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

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

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

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

Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

AJAX’s renaissance last season was always going to be short-lived as Europe’s big clubs were waiting in the wings for their chance to pounce on the best players. Those hung up on presentism expressed their surprise that a team from the Netherlands could compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, even though the Dutch have provided more European champion clubs than Spain and … Continue reading Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

Inter’s benchmarking exercise shows why Juve are champions

THEY CAME, they saw, they rained on Inter’s parade – and how it frustrated the home fans in the 75,000 San Siro crowd!  It was Serie A champions against pretenders to the throne and once more, Juventus, perpetual wearers of the crown of Italian football for almost a decade, demonstrated they are still the big occasion team. Neutral Italy, indeed neutral Europe, has been hoping … Continue reading Inter’s benchmarking exercise shows why Juve are champions

Ajax show they’re still potent

EVERYBODY expected Ajax’s renaissance in 2018-19 would come to a shuddering halt as they started to lose their key players to Europe’s elite band of clubs. When Ajax were beaten in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a heartbreakingly late goal, the conclusion was that an exciting young team had probably lost its chance of immortality. Ajax certainly lost two of their … Continue reading Ajax show they’re still potent

Tottenham’s collapse – possibly an era drawing to a close

THE SCHADENFREUDE was flowing thick and fast on the night Tottenham shipped seven goals at their gleaming new stadium. Spurs have never been beaten so heavily on any of their own patches, but was there more to it than just a team of smart finishers exposing the gaps in the home defence? Nobody could have anticipated such an alarming defeat, it was Spurs’ equivalent of … Continue reading Tottenham’s collapse – possibly an era drawing to a close