Tag Archives: Barcelona

Best League In The World

1 May

We’ve come to the business end of the season, where not only domestic issues are to be decided, but the champions of Europe are also yet to be resolved. With it, questions arise over which league is the best in Europe. And it usually falls to two contenders.

The English Premierleague has always had a good representation in the latter stages in European competition. There has been 8 English teams in the last 8 Champions League Finals (inclusive of this years final).

EPL vs La Liga (Or other?)

With the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal, England is well stocked with the big clubs with European pull, supplemented by Liverpool and now Tottenham and Newcastle. Fanatical fans, historic stadia and some of the most entertaining football around, the Barclays Premierleague has to be contended.

Many others may consider La Liga as the strongest due to Barcelona’s stronghold on world football, as well as Real Madrid’s ‘galactico’ history. Their European representation has also been extremely sufficient, with the Catalan club winning 4 European Trophy’s (3 in the last 6 years), and the most successful side in European history – Real Madrid. Athletic Madrid and Athletic Bilbao also surpassed in Europe. But domestically is where the league may falter. There really isn’t any contest in the title race bar the two big clubs and the rest of the league duly suffers.

However, my opinion is that there is another league that requires much more attention. The German Bundesliga. Cheap tickets at an average of £17 , free rail tickets for away fans and the largest average attendance in Europe (7000 greater than the Premier league) are some of the factors why the Bundesliga is more than meets the eye – if off-the-pitch attributes are acknowledged. The clubs also have a family like feel, with a rule stating that 51% of the club must be owned by the club members. That means no sugar daddies and no ‘buying the league’ – that’s why there has been 5 different champions in the last 11 years. The likes of Ribery and Robben also ply their trade their too, and the German national side isn’t too bad either.

So, next time Europe’s top league is discussed, consider the German Bundesliga. Besides, alcohol can be consumed at games – which is always a plus!

Comments welcome.

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Stalling Contracts

28 Apr

Delaying contract talks – why do players do this? I know it’s supposedly a long, drawn out process in which the club and player (with/without the agent) negotiate a salary, add-ones, clauses and the length etc. But surely it’s not something that takes the best part of a year to agree upon. Some players openly come out and proclaim that ‘there will be discussions at the end of the season,’ essentially putting themselves in the shop window.

Van Persie - Crunch talks.

One high-profile contract saga currently in the open is with regards to Arsenal hitman Robin Van Persie. The Football of the Year has been in irresistible form this season, with his most productive outlay in his Gunners career. This seasons form has led some to feel that he is probably the best centre forward in the world today, with supposed moves to Barcelona in the pipe-line in the summer. But his contract situation is such that discussions will take place in the four days between the final game of the season and him joining the Netherlands camp for the Euro’s. Four days. Surely he could have found four days or so during the last year to have talks about renewing his deal before, instead of leaving Arsenal in the precarious position they are now.

However, Robin Van Persie has been pitching in at Arsenal for 8 years now, when he was supplementing the likes of Thierry Henry and Emmanuel Adebayor in some formidable Arsenal attacks. Yet interestingly, the flying Dutchman has never managed a 20-league-goal season, with his best season yielding only 18 last season.

Some may say that he has had a perennial injury record that may yet come back to scare him, and Arsenal, at anytime. It can also be argued that by not being deployed as the main centre-forward as he is now, he couldn’t get the goals, i.e. being played in a withdrawn position supplementing the likes of Adebayor.

But Arsenal have never been so reliant on him as they are now. So if he feels that any contract Arsenal are offering is coming up short – he seriously needs to think about the club that paid his wages whilst he lay on the injury table for many months at a time. Too many seasons have been curtailed early for Van Persie, and Arsenal fans would be gutted to see another one of their superstars leave after a sustained period of form. This could be related to Samir Nasri, who jumped for the money, and to some extent Cesc Fabregas – both departures that had led some amongst the footballing echelons to believe Arsenal were coming more of a ‘selling club’. If Robin Van Persie leaves, then serious doubts about whether Arsenal will ever challenge again will resurface.

Without doubt he is the player of the season, and his goal return this season has gone someway to repay the club that has stuck by him. However one swallow doesn’t make a summer. If his form continues next season, then he should have the negotiating power, but for now – it would be a real kick in the teeth if he were to pack his bags and leave the ones who stuck by him.

Comments welcome.

Pep Talk

26 Apr

News just alerted today that Pep Guardiola has organised a press conference tomorrow morning in order to put the record straight with regards to his future at the Catalan club.

Guardiola, a former Barcelona captain, took over the job in 2008, yielding 2 Champions League trophy’s and 3 domestic championships.  However, this season has turned sour. Last weekends loss to their great rivals Real Madrid, coupled with their elimination at in the Champions League semi-final at the hands of Chelsea have led some to believe he may be considering his future at Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola - possible next England manager?

After winning so many trophies, effectively everything he could, he may be in search of a new challenge and begin pastures anew. And what greater challenge is there to take over an English national side that has been lying dormant for the past 50 years.

Now, some may feel that any mootings of Josep Guardiola taking the England manager’s job as far fetched, but his recent discontent will only add fuel to the fire – in addition to the odds of the next England manager dropping in favour of Pep.

Some may argue that he may not be good enough to invigorate a completely new squad that is somewhat different to what he is used to. Besides, he had the wealth of talents such as Messi, Iniesta and Xavi at his disposal, thus winning wasn’t too difficult.

But let’s not forget, Pep instilled the ‘beautiful football’ mentality at Barcelona, something that was somewhat diluted previously in the Rijkaard era. He had assembled a team to which can be compared to the greats of bygone eras.

Pep speaks almost impeccable English, and his humble yet determined nature can surely benefit the players, who probably need to have their ego’s tamed, so the language barrier shouldn’t be a problem.

With regards whoever follows in his footsteps, Sam Allardyce would be a good shout, besides he said he’s good enough for Madrid and Barcelona only a few years ago. But in all seriousness, whoever takes over shouldn’t disrupt the ‘Barcelona way.’ There is a formula of football there that need not be tampered with.

My opinion? Pep would be fantastic in the England manager’s role, not just for immediate success, but to improve the image of our national game. I’d rather it be a honourable man like  him than Harry Redknapp, who is far too ‘tabloid-tailored’ for my liking.

What are your opinions?

The Best There Ever Was?

20 Apr

Every time Barcelona visit an English side, prizing eyes set their sights upon the Catalan number 10 Leo Messi. No one doubts his quality, or his contention to be up there with the worlds best ever. But is he himself, the best ever to play the game?

A lot of facts and statistics fly around when comparing the likes of Messi and Ronaldo with the legends of yesteryear including goals, playing in different countries, and winning international trophies. All this combined ensures it is difficult to segregate just a single name from a hatful. And there sure will be even more comparisons alluded to, when two titans of world football meet this weekend.

The diminutive Argentine has rifled in an astonishing total of 63 goals this season to date – a feat that is not only difficult to imagine, but will be difficult ever to replicate. Funniest thing about that is, at this moment he doesn’t even lead his domestic scoring chart with Portuguese talisman Cristiano Ronaldo out in front.

Messi v Ronaldo - The debate goes on.

I was too young to have ever seen the likes of Pele and Maradona strut their stuff, along with the greatest names of the bygone eras. But any fan in any way affiliated with the beautiful game would be living in a cave if they didn’t see some of the magic these men produced. Pele won the World Cup with Brazil 3 times, obviously supported by a team that was beyond its time. Scoring a phenomenal 620 goals in his career from 661 appearances, albeit mostly in the Brazilian domestic league, shows his goal-scoring nous.

Diego Maradona, also tasted international and domestic glory, and despite his personal life and career being a rocky road since his playing days were over, what he produced on the pitch will forever be remembered.

Is Messi the greatest ever? Well some may argue that he cannot be defended if he hasn’t played in another league. Besides, Cristiano Ronaldo is doing what he did here in England over in Spain, and Messi is yet to score on English turf. And Messi’s international game shows no correlation to his domestic form.

But Ronaldo it could be said that his dynamic of play, and wanting to do it all himself excludes him from being the greatest.

My opinion? Well its difficult to choose. It always will be. I take pleasure in knowing that I’m alive to witness some of the greatest players ever to grace our game today, such that in 40 years time the TV programs will be showing replays of Messi and Ronaldo. However just edging it, Messi makes fools of his opponents with his finesse and trickery, whereas Ronaldo uses his power and force to put aside his opponents; thus for the time being, the little maestro has his nose out in front.

Anyway, why waste time in deciding who is better with this that and the other? Just enjoy the players that make it the game we know and love.

And besides, they collectively have nothing on Shola Ameobi.

Comments welcome

UEFA Champions League Predictions

15 Apr

Barcelona vs  Chelsea.

Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid.

Those are the two Champions League ties that are set to take place in the coming weeks, to decide the continent’s top side. Barcelona are probably everyone’s favourite. And rightly so. Boasting a line-up that withholds Xavi, Iniesta and Messi – three of the best players to ever grace the game, they should make ease with most opposition. Despite their domestic frailties this season, Barcelona look too good on the continent and should get to the final in comfort.

UEFA Champions League

Chelsea’s task is much, much harder. What Chelsea should draw inspiration from are the likes of Inter Milan in recent years. A resolute defending performance, whilst being clinical at the other end could nab a final place. Barcelona are beatable, but luck, above ability will be needed. However, Di Matteo’s misfiring Blues have had a troubled time this season, so a final spot may seem a step too far. They also have to contend with the upcoming FA Cup final, as well as combatting Spurs and Newcastle for the final Champions League place domestically. It may be all too much for The Blues.

Then Real Madrid. The enigma that is Real Madrid, should always be contender’s of the much coveted European crown, there is no doubt about that. But in the last 5 years or so, their dominance of La Liga has been put aside by Messi and co. Managers after managers have tried and failed to put Madrid amongst the European alumni but have failed. But in Mourinho, anything is possible – especially after he masterminded the Inter victory over Barcelona last season.

The last semi-finalist is Bayern Munich. The German giants have always been one of the best, dispatching of teams with consummate ease, but this season have been shadowed by the success of their Catalan counterparts. Defeating FC Basel 7-0 is no minor feat; this was the same Basel that withheld the Manchester United onslaught in the autumn. Players like Robben, Lahm, Gomez and Ribery are just a few of the superstars at the disposal of Bayern. Under the guidance of Jupp Heynckes, Bayern have the capabilities of defeating anybody.

There are many if’s and but’s with regards to the winners, but my prediction: the obvious choice is Barcelona. Why wouldn’t it be? But, something deep down says if Heynckes gets the tactics and selection right, the Champions League may be heading back to Bayern Munich. They may be more than a match for Barcelona.

Champions League Winners 2012: Bayern Munich? Not the obvious selection, but may be very worthy of it.

Comments (and predictions) welcome.


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