Crisis, what crisis? – Barcelona’s problem

LOOK at the facts: top of La Liga, in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, crowds of 74,000 people packing the Camp Nou every game, and now top of the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time. Barcelona were supposedly, in crisis mode. It’s all relative, of course, as some people have noted. Bury was a crisis and they are no longer … Continue reading Crisis, what crisis? – Barcelona’s problem

Europe’s Champions: 1973-74 – Bayern Munich

THE year 1974 really did belong to West Germany. Bayern Munich won their first European Cup and in the summer, the nation rejoiced as the World Cup was won. Suddenly, it was “cool” to be German and players like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller and Uli Hoeneß were among Europe’s finest. Bayern were also crowned champions of the Bundesliga in 1973-74 and were just a couple … Continue reading Europe’s Champions: 1973-74 – Bayern Munich

PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

THE UEFA Champions League is due a new winner and this season, clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City will be hoping to join the elite band of European champions. The massive investments made in both clubs have been designed to lift the continent’s biggest club prize, but neither club has come close to winning the competition. However, in a season when clubs like Barcelona, … Continue reading PSG, Manchester City and the Champions League – the time of new money might be now

Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

IT WAS one of those nights that explained why the UEFA Champions League can be so marvellously captivating. Valencia hosted Chelsea amid the soaring shabby chic splendour of the Mestalla stadium, 43,000 spectators perched on the precipice, bathed in the glow of floodlights sitting behind them, illuminating the orange, red and green cauldron below. No wonder they call it one of the most scary stadiums … Continue reading Valencia v Chelsea: Mild magnificence in the Mestalla

It may be game over, now City should go all-out for the Champions League

IF YOU believe the misguided narrative, Pep Guardiola and Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League every season. Those that know, know differently. Pep has not won the competition for eight years, nine if he fails to do so this season. After Manchester City were soundly beaten by Liverpool at Anfield, Guardiola and his entourage may just decide to concentrate fully on lifting that enormous and … Continue reading It may be game over, now City should go all-out for the Champions League

Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

BACK IN 1970, one of the most captivating games of an outstanding World Cup, Italy’s 4-3 win over West Germany, was so exciting that the final whistle left you disappointed that the match had ended after 120 pulsating minutes. The same feeling was evident at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea and Ajax shared eight goals on an evening that reminded the near-40,000 crowd that the UEFA … Continue reading Chelsea v Ajax – the spectacle that nobody wanted to end

Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

AJAX’s renaissance last season was always going to be short-lived as Europe’s big clubs were waiting in the wings for their chance to pounce on the best players. Those hung up on presentism expressed their surprise that a team from the Netherlands could compete with the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, even though the Dutch have provided more European champion clubs than Spain and … Continue reading Ajax’s stock continues to rise, despite player losses

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

Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

BARCELONA are closing in on their target of € 1 billion in revenues by 2020, a figure that will create a new record for the football industry and place them ahead of their peer group. With their Camp Nou stadium redevelopment and a commitment to technology and youth development, Barca’s ambition is very clear. The only dark cloud on the horizon is the eventual loss … Continue reading Yes, Barcelona are going for the one

Ajax show they’re still potent

EVERYBODY expected Ajax’s renaissance in 2018-19 would come to a shuddering halt as they started to lose their key players to Europe’s elite band of clubs. When Ajax were beaten in the semi-final of the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a heartbreakingly late goal, the conclusion was that an exciting young team had probably lost its chance of immortality. Ajax certainly lost two of their … Continue reading Ajax show they’re still potent

Tottenham’s collapse – possibly an era drawing to a close

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

Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

BARCELONA have made their worst start to a season in 25 years, but in truth it is very much a relative problem based on high expectation, a superb domestic record in recent years and the cost of being part of the wealthy European elite. Furthermore, they have been without their talisman, Lionel Messi, and doesn’t it show? Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is under pressure and … Continue reading Barcelona may be approaching the end of a cycle

Like it or not, football has to be more aligned to finance

SINCE THE launch of both the FA Premier League and UEFA Champions League, the football industry has undergone significant change, characterised by unprecedented revenue growth, bloated competitions, globalisation and expanded franchises. Football has become a business that attracts new owners and new sponsors as the world’s most popular sport becomes a compelling proposition for investors and finance providers. The top level clubs have never been … Continue reading Like it or not, football has to be more aligned to finance