Welcome to this weekend's analysis! Will post my thoughts from Sunday's games on the Academy website.
So, let's begin...
Barcelona  –  Deportivo Alaves
Lionel Messi took most if not all of the plaudits for his side's performance in their 5-1 win over Deportivo Alaves.
2 goals and an assist saw him claim top forward and star man with a score of 303 points.
He took his first in typical Messi fashion, cutting in from the right-hand side and smashing the ball into the bottom corner just before halftime to make the score more comfortable at 2-0.
And his 2nd goal of the night was even better, delivering a powerful strike into the top corner to make it 4-1 to the home side.
We've seen much better body language and performance levels from him in the last couple of weeks, as he really seems to be enjoying linking up with Pedri.
As a short-term performance buzz hold, Messi is one of the best options out there. He fits the matrix like a glove, and you only need to take a look at his individual stats to see why.
This game, he registered 6 shots (5 on target), 4 dribbles, 58 accurate passes (81.7%), 3 key passes and 3 crosses
His price is also relatively stable, with it hovering around the £4.70 - £5.20 mark for the last few weeks now. However, as he now approaches 34 years of age, the risk of holding him does increase slightly.
The upcoming Champions League clash with PSG is likely to have some sort an effect on his price in my view. Get through to the next round and he's likely to get a small rise or maintain his current level, whereas if they crash out early, there could be a bit of a sell off. The latter outcome could be a good chance to pick up some shares on cheap bids.
More so, there is still speculation surrounding his future at the club, which is good in the sense that he will have opportunities to collect media dividends as the news outlets continue to write stories about a potential transfer to PSG or Man City.
In summary, he's still a fantastic Football Index hold at this moment in time and if they get past a Neymar-less PSG on Tuesday, there will be even more PB dividend opportunities for holders as the less congested gold days begin from the Champions League Quarter finals and onwards.
Riqui Puig also impressed with his performance here.
146 points with no goals or assists for the 21-year-old who has only just started to get a bit more minutes in this Barcelona team.
His stats from the game were very encouraging as well, with 105 accurate passes (93.8%), 2 key passes and 2 long balls
Also saw a post on the official forum that indicated his PB score per 90 minutes stands at 192 for the last 12 months. When you compare that with PB giants like Kevin De Bruyne (195) and Bruno Fernandes (181), he looks to be on the right trajectory.
However, his minutes are limited at the moment so he hasn't been afforded as many chances to show what he's capable of.
All in all, a good long-term hold to watch, especially at 72p bid price.
Clement Lenglet was brought back into the team recently and put up 168 points tonight to come 6th in the defender category for the match day.
Very decent score with no goal involvements as Barcelona dominated possession for large periods of the game.
Admittedly I hadn't kept up with Lenglet's performances for a long while and was surprised to see Umtiti start over him when the latter looks to be finished at the top level.
He is a very solid defender when on form and he should keep his spot in the team for now as Ronald Araujo is still yet to recover from injury, and with Pique only just returning.
57p buy now wouldn't tempt me enough but a price of about 25p - 30p on bids would be much more ideal.
Napoli  –  Juventus
Lorenzo Insigne scored the only goal of the game as Napoli saw off Juventus in a 1-0 win.
After 29 minutes his team was presented with a set piece from the left-hand side. He whipped in the cross which Szczęsny was able to comfortably gather.
However, Insigne's team mate Rrahmani was hit in the face by the flailing arm of Juventus defender Chiellini. With Rrahmani wincing in pain, the referee decided to look at the on-pitch monitor to see what had occurred. And after a few minutes he awarded Napoli the penalty which saw them win the game.
Insigne stepped up to convert it with a powerful strike into the roof of the goal.
His stats for the game were solid despite Juventus having 63% of possession.
60 touches, 34 accurate passes (82.9%), 4 crosses, 6/7 accurate long balls, 3/5 successful dribble attempts and 4 shots (2 on target).
With the majority of the creative burden resting on Insigne's shoulders in this Napoli side, £1.38 on bids for the Italian doesn't look too high a price to pay.
His PB record since the beginning of 2021 is pretty good as well, as he's just recorded his 3rd 200+ score in 8 games since the start of the year.
Very decent player to hold, especially with the Euro's on the horizon.
Mario Rui has started 4 of the last 5 games for Napoli but produced a fairly average score of 114 tonight.
He's a player with decent PB threat, having won 14p in dividends over the past year.
The promise of more is there, as he's delivered scores of 140 and 142 last month without goal involvements against Spezia and Cagliari respectively.
And at 27p on bids, he looks a decent enough punt when Napoli come up against easier opposition considering the fact that his price has hovered around the 70p - 80p mark in the last year.
Despite the marginal 1-0 away defeat to Napoli, Federico Chiesa had a good game.
He's caught my eye this season mainly due to the fact that he's listed as a Forward but plays in either midfield as a winger or as a wing back as part of a 5-man defence.
Playing on the left wing in this game, he notched an impressive 145 points.
23 passes (85.2% accuracy), 4 key passes, 5/10 accurate crosses, 4 accurate long balls (100%), 4 shots, 4/6 successful dribbles and 1 big chance created
What's more is that he could have easily had a goal today, as with Juventus pushing for the equaliser, he had a shot from the edge of the area saved by Meret on 56 minutes and a shot that he dragged agonisingly wide on 84 minutes after having the ball laid off for him by Danilo.
The main drawback with Chiesa though is that he doesn't get to play full 90-minute games consistently.
Since the start of the year he's only played 2 90-minute games, getting subbed off on the 74th, 63rd, 86th, 84th and 82nd minutes in the matches he was brought off.
But at £1 highest bid and at the tender age of 23, there's still plenty of time for him to cement a position in the Juventus starting line-up, and he'll be in an around the Italian side for the Euro's this year as well.
Manchester City  –  Tottenham Hotspur
Rodri was the winner of Saturday's midfield PB category as he finished the day top of the standings with a score of 244 points. He netted the winning goal as he dispatched Man City's opener from the penalty spot.
He's a player who has always fallen into the category of those that are good for PB due to their consistently high base scores, but who often fall short of the top prize due to the fact that they lack the goal threat which would allow them to hit the necessary peak scores when they do find the net.
As the deepest lying midfielder in City's setup, he's primarily tasked with recycling possession, building up the play from deep and breaking up opposition counter attacks, which is why he doesn't score very often.
But his goal threat got a bit of a boost as he stepped up to take the penalty at the weekend ahead of Gundogan, who missed one against Liverpool in the previous fixture. Despite scoring from the spot, Guardiola didn't appear convinced with Rodri as the designated penalty taker, with Hugo Lloris able to get a hand to the ball on its way in.
So that leaves traders who were considering Rodri as an option, back at square one. If Guardiola does decide against Rodri taking penalties in the future - as he suggested that Ederson could line up for the next one - the latter will simply go back to being a decent PB option with good base scores without the goal threat.
It wouldn't be the worst scenario however, as Rodri is still a player very capable of winning PB - particularly in this dominant City side - but just not to the frequency that he likely would with penalty taking as added responsibility.
At 81p on bids he's not the worst pick in the world, but there are a few midfielders on the Football Index in this price range with similar PB potential and better goal threat.
Zinchenko is looking more and more like a must hold with each passing game. 200 PB score today with no goal or assist, and you only have to look at his past scores to see what he's capable of. This is his 4th score above 200 from the 1st of December 2020, and he hasn't had any goal involvements within that timeframe.
You can still pick him up for less than £1 right now, which is cheap especially when compared to his team mate Cancelo who plays on the opposite side and is trading at £1.79.
He looked to be out of the City picture for a long while but Benjamin Mendy looks to be finished at the top level for Manchester City at least, which has afforded Zinchenko much more game time than traders had anticipated.
With Man City set to face Moenchengladbach in the Champions League Round of 16, there's a high possibility that they progress to the next stage which has the very lucrative gold match days on offer. I'd be willing to bet that City will get quite far this year based on the form the team is showing at the moment.
Ederson dazzled football fans across the globe with his brilliant assist for Gundogan in Man City's 3-0 win over Tottenham. 162 PB points today and he can count himself unlucky to not come away with the top dividend prize for the goalkeeper category.
His stats from the game were as follows:
3 saves (2 from inside the box), 19 accurate passes (86.4%), 1 key pass, 4/6 accurate long balls and 1 big chance created
It shouldn't come as much surprise to those who've been watching City over the last few years that Ederson is well capable of launching defence splitting long range passes, but for Pep to suggest that he is also capable of being City's main penalty taker means that he must really rate his ability to remain composed and his technique on the ball.
59p if you were to buy now is not a bad price for a goalkeeper that plays for arguably the best side in world football at the moment. And at 27 he's still got plenty of years left. If he does end up taking penalties for City then that price would be even more of a bargain.
Leicester  –  Liverpool
Wilfred Ndidi's health and fitness is so crucial to this Leicester team. He breaks up so many opposition moves through tackles and interceptions and his overall contribution to the team is reflected quite well through his PB stats. 199 today with an assist against Liverpool, who had 62% possession here. That's not bad at all!
He's got no sell price at the moment so it shouldn't be too difficult to acquire him for 38p, which is the bottom of the current bid zone on him.
The downside is his lack of explosiveness when it comes to PB (5p in match day dividends since he IPO'd) and that's mainly down to the fact that he doesn't score enough to be a consistent dividend threat. His last score over 200 came all the way back in September 2019 where he registered 229 points with a goal against Newcastle.
More so, with no Euro's involvement coming up there aren't many good reasons to hold, even at the 40p mark, apart from the fact that his base scores are decent for a more defensive minded midfielder playing in a more progressive Leicester side these days.
Ultimately, he is a player capable of challenging for a positional PB win on the Football Index, just not with much regularity.
Trent Alexander Arnold holders cannot wait for him and Liverpool to turn their fortunes around. Despite the losing performance against Leicester, Trent recorded a respectable 167 points with no goal involvements.
130 touches, 51 accurate passes (68.9%), 2 key passes, 11 crosses, 7 long balls, 3/5 successful dribble attempts and 1 big chance created are not stats to be scoffed at.
Now I've seen a stat pointing out that Trent has been giving the ball away frequently:
- 45 losses of possession against Leicester (13th February)
- 39 losses of possession against Burnley (21st January)
- 38 losses of possession against Southampton (4th January)
But what stats like these fail to take into account is the risky and creative nature of Trent's game. Liverpool fullbacks are the team's main sources of creativity, as the midfield 3 setup are there for breaking down opposition attacks through counter-pressing and recycling possession safely when the fullbacks have bombed forward.
Trent plays the ball into channels of space for Salah to run onto and for the past couple of years Salah has thrived on that ball supply. So, he's more likely to have a higher number of giveaways than other players because he's mainly tasked with breaking down defences via through balls and whipped crosses.
So, at the end of the day if I was a Trent holder, I wouldn't be worried too much. With key injuries to Gomez and Van Dijk, Liverpool's fullbacks haven't been able to get forward as frequently as they usually do, because the pace of Gomez and Van Dijk allowed them to play high up the pitch. Having to sit a bit deeper and the loss of some set pieces has certainly stifled Trent's game to an extent, but he's still scoring well enough to be a PB threat which is what matters to traders.
He can be picked up at around the £3 mark on bids and he's still way down from his 3-month high of £6.21. If he's involved at the opposite end you can be sure that he will be there or thereabouts from the top of the PB standings in the defender category.
Paris Saint Germain  –  OGC Nice
Idrissa Gueye caught my attention here with his PB score of 180 with no goal involvements in PSG's 2-1 win over OGC Nice.
He's a footballer who plays quite like Leicester's Wilfred Ndidi, breaking opposition play and linking up with short, safe passes in midfield.
This kind of score from him also isn't a one off as he's posted a 171 against Nimes (no goal involvements) on the 3rd of February and a 180 against Lorient with only 77 minutes played (again no goal involvements).
There have been 3 occasions in the past where he got on the scoresheet for PSG, although unfortunately for him in 2 of those games he only managed to play for 26 minutes (vs Angers on 2nd October 20202) and 12 minutes (vs Strasbourg on 23rd December 2020).
But in the one game that he scored and played 90 minutes (vs Angers on the 5th of October 2019), he recorded a very good PB score of 236.
So, the threat is certainly there. It's just that at 31 years of age and with no Euro's ahead for him, there's not going to be many more opportunities for him to return a dividend.
Nonetheless at a buy price of 18p and with no bids at present, the risk isn't that great.
Leandro Paredes is another PSG midfielder showing decent PB potential.
168 with no goals or assists against Nice here is not bad by any stretch.
111 accurate passes (93.3%), 2 key passes, 2 crosses, 2 shots, 1 big chance created and 6/7 accurate long balls played
He's also got a respectable PB average of 144 in the last 6 games.
What lets him down is the fact that his playing time is carefully managed - he tends to come off in the 2nd half of games quite regularly - and it's a trend that's continued even with the hiring of Pochettino.
However, at only 26 years of age and available for 31p on bids he's not the worst shout.
Sevilla  –  Huesca
Diego Carlos keeps chugging along at the heart of Sevilla's seemingly impenetrable defence, as he recorded 169 points in the slender 1-0 win over Huesca.
He managed 51 passes (92.7%), 1 cross, 5 long balls, 11 clearances, 2 blocked shots, 3 interceptions and 2 tackles here which is very solid.
In the past he has been linked to the likes of Liverpool, but with his contract set to expire in 2024 it would take a big offer to see him move away from the Spanish side.
At the moment he doesn't have any bids and can be picked up at 37p if buying immediately. That's quite a cheap price to pay and it makes him a very tempting option, especially as he's still only 27.
Yassine Bounou made it a staggering 7 clean sheets in a row as he registered 135 points in the goalkeeper category.
That score wasn't enough for him to win dividends today but with the upcoming Champions League against a shaky Dortmund side, he will be confident of continuing the streak.
42p highest bid for a goalkeeper in such form is quite cheap in my opinion.
Edmond Tapsoba [DEF – Bayer Leverkusen]
Edmond Tapsoba was very close to the top of the PB charts with a 3rd place showing in Leverkusen's disappointing 2-2 draw against Mainz at home.
They looked comfortable for the majority of the game but they conceded on the 89th minute and a late defensive lapse from Sven Bender allowed Kevin Stoger to score the equalizer in stoppage time.
Tapsoba is only 21 but is showing quite a compatibility with the existing matrix. He's got a PB average of 140 in the last 8 games, all of which he didn't manage a single goal involvement.
That's quite encouraging as it's the sort of range where an attacking return can make all the difference.
He's £1.84 to buy now and around £1.50 on bids, and it's clear to see why he's commanding such a price, as he's young and plays for a PB friendly side who will win a lot of games. Ultimately, a good long term buy.
Raphael Guerreiro [DEF – Borussia Dormund]
Raphael Guerreiro has been relatively quiet on the PB front as Dortmund are a side desperately struggling for form.
But I thought I'd give him a mention today seeing as he was able to deliver a score of 153 against Hoffenheim with a single assist.
Despite playing in a more withdrawn left back position in a 4-2-3-1, his stats were quite positive:
67 accurate passes (80.7%), 2 key passes, 4 crosses, 5/7 accurate long balls and 2 big chances created
You only have to go back to September last year where he was trading at the £2.10 - £2.17 mark! With his highest bid currently at £1.11 I see little risk buying in here as he's a player capable of getting to the £1.70 - £1.80 mark at least with a string of good performances. Value all over the shop at the minute.
Emiliano Martinez [GK – Aston Villa]
Emiliano Martinez is showing why Aston Villa were willing to acquire him from Arsenal for £20m. 186 points from him today to come top of the goalkeeper category.
Even though his side weren't able to get past Brighton today, he was immense between the sticks:
9 saves (4 from inside the box), 16 passes (69.6%) and 9/16 accurate long balls played
His buy now price is 58p which wouldn't have me scrambling to buy, but he looks capable of winning his fair share of dividends. He posted a 150 against Arsenal last week, a 136 against Southampton on the 30th of January and a 145 against Newcastle on the 23rd of January. For the goalkeeping category which doesn't have winning scores that are as high as the other positions, those are promising scores which can very well be winning ones on certain match days.
In my opinion, he's a solid pick up at around the 45p - 55p mark.
And that's it for this week. It ended up being a bit longer than the ones in the previous weeks but hope you still found it useful. Until next time!