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

Inter’s benchmarking exercise shows why Juve are champions

THEY CAME, they saw, they rained on Inter’s parade – and how it frustrated the home fans in the 75,000 San Siro crowd!  It was Serie A champions against pretenders to the throne and once more, Juventus, perpetual wearers of the crown of Italian football for almost a decade, demonstrated they are still the big occasion team. Neutral Italy, indeed neutral Europe, has been hoping … Continue reading Inter’s benchmarking exercise shows why Juve are champions

Inter’s chance to show they can end the hegemony

ITALY has needed a team to seriously challenge Juventus for almost a decade and Inter Milan have started the Serie A campaign as if they mean to fill that role. Although some people are suggesting that six wins out of six have flattered the Nerrazzuri, the club seems to have been rejuvenated by the arrival of Antonio Conte. This weekend (October 6), Inter play host … Continue reading Inter’s chance to show they can end the hegemony

European attendances – symptomatic of a superficial age

FREE MOVEMENT of people is one of the basic rights across the European Union, allowing cross-border travel and employment opportunities. It has many benefits, some of which will become apparent to the United Kingdom’s population when the country does stumble uncomfortably out of the EU. While this has opened-up the world, or at least part of it, to young football fans and businesses, it has … Continue reading European attendances – symptomatic of a superficial age

The 1982 Brazilians – football’s last cavaliers

SINCE JUNE 21 1970, football fans have been longing for Brazil to gift the world the spirit of samba, the ball-juggling artistry that encapsulated jogo bonita, the romantic, natural brilliance that delivers entertainment and excitement. Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winners did not represent the start of something, that team was actually the culmination of a process that began amid the despair or Rio 1950. By … Continue reading The 1982 Brazilians – football’s last cavaliers

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

Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

  THERE WAS an air of menace about them: Black and blue stripes; dark, matinee idol looks; oiled hair; and a dictatorial manager who had a slightly sinister appearance. And they were “foreign”. English football managers, among other folk in Britain, were deeply suspicious of Italian football teams. They were, after all, ultra-defensive, sly, tricky and “dirty” – that was the narrative if you believed … Continue reading Great Reputations: Grande Inter – a harsh legacy?

Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

REAL MADRID completed a hat-trick of European Cup wins in 1958, but they had to work hard for the top prize in a gruelling final with AC Milan in Brussels. In doing so, Real also completed the double of domestic league title and European Cup for the second successive season. Nevertheless, football historians have always wondered if Real would still have been crowned champions of … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1957-58 Real Madrid

Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

MODERN football has made it nigh on impossible for provincial teams to win major prizes. As the game’s chief beneficiaries are mostly metropolitan clubs from large cities, the possibility of an unexpected championship triumph becomes beyond rare. In Italy, Juventus from Turin and the Milanese clubs have invariably dominated Serie A, but very rarely, a smaller club has come to the fore. But if you … Continue reading Great Reputations: Hellas Verona 1985 – a romantic tale to rival Shakespeare

Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

THINK of Italian football and you come up with Juventus, Milan and Internazionale, in that order. Then add to that Roma and Napoli, perhaps Lazio. Today, you need to scratch deeper to bring names like Sampdoria to the fore. Sampdoria, from Genoa…pesto, minestrone, Pandoce Alto and, of course, football. But it is Genoa 1893, the oldest football club in Italy and, with nine Serie A … Continue reading Great Reputations: When Sampdoria shocked the system

All hyped up: Italia ‘90

WE ALL look to the influences of our childhood or formative years as being the “best of times”. The things that informed our thinking, philosophy, social position, relationships and work ethos act as benchmarks later in life. The exception is fashion, where we all cringe at what we used to wear, mainly because what was de rigeur for a teenager will never be acceptable for … Continue reading All hyped up: Italia ‘90

Football needs more from Milan

THERE WAS a time when English football glanced enviously across Europe to Italy, viewing its league as the epitome of glamour, cosmopolitanism and affluence. Italy had the world’s leading players, the most passionate and colourful supporters and the financial clout to attract top talent. Furthermore, its clubs, AC Milan, Internazionale and Juventus, among others, represented the European elite. That was in the 1980s and 1990s, … Continue reading Football needs more from Milan

A throwback to unpredictable days: Ajax’s marvellous Italian job

THE neutral observer could be forgiven for believing Ajax Amsterdam had already enjoyed their moment in the sun with their spectacular victory against Real Madrid. Underdogs rarely have more than one day and when up against a team that includes the UEFA Champions League’s resident expert, Cristiano Ronaldo, it would be easy to assume that Juventus would march comfortably through to the semi-finals. Ahead of … Continue reading A throwback to unpredictable days: Ajax’s marvellous Italian job