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

The romance of Mitteleuropa

    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 … Continue reading The romance of Mitteleuropa

Mittel: YB Bern poised to end Basel run

YOUNG BOYS Bern look as though they’re about to end the monopoly that Basel have had on football in Switzerland for almost a decade. The two teams drew 2-2 at the Stade de Suisse over Easter as Young Boys maintained a 16-point lead over reigning champions Basel. Young Boys led twice in a game considered to be decisive in determining the destination of the title, … Continue reading Mittel: YB Bern poised to end Basel run

Winter break review: CZ – Plzeň’s title already?

WHEN your big rivals concede the title in November, you know you’ve been going well in the first half of the season. That’s what’s happened in the Czech Republic as Viktoria Plzeň have been in barmstorming form during the autumn and remain unbeaten in the league. Plzeň are 14 points clear of reigning champions Slavia Prague and are showing no signs of letting up. What’s … Continue reading Winter break review: CZ – Plzeň’s title already?

Not just a jazzy away kit

“THE PROBLEM with Dukla is that nobody really liked them,” said Filip, the taxi driver who ferried me between football grounds in the Czech capital. “Army. That was the reason. OK, so we had Masopust, a great player, and Nehoda and Viktor, but the rest of the Czech football world didn’t like us.” UK politicans, football hipsters and an indie band from Birkenhead may have … Continue reading Not just a jazzy away kit

A morning in Strahov

PETRIN HILL overlooks the city of Prague. You arrive there via a steep funicular railway that starts at Ujezd and if you take the route through the ornate gardens, you find one of the monuments to a past political regime, the grey and imposing Strahov stadium. Strahov is a crumbling reminder of how Soviet-style governments liked to build vast socialist superbowls that held huge numbers … Continue reading A morning in Strahov

Slavia Prague: At home with the intellectuals

IT WAS not the best moment to visit Prague football for a number of reasons. Firstly, the Czech capital was being hit by thunderstorms which made for just about the worst flight I have ever experienced. My shirt was wringing wet when I got off the aeroplane and the incessant turbulence had even silenced the grossly irritating stag-weekenders on the flight. We all felt like … Continue reading Slavia Prague: At home with the intellectuals

Bohemians 1905: Marsupials “R” us

IF THE EUROPA LEAGUE hadn’t got in the way, we might not have visited Bohemians 1905 of Prague. Game of the People was scheduled to attend the Prague derby, Sparta v Slavia, on Saturday March 19. But Sparta are still in the Europa, and two days before the game, they were in action in Rome, beating Lazio to claim a quarter-final place. So the big … Continue reading Bohemians 1905: Marsupials “R” us

What’s going on in Mittel Europa?

We’re familiar with what’s going on in the big five football leagues: the English Premier; La Liga; the Bundesliga; Serie A and Ligue 1. But what about some of the lower profile competitions, leagues that contains some big names from a more democratic age? There’s no doubt that some familiar names are running the show in many Central European leagues, but there are very few … Continue reading What’s going on in Mittel Europa?

Bohemian Rhapsody: Josef Masopust and Dukla

Cold War Europe was a sinister place. Behind the Iron Curtain, popular opinion told us, it was a grey, totalitarian world where spies drank thick black coffee in cafes, children informed on their parents, smoke-chugging cars rolled off production lines and food queues, for inedible black bread, went on for miles The lingua franca was strictly Russian. As for football, teams were supposedly mysterious, functional, … Continue reading Bohemian Rhapsody: Josef Masopust and Dukla

Sparta’s chance to make history

This weekend’s Czech Cup Final could see already-crowned Liga champions Sparta Prague complete their first “double” since 1989. That in itself would be an achievement, but Sparta blew the chance of completing the league season unbeaten on May 3 when they surprisingly lost to Teplice 3-1. With two games to go, Sparta have accumulated 73 points from 28 games, dropping just 11 all season. The … Continue reading Sparta’s chance to make history

It’s about time for Russia, isn’t it? – Euro 2012 Group A

If you’re looking for a couple of dark horses in Euro 2012, look no further than Group A, where Russia and co-hosts Poland are hanging out. These two should slug it out between themselves to see who wins the Group and their meeting on June 12 may well decide the outcome. It’s hard to determine who will be the favourites in this group and European … Continue reading It’s about time for Russia, isn’t it? – Euro 2012 Group A