Europe’s giants of all sizes, Part 1

AS we head towards the inevitable European super league, the rest of the continent’s clubs must be wondering what lies in store for those that find themselves excluded from the great gravy train that will emerge from a future shake-up of football. It would be easy for onlookers to only see a landscape that is dominated by Barca, Bayern, Real and PSG, but across Europe, … Continue reading Europe’s giants of all sizes, Part 1

Red ink for Red Star

AS MUCH of Europe settles in for a winter break, the team that can go into the holiday season with a feeling of “job done” is Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda). Serbia’s most popular team has an astonishing 25-point lead at the top of the table after 20 wins from 22 games. But there’s been plenty of activity in Belgrade as Christmas approaches. Red Star … Continue reading Red ink for Red Star

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?

A night with the gravediggers

I don’t pretend to know much about the Balkan war or the ongoing debate about Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, but I do know that there is tension. Like many other people, the whole former Yugoslavia thing didn’t really register too much until I visited Croatia and Bosnia and saw the deprivation of the latter amid the pock-marked buildings of Mostar. We look at it from afar, … Continue reading A night with the gravediggers

The Red Star doesn’t shine so brightly these days

In the second instalment of our Balkan Trilogy, we look at the last team from Eastern Europe to win the European Cup, Red Star Belgrade. Before Glasnost and the Yugoslav war, teams from the east were difficult opponents. The “crack” eastern European teams used to present a real hurdle in European competition, especially in the away leg, when sorties into the Eastern Bloc were invariably … Continue reading The Red Star doesn’t shine so brightly these days

Balkan League? – sounds like a crazy idea

UEFA, apparently, has given its blessing on the creation of a “Balkan Super League”, comprising clubs from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia and Montenegro, as well as Hungary and Bulgaria. It’s 20 years since the region was hurled into turmoil by a war that was far bloodier than the western part of Europe really understood. There’s still tension, as anyone who has visited Croatia, Bosnia or … Continue reading Balkan League? – sounds like a crazy idea