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Transfer Rater: Malcom to Arsenal, Mata to Juve

Football Whispers
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Barcelona vulnerability makes time right for Diego Simeone to end home hoodoo vs. Catalans

Gab Marcotti and the FC crew break down Dutch duo Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, a pair of Ajax stars catching the eyes of Europe's elite.

If a television documentary crew was given unfettered access to Diego Simeone's house, it would be no shock to find he had a little wax effigy of Lionel Messi with big needles sticking out of it. Of course nothing drives this elemental competitor to distraction more than those two Champions League final defeats to Real Madrid in Lisbon and Milan, but if anything comes close, it's the hex that Messi and Barcelona hold over him in La Liga and the Copa del Rey.

Notwithstanding twice knocking them...

Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba chat at Salt Bae's restaurant in Dubai

You know the situation: You're having a nice holiday and a meal out with your family when suddenly you spot someone from work in the same restaurant ... awkward!

Not so for Lionel Messi and Paul Pogba, as the pair looked to be getting on famously at Salt Bae's Turkish steakhouse in Dubai.

Both France and Argentina were in action on Friday, but neither star player was involved, choosing instead to have a lovely meal cooked for them.

Of course they also found time to have a deep conversation...

Real Betis expose Barcelona using the tactics that made modern Barca great

To immediately understand the principal reason Betis humiliated Barcelona this weekend at the Camp Nou, you can go back to mid-July 2008 on a training pitch in St. Andrews, Scotland.

Yes, Ernesto Valverde was soundly beaten on tactics by Quique Setien.

Yes, if you compare Pau Lopez's superb first-half save from point-blank range, when Clement Lenglet thought he had scored, against Marc-Andre ter Stegen's limp-wristed effort that let Betis go 3-1 up, they can tell one tale of why the points went...

Barcelona's Sergio Busquets gives signed shirt to Betis coach Quique Setien, boss tipped for Camp Nou

Lionel Messi scored twice in his return from injury, but Real Betis netted four goals of their own to win 4-3, spoiling the Blaugrana star's return.
After Barcelona's home defeat to Real Betis, the FC crew examine the club's issues in the back, and Gab Marcotti questions their preparation.

After becoming the first coach to inflict a home defeat on Barcelona in 26 months, Real Betis manager Quique Setien's stock has never been higher.

With a reputation for prioritising attractive, attacking football, the word on the wire in Spain is that Setien may well end up plying his trade with Barca, and sooner rather than later.

Indeed, with Ernesto Valverde's future uncertain beyond the summer, there are some who believe the Catalans will make their move to bring the highly-regarded Betis boss...

Karim Benzema delivers dominant display, Alvaro Odriozola shines as Real Madrid win again

Karim Benzema scored a goal and forced an own-goal in Real Madrid's win over Celta Vigo, marking a fourth successive victory for Los Blancos.
Sid Lowe breaks down what Santiago Solari has done to get the best out of Real Madrid, with the club winning his first three matches in charge.

Santi Solari's fourth and final game as "interim" Real Madrid coach saw his side again nowhere near their fluid best, but battle through to a fourth consecutive win, with the 4-2 result mostly down to a tremendous centre-forward performance from Karim Benzema.

Positives

Benzema was just unstoppable tonight and easily the most decisive player on the pitch. Sergio Ramos showed he is becoming, somewhat surprisingly, a reliable penalty taker. Dani Ceballos filled in admirably in holding midfield and...

Lionel Messi stars in return but Marc-Andre ter Stegen's error costs Barcelona vs. Betis

Shaka Hislop unveils his latest club power rankings, then has to answer to the rest of the baffled FC crew.

Real Betis edged out Barcelona in a seven-goal thriller as they became the first team to win at Camp Nou in La Liga since Alaves over two years ago.

Junior Firpo and Joaquin helped Betis into a 2-0 lead at the break but a Lionel Messi penalty dragged the league leaders back into the game.

A rare error from Marc-Andre ter Stegen allowed Giovani Lo Celso to restore Betis' two-goal cushion before Arturo Vidal moved Barca back within one.

Sergio Canales wrapped up the three points for Betis in...