Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille

Game of the Day: France vs. Germany, Marseille, 20.00

After a tournament scattered with surprises, Thursday night sees what will be a widely predicted line up for the semi-final in the bottom half of the draw; hosts and favourites France against World Champions Germany. Continue reading “Portugal awaits the winner from Marseille”

EURO 2016 – The Injured XI

Whilst some superstars from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and further afield will be plying their trade in France this month, others will be watching from their living rooms with their feet up.

Through no choice of their own, some of the biggest names in world football have been robbed of the opportunity to play at the European championships through injury. Like Franck Ribery in 2014, Carlos Puyol in 2012, and David Beckham in 2010, these stars could potentially miss out on one of their respective nation’s biggest footballing moments. Instead they will be watching from afar and hoping that (in some cases) they will be fit for the start of their domestic campaign… Continue reading “EURO 2016 – The Injured XI”

Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic

After the miracles produced against Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-final, Jurgen Klopp and his band of merry men will once more be trying to harness some of the magic that surrounds Anfield on a European night as they attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Villarreal.

Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool seem to becoming a match made in heaven, as the German embodies crucial elements of what Liverpool fans want to see. Passion, forthrightness and openness with the fans that any Liverpool seeks in a manager.

As seen during his time with Borussia Dortmund, Klopp is more than aware of the importance of the link between fans and players both on and off the field. Dortmund was very much a wounded giant when Klopp took to the helm, and whilst his last season was difficult, he emerged untarnished – a hero of Westphalia. Continue reading “Klopp looks once more to Anfield Magic”

Spurs on brink as Poch defends changes

After the first leg of their Europa League tie against Borussia Dortmund, Pochettino defended the seven changes he made to his Tottenham saying that he had “no regrets” after his saw his side lose 3-0.

Seven changes is one thing but it would be unfair to take anything away from the Dortmund performance on the night. Tottenham weren’t awful by any stretch of the imagination, just Dortmund – particularly in the final third of the field – were just devastating, with speed, movement and efficiency. It really wasn’t hard to see why the German side under Thomas Tuchel currently sit second in the league and only 5pts behind Pep’s Bayern. Continue reading “Spurs on brink as Poch defends changes”

The night the Europa League finally took hold in England

Rightly or wrongly, the Europa League has an awfully bad reputation in England. The something of nothing trophy that ruins seasons with some ridiculous Thursday – Sunday scheduling that is seemingly so mind boggling no one has realised that it really isn’t that different from playing Wednesday to Saturday games.

Any issues with the Europa League is an incredibly English concern. Since it’s re-brand and re-boot in time for the 2009-10 season, the two English clubs to progress to the final were Fulham, who gallantly made it to the final in its inaugural year beating the likes of Juventus on their way to defeat in the final against Atletico Madrid, and Chelsea who won the competition during their own Benitez revival. Two countries who tend to seize the Europa League as a chance for European silverware are Portugal and Spain.

Since the 09-10 season Portugal have had 4 finalists, including one all Portuguese final in 2011. Spain on the other hand have contributed 5 finalists, resulting in winning the competition 3 times and in Sevilla have the reigning Europa League champions for the last 2 seasons. The Europa League doesn’t present itself as a burden, more of a chance to deliver success on the European stage and as a means of reinforcing co-efficiency points, crucial to any club outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain and the Top 2 in Portugal.

This year though the knock out phases of the Europa League has brought us some incredible draws. Napoli vs. Villarreal, Tottenham vs. Fiorentina, Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao, Lazio vs. Galatasaray and Borussia Dortmund vs. Porto. These are all potential Champions League ties. They aren’t some watered down affair of minnows and obscure teams that some perceive to be endemic of the Europa League. Continue reading “The night the Europa League finally took hold in England”