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

Copa Libertadores: Last eight dominated by big two nations

WE ALREADY know there will be one Brazilian team in the final of this year’s Copa Libertadores, thanks to two all-Brazil quarter-finals providing an all-Brazil semi-final. There is no danger of a repeat of last season’s domestic squabble but there are a number of big guns left in the competition, including the 2018 finalists, River Plate and Boca Juniors. The last eight includes four heavyweights … Continue reading Copa Libertadores: Last eight dominated by big two nations

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

Indian football at a tipping point

THE FUTURE OF the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League looks a little uncertain as the country’s governing bodies grapple with creating the optimal structure for the game in Asia’s third biggest economy. While the Indian Super League continues to form new business partnerships and starts to develop young players, spectator appetite seems to be on the decline. Last season, average attendances dropped to 13,000 … Continue reading Indian football at a tipping point

Brazilian clubs have to improve financial performance

THERE will be one Brazilian club in the final of the Libertadores Cup this year with four teams in the last eight all meeting each other and the winners of those ties meeting in the semi-final. After a relatively lean spell during which Brazil won just one in five (2017), the South American champions may get their hands on the impressive Libertadores trophy once more. … Continue reading Brazilian clubs have to improve financial performance

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