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

The enduring romance of Mitteleuropa’s football

THE BUDGET airline revolution has made Continental Europe very accessible for tourists and football fans alike. A return trip for barely more than £100 has made it possible for the curious spectator to extend his or her horizon beyond the 92 and non-league. As a result, we have seen the arrival of the football tourist, map-wielding obsessives who go in search of foaming beer, floodlights … Continue reading The enduring romance of Mitteleuropa’s football

Inter’s chance to show they can end the hegemony

ITALY has needed a team to seriously challenge Juventus for almost a decade and Inter Milan have started the Serie A campaign as if they mean to fill that role. Although some people are suggesting that six wins out of six have flattered the Nerrazzuri, the club seems to have been rejuvenated by the arrival of Antonio Conte. This weekend (October 6), Inter play host … Continue reading Inter’s chance to show they can end the hegemony

Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

BARCELONA have made their worst start to a season in 25 years, but in truth it is very much a relative problem based on high expectation, a superb domestic record in recent years and the cost of being part of the wealthy European elite. Furthermore, they have been without their talisman, Lionel Messi, and doesn’t it show? Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is under pressure and … Continue reading Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

Real Madrid: Zidane has to stave off the Mourinho threat

THE VULTURES are already circling the Bernabéu stadium after Real Madrid were trounced 3-0 by Paris Saint-Germain in la Ville des Lumières. The body they are eyeing is none other than Zinedine Zidane, three times winner of the UEFA Champions League as coach of Real. So convinced are people that “Zizou” will be on his way soon, they are already preparing for the return of … Continue reading Real Madrid: Zidane has to stave off the Mourinho threat