FIVE POINTS is a substantial gap after five games, in fact it is, apparently, a record margin at this fledgling stage of the season. Such was the miniscule gap between Manchester City and Liverpool last season, Norwich City’s 3-2 win over Pep Guardiola’s treble winners that it may well be considered as one of the decisive moments of the title race. In an age when … Continue reading The script has been drafted – Liverpool will [probably] win the title
BAYERN MUNICH recently reminded everyone they are a powerful club with substantial financial resources. Furthermore, by drawing 1-1 at RB Leipzig, they also stopped dead – for now – any talk of an imminent shift in the balance of power in the Bundesliga. Leipzig may have held the champions, but they also failed to beat them and record a victory that would have provided evidence … Continue reading Bayern Munich – who will actually unseat them?
REAL MADRID and the UEFA Champions League are indelibly linked and always will be. Thirteen times winners of the competition – in its various guises – Real will, for the time being at least, hold a trump card over their national and international rivals, Barcelona. The fact that a number of those 13 victories were achieved before Barcelona had not allowed regional priorities to cloud their … Continue reading How Real Madrid became the first super club
THE EUROPA League struggles to win public acclaim until the very last stages, but one look at this season’s list of entrants is a reminder that some big names are among the contenders. Wolverhampton Wanderers may have been playing in the competition since early summer, but they have clearly been stimulated by European football coming back to Molineux. Wolves have successfully negotiated three rounds, scoring … Continue reading Manchester United, Porto, Arsenal, Sevilla, Roma – the Europa has some big guns
THE UEFA Champions League draw has become an event in itself and provides a curtain-raiser to the next 10 months of action involving Europe’s elite working their way towards the final stages. For half of the entrants, the competition will end in December, but we can expect the usual suspects to qualify for the knockout stages when things really do get interesting. While the Champions … Continue reading UEFA Champions League: The gulf at the gate
THE RICH are getting richer and moving out of reach of the rest of the football world. They’re not only teams, they are sporting conglomerates, wealthy beyond the imagination of the bulk of clubs across Europe, indeed the world. Very soon, we shall have a European Super League, a competition that may well be “closed” and the jealously-guarded territory of institutions like Real Madrid, Paris … Continue reading Regional football leagues in Europe – a solution to polarisation?
THIS year’s UEFA Champions League is not just about two teams battling for the right to stand astride the European game, it is also about a clash of ideals and a journey of affirmation. Liverpool, of course, have been here before, all too often if you ask the fans of clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea, but the premier European trophy has defined the club … Continue reading UEFA Champions League: King Klopp or Crown Prince Mauricio?
THIRTY years ago, it would be nigh on impossible for one country to provide all the European finalists. The only way it could have happened was if the holders of the European Cup and European Cup-Winners’ Cup were English and the qualifying clubs from England were not the holders. In 1971-72, we had a UEFA Cup final between Tottenham and Wolves – a competition where … Continue reading Commentary Box: Into perspective – England’s quartet
THE UEFA Champions League knockout stages never disappoint – they represent the very best football in the world, more engaging than the World Cup, more exciting than the Premier and more dramatic than an episode of Line of Duty. Where else can ecstasy turn to agony, grown men openly weep, higher orders get called upon and TV pundits abandon all decorum and reserve? The competition … Continue reading For Ajax, it could be 1974 revisited
JÜRGEN Klopp has his legend, his place in Kop mythology. Whatever happens over the next few weeks, be it gallant failure in the Premier League title race and Champions League final in Madrid, Liverpool have their moment, a comeback that outstrips Saint-Etienne (1976-77) and Istanbul (2004-05). Just how much this drama was carved out of a keep ‘em awake firework display, Barca capitulating for the … Continue reading Only in Liverpool
FOR Premier League advocates, the first legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals must have been a huge disappointment. The chances of an all-England final look very remote now, although those that enthuse over the essence of European club competitions will be thankful – there is nothing so anti-climatic than a European final between two clubs from the same country. The smart money, however, is … Continue reading Cold water from the continent: The Champions League first legs
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