The Champions League and the preservation of elitism

SINCE THE European Cup was introduced in 1955, there have been 22 different winners of the competition. This list includes some of Europe’s biggest names as well as some unlikely champions. The last “new” winner was Chelsea in 2012, and equally telling, the last team from outside the accepted top 20 most powerful clubs was Porto in 2004. It has gradually become a closed shop. … Continue reading The Champions League and the preservation of elitism

Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

BARCELONA are closing in on their target of € 1 billion in revenues by 2020, a figure that will create a new record for the football industry and place them ahead of their peer group. With their Camp Nou stadium redevelopment and a commitment to technology and youth development, Barca’s ambition is very clear. The only dark cloud on the horizon is the eventual loss … Continue reading Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

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

The Grey Neutral: The northern soul is hurting

HOW the Class of 92 must be wishing they bought Bury instead of Salford! Interesting that Phil Neville has been pleading for Bury to be saved, a club that has strong links to his family. Like so many cases, it is only when a crisis comes that people really start to rally behind the stricken club. It’s the Woolworths syndrome, with everyone getting emotional about … Continue reading The Grey Neutral: The northern soul is hurting

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

Football Media Watch: Neymar’s Lament

DEPENDING on which newspaper or website you read, Neymar looks set to leave Paris Saint-Germain in the coming weeks. Or maybe not. There are rumblings from the French capital that Brazil’s troubled talisman has had enough of life in Ligue 1, that he’s longing for a move back to Barcelona. It has been a fractious few months for Neymar, whom Barney Ronay of the Guardian … Continue reading Football Media Watch: Neymar’s Lament

Only in Liverpool

JÜRGEN Klopp has his legend, his place in Kop mythology. Whatever happens over the next few weeks, be it gallant failure in the Premier League title race and Champions League final in Madrid, Liverpool have their moment, a comeback that outstrips Saint-Etienne (1976-77) and Istanbul (2004-05). Just how much this drama was carved out of a keep ‘em awake firework display, Barca capitulating for the … Continue reading Only in Liverpool

Cold water from the continent: The Champions League first legs

FOR Premier League advocates, the first legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals must have been a huge disappointment. The chances of an all-England final look very remote now, although those that enthuse over the essence of European club competitions will be thankful – there is nothing so anti-climatic than a European final between two clubs from the same country. The smart money, however, is … Continue reading Cold water from the continent: The Champions League first legs

Great teams take the treble chance

SURPRISINGLY, only eight teams have managed to win a comparable trio of competitions, although many have gone close. Some of this select group have been built around outstanding individuals, such as Lionel Messi and Ajax’s Johan Cruyff, while others – like Celtic in 1967 –  were founded on the team ethic. Inevitable comparisons will be made about “who is the greatest?”, but it’s an impossible … Continue reading Great teams take the treble chance

Football Media Watch: Barca still the team to beat

IT MAY be wishful thinking that a team is coming to the end of a period of dominance or the desire to see someone else at the summit of European football, but Barcelona may not be getting the credit they deserve this season as they close-in on another La Liga title and the UEFA Champions League. Inevitably, when a team keeps winning, the current batch … Continue reading Football Media Watch: Barca still the team to beat

La Liga’s big challenge

SPAIN’s La Liga may have lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Serie A, but it is well placed to deal with the inevitable transition that will take place once the other member of the celebrated duopoly, Lionel Messi, also moves on. KPMG Football Benchmark’s latest paper looks at how the league has been internationalising itself to broaden the appeal of Spanish football. Ronaldo and Messi have dominated … Continue reading La Liga’s big challenge

Football Read Review: The Barcelona Legacy – the story of our footballing time?

IS THERE a more prolific writer of quality football books than Jonathan Wilson? There are others who write a lot of books, but few that can match the depth of content, useful insights or accuracy. His latest tome, exploring how the current football paradigm owes its roots to Dutch football philosophy and Johan Cruyff at Barcelona, also examines the dynamic of two of the modern … Continue reading Football Read Review: The Barcelona Legacy – the story of our footballing time?

Why a super league could work if handled properly

NATURALLY,  nobody is happy about the clandestine discussions that may or may not have taken place over the past few months involving certain clubs to create a closed football league comprising the wealthiest names across the top five nations. A “super league” is what they are calling it, but effectively, it is a cartel of the “super rich”, a group driven by greed and entitlement. … Continue reading Why a super league could work if handled properly