Category: European Leagues


The most expensive man in football - but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

The most expensive man in football – but is Gareth Bale enough for Real Madrid to overturn their arch-rivals, in Spain or in Europe? (Image via faniq)

It has to be said – we are all relieved that the football season is now back in action. A lot of transfers have occurred this summer with a lot of teams willing to spend immense sums, such as Real Madrid and Barcelona (on Gareth Bale and Neymar respectively), and others choosing not to break the bank such as Manchester United.

The Armchair Pundits takes a look at the potential fortunes of the big 3 in Europe and offer predictions of who will be league champions in their respective countries.

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Ben Watson's 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Ben Watson’s 90th minute header confirmed the biggest headline in football this week (Image | The Sun)

Last week may have seen the first significant news of the football off-season, but it certainly wasn’t the last. Following the retirement of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson, and David Moyes’ arrival at Old Trafford as his successor, there has been plenty more big news in the past seven days.

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Mario Gomez, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller were instrumental in Bayern Munich's astounding triumph tonight (Image | EPA)

Mario Gomez, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller were instrumental in Bayern Munich’s astounding triumph tonight (Image | EPA)

As I sat, as open-mouthed as the rest of Europe’s football fans, watching Bayern Munich ambush Barcelona in the Allianz Arena tonight, one question flickered through my mind: could this result happen next season?

It may seem a little early for pondering the future, but this article wouldn’t have been penned tonight had it not been for Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller, with his second of the night, putting the tie almost undeniably beyond the reach of Tito Vilanova’s crestfallen men.

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Paulo di Canio will be celebrating a step forward in his managerial career - but does he have what it takes to save Sunderland? (Image | Getty)

Paulo di Canio will be celebrating a step forward in his managerial career – but does he have what it takes to save Sunderland? (Image | Getty)

Sunderland made a bold decision yesterday in hiring highly flammable but little-tested Italian Paulo Di Canio as their new manager in the midst of a relegation battle. The first question that came to my mind, however, was: is Di Canio really the ideal candidate for a team fighting to stave off relegation?

There’s no denying that the controversial Di Canio is a talented manager; his Swindon charges certainly seemed inspired to greater things by him based on the club’s dip in form following his departure. But the Sunderland post presents new challenges to Di Canio.

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When Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez moved to install José Mourinho as head coach, it seemed to be something of a no brainer.

Transformation | Real Madrid head coach José Mourinho appears to have gone from "no brainer" to "no hoper". (Image | The Guardian)

Transformation | Real Madrid head coach José Mourinho appears to have gone from “no brainer” to “no hoper”. (Image | The Guardian)

Mourinho had just delivered an unprecedented treble for Inter Milan, with the coup de grâce being a third European Cup/Champions League title.

This was all the more significant as it was Inter’s first since 1965. Despite their worldwide renown, Inter had long been underachievers in Europe’s top tier competition.

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The Barcelona team of the past few years have established a reputation for themselves as of one of history’s greatest ever sides. However, in the wake of the Catalan outfit’s recent defeat by Celtic in the UEFA Champions League (plus losses to Inter Milan and Chelsea in the past few years), the most common criticism faced by Los Culés has returned.

Swashbuckling | Lionel Messi scores his second goal against Real Zaragoza last weekend in a 3-1 win, which reflects Barcelona’s typically successful strategy, (Image | Independent)

They have been chastised for lacking a “plan B” and being unable to unlock deep defences. Barcelona operate a distinctly possession-based style that the club rigorously keeps faith with, but is there any value in the above complaint?

After all, any team will lose a game from time to time. That is one of the great merits of football: because it is a low-scoring sport, it becomes easier for the underdog to claim victory, even if they are inferior in technical ability.

Therefore, should we really blame Barcelona’s failings on the lack of a “plan B”, particularly when “plan A” is so clearly effective?

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Spellbinding | Ajax’s two mesmerising performances against Manchester City have put Dutch football back on the map after a long spell on the sidelines. (Image | Getty)

This week in Europe may have turned into the week of the comeback for the English quartet, but there can be little doubt, if any lingered, that the Premier League’s finest are no longer Europe’s dominant force.

Remember that spell when there were three English clubs in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League every year between 2008 and 2010?

At this time, footballing knowledge suggested that the continent had been conquered by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United. Well, can you really see that happening this year?

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Not so super? | This could be a regular match-up should the European Super League ever be seriously considered by the powers that be. (Image | Bleacher Report)

The European Super League. It has been talked about for a long time, but will it ever actually happen? Writing in September 2012 and looking ahead, in two years time a European Super League could be on the agenda.

This is because in 2014 the agreement that is in place between FIFA, UEFA and Europe’s leading clubs expires. As the leader of the European Club AssociationKarl-Heinz Rummenigge points out, said teams will be free to do what they want. However, would they actually look to create a super league?

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Hopefully Sky Sports will appreciate how long this took and won’t try to sue us. Please. (Image | Sky Sports, very graciously)

Deadline day once again produced its usual mix of excitement, hyperbole and confusion yesterday, with a standard assortment of a couple of ‘blockbuster’ moves and many, many loan deals done between Premier League teams and lower-league clubs.

As is our duty, though, we’ve dredged through the rumours, the hopes and the hogwash to bring you the ten most intriguing deals of yesterday’s shopping frenzy…

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Staying on the island | English footballers rarely take up the opportunity to play abroad, and it is an extremely infrequent occurrence in modern football in this country. (Image | Football)

Two decades since the formation of the Premier League and the football landscape in this country has changed dramatically. The Taylor Report brought in all-seater stadia; the advent of television money has resulted in TV rights increasing from £50m in 1992 to £3bn today; the availability of talented Englishmen has dropped precipitously as the league has filled with foreign-born footballers, and home-grown players no longer ply their trade abroad. Why?

There are several ways of approaching this, but the most obvious is money. Players in England benefit from a laissez faire wage structure – indeed structure is arguably too generous a term. Clubs pay players what they want, and the more desirable an individual is, the greater the outlay will be from the side that wishes to retain or purchase them. Wages of £100,000-plus per week are commonplace, creating a safety net for English footballers who are of sufficient ability to be remunerated so generously.

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