Manchester United, Porto, Arsenal, Sevilla, Roma – the Europa has some big guns

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

UEFA Europa League: Together to Baku – almost

IF Arsenal or Chelsea were not up against a local rival, Baku and the Europa League might not mean as much as it probably does to the fans of both clubs – those that decide to make the journey to Azerbaijan. The fact that the clubs have returned tickets to UEFA says a lot about the appeal of Baku as the stage for a major … Continue reading UEFA Europa League: Together to Baku – almost

Commentary Box: Into perspective – England’s quartet

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 revival of Valencia – Arsenal’s next Europa League opponents

VALENCIA is the third largest city in Spain, which dovetails nicely with its football club’s status in its home country. Most neutral observers would say that Valencia Club de Fútbol is Spain’s fourth club, and given two of the three above it are from the capital Madrid, Els Taronges (the oranges) know their place in Spanish football hierarchy. Valencia are enjoying a good season – … Continue reading The revival of Valencia – Arsenal’s next Europa League opponents

Club of the Month: Atlético Madrid – firmly among the elite

IF YOU’VE visited Madrid recently, you’ve no doubt flown over the gleaming new home of Atlético Madrid, the Wanda Metropolitano. It’s an impressive site, fashioned out of a stadium built in anticipation of the Spanish capital being awarded the Olympic Games. If Atléti play their cards right, they could be playing at home in the final of the UEFA Champions League in the first week … Continue reading Club of the Month: Atlético Madrid – firmly among the elite

Soccer City: Salzburg

THINK OF Salzburg and you immediately conjure-up images of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Romanesque and Baroque architecture and, of course, the Sound of Music. It’s not a city that you would normally associate with football passion, Austria is not a one of the seething hotbeds of the modern game, although it has played its part in shaping modern football. But if you were to determine the … Continue reading Soccer City: Salzburg

GOTP Notepad: Falling levels of competitiveness in Europe

THE latest report by CIES Football Observatory reveals there has been a general decline in competitive balance across Europe. The UEFA Champions League has seen 29.5% of its games involve a three-goal or more margin and an average goal difference of 1.87 – both these figures are significantly higher than in 2016-17. In terms of three-goal margins, the Champions League is up by 8.5 percentage … Continue reading GOTP Notepad: Falling levels of competitiveness in Europe

I can hear the Graz grow

UNTIL last weekend, Sturm Graz had a 100% record in the Austrian Bundesliga, but a 2-1 defeat at LASK Linz ended the Styrian club’s impeccable start to the season. Austrian football has been dominated by RB Salzburg for the past 11 years, eight titles in that timeframe. Salzburg’s Red Bull backing makes them unpopular with many people and creates a very uneven playing field. Everyone … Continue reading I can hear the Graz grow

The end of the affair, not the world

IT WAS supposed to be the high point of the season for me. I am not a Manchester United fan, I am an admirer of Ajax Amsterdam, going back to the 1970s. An unshamed Europhile, a disciple of Total Football. But the events of Wednesday May 24 2017 changed all that, hopefully temporarily. I was delighted to get a ticket for the UEFA Europa League … Continue reading The end of the affair, not the world

UEFA Europa League Final: When history is a burden

AJAX V MANCHESTER UNITED. The very sound of it is enticing. Two European names with a rich history. Cruyff, Best, Neeskens, Rep, Charlton, Law, Giggs…the list goes on. Seven UEFA Champions League titles between them, the best supported teams in the Netherlands and England, two sporting institutions that have been a major influence on world football. What’s not to enthuse about for this Stockholm showdown? … Continue reading UEFA Europa League Final: When history is a burden