Lionel Messi leads the Team of the Week in La Liga after his outstanding performance for Barcelona in the 5-1 win against Alaves.After being rested for the previous league match against Betis, Messi (10) was restored to the starting XI for league action versus Alaves, and he looked dangerous from pretty much the opening whistle.He would score two and set-up another in the game, with his first coming via a whipped strike in off the post from 25 yards.It would have taken a lot to better his opening goal, but he managed it, with an absolutely beautiful curled effort into the top left corner from around the same distance.Messi’s assist would be for Francisco Trincao, but he also played a huge part in the fifth and final goal, too, as it was his delightful scooped pass over the top of the Alaves defence which was met by Antoine Griezmann to assist Junior Firpo.Trincao (8.8) makes the Team of the Week too after his first ever double for the Blaugrana.Leading the line is Celta’s Santi Mina (8.7) who scored two to end his team’s run of six without a win with victory versus Elche.Making up the front four is Alex Berenguer (9.1), who also scored two goals, this time for Athletic Bilbao in an impressive 4-0 away win at Cadiz.Toni Kroos (9.5) kept things ticking over in midfield for Real Madrid as he usually, does, completing 101/107 passes and enjoying 115 touches of the ball. He did, however, also play a part in both goals in the 2-0 win against Valencia with a goal of his own plus an assist.Sergio Canales (8.3) joins him in midfield following a solid outing for Betis.Firpo (7.7) makes it in at left-back following his goal for Barcelona, while he also misplaced just four out of 57 attempted passes.Nobody had more touches of the ball or completed more passes this weekend than Clement Lenglet (7.5) with tallies of 121 and 106.Lucas Vazquez (8.2) is the only substitute in the Team of the Week, as he replaced Dani Carvajal in the first half for Real Madrid to go on and earn himself an assist for Kroos.Diego Carlos (7.6) makes up the back four.Osasuna earned a potentially vital 1-0 win away at Levante, and have goalkeeper Sergio Herrera (8.4) to thank after his four saves to earn his clean sheet.LA LIGA TEAM OF THE WEEK
Ivan Rakitic offered Barcelona a reminder of what they let go last summer as he helped Sevilla carve out a 2-0 aggregate lead over Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.The Croatia international departed Camp Nou in September, bringing an end to a trophy-laden six-year stay that him win four La Liga titles, four Copas del Rey and the Champions League.That paved the way for an emotional return to the south of Spain where he won the Europa League over a three-year period prior to his Barca move.But Rakitic returned to haunt his old club on Wednesday evening in a first leg of a Copa del Rey semi-final at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium.The 32-year-old grabbed the hosts’ second as they claimed a 2-0 win that puts them in pole position to reach the final against either Athletic or Levante.He also produced an impressive all-round performance to earn himself a Football Critic rating of 7.4 on the night.Rakitic completed the third highest amount of passes (68) of any player on the night, just behind Sergio Busquets (70) and Oscar Mingueza (72).Sevilla 2-0 Barcelona: Player Ratings, Match Stats, Player StatsHe was also third highest in terms of touches (86) and influence on the match behind Jordan (87) and, unsurprisingly, Lionel Messi (92).Messi was also the only man to take more shots (7) than Rakitic (4), with three of them being blocked and the other finding the back of the net.Most importantly, however, the Croatia internationl severely damaged Barca’s trophy hopes this season while giving Sevilla hope of a first Copa del Rey win since 2010.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane continues to lead the charts for the most goals assisted in Europe’s top five league’s but now has a group in behind that includes the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish.Kane is now on 11 for the season, but actually hasn’t recorded an assist in five games, which has allowed others to bridge the gap.Grealish earned an assist against West Ham last midweek, while Thomas Muller set up Kingsley Coman’s winner for Bayern versus Hertha at the weekend.Kevin De Bruyne is still on contention, though is set to drift down the leaderboard in the coming weeks due to being absent with injury.Bruno Fernandes set up two goals in the huge win over Southampton a week ago to take his tally to nine for the campaign, just two behind the leader.Hakan Calhanoglu, Angel Di Maria, and Jonathan Bamba have made it on to the leaderboard with eight.There are no entries from La Liga on the leaderboard, as the top tallies from that league are just six assists, held by Iago Aspas, Nabil Fekir, Angel Correa, Marcos Llorente, and Jorge de Frutos.MOST ASSISTS, TOP FIVE LEAGUES 2020/21 2020/21 European Assist KingsPlayerTeamAssistsHarry KaneTottenham11Kevin De BruyneMan City10Jack GrealishAston Villa10Thomas MullerBayern10Joshua KimmichBayern10Bruno FernandesMan Utd9Kingsley ComanBayern9Henrikh MkhitaryanRoma8Hakan CalhanogluMilan8Jonas HofmannGladbach8Angel Di MariaPSG8Jonathan BambaLille8To calculate the 2020/21 European Assist King, we will focus on the top five leagues to keep things simple (for now) and track which players have provided the most assists in each respective league. There will be no coefficients or scales used – just ranking the most goals created by each player in the top five leagues condensed into a single table. Premier League assists + full statsSerie A assists + full statsLa Liga assists + full statsLigue 1 assists + full statsBundesliga assists + full stats
Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman will restore Lionel Messi to his starting XI when the Catalan side take on Sevilla in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.Messi was rested from the starting line-up for the weekend La Liga fixture versus, but his services were required off the bench.With Barcelona trailing Betis 1-0, the Argentine came on in the 57th minute and scored within two minutes to make it 1-1.He was inspirational after coming on, and helped Barca to a narrow 3-2 away victory.It displayed, once again, how desperately ineffective the Blaugrana can be without their star man, which makes it a certainty he will start against Sevilla bar any injury suffered between now and kick off.There will be a likely change at the back with Sergino Dest coming in to replace Oscar Mingueza at right-back.Ronald Araujo picked up an ankle injury versus Betis and is set to miss a month of action, which could mean a return to the starting XI for Samuel Umtiti, although Koeman opted against using him as Araujo’s immediate replacement at the weekend.Frenkie de Jong had a superb 100% pass completion rate after coming on in that game, and will be welcomed back in from the start, possibly at the expense of Miralem Pjanic.Pedri could come in for Riqui Puig, too.Up top, Martin Braithwaite will be the player to make way for Messi, with Antoine Griezmann on the left and Ousmane Dembele on the right.Gerard Pique, Ansu Fati, and Philippe Coutinho remain long-term absentees.Barcelona predicted XI against Sevilla