Reviving a romantic vision of the “cup for the sake of it”

IN POST-WW2 Europe, the idea of unity was eagerly embraced by those that had been most affected by the world wars that had torn the continent apart. Equally, the concept of healthy competition among nations was welcomed, especially in the 1950s when the iron curtain threatened to create the sort of divisions that sat at the heart of past conflicts. Football, as the game of … Continue reading Reviving a romantic vision of the “cup for the sake of it”

PSG – failure or confirmation of arrival?

THE popular opinion across Europe’s football media is that Paris St. Germain have stalled in their bid to become Europe’s top club. Defeat in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, for the second successive season, has cast doubts about the club’s strategy and ability to take on the best. But is it failure, or is it just that PSG are now moving in … Continue reading PSG – failure or confirmation of arrival?

Happy Alsatians – the rebirth of Strasbourg

FRANCE’S Ligue 2 had a spectacular climax in 2016-17 with any one of half a dozen teams able to lift the title on the final day of the season. Top spot ended up with Racing Strasbourg, with Amiens finishing in second place, both teams enjoying a second successive promotion. Ligue 2 – top four   P W D L F A Pts g.d. Racing Strasbourg … Continue reading Happy Alsatians – the rebirth of Strasbourg

Gallic Leicester or genuine class? – Monaco’s stunning season

DID ANYONE really anticipate Monaco being among the last eight in this season’s UEFA Champions League? Or that they would be top of Ligue 1 with eight games to go? People tend to look no further than Paris when they discuss French football, but this season, PSG have had some genuine competition. The post-Zlatan era has not, so far, been as comfortable for the club … Continue reading Gallic Leicester or genuine class? – Monaco’s stunning season

Nice for Nice, but for how long?

FOR THOSE of us accustomed to seeing Paris St. Germain galloping away with Ligue 1, the start to 2016-17 has been interesting. PSG, shorn of the charismatic Zlatan, have struggled to find their feet under Unai Emery and the current leaders are Nice. Although the team from the Cote D’Azur may be unfamiliar league leaders, there’s a very recognisable striker who is helping Le Aiglons … Continue reading Nice for Nice, but for how long?

Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

THE morning after the night before. If you happened to wake up Hungarian, you also opened your eyes with a desperate need for coffee and headache pills. Apparently, Hungarian fans had really laid siege on the city centre of Bordeaux and also enjoyed Iceland’s shock 1-1 draw with Portugal. Euro 2016 was taking shape. Predictably, the English fans had dragged their country’s name through the … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

Euro 2016: A boost for France? Maybe on the field.

SADLY, Euro 2016 may be the last great international football jamboree. There are a number of reasons, but with UEFA effectively breaking-up the franchise for 2020, taking the competition across the continent, it is arguable that the template may alter for future European Championships. Europe, as an economic zone, is troubled. Huge imbalances, tragic levels of youth unemployment, philosophical and practical questions about open borders … Continue reading Euro 2016: A boost for France? Maybe on the field.

Coupe de France: The Ibra factor

HE’S ARROGANT, he’s controversial, but he is an exceptional talent. And today, Zlatan Ibrahimovic plays his last game for Paris St. Germain, the Coupe de France final against Olympique Marseille. The pre-match talk has been as much about Zlatan’s fitness as the next stop on his incredibly glittering career. Whether you like him or not – and you’ll always want a player like him on … Continue reading Coupe de France: The Ibra factor

A whale in the fishpond: Declining competitiveness in European football

IF the UEFA Champions League has a familiar look about it, most of Europe’s top football leagues are becoming even more predictable. Apart from the English Premier, which may deliver just about the most unexpected final outcome for many years, most of Europe’s leading competitions will be won by members of the footballing elite. Germany will have Bayern Munich as Bundesliga champions for the fourth … Continue reading A whale in the fishpond: Declining competitiveness in European football

PSG and the problem of the one-horse race

SURELY Paris St. Germain could have done better? The manner in which the French champions went about their second leg quarter-final in the UEFA Champions League underlines the possible downside of one-club domination. PSG have steamrollered everyone this season in Ligue 1, one of the continent’s first confirmed title winners in 2015-16, but how often have they been really tested and how equipped are they … Continue reading PSG and the problem of the one-horse race

Why England v France is so important

WHILE Europe, indeed the world, gets to grips with the latest terrorist outrage, there is an air of defiance that follows any attempt to curtail the freedom of the individual. The easy option would be to stay indoors, pull the covers over your head and wait for the nightmare to pass. In Britain, the type of spirit that dealt with bombs dropping from the sky … Continue reading Why England v France is so important

France lays the foundation with new stadia

French football, in preparation for Euro 2016, has been very active in building impressive new stadia right across the nation. While these grounds all look to be transformational in their design and structure, the recent accident that took place at Bordeaux’s Nouveau Stade is a very unfortunate oversight that could have been far worse. A safety barrier gave way at the stadium as Bordeaux were … Continue reading France lays the foundation with new stadia