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
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
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
BAYERN MUNICH recently reminded everyone they are a powerful club with substantial financial resources. Furthermore, by drawing 1-1 at RB Leipzig, they also stopped dead – for now – any talk of an imminent shift in the balance of power in the Bundesliga. Leipzig may have held the champions, but they also failed to beat them and record a victory that would have provided evidence … Continue reading Bayern Munich – who will actually unseat them?
IN BRITAIN, we used to think we were the only football community that truly cared about domestic cup competitions. Other countries were blasé about their FA Cup, it was considered to be a sideshow to the league. In recent years, the media, fans and some clubs have forced us to admit that the FA Cup has lost some cachet, that it is not the primary … Continue reading Bayern’s double – more nutritional, healthy and balanced
IF BAYERN Munich win the Bundesliga this weekend, it will complete a clean-sweep for the five champions of the major European leagues, in oither words, every winner from 2017-18 will have retained their title. Across the big five (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain), we have seen monopolies emerge over the past eight seasons – Juventus (8 titles), Bayern (7), Paris Saint-Germain (6) Barcelona (5) … Continue reading Doubles all round?
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
JUST when you thought that there might be a changing of the guard in Germany, after a prolonged period of Bayern Munich dominance, the Bavarians trounced title rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-0 to edge ahead of them by a single point with six Bundesliga games to go. At one stage this season, Bayern were 10 points behind Dortmund and many saw this as signal that Bayern’s … Continue reading Advantage Bayern
IT’S part of popular football culture that Bayern Munich have always been the dominant force in German football. Certainly, Bayern is the country’s most high-profile club and undoubtedly the most successful football institution from the Bundesliga. In recent years, only Borussia Dortmund have challenged Bayern on a sustainable basis, but the first club to grapple with the slick Bavarians was a team from North-Rhine Westphalia, … Continue reading Great Reputations: Borussia Mönchengladbach 1974-77 – mythical rebels
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
IN this summer’s narrow pre-season break, Ligue 1, Serie A and La Liga all played their super cup matches in overseas territory. The French took their game to Guandong in China, the Italians went to Saudi Arabia and La Liga played their super cup in Tangier. This was all about exporting their competitions to new territories and reaching out to potential new fans. A few … Continue reading Untapped potential – the importance of Asia to European football
ONE of the notable features of the 2018 World Cup has been the stadiums, many of which were completed just a few months before the competition got underway. Most are new constructions, with the most expensive being St. Petersburg, coming in at around USD 1.5 bn. Any nation that wins the right to stage a major sporting event has to undergo an overhaul of its … Continue reading Science and art: Today’s football homes
NEXT season, the British football landscape is going to have to find a new narrative. “Wenger out” has become “Wenger gone”, and therefore a considerable chunk of pundit and supporter dialogue has disappeared. With VAR likely to remove another slice of conversation – refereeing errors – you have to wonder what “your Linekers and Ferdinands” are going to talk about in a few years. As … Continue reading 2017-18: A new script is needed