Tag Archives: Europa League

Club World Cup, whats new?

The club world cup is undergoing a shake up currently that will see the competition go from seven teams to twenty four starting from 2021. The competition will run every four years and include eight teams from Europe, six from South America, three each from Africa, Asia and North America and one from Oceania, however Many European heavyweights have threatened to boycott.

Being held in the summer months this would significantly impact the European calendar as it would mean players would have to finish a long gruelling season only to have to play more games in the time they should be resting and recuperating.

The European Club Association (ECA) have written a letter to Uefa saying they are firmly against the idea and confirmed that no ECA clubs would be involved. With the potential lack of European clubs this instantly devalues the competition, as how can you have a Club World Cup without arguably the strongest sides in the world?

To further increase the backlash the first edition will be held in China, a place that has seen a multitude of protests and other issues over the past 12 months and right now is in no position to be hosting a global sporting event.

With all its issues and problems, the basic idea of having an expanded Club World Cup featuring all the best teams across the globe to determine who is the best team on the planet sounds good on paper. But logistically the tournament is always going to struggle as long as the different continents have their own football calendars.

The current tournament is well respected outside of Europe and is seen as a very big deal, it has just simply never interested European fans and has often been seen as a distraction to the domestic and Continental campaigns.

After an already shaky beginning can the expanded Club World Cup survive? and possibly outgrow its previous forms?

 

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The unique Story of Atalanta FC

Manchester City put five past Atalanta on Tuesday. but who actually are Atalanta? Well, they have a very interesting story. 

After impressive saves by both keepers, the deadlock was finally broken after twenty-six minutes when Ilicic, who caused the Sky Blues defence problems all game, was clipped in the box by captain Fernandinho. Penalty. Up stepped Malinovskyi and sent Brazilian keeper Ederson the wrong way. The Italians were 1-0 up but their fragile lead didn’t last long as Augero equalised just six minutes later after a delightful ball over the Atalanta defence. Just a few minutes later, City had completely turned the game around thanks to a penalty, swiftly converted by Agüero. In the second half, Sterling scored an eleven minute hat trick, confirming that the hosts would collect all three points. Because of this, Atalanta sit bottom of the group with zero points but that doesn’t reflect Atalanta’s free flowing expansive football.

Atalanta, formed in 1907, are participating in the Champions League for the first time in their history – after finishing third last season in Serie A. 

The club, based in the small City of Bergamo in Northern Italy with a population of 120,000 doesn’t have a particularly rich history. Formed by a group of Swiss students in 1907, the club nicknamed the Nerazurri only have one major trophy to their name. Atalanta won the Coppa Italia (the Italian equivalent of the FA Cup) in 1963, the same year they finished eighth, a position they’ve only bettered seven times in their history.

Despite not winning another trophy, they have recently improved. Competing in the Europa League in recent seasons before finally qualifying for the greatest club football competition in the World, the Champions League. 

Since getting promoted as Champions in 2011, the club languished in lower mid table for five years with their highest league position being thirteenth. Then in 2016 Edoardo Reja left the club and Gian Piero Gasperini was hired and he had a less than impressive start to his tenure. His team lost four of their first five games, finding themselves in the relegation zone but then something clicked and they went nine games unbeaten, only losing eight games all season. Thanks to this they finished fourth, their highest ever league position and qualified for the Europa League in the process. Despite being their first season in the competition, Atalanta finished top of their group but were knocked out at the round of 32 stage by Borussia Dortmund. 

The season after they finished seventh despite the arrival of Josip Ilicic who scored eleven league goals in Serie A, finishing the season as the club’s top scorer. The season was far from catastrophic but they couldn’t qualify for the Europa League again as they lost to Copenhagen on penalties in the final qualifying round.

Last season, they brought another deadly striker to the club. Duvan Zapata arrived on loan from fellow Serie A outfit Sampdoria. Zapata, Ilicic and club captain Gomez have formed a frightening forward line, leading to the Nerazurri scoring the most goals in Serie A last season, netting 77 times. Scoring so many goals did take a toll on their defence as they also had the worst defence in the top five. They finished third only behind European heavyweight Juventus and Napoli. So, after a season in Europe’s second competition the Nerazurri finally qualified for the Champions League.

After the elation of the impending participation in the Chanpions League, it hasn’t been a great first round of fixtures. Atalanta were drawn in the same group as Premier League champions Manchester City, Shaktar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb. Apart from the Sky Blues, the Italian side were put in a group with sides of equal ability but Atalanta have failed to show their quality.

They sit bottom of the group with 0 points and a -9 goal difference after losing 4-0 to Dinamo Zagreb, 2-1 to Shaktar Donetsk and 5-1 to the before mentioned Manchester City.

The fact that they can’t even play in their own stadium for Champions League games probably doesn’t help either. They have to play at the San Siro which is over 40 miles away from their stadium, the Atleti Azzurri d’Italia stadium.

Atalanta’s Serie A campaign is going a little better with them sitting third after eight games.

REYES : FORMER ARSENAL PLAYER DIES IN CAR CRASH

Jose Antonio Reyes, Who was part of Arsenal’s historic ‘Invincibles’ in 2003-04, has died in a car accident aged just 35, Spanish club Sevilla have announced. Reyes who was with Spanish second division Extremadura for whom he played for just 2 weeks ago represented his boyhood club Sevilla 250 times scoring 40 Goals. He has also played for great names including Real and Atletico Madrid. A minute’s silence will be observed at Saturday’s Champions League final as a mark of respect to Reyes, who was the first Spaniard to win the Premier League.

Reyes signed for Arsenal during the January transfer window of the 2003–04 campaign for £10.5 million, he played 21 times and scored 5 goals in the remainder of that season including two in the penultimate two games of the season that helped keep as undefeated Arsenal won the title without losing. He played for the gunners for another 2 seasons winning the FA Cup: (2004–05) FA Community Shield (2004) and reaching the UEFA Champions League Final in 2005–06. In 2004–05 he managed to score in each of the first six games. He was named as the Premier League Player of the Month for August. Reyes featured heavily in the Gunners’ 2005–06 Champions League run, against, among others, Real Madrid, Juventus F.C. and Villarreal CF, coming on as a substitute in the final against FC Barcelona, which Arsenal lost 1–2. In total he played 110 times for the gunners scoring 23 Goals playing alongside greats including Thierry Henry and Cesc Fabreges who are among many people who paid tribute to Reyes.

Henry, called him a “wonderful player, superb team-mate and exceptional human being”. “I wish his family and friends continued strength and courage to get through this difficult time. #takenfartoosoon”, he added on Twitter

Former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas called Reyes his “first great friend in the world of professional football”, and added “Our connection in the field was also special.”I always say that you have been one of the greatest talents in our football and I know that I am not wrong. “Two days ago I was talking about you in an interview, it might be a sign, who knows, to remember you, my great friend.

Current Arsenal manager Unai Emery, who Reyes played under at Sevilla, paid tribute by saying: “Deeply sad and speechless after knowing this tragic news. I’ll never forget your magic and your smile.

After leaving Arsenal Reyes joined Giants Real Madrid on loan where he scored 7 goals in 38 appearances wining the la liga title, he then joined Real’s neighbours Atletico where he spent the next 4 seasons winning 2 UEFA Europa Leagues (2009–10, 2011–12) UEFA Super Cup (2010) UEFA Intertoto Cup (2007) and was a Copa del Rey runner-up in 2009–10.

He had a loan spell with Benfica whilst at Atletico before returning home to Sevilla in 2012 where he was part of the side managed by Emery that won 3 back to back Ueafa Europa Leagues and in the 2013-14 campaign scored in the second leg of their last-16 win over city rivals Betis. , in the final of the following season’s tournament, reportedly his final game for the club, he captained and assisted Carlos Bacca’s first of two goals as the team came from behind to defeat FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk 3–2 in Warsaw. However, he remained, starting as skipper in the ensuing Super Cup against Barcelona in Tbilisi and scoring a goal as his side came from 1–4 down to take the game to extra time, but lose nonetheless.

Reyes won his first full cap for Spain on 6 September 2003, coming on as a half-time substitute during a 3–0 friendly win against Portugal in Guimarães.[64] On 11 October, again coming from the bench, this time for Vicente, he scored twice in the final three minutes of a 4–0 win in Armenia for the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifiers,[65] but was left out of Iñaki Sáez’s final squad.

Two years later, Reyes was picked for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, but only appeared once in four matches – the 1–0 group stage win against Saudi Arabia, with Spain already qualified in first place.[66] He was again overlooked for the victorious Euro 2008 tournament, as manager Luis Aragonés preferred the likes of David Silva and Santi Cazorla on the wings.

Portsmouth| Back Petition for Europa League

Hard on the heels of their Checkatrade Trophy Final, Portsmouth have packed a petition being run by Change

The petition is for the winners of this seasons Checkatrade Trophy to be allowed to play in Europa League next season. Directly after the win, the pompey official website tweeted out the link, adding “Worth a Try”.

And why not, given that it is a cup competition. Older readers of this post, may recall that going back some years, the Welsh FA’s Welsh Cup offered for the winners of that competition entry into the UEFA cup, which younger readers of this post, now know as the Europa League.

While at first sight and face value it might seem tongue in cheek, what objections could there be?

Footballers strive to play at the highest level in the best stadiums and Wembley rates as one the finest stadiums, it obviously holds cup finals and for a lot of players in yesterdays checkatrade final, it was the first time they had played on the hallow turf.

So, why not follow it up with a chance to play in European competition and showcase your talents on one the best stages in the world

Will Pompey Succeed? Watch this space…

Brexit: How will it affect the Premier League?

It comes without surprise that all 20 of the current Premier League clubs were against Brexit in the first place. With Britain set to leave the EU on March 29th, and a ‘no deal’ Brexit looming closer by the minute, what will happen to The Premier League and English football in the future? 

 

The first likely outcome of Brexit on English football is the restriction on the movement of players from Europe to the UK, and vice versa. Players will most likely have to acquire work permits when transferring from The UK to Europe. It is estimated that only 60% of all players in the top flight are UK nationals, so there is major potential of future issues within the league. The clarity of movements in the transfer market may be completely hindered, with it being harder for Premier League clubs to sign European talent, and harder for players with UK citizenship to move to European clubs. Furthermore, with the Champions League quarter finals set to take place just two weeks after the March deadline, and four out of eight teams being from the UK, how will the final three stages pan out?

 

Another potential issue Brexit may reveal regards the 1995 Bosman ruling. The Bosman ruling has made a vital development to football around Europe, allowing players to act as free agents once their contract with the club has expired. The ruling came after three separate legal cases between Jean-Marc Bosman and UEFA, The Belgian FA and Bosman’s club at the time – Royal Football Club De Liege. Bosman won his case at The European Court of Justice in 1995. With the UK departing European jurisdiction, and it no longer being a requirement to follow EU law, UK players could potentially be at risk from a lack of free movement. 

 

The FA has already made a pre-Brexit statement regarding all teams in the Football Leagues. Back in November, they stated that every roster must consist of a minimum of 12 players from a UK background. This could have a positive and negative effect on the league; forcing managers to train with a more ‘British’ based team, leading to further player development and possibly lead to a stronger English, Welsh and Scottish national teams. However, it could lead to a lack of European talent in Premier League teams. Talented players such as Van Dijk, De Bruyne, Sane and Hazard may aim to look at joining major clubs in Europe, to mitigate against the uncertainty that Brexit may bring. Premier League scouts will most likely put their focus on British talent, and the number of European players brought to the top flight could be dramatically reduced. Furthermore, more pressure may be weighted on football academies, as there is an increased need for young English talent. This would lead to the increased development of young English players, the likes of Phil Foden, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Callum Hodson-Odoi all generated their success through excelling in their respected football academies. Could Brexit result in a breakthrough for unseen flair?

 

The main question on everyone’s mind is “Can Britain beat Brexit?” Although the outcomes still remain indistinct, it is clear that it could be rough. Lets just hope that it doesn’t tarnish our league and restrict the luminous football we are all so familiar with.