaign titled “ONE HUMANITY. The inspiring video includes passionate and strong messages from key players of the following LaLiga clubs: Real Madrid CF , Real Sociedad, Athletic Club, Deportivo Alavés, SD Huesca, CA Osasuna, RC Celta, Atlético de Madrid, Levante UD, Real Betis, Granada CF, Sevilla FC, Valencia CF, and Elche CF.  

Both organizations will amplify their projects globally through their communication channels . As part of the MoU, UNAOC will also support LaLiga with its CSR and educational projects worldwide. 

A signing ceremony took place at LaLiga’s headquarters in Madrid, with the the presence of Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga, and Miguel Angel Moratinos, High Representative for UNAOC. 

Moratinos commented on this new partnership: “It is an honor to work with LaLiga on this strategic alliance, to help promote a better society, especially through the most loved sport in the world, football.  It is my hope that this deepened cooperation between UNAOC and LaLiga, a world leader in leisure and entertainment, helps us build a greater community and provides us with a great deal of value.” 

Javier Tebas added: The transmission of values through all our international alliances is vital and this strategic collaboration with UNAOC is a great example. Together with UNAOC and the involvement of all our participating clubs, I am positive that we will achieve our goals to foster and spread awareness around equality, diversity, and social responsibility.” 

By signing this Memorandum of Understandingwith UNAOC, LaLiga continues to bolster ties with the world’s most important organisations and institutions on an international stage. The new agreement is a further demonstration of LaLiga’s commitment to developing the love of football all over the globe. 

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Javier Mascherano is the new LaLiga Ambassador

The Argentine star was presented at an event held in Buenos Aires which also welcomed other Ambassadors such as Andrés Iniesta and Fernando Redondo 

February 24, 2021.- Argentine footballer Javier Mascherano, a former FC Barcelona player, joins the squad of footballing stars who, since 2014, have been playing an active part in the LaLiga Santander Ambassadors project which brings former players in the competition together to promote and raise LaLiga’s visibility around the world. 

Former teammates at the Catalan club along with other LaLiga Santander Ambassadors welcomed ‘El Jefecito’ at an event that officially presented Javier Mascherano as the latest member of “LaLiga Santander Ambassadors”. “I am proud to be part of this project and to serve as an ambassador for the values ​​of football and for the best league in the world. What’s more, being able to share the experience in such great company is very enriching.” 

The captain of this prestigious team of LaLiga Santander Ambassadors is Fernando Sanz, who welcomed Javier Mascherano by presenting him with the now iconic LaLiga Santander Ambassadors shirt. “Having Javier Mascherano as a member of the LaLiga Santander Ambassadors project is very important to us because he perfectly embodies the values ​​that we defend from this institution: competitiveness, teamwork and dedication. I’m sure that with his help, this team of legends can only become greater.” 

In addition to Fernando Sanz, other LaLiga Santander Ambassadors wished to accompany Javier Mascherano in his presentation. His former teammate in FC Barcelona ​​Andrés Iniesta, the recent LaLiga Santander Ambassador signing Aritz Aduriz and the Argentine Fernando Redondo were among those wanting to welcome and thank him for coming on board and being a part of the Ambassadors of LaLiga Santander program. 

The Argentine star is the 30st LaLiga Santander legend to join the best team in the world, whose members include Fernando Sanz, Carles Puyol, Anaïr Lomba, Aintzane Encinas, José María Gutierrez, Fernando Morientes, Fernando Hierro, Robert Pirès, Luis García, Gaizka Mendieta, Julio Baptista, David Albelda, Xabi Prieto, Marcos Senna, Milinko Pantic, Ismael Urzaiz, César Sánchez, Samuel Eto’o, Diego Forlán, Denilson De Oliveira, Frédéric Kanouté, Steve McManaman, Vero Boquete, Fernando Redondo, Patrick Kluivert, ‘El Pibe’ Carlos Valderrama, Christian Karembeu, Aritz Aduriz and Paolo Futre. 

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Ronald Koeman knows FC Barcelona can’t have more mistakes in LaLiga

FC Barcelona’s manager, Ronald Koeman, has talked in the press conference in the last day before receiving Elche CF (Wednesday, 19:00 GMT/UTC+1) in the Camp Nou stadium.The team worked this morning for the last time and know, as the coach told the media, that they can’t miss any more chances in LaLiga if they want to have options to win the tittle until the end. At this point of the season, they stand in the fourth position (after Sevilla FC’s last victory Yesterday) and 8 points behind the leader of the table, Atlético de Madrid.FC Barcelona will have to deal with many absences for the game ahead. Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Philippe Coutinho are confirmed to be left out for the game ahead. Ronald Araújo will remain a last minute doubt for the game as he is still struggling with some discomforts, but Koeman had been saying during the season that he won’t take risks with any player.

“IT’S TRUE THAT ELCHE SEEM TO BE AN OPPONENT THAT BECAUSE OF THEIR VICTORY THE OTHER DAY ARE CONFIDENT, THEY ARE FIGHTING TO AVOID RELEGATION, SO IT’S GOING TO BE A COMPLICATED GAME. WE SAW WHAT CADIZ DID THE OTHER DAY WHEN THEY CLOSED IN, I DON’T KNOW IF ELCHE ARE GOING TO PLAY AS FAR BACK AS THEM, BUT CADIZ MADE THE MOST OF THE GAME. IT DEPENDS A LOT ON OURSELVES, ON OUR PLAY ON THE BALL, AND ALSO DEFENDING WELL AT IMPORTANT MOMENTS”

“I THINK THAT BEING A BARCELONA PLAYER YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO WIN, BUT IT IS TRUE THAT WE ARE AT A POINT IN THE SEASON WHERE WE ARE PLAYING FOR A LOT, SO WE HAVE TO LOOK FOR THE ENERGY THAT HAS BEEN THERE LATELY IN MANY GAMES, BECAUSE OF COURSE WE HAVE DROPPED POINTS AT HOME, BUT OF THE LAST 13 GAMES WE HAVE WON 10 AND DRAWN 3. OF COURSE I AM DISAPPOINTED TO LOSE TWO POINTS AT HOME THE OTHER DAY, BUT I THINK WE HAVE TO CONTINUE THIS DYNAMIC BECAUSE IF WE FAIL MORE, THERE WILL COME A POINT WHERE WE WILL HAVE NO CHANCE OF DOING ANYTHING”.

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Five things you might not know about Alexander Isak

Alexander Isak is one of the most in-form strikers in LaLiga Santander with 12 goals and two assists so far this season. Here are some facts you may not already know about the Real Sociedad striker. 

Alexander Isak has started 2021 on fire and has already notched 12 goals and two assists this season in LaLiga Santander. Here are five things you probably don’t know about the Swedish striker powering the txuri-urdin’s quest for a high finish come the end of the season.  

Isak was born in Solna, Sweden in 1999. He is of Eritrean origin, the country his parents left in search of better opportunities for their children. He remains closely linked to his roots and currently collaborates in soccer projects for children in Asmara, the country’s capital. 

The striker made his debut in LaLiga Santander against Valencia CF on Matchday 1 of the 2019-20 season. In his first season as a Real Sociedad player, he scored nine goals in LaLiga Santander, a mark that he has already comfortably passed this season with 14 games still left to play. 

Isak is the youngest player to score in five consecutive LaLiga Santander matches in the 21st century, doing so at the age of 21 years and 146 days – 85 days younger than Sergio ‘Kun’ Agüero (21 years 221 days) and 85 younger than Antonio Sanabria (21 years 231 days). Other LaLiga greats took even longer. Samuel Eto’o did it aged 22 years and 62 days; Gonzalo Higuain aged 22 years and 115 days.  

He has equalled the record held by Darko Kovacevic and John Aldridge as the Real Sociedad player who has scored in the most consecutive LaLiga games: six. 

Isak is the youngest ever scorer in the history of the Swedish national team, notching his first goal at the age of 17 years, 3 months and 22 days. And, records aside, he’s completely passionate about music: “music is life for me,” he says. 

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