Barcelona Star Had Huge Concern Ahead of Move From Liverpool During the January Transfer Window

Barcelona and Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho finally got his dream move over the line when the Catalan giants paid Liverpool? £142m to bring him to the Camp Nou back in January.

The midfielder had previously tried forcing the switch at the beginning of the season, but to no avail, and feared that he would have to spend the entire term playing for the Anfield side. 

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final

There may be a bit of regret on his part though, despite clinching the Primera division’s top spot with La Blaugrana recently, with Liverpool having secured progression to the Champions League final while Barca were knocked out by AS Roma in the quarters.

But according to ?Diario Gol, the player was afraid of Liverpool putting a huge price tag on him if he performed well for Brazil at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

Players who impress at the prestigious tournament often see the valuations skyrocket, a fact that reportedly left the player worried about the Reds pricing out of his dream move.

It all worked out, though, with the player securing his transfer during the January transfer window. But given Diario’s reputation, it may not have been a concern at all, although it’s a pretty reasonable claim.

(You may also be interested in: ?Phil Thompson Suggests That Liverpool Striker is Likely to ‘Move on’ From Liverpool This Summer)

Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, has said that he hopes the Brazilian does not regret leaving Liverpool.

“Hopefully Phil does not have regrets because we wish him all the best,” the German tactician declared. “I never said that we would be stronger without him because he is a world-class player with a world-class future.

“I would love to have him around at this moment, but we had to decide. When it became clear that we could sell him in the window then we had to do the deal and find other solutions.

“I just thank God that the rest of the boys have worked really well together.”

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3 Key Battles That Could Decide This Sunday’s El Clasico Meeting Between Barcelona & Real Madrid

Barcelona play host to Real Madrid in the final El Clasico of the season. The Catalan giants sealed their seventh La Liga title in the last decade last week, while Real Madrid this week booked their place in their fourth Champions League final in five years.

Domestically, Zinedine Zidane’s men have massively under-performed, and it was as early as January that they were outside the top four. But hey, if you win your fourth Champions League final in five years, then what does it matter?

Madrid must win if they are to have a good chance of surpassing their city rivals Atletico Madrid and achieve second place. A win or draw for Barcelona continues their unbeaten record, as they look to become the first ever La Liga side to go unbeaten.

These two giants of Spanish football go head-to-head once again in the most watched annual fixture of the beautiful game. Here are three key battles that could decide it this time:

3. Sergio Busquets vs Casemiro

Arguably the two best defensive-midfield players in world football. When all is considered Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will most likely be the difference in this game, but who gets the ball to them could be dependent on these two men in midfield.

Both are defensively sound, and have an intelligence that most cannot boast. Whichever side control’s the midfield will come down to this defensive battle.

Can Busquets break up the play and spray passes forward to Philippe Coutinho and Lionel Messi? Or will Casemiro’s engine run wild and unsettle the Spaniard? Whoever gets on top in the centre of the park, gives their side a massive chance of victory.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sergi Roberto

A complete miss-match on paper.

Ronaldo, as we know, has the ability to turn any defender inside out. But up against Roberto, the Portuguese international wont have his easiest day at the office. Roberto boasts high levels of intelligence in the game, and has begun to make this right-back position his own.

The Madrid number seven will be confident in beating the Spaniard, with his superior strenghth, speed and technical ability. There have been few full-backs in the history of football that have contained Ronaldo, and Roberto will join an elite club if he manages to do so on Sunday.

1. Lionel Messi vs Sergio Ramos

The famous battle between Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi. A war that has seen many goals scored, red cards brandished and tense, close battles from start to finish. Oh, and the occasional red face for Ramos, after a piece of Messi brilliance.

If Barcelona are going to win, it’s usually through Messi. And if Real Madrid are going to prevent goals from being scored, its usually from Ramos. Making this the key battle in this match-up.

Messi has scored an astonishing 25 goals against Madrid in 37 outings, proving that Ramos has lost this battle on more occasions than he has won it. If Ramos can keep Messi from pulling the strings then Madrid have a chance, if not, Barcelona will continue their unbeaten record for sure.

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Barcelona vs Real Madrid Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More

Fresh from securing their third Champions League final in a row, Real Madrid travel to recently crowned Spanish Champions Barcelona, as Ernesto Valverde’s men look to get closer to finishing the season unbeaten in La Liga.

Lionel Messi’s 46th career hat-trick in a 4-2 victory over Deportivo de La Coruna helped seal Barcelona’s seventh league title in the last decade, and they can become the first team in La Liga history to go a season unbeaten, having already set the record for the longest unbeaten run in the Spanish first division.

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Traditionally, the next opponents upon clinching a league title form a guard of honour at the start of the match. However, Zinedine Zidane has stated that his side? will not line the pitch to congratulate Barcelona on their La Liga title when the pair meet on Sunday evening 

The last time Barcelona were beaten in the league was against Malaga on April, 8, 2017, whilst the last time Madrid were victorious in an El Clasico was April, 2, 2016.

Despite Madrid’s European domination, they are only third in La Liga, and trail their city rivals Atletico Madrid by four points, and with their game in hand on Atletico, this match-up becomes vital for Zidane, if his side has any chance of clinching second in La Liga.

Team News

FC Barcelona player Andres Iniesta Press Conference

Andres Iniesta announced he will leave the Nou Camp in the summer, and has been suffering with a calf issue of late – but he should be fit to play in his final El Clasico.

Dani Carvajal was forced off in the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich and is expected to miss out, whilst Rafael Varane and Isco remain doubtful.

Classic Encounter

Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid – November, 29th, 2010.

Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez (R

The start of the rivalry between Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, six years before they moved to Manchester. In the midst of Barcelona’s golden generation, it was a team that boasted a young Lionel Messi, a prime-time David Villa and the midfield-duo of Iniesta and Xavi, all under the wing of the still relativity inexperienced Guardiola.

A game that established Barcelona’s ‘tika-taka’ as a true phenomenon. David Villa scored twice, and Xavi, Pedro and Jeffren helped complete the humiliation. Things reach boiling point for Madrid, as a scuffle broke out in injury-time, with punches thrown, players going down, and Sergio Ramos sent off.

Here was Barcelona at their very best, as the golden generation cemented their place in history with one of the most dominate El Clasico victories the world had ever seen.

Key Battle

Lionel Messi vs Sergio Ramos

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As it so often is the key battle. Lionel Messi leads the way in La Liga with most goals (32) and most assists (12), and the five-time Ballon D’or winner has been, once again, the key-man in Barcelona’s glory. 

Messi has developed his game exceptionally well since Luis Suarez came in four years ago, having to play more of goal-scoring-playmaker role, rather than an out-and-out goal-scorer. But with the addition of Philippe Coutinho, the Argentine has began to play further forward again, forcing this famous battle of Ramos vs Messi upon us once again.

The Spaniard will have to be on top form if he is to contain Barcelona’s main man, as he was in mid-week against Bayern.

Prediction

Both teams go into the match with confidence, as Real Madrid have sealed their fourth Champions League final in five seasons, whilst Barcelona have been unstoppable all season-long in the Primera Division.

Real Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga

The Catalan club were convincing winners at the Bernabau earlier this campaign, easing to a 0-3 victory, and the European champions may face a similar situation if they are not at their best here.

This El Clasico tie is mainly about bragging rights, with the title already clinched and Zidane’s men with their sights set firmly on their European quest once again. However, Barcelona should continue their unbeaten record and reign victorious over their rivals once more.

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Prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid

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Report Claims Jurgen Klopp Issues ‘Ultimatum’ to Liverpool Over Goalkeeper Situation

An angry Jürgen Klopp has apparently reportedly demanded that ?Liverpool sign goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen from ?Barcelona.

According to Spanish website ?Don Balon, Klopp is ‘fed up’ and has issued senior club officials at Anfield a ‘full-blown ultimatum’ about his goalkeeping situation as he wants it to be sorted as soon as the summer transfer window opens.

Barcelona v Sevilla - Spanish Copa del Rey Final

Despite Loris Karius’ improved form of late, the Liverpool boss is still unhappy and has demanded that the club sign 29-year-old Cillessen from Catalan giants Barcelona.

With Simon Mignolet expected to leave the club this summer due to a lack of playing time, Klopp wants a top-class goalkeeper to take the number one shirt from Karius.

Cillessen joined Barcelona from Ajax back in 2016, having rejected a move to the Premier League with Manchester United just a year earlier.

He is so highly rated at Barcelona that, according to Don Balon, Lionel Messi thinks he is ‘essential’ to the club.

However, the Dutchman could now be open to a move to England as he finds himself stuck behind Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the pecking order at Barcelona.

Speaking recently, ?Cillessen said: “I love this club, but I am a professional and want to play more than ten games in a season, it’s that simple. The management already knows that, but I also read that they do not want me to leave, because they are happy with my work.”

He added: “I’m not a type of player who goes to war with clubs. I’ve been here at Barcelona for five years, and for now, I’m going to continue.”

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Atletico Madrid President Believes Antoine Griezmann Will Stay at Atleti Despite Barcelona Interest

Rumours of Antoine Griezmann’s potential move to Barcelona have resonated around the footballing world throughout the course of the season, with ?much speculation surrounding the Frenchman’s next destination should he choose to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season.

Since signing for Los Rojiblancos from Real Sociedad?, the France international has become widely regarded as one of the world’s finest strikers, attracting attention from a plethora of clubs, the most notable of which being Catalonian giants, Barcelona.

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Over the past season Barca’s attack has been in need of revitalisation, with Luis Suarez ageing and Neymar departing the club for Paris Saint-Germain. And as such, Griezmann has been identified a a prime target from the Blaugrana in order to properly re-eastablush themselves as La Liga’s dominant force.

However, it may be that Ernesto Valverde will be forced to look elsewhere should he look to bolster his attack, since Atletico Madrid’s president, Enrique Cerezo, has made the bold claim that Griezmann will still be at the Wanda Metropolitano at the start of next season, as reported by Spanish news outlet ?Eco Diario.

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Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal in Madrid, securing their progression to the Europa League final in Lyon where they will play Olympique de Marseille, Cerezo spoke on Griezmann’s future, simply saying: “I think next year he [Griezmann] will be here.”

Griezmann has enjoyed yet another world class season, seeing him make 41 goals contributions from 46 games across all competitions, with the Frenchman given the opportunity to help his side to their third ever Europa League title.


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