Dani Alves handed second Barcelona debut in Copa del Rey clash

By Sports Desk January 05, 2022

Dani Alves was handed his second debut for Barcelona's Copa del Rey clash with Linares Deportivo after being officially registered by the LaLiga club.

The 38-year-old re-joined Barca on a free transfer in November following his departure from Sao Paulo over a contractual dispute.

He featured in a friendly draw with Boca Juniors in Saudi Arabia last month but could not play competitively until the LaLiga registration window opened on Monday.

Barcelona announced on Wednesday that Alves' registration had been sanctioned and he was part of their squad for the round-of-32 contest.

Alves slotted straight into the starting line-up at Estadio de Linarejos in a side that also included fellow experienced players Neto, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.

 

Brazil international Alves made 247 appearances for Barca during his first eight-season spell at Camp Nou, the most recent of those games coming in May 2016.

He played his part in 95 clean sheets, had 78 goal involvements (64 assists, 14 goals) and created 377 chances en route to winning 23 trophies, including six LaLiga titles and three Champions League crowns.

Copa del Rey holders Barca named Ousmane Dembele among their substitutes against lower-league opposition Linares after the forward returned a negative coronavirus test.

Sergino Dest, Sergi Roberto, Luuk de Jong, Philippe Coutinho, Pedri, Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati, Martin Braithwaite, Ferran Torres, Gavi, Ez Abde and Alejandro Balde were all ruled out of the cup clash.

Related items

  • 'It was an unbelievable day' - Matchwinner Gundogan revels in Man City's dramatic title win 'It was an unbelievable day' - Matchwinner Gundogan revels in Man City's dramatic title win

    Ilkay Gundogan was left speechless as Manchester City produced an astonishing comeback to clinch the Premier League title with a dramatic 3-2 victory over Aston Villa.

    A point clear of rivals Liverpool heading into the final day of the season, Pep Guardiola's side trailed 2-0 heading into the last quarter of an hour at the Etihad Stadium as goals from Matty Cash and Philippe Coutinho put  Villa boss Steven Gerrard on course to hand the title to former club Liverpool, who beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield.

    However, City demonstrated their champion characteristics in an emphatic manner, turning the match on its head with three goals in the space of five minutes.

    Gundogan pulled one back by heading in Raheem Sterling's cross, while Rodri's low drive just two minutes later squared the contest.

    And the most remarkable of turnarounds was completed within a further three minutes, as Gundogan arrived at the far post to apply the finishing touch to Kevin De Bruyne's inviting cross and spark jubilant celebrations from the Etihad Stadium crowd.

    The midfielder saluted his team-mates as they subsequently held on to seal their fourth Premier League title in the space of five seasons, while also paying tribute to runners-up Liverpool, who finished a point behind the Citizens.

    "It was an unbelievable game, I don't know what to say, it's fantastic," he told Sky Sports.

    "Honestly, I think we are all human beings and, after going 2-0 down, the chances were very small. But we had to do the simple things, and obviously scoring those two quick goals gave us 10 minutes to score the third one. We're proud of ourselves today.

    "We felt the tension. It was a negative tension more than a positive one when we were 2-0 down, but it was about getting a goal, and we knew we could score more if we got the first.

    "These are the days you look back on. It was an unbelievable day.

    "If Liverpool didn't play the incredible football they've been playing, I don't think this league would have been that attractive.

    "We pushed each other to the limits and even though it's a sad day for them, we need to appreciate what they've done, and we look forward to competing with them again next season."

  • Man City champions 2021-22: Will Haaland improve them? Man City champions 2021-22: Will Haaland improve them?

    Manchester City have been crowned Premier League champions for the fourth time in five seasons, seeing off a spirited challenge from Liverpool.

    Pep Guardiola's men may not have won as many trophies as they would have liked this season, but they have been exceptional in defence of their league title in the face of stiff competition.

    If City were not already intimidating enough, they will be adding one of the best strikers in world football to their ranks next season in the shape of Erling Haaland.

    The lethal Norwegian will surely come in and plunder plenty of goals, just as he has in the Bundesliga at Borussia Dortmund before his £51million (€60m) move to the Etihad Stadium.

    However, will his arrival realistically improve them all that much, or more to the point, can it?

    That may sound like a ridiculous question, but looking at City's output this season, they have left themselves with very little room for improvement such are the levels they have consistently reached.

    Stats Perform has broken down the numbers to try to predict just what kind of impact the impressive 21-year-old is likely to make in Manchester next season.

    What Man City need

    It has been a popular opinion that City have achieved what they have in the league in spite of not having a traditional striker.

    Since Sergio Aguero left at the end of last season, Guardiola has mostly gone with any three of Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus in attack.

    They did spend a lot of time ahead of this season trying to lure Harry Kane from Tottenham, but failing to do so has arguably allowed them to find another way to break down opposition teams. 

    Playing without a striker, City have still clinched the league title while collecting 93 points, the third-biggest total they have ever achieved, and scored 99 goals.

    By not having an obvious focal point, it has been tricky for the opposition to know who is supposed to be on the end of attacks, and given none of those mentioned has scored more than 11 non-penalty goals in the league, that seems to have been the plan all along.

    The perception might be that Guardiola's team have become less direct without a striker, and while that was true last season when Aguero played just 12 league games (seven starts) and they averaged a shot every 42.82 passes, and a goal every 309.05 passes, that came down to a shot every 36.63 passes this season, and a goal every 263.85.

    Given Aguero's injury issues in his final campaign at City, you could argue the last time they regularly played with a striker was the 2019-20 season, which was the last time they did not win the league and collected only 81 points.

    Since Guardiola arrived at the Etihad until the end of that season, his team averaged a shot every 38.10 passes, and a goal every 271.16, so they have possibly become more direct this term than they were with Aguero in the team.

    By comparison, you may assume Haaland has been playing for a more direct team in Marco Rose's Dortmund, and this season in the Bundesliga, BVB scored once every 230.95 passes.

    However, they actually only took a shot at goal once every 43.34 passes, so if anything it seems City are more direct than Dortmund, or maybe German teams are simply better organised defensively to stop shots.

    What Haaland can bring

    When you think of Haaland, you think of those direct and explosive runs into the penalty area, usually followed by emphatic finishes. When you think of City, you, erm, don't.

    His addition could mean a change in style for the English champions, and the thought of Haaland getting on the end of the ridiculous range of passing from Kevin De Bruyne does indeed make the mouth water.

    Do City as a team generally produce more with an orthodox striker, though?

    Their record with and without Aguero makes for interesting reading. In the Premier League, the Argentine made 125 appearances under Guardiola, while City played 65 games without him.

    In that time, they actually had a win percentage of 72.0 with him and 76.9 without, and even had a slightly better goal average (2.4 goals per game with, 2.5 without).

    It is almost just as interesting to see Dortmund's record with and without Haaland. Since signing for the German club in January 2020, he has played 67 games, with Dortmund winning 65.7 per cent and averaging 2.4 goals for. Without him, they won just 61.1 per cent, though averaging only a slightly fewer 2.2 goals for.

    It is questionable therefore whether the addition of Haaland will actually generate many if any more wins than they currently enjoy, but will he suit the way City play and can he add to their already impressive haul of goals?

    Despite scoring more than any other team in the Premier League this season, no side missed more big chances (a chance from which a goal would normally be expected) than City's 65, though only Liverpool (97) created more than their 87.

    City finished fifth in the league for big chance conversion (46.72), and so they will be hoping that part of what Haaland will bring them is putting more of those opportunities away.

    In terms of finishing off big chances in the Bundesliga, nobody who scored at least five goals could match Haaland's incredible rate of 78.26 per cent, with even Bayern Munich great Robert Lewandowski only managing 46.67 per cent.

    It must be noted though that Haaland's big chance conversion went down to 42.86 per cent in the Champions League, which is probably where City will hope he can make the biggest difference.

    The league has not been their issue this season, though, rather the big games in cup competitions.

    Their defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley was relatively convincing, despite the 3-2 scoreline. With an xG (expected goals) of 1.75, it was more their leakiness at the other end that was their undoing, going in 3-0 down at half-time.

    However, it is the Champions League where their biggest letdown occurred, despite what City fans will tell you about their apparent disdain for the competition.

    Heading into injury time at the Santiago Bernabeu, City were 5-3 up on aggregate, only to somehow concede twice in two minutes, before a Karim Benzema penalty put them out at the semi-final stage.

    Perhaps Haaland could have made a difference, particularly in that second leg where City slightly underperformed their xG of 1.37, though they did score four in the first leg off an xG of 2.70.

    Again, you could argue it was more the defence that let them down, somehow conceding six goals despite largely dominating both legs, but in those key moments where City missed golden opportunities, you would think Haaland would have had more ice in his veins.

    Match made in heaven?

    How could one of the deadliest strikers in Europe not be a good signing? Haaland will almost certainly be a fan favourite and score plenty of goals in the sky blue of his father's former team.

    In the league, it seems likelier he will more or less replace the goals of others rather than add to what they are already producing. It would be surprising to see the likes of Sterling, Mahrez, Foden and even De Bruyne score as many as they have this season if Haaland is already banging them in.

    However, those fine margins in the cups could well be where he comes into his own, with Haaland either scoring important goals himself, or distracting defenders so that others can do the honours.

    It will be interesting to see how City play with a striker, as it of course will mean they line up with one fewer attacking midfielder and will they therefore be able to dominate quite as much as they currently do?

    Either way, it is difficult to see how they can do anything other than continue to be dominant with the big Norwegian around as Premier League defenders await what promises to be a busy season from August onwards.

  • Burnley relegated from Premier League as Leeds secure dramatic survival Burnley relegated from Premier League as Leeds secure dramatic survival

    Burnley were relegated from the Premier League after Leeds United dramatically defeated Brentford to leapfrog the Clarets, who fell to a 2-1 loss to Newcastle United on the final day.

    Leeds headed into Sunday needing to better Burnley's result due to an inferior goal difference and they were celebrating as news filtered through of Callum Wilson's first-half penalty for Newcastle.

    Raphinha converted from the penalty spot at Brentford in the second half to further aid Leeds' cause, with Wilson doubling Newcastle's lead on the hour at Turf Moor after a pass from Allan Saint-Maximin.

    However, Maxwel Cornet reduced the deficit for Burnley when he finished past Martin Dubravka and matters worsened significantly for Leeds when substitute Sergi Canos headed to level for Brentford.

    But Canos was cautioned for celebrating by taking his shirt off and then dismissed soon after for a foul on Raphinha, with Brentford reduced to nine men after making all their substitutes when they lost Kristoffer Ajer to injury.

    And Jack Harrison confirmed Leeds' Premier League status for next season as he smashed in after 94 minutes. It was the Whites' fourth stoppage-time winner in the Premier League, no team this season has scored more.

    It meant Leeds became the first side since Wigan in the 2010-11 Premier League season to head into the final day in the bottom three and survive, as Burnley join Norwich City and Watford in the Championship next term.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.