How Real Madrid became the first super club

REAL MADRID and the UEFA Champions League are indelibly linked and always will be. Thirteen times winners of the competition – in its various guises – Real will, for the time being at least, hold a trump card over their national and international rivals, Barcelona. The fact that a number of those 13 victories were achieved before Barcelona had not allowed regional priorities to cloud their … Continue reading How Real Madrid became the first super club

Manchester United, Porto, Arsenal, Sevilla, Roma – the Europa has some big guns

THE EUROPA League struggles to win public acclaim until the very last stages, but one look at this season’s list of entrants is a reminder that some big names are among the contenders. Wolverhampton Wanderers may have been playing in the competition since early summer, but they have clearly been stimulated by European football coming back to Molineux. Wolves have successfully negotiated three rounds, scoring … Continue reading Manchester United, Porto, Arsenal, Sevilla, Roma – the Europa has some big guns

UEFA Champions League: The gulf at the gate

THE UEFA Champions League draw has become an event in itself and provides a curtain-raiser to the next 10 months of action involving Europe’s elite working their way towards the final stages. For half of the entrants, the competition will end in December, but we can expect the usual suspects to qualify for the knockout stages when things really do get interesting. While the Champions … Continue reading UEFA Champions League: The gulf at the gate

Regional football leagues in Europe – a solution to polarisation?

THE RICH are getting richer and moving out of reach of the rest of the football world. They’re not only teams, they are sporting conglomerates, wealthy beyond the imagination of the bulk of clubs across Europe, indeed the world. Very soon, we shall have a European Super League, a competition that may well be “closed” and the jealously-guarded territory of institutions like Real Madrid, Paris … Continue reading Regional football leagues in Europe – a solution to polarisation?

Portuguese football: For Três Grandes, business as usual

PORTO won the first big Portuguese Primeira Liga clash of the season when they recently beat Benfica in Lisbon, a big psychological boost for the “second club” and, perhaps, a signal that the title race this season may be even tighter than 2018-19. Porto won 2-0 in the Estádio da Luz, their fifth victory at the home of their rivals in 10 visits. Porto have the … Continue reading Portuguese football: For Três Grandes, business as usual

Soccer City: Vienna – where intellectuals played

AUSTRIAN football has been dominated by Red Bull Salzburg in recent years, but the city of Mozart has a long way to go before it can match the record of Vienna, in terms of trophies won and influence on the game. Salzburg’s corporate football may represent the zeitgeist in being backed by the beverage company Red Bull, but despite having significant financial advantages from this … Continue reading Soccer City: Vienna – where intellectuals played

La Liga: Barcelona may be even stronger

CAN ANYONE end Barcelona’s recent dominance of La Liga? After a summer of big signings and the announcement of record revenues, Barca look stronger than last year and with Real Madrid enduring a miserable pre-season and Atlético Madrid in transition, it could be a third consecutive title – and nine in 12 – for the Blaugrana. Of course, Barca will be hoping for a barnstorming … Continue reading La Liga: Barcelona may be even stronger

Berliners have never had it so good as Bundesliga kicks-off

CHANCELLOR MERKEL lives there, it is the centre of the techno music industry and it’s a trendy city that attracts creatives and media folk alike. Berlin is a great, vibrant and dynamic city, but it has rarely been a centre of football. As unified Germany’s capital, it comes in well behind Munich, Dortmund and other cities as a hub for the beautiful game. But in … Continue reading Berliners have never had it so good as Bundesliga kicks-off

Lyon are fancied, but PSG have most of the cards

IT’S all getting a little too predictable in France, with Paris Saint-Germain winning six of the last seven Ligue 1 titles and no real sign of the dominance ending. The financial advantages the club enjoys, means PSG should win everything – hence the club’s owners have an obvious sense of expectation and occasional impatience. Should there be a genuine contender, it might just be Lyon, … Continue reading Lyon are fancied, but PSG have most of the cards

Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

INTER MILAN’s dogged pursuit of Romelu Lukaku underlines the determination of the “nerazzuri” to try and break the Juventus stranglehold in Italy, an era of domination that includes eight consecutive Serie A titles, four Coppa Italia wins and two UEFA Champions League finals. Inter, the last Italian club to win the Champions League (2010), have not won a single piece of silverware since 2011 when … Continue reading Italy needs someone to challenge Juventus – maybe Inter

PSG’s light still shining, albeit less brightly

LIGUE 1 gets underway next weekend and regardless of whether Neymar stays or goes, Paris Saint-German will be favourites for their seventh title win in eight seasons. PSG were champions once more in 2018-19 by a 16-point margin, suggesting the gulf between the Paris club and the rest of the division shows no sign of diminishing. With 105 goals and 29 wins in 38 games, … Continue reading PSG’s light still shining, albeit less brightly

Eden project shows Real are eager to broaden their footprint in 2019-20

THE MOST famous football club in the world is determined to regain its position at the top of Spanish and European football, judging by their frantic activity in the current transfer window, notably the signing of Eden Hazard from Chelsea for € 100 million. Real Madrid have been big players in the transfer market this summer. Over the past 10 years, their expenditure on new … Continue reading Eden project shows Real are eager to broaden their footprint in 2019-20

Naples and Maradona, a dream that won’t end

NAPLES provokes great debate. At first glance, it is dirty, unruly, scary and ugly. It is a sprawl, Italy’s most densely populated urban area, overlooked by Vesuvius, Europe’s most dangerous mainland active volcano. A 30 minute walk around Naples may bring you to the conclusion that this city of 3.5 million people is dancing, both literally and metaphorically, on a volcano. Poverty runs through Naples … Continue reading Naples and Maradona, a dream that won’t end