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Fantasy Champions League: Quarter-Final Preview “This is going to get Messi”

Arsenal vs Barcelona: Confirmed Lineups

UEFA Champions League Semi-Finals 2014/15

Moyes Out to continue Manchester United’s Progress: UEFA Champions League FiT Preview

Can Arsenal and Manchester City Bounce Back in the Champions League?

Manchester City vs Barcelona : Confirmed Lineups and Preview

The Champions League is BACK! Huge test ahead for Arsenal, Chelsea, Utd & City

Champions League: Attacking options are Real Messi now !

The Mark Jones Column: Suarez v Bale – It’s not Messi v Ronaldo, but why care?

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We live in an age of comparison, from television meerkats with funny accents to the best footballers on the planet.

Everything can be contrasted, scrutinized and pored over in great detail, and there are always those ever-helpful statistics available to back up whatever point you want to make, and to shout down those that you don’t agree with.

The kings of the comparison – in a football sense anyway – are of course Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but to many calling both ‘kings’ simply shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

Apparently it’s not enough to simply enjoy the fact that we are currently lucky enough to be able to watch two of the greatest players there have ever been, instead we have to constantly compare and contrast the pair, pointing out weaknesses in one that are strengths in the other.

The worldwide availability of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s fixtures each and every week only adds to this craze, but whilst people are guilty of constantly comparing Messi to Ronaldo, this has created a skewed argument in which the pair are compared to everyone else. In that situation, there are only going to be two winners.

As a result of this, is has become impossible to discuss some of the finer talents in world football today without making an indirect link to everyone’s favourite Argentinean and Portuguese.

Take the forthcoming Premier League action at Anfield on Sunday, when we’ll be privileged to see surely the Premier League’s two most exciting players go head-to-head.

Robin van Persie has of course achieved great things in his maiden season at Manchester United – just as everyone knew he would – but the Dutchman comes alive when the ball is in the penalty area, he doesn’t generate that same buzz when that ball is at his feet further from goal as Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale do.

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Anyone with an even vague knowledge of this season’s Premier League must be aware of just what an impact these two players have had on their respective sides this season. Suarez’s at times one-man attempts to transform Liverpool from a mid-table team in transition into one capable of challenging for Europe have been a compelling watch, whilst Bale – with a more experienced team around him – has been spearheading Tottenham’s hugely impressive tilt at Champions League football.

You don’t have to look too hard to see comparisons with Messi and Ronaldo in both players. Suarez’s often mesmerising close control – seemingly keeping the ball as close to his feet as possible – can draw a likeness with his fellow South American, whilst Bale’s athleticism, pace and power can be favourably linked with the former Manchester United man.

Yet instead of focusing on these traits which make the Premier League duo so good, it is often the negatives which get talked about with both.

Perhaps it comes from a desire to leave Messi and Ronaldo on top of the perches that they rightfully deserve to sit on, but Suarez and Bale don’t draw the same kind of admiration.

Suarez of course has a previous incident on his rap sheet – one that has been discussed and debated far too often to warrant going over it again – but both he and Bale are also frequently accused of bending the rules in order to seek an advantage. Of diving, in other words.

Ronaldo received similar attention during his time in England, and whilst it is true that both the Liverpool and Spurs man have exaggerated contact on some occasions, you’d be hard pressed to find a modern player who hasn’t. Look, here’s Gary Neville.

It pays to focus on the negatives with some players and not others though, and whilst that doesn’t look like happening with Messi and Ronaldo any time soon, for some reason it does with those who constantly seem to live in their huge shadow.

Can we not just enjoy watching them though? Enjoy the terrific pace, power, finishing ability, skills, trickery, team ethic, leadership and outright quality both possess?

Surely it’s about time we can, and Anfield on Sunday will be a good place to start.

@Mark_Jones86

Guest Post: “Team of the Year” from TKTG

Many thanks to Amin from www.ToKnowTheGame.com for submitting this guest post looking at their take on the “Team of the Year”

To Know The Game (TKTG) is a unique portal which combines the best football news & analysis from around the web with the insights & opinions of its panel of contributors: Omer, Amin, Asfand, Humaid & Salman.

The Fantasy Yirma team have been collaborating with  TKTG for several months and rate the guys highly.

If you would like to submit a guest post to be featured on FantasyYIRMA.com email Ryan at FantasyYirma@hotmail.com

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UEFA.com’s Team of the Year nominees have been finalized and voting is under way. We at TKTG have decided to cast our vote too by coming up with our own best XI. We first went through the list of nominees for each position, and then the opinion of each TKTG author on what formation to play, and the XI they would use. Finally, we combined it all to come up with a TKTG UEFA.com TOTY.

Here’s what we came up with..

The Nominees

Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas; Gianluigi Buffon; Petr Cech; Manuel Neuer

Defenders: Andrea Barzagli; Ashley Cole; Mats Hummels; Branislav Ivanovic; Jordi Alba; Vincent Kompany; Phillip Lahm; Javier Mascherano; Pepe; Gerard Pique; Sergio Ramos; Thiago Silva

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso; J Błaszczykowski; Eden Hazard; Andres Iniesta; Juan Mata; Claudio Marchisio; Mesut Ozil; Andrea Pirlo; Marco Reus; David Silva; Yaya Toure; Xavi

Forwards: Sergio Aguero; Burak Yilmaz; Edinson Cavani; Didier Drogba; Falcao; Mario Gomez; Huntelaar; Ibrahimovic; Lewandowski; Messi; Cristiano Ronaldo; Robin van Persie

Check out the entire list of nominee’s and their 2012 stats here.

The TKTG UEFA.COM TEAM of the Year

With all the talent present in the list of nominees, the selection process was almost entirely controversy-free. Of the 40 nominees, only 21 received votes from our panel of 5, and 8 of our final XI received at least 4 votes (with 5 being unanimous).

Keeping in mind that UEFA.COM has only 5-3-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 3-4-3 and 3-5-2 as possible formations, and that the team selected would be the best players voted in each line (def, mid, fwd) as opposed to a starting XI, the final TKTG XI is a balanced one and, we feel, one that accurately represents 11 of the best players of 2012 (in Europe anyway).

Goalkeeper

Iker Casillas (4 votes)

Sometimes the numbers don’t do justice to a player’s contribution to a team. Take Casillas for example. He is not statistically the best of the nominees in any category above, bar games played. However it is impossible to look past his contribution as a leader and as a last line of defence for both club and country. Captaining Real to La Liga, and then sitting down with Puyol and Xavi to ensure that La Roja were united, before captaining them to a second consecutive European Championship. – Humaid

Defenders

Sergio Ramos (5 votes – unanimous)

Over the last 12 months, Ramos has cemented his place in the Real Madrid back-line and its easy to see why. He’s patched up his differences with club manager, Mourinho, and his performances last year displayed his true potential and talent. Not only was he brilliant for Madrid in their title-winning campaign, he also played a massive role for Spain in their success at the Euros last year. He is on the verge of completing 100 caps for Spain, which is a phenomenal achievement for the 27-year old. – Amin

 

Vincent Kompany (4 votes)

Kompany was the rock at the heart of the Man City defense that led to them pipping Man Utd to the Premier League title (not to mention he scored the sole goal in second clash of Manchester last season to help City get ahead of United with two games to spare). – Salman

Mats Hummels (3 votes)

Mats Hummels rounds up my defence. Strong in the air, on the ground and with the ball at his feet, Hummels has been key to Dortmund’s recent success, both domestically and in Europe. He also played every single minute of Germany’s games at Euro 2012, helping them reach the semi-finals. – Humaid

Midfielders

Yaya Toure (5 votes – unanimous)

Another relentless midfielder, Yaya Toure, has been chosen for his box-to-box prowess. This year, the Ivorian’s strength on and off the ball is what has allowed him to succeed in both a deeper and advanced role, depending on the what the situation requires. It is scary to think of how much more the Manchester City talisman can improve in 2013. – Asfand

Andres Iniesta (4 votes)

No midfield can be complete without Andres Iniesta, one of the most gifted and composed dribbling midfielders of the modern game. The Spaniard contributed immensely towards his national side’s victory in Euro 2012 in addition to Barcelona’s triumph in the Spanish Cup. Clearly, it is no surprise that Iniesta is a finalist for the Ballon d’Or for the second time in three years. – Asfand

 

Andrea Pirlo (4 votes)

What were Milan thinking when they let him go? Not only was Pirlo the lynchpin of the Juventus midfield, as they won the Scudetto, he single-handedly led Italy to the finals of the Euros last summer. Probably one of the most complete midfielders in Europe right now, Pirlo has been absolutely sensational this year. – Amin

Mesut Ozil (2 votes – selected in vote-off)

Joining Iniesta in the middle of the park is the player with more assists than any other nominee and one who plays in a style reminiscent of the great Zidane. Mesut Ozil has created goals galore for both club and country, and has been key to unlocking the tightest of defences. – Humaid

Forwards

Radamel Falcao (2 votes – selected in vote-off)

Behind only Messi in chance conversion rates, Falcao is the reason Atletico Madrid are Europa League champions and the reason Chelsea were dismantled in the European Super Cup. His goal scoring has also ensured that Atletico end 2012 in 2nd place in La Liga, ahead of Real Madrid. He is, quite simply, the best number 9 in the world. – Humaid

 

Cristiano Ronaldo (5 votes – unanimous)

Ronaldo’s tally of 46 league goals and 60 in all competitions helped Real Madrid win the La Liga ahead of arch-rivals Barcelona.  He became the only player to have scored against every La Liga team in a single season.  All in all, as an individual Ronaldo probably had the best season of any player in Europe. – Salman

Lionel Messi (5 votes – unanimous)

91 goals in a calendar year. This calendar year. In the final 3 for the Ballon d’Or. Leo Messi is a no-brainer. Forget about the fact that he averages over a goal and a quarter a game. That he has the best conversion rate. That he has more assists than any nominee bar Ozil. He is just a joy to watch. That alone would get him on my team. The numbers should make sure he gets on each and every one else’s. – Humaid

So here we have it. The TKTG UEFA.COM Team of the Year:

Casillas


Ramos – Hummels – Kompany


Ozil – Pirlo – Toure – Iniesta


Messi – Falcao – Ronaldo

To check out the final vote count in our TKTG TOTY author poll, click here.

You can also view all our authors’ picks for their respective XIs and their thoughts behind each selection (bar Omer who is on vacation but who took the time to share his XI with us).

Humaid’s XI

Salman’s XI

Asfand’s XI

Amin’s XI

Omer’s XI

What do you think? Did we select the best XI? Who would you have selected? Please share your comments with us via Twitter and on the TKTG Facebook Page.

www.toknowthegame.com

@toKnowTheGame

You can vote for your own team of the year at the following link en.toty.uefa.com

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