Barcelona ponder Messi rest as Madrid continue to wait on Hazard

Barcelona ponder Messi rest as Madrid continue to wait on Hazard
Argentina's Lionel Messi (C) drives the ball during the 2022 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier football match against Bolivia at the Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz on Oct. 13, 2020, amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 16 October 2020

Barcelona ponder Messi rest as Madrid continue to wait on Hazard

Barcelona ponder Messi rest as Madrid continue to wait on Hazard

MADRID: Barcelona must weigh up the decision whether to rest Lionel Messi for Saturday’s trip to Getafe ahead of a congested run of fixtures, while Real Madrid are still waiting on the return of Eden Hazard from injury.
Messi played the full 90 minutes in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Bolivia during the international break, the second of which was played at altitude in La Paz.
The Barca captain has not missed a single minute for his club since football resumed in June following the coronavirus shutdown.
However, with seven games in the space of 21 days awaiting Barca, coach Ronald Koeman could elect to give Messi a breather before the start of the team’s Champions League campaign.
Barca host Hungarian side Ferencvaros on Tuesday and then face sworn enemies Real Madrid four days later behind closed doors at the Camp Nou.
The Catalan club head to Italy for a Champions League clash with Juventus on October 28 before games against Alaves and Real Betis either side of the visit of Dynamo Kiev.
Leaders Madrid are unbeaten in La Liga since March, winning 13 of their past 15 games, and welcome Cadiz to the capital this weekend.
Zinedine Zidane could also opt to rotate some players but Thibaut Courtois, Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior are in line to play after resting while others were away on international duty.
Courtois left the Belgium squad with a back injury and while he is fit to return, compatriot Hazard is not yet ready for action.
The 29-year-old has yet to feature this season having picked up a muscle injury as he worked his way back from an ankle problem.
He is also expected to miss next weekend’s Clasico, but Courtois believes Hazard will come good after scoring just once in an injury-plagued first season in Spain.
“I have no doubt we are going to see the best of Hazard,” Courtois told Cadena Ser radio.
“He is more desperate than anyone to show it. He’s coming along well and hopefully soon he can prove it.
He added: “I am sure that in no time he will explode and will give many joys to the team.”
Atletico Madrid visit Celta Vigo in their first game since the sale of Ghana midfielder Thomas Partey to Arsenal on transfer deadline day.
Partey made 188 appearances for the Atletico and was part of the sides that reached the 2016 Champions League final and beat Arsenal on the way to winning the Europa League in 2018.
The Dutch-born Morocco international could make his Sevilla debut at Granada after joining the club on a five-year deal from AZ Alkmaar.
Idrissi, 24, scored 13 goals in 25 games in the Eredivisie last season before it was declared over in March due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Julen Lopetegui’s Europa League winners are one of four undefeated teams in La Liga this term, with seven points from their first three matches.
12 — goals scored by Sergio Ramos since the start of the 2019/20 season, more than any other defender in Europe’s top five leagues.
250 — goals scored by Karim Benzema for Real Madrid. The Frenchman is only the fifth player to reach the mark in club history

Saturday (all times GMT)
Granada v Sevilla (1100), Celta Vigo v Atletico Madrid (1400), Real Madrid v Cadiz (1630), Getafe v Barcelona (1900)
Eibar v Osasuna (1000), Athletic Bilbao v Levante (1200), Villarreal v Valencia (1400), Alaves v Elche (1630), Huesca v Real Valladolid (1630), Real Betis v Real Sociedad (1900)

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
Updated 19 January 2021

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil

Wenger lauds ‘genius’ of Fenerbahce-bound Ozil
  • The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, has not played since March 2020

LONDON: Arsene Wenger has hailed the “genius” of Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal outcast confirmed he was leaving the Premier League club to join Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

The former Arsenal boss signed the German playmaker in 2013 but the relationship has turned sour under current manager Mikel Arteta.

The 32-year-old, who is the club’s highest earner, on a reported weekly salary of £350,000 ($475,000), has not played since March 2020. But Wenger said the former Germany international, who won the World Cup in 2014, was a rare talent.

“Mesut is like if you imagine an orchestra in music,” the Frenchman told beIN Sports Turkey.

“He’s a guy who plays the ball at the right time. The timing of his pass is exceptional, but the creativity of his pass is as well.

“In every situation he confronts, he gives the right answer and that is genius.”

Ozil has claimed he is in good physical condition despite his lengthy period on the sidelines but Wenger said his former player would take a few games to build up his “competitive fitness.”

“If his basic fitness in training is good, it will only take him three or four games to be at his best,” said Wenger.

“The quality that he has is... vision in depth. He sees quickly, he decides quickly and he realizes quickly what he sees. That is a quality you don’t find too often in our game.”

Wenger said Ozil would strengthen Fenerbahce’s bid to win the Turkish league for the first time since 2013/14.

“I’m sure that he’s frustrated at not having played,” he said. “His hunger must be absolutely (enormous) to play football again.

“Mesut is a guy who needs a warm environment and I believe he will find that more than anywhere else in Turkey.”

Ozil, who is of Turkish origin, was a key member of Germany’s 2014 World Cup-winning side but after what he labelled “racist” attacks following the holders’ first-round exit at the 2018 tournament, he ended his international career.

Fenerbahce, one of Istanbul’s three big clubs, are currently second in the Turkish Super Lig behind Besiktas.