Crisis, what crisis? – Barcelona’s problem

LOOK at the facts: top of La Liga, in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, crowds of 74,000 people packing the Camp Nou every game, and now top of the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time. Barcelona were supposedly, in crisis mode. It’s all relative, of course, as some people have noted. Bury was a crisis and they are no longer … Continue reading Crisis, what crisis? – Barcelona’s problem

Europe’s Champions: 1973-74 – Bayern Munich

THE year 1974 really did belong to West Germany. Bayern Munich won their first European Cup and in the summer, the nation rejoiced as the World Cup was won. Suddenly, it was “cool” to be German and players like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß were among Europe’s finest. Bayern were also crowned champions of the Bundesliga in 1973-74 and were just a couple … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1973-74 – Bayern Munich

Another title, now Ghangzhou look ahead to the opportunity of 2021

THERE’S LITTLE doubt that China’s most high-profile and successful club is Ghangzhou Evergrande Taobao, who lifted their eighth Chinese Super League title at the start of December 2019. Ghangzhou are not only China’s most celebrated club, they are arguably the noisiest across the Asia Pacific region. The 16th Chinese Super League championship race was a tense, problematical affair, probably the hardest title win Ghangzhou have … Continue reading Another title, now Ghangzhou look ahead to the opportunity of 2021

AZ Alkmaar and the A to Z of player development

THIS IS a club that has called on the methods of Billy Beane of Moneyball fame. A club that has a reputation for bringing on home-grown talent. They’re also dynamic data wizards and come from a town best known for cheese. AZ Alkmaar have a playing budget that amounts to around 25% of the mighty Ajax’s wage bill so they have to find ways to … Continue reading AZ Alkmaar and the A to Z of player development

PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

THE UEFA Champions League is due a new winner and this season, clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will be hoping to join the elite band of European champions. The massive investments made in both clubs have been designed to lift the continent’s biggest club prize, but neither club has come close to winning the competition. However, in a season when clubs like Barcelona, … Continue reading PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

Now may be the time for PSG to repay the backers

WHAT will motivate Paris Saint-Germain when they get tired of winning domestic trophies at a canter? And despite their huge wage bill, growing revenue base and ability to snare any player they choose, how can PSG become more competitive where it really matters – in European competition? Given the amount of cash their owners have spent on player transfers and remuneration, should the French champions … Continue reading Now may be the time for PSG to repay the backers

Juve’s crown seriously under threat from Inter

INTER MILAN went back to the top of Serie A after beating SPAL 2-1 while Juventus surprisingly slipped-up against Sassuolo, relying on a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo – his first goal since the end of October – to maintain their unbeaten record. While Juve still haven’t been beaten, Inter’s resilience under Antonio Conte underlines that they are genuine contenders for the first time in years, … Continue reading Juve’s crown seriously under threat from Inter

Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

IT WAS one of those nights that explained why the UEFA Champions League can be so marvellously captivating. Valencia hosted Chelsea amid the soaring shabby chic splendour of the Mestalla stadium, 43,000 spectators perched on the precipice, bathed in the glow of floodlights sitting behind them, illuminating the orange, red and green cauldron below. No wonder they call it one of the most scary stadiums … Continue reading Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

Flamengo and the act of the unlikely

THE UNLOVED FIFA Club World Cup now has its cast intact and in all probability, it will culminate in a final involving Liverpool and Flamengo. With a minute or two remaining of the Copa Libertadores final in Lima, you would not have put a single Sol on the Brazilians winning what had been a relatively underwhelming game. River Plate, the holders, were leading by their … Continue reading Flamengo and the act of the unlikely

Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

BACK IN 1970, one of the most captivating games of an outstanding World Cup, Italy’s 4-3 win over West Germany, was so exciting that the final whistle left you disappointed that the match had ended after 120 pulsating minutes. The same feeling was evident at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea and Ajax shared eight goals on an evening that reminded the near-40,000 crowd that the UEFA … Continue reading Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

Despite the losses and plateaued crowds, MLS is big business

TORONTO and Seattle Sounders go head-to-head in the 2019 Major League Soccer (MLS) final, the third time in four seasons the two clubs have played each other in the season’s finale. MLS is growing in popularity and media prominence. Although attendances at games seem to have plateaued and are still relatively modest in some cities, there is no lack of investment in the game. Furthermore, … Continue reading Despite the losses and plateaued crowds, MLS is big business

Soccer City: Caracas – amid the chaos

VENEZUELA is one of South America’s least successful football nations, but most importantly and of greater concern, it is currently one of the world’s most troubled places. Once an oil-rich country with one quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, a period of reckless financial and political policy-making has left Venezuela in absolute chaos, an example of social breakdown and a reminder of what can … Continue reading Soccer City: Caracas – amid the chaos

Gladbach smiling, Bayern hiring

THE EUROPEAN landscape has barely changed this season: PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, Ajax, Benfica, Liverpool and City all at the top. The once exception among the top leagues is Germany, where Borussia Mönchengladbach lead the Bundesliga and Bayern Munich are struggling to hit their best form. Bayern’s recent 5-1 defeat in Frankfurt proved to be the final straw for the Bayern politburo and just 24 hours … Continue reading Gladbach smiling, Bayern hiring