By Tim Stannard
Are Simeone's LaLiga leaders performing better than Zidane's injury-hit, one-functioning-striker Real Madrid?
Here's an existential question for a Thursday. Who has done a better job for their club this season - Diego Simeone or Zinedine Zidane? Who is the managerial maestro of Madrid?
It's a timely debate for the day when one coach is out of the Champions League and another remains, while one is still odds-on favorite to win LaLiga, while the other is a defeat away from being an also-ran.
Let's start the case for Diego Simeone. No goals were scored past Chelsea in their two Last-16 Champions League games to see the Rojiblancos dropping out and Simeone ruing that "when the rival is better, you have to congratulate and reset yourself to think about La Liga again."
Quite a few teams have failed to score past an expensively assembled Chelsea team of late under Thomas Tuchel.
That's a good approach from Simeone as despite a recent wobble from a very dominant position, Atletico Madrid are still top of the LaLiga standings with a four-point lead over Barcelona and more importantly for this debate, a six-point gap over Real Madrid.
A distraction-free Atletico Madrid should be able to power through to break the Barcelona / Real Madrid LaLiga monopoly in LaLiga for only the second time in 17 years. That's a remarkable achievement in of itself.
But hang tight there. Coach Zizou at Real Madrid has somehow gotten his team to the quarterfinals of the Champions League against a dangerous Atalanta side, and Los Blancos are still in with a shout of the LaLiga title despite the aforementioned points difference.
And that's with just the one functioning striker in Karim Benzema - the second best scorer is Casemiro - and a string of 678 different injuries this season, including the $135m hole of nothingness that is Eden Hazard.
While today's Sports Burst live show on beIN XTRA at 11AM ET will ponder this debate, the two title challengers will shake off all Champions League thoughts like a dog emerging from a lake and look ahead to the weekend.
Real Madrid have a testing yet tasty away trip to Celta Vigo live on beIN SPORTS on Saturday at 11:15AM ET while Atletico Madrid are at home to Alaves on Sunday at 1:30PM ET.
Laporta starts seduction of Messi
After a mild institutional scare involving a deposit, Joan Laporta was officially anointed as Barcelona president on Wednesday evening at the Camp Nou and the wooing of Lionel Messi continued in earnest, in trying to get the Argentinean to sign a new deal with Barca.
In fact, it was a good start for the new president who is now serving in a second spell as Barcelona's head honcho. Messi was actually there at the ceremony to give Laporta a hug. Indeed, Messi was very public in his voting in the presidential poll - presumably for Laporta, hence his attendance on Wednesday.
🤝 Encuentro entre Joan Laporta, Leo Messi y Sarunas Jasikevicius pic.twitter.com/YyHLwMkoL1— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) March 17, 2021
"I'll do everything I can to try to convince Leo to stay," declared Laporta, "we will try because he's the best player in history and, sorry for telling you here, but you know how much I love you, and Barca also loves you."
A Lionel Messi feeling the love is set to be in action in a bit of a banana skin on Sunday as Barcelona travel to fifth-placed Real Sociedad in the toughest encounter in LaLiga for some time.
Europe's MVT look to overcome Molde problem
Leicester City certainly have a case having been an ever present in the top six of the Premier League over the past two seasons. And Lille do too, currently riding high at the top of the Ligue 1 standings after finishing fourth last season. RB Leipzig have been solid as well.
But Sports Burst has a leaning towards Granada as Europe's MVT - Most Valuable Team. It's a new thing it just invented.
Granada are 2-0 up against Molde going into a second leg of a Last 16 Europa League match today and therefore one step from the quarterfinals. Even being in the competition in itself is remarkable after the team finished seventh last season having only just been promoted from La Segunda.
Normally, a Thursday / Sunday schedule, travel and a thin squad would see league form plummeting but Granada are holding firm in eighth in LaLiga. All this has been done with a net spend of $31 million over the past two seasons with the biggest outlay being just $7.7m on the striker, Luis Suarez. The other Luis Suarez of LaLiga, who probably end up costing more than the more famous Luis Suarez.
Find out just how coach Diego Martinez is managing this on Sunday at 11:15AM ET with Granada at Valencia live on beIN SPORTS.