Tag: Real Madrid

A Homage To A Catalonian Evening

I will get to actual football in a minute. Please bear with me. In a week when former Tory minister David Mellor bleated on TV about dishonesty in public life, it came as less of a shock to see Henry Winter making a good point in the Telegraph this weekend and Martin Samuel writing sensibly in the Daily Mail on Monday. Samuel left the Mail’s bleating at the BBC about Panorama to Charles Sale, who did his usual incisive and relevant job. Samuel instead concentrated on the valid economic fault lines in the Spain/Portugal bid which don’t (yet) afflict England’s bid. Winter’s piece descended into the general BBC-bashing which appears to be a contractual obligation for most football journalists in what used to be classed the “Tory” press. But not before noting the boost that the Spain/Portugal bid might get from Monday night’s telly. The schedule included Andrew Jennings’ latest FIFA Executive corruption revelations and live from Spain, el grand clasico, Barcelona v Real Madrid. Ideal viewing, Winter mused, to help a FIFA man choose Spain over England as a 2018 World Cup venue. Of course, you have to leave aside the fact the two programmes were scheduled against each other (and leave well aside any debates about whether or not Barcelona and Catalonia are in Spain). But, as regular readers will know, I’m not one to let facts...

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Ronaldo To Madrid… Possibly

It has been said before that the one single things that all great sides have in common is a player in midfield, aged in his mid to late twenties. That player is at the peak of his strength. He has the experience and guile from having played professionally for several seasons, yet his fitness levels haven’t yet succumbed to the inevitable slowing that comes with ageing. Most players careers follow this gradient, though there are exceptions (Ryan Giggs maintained his freshness until into his thirties, whilst Michael Owen seemed to peak at about twenty-one years old). If Cristano Ronaldo has reached the peak of his  powers, then he has done it very early indeed. One of the things about Alex Ferguson that makes him a great manager is that he knows when the top of that hill for a player has been reached and that it will be  downhill for them from there on. The sale of David Beckham to Real Madrid, the loan signing of Henrik Larsson and countless others that seemed, on one level, to defy all logic – one of the most critical skills that Ferguson possesses is the  ability to assess and analyse players, and he doesn’t get it wrong that often. If an offer of £80m for Cristiano Ronaldo has been agreed and Alex Ferguson is fully behind this acceptance, the most likely scenario is that Ferguson...

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Five Great European Cup Finals

If you open this morning’s newspapers, you’ll see that, in the opinion of the hacks, it’s already a foregone conclusion that this year’s European Cup final will be the greatest football match of all time. This may or may not come to pass, but it has some stiff opposition to overcome if it is to join as much as the greatest European Cup finals of all time. Although there were nine consecutive years during the 1970s and 1980s when no-one could manage more than a single goal in a European Cup final (and English teams were the worst for this – the halcyon days of English clubs in Europe featured five successive 1-0 wins for Liverpool, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa between them), there have been many European Cup finals that have been breathtaking events. Here, in no particular order apart from chronological, are five of the best: 1960: Real Madrid 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt – Real Madrid, of course, owned the European cup in its early years. They had already won the first four competitions by the time of the 1960 final, played at Hampden Park in Glasgow. The signs of greatness were already there. Real had thrashed Barcelona 6-2 over two legs in one semi-final, while Eintracht had beaten Rangers 12-4 in the other. A few weeks prior to this match England and Scotland had played out a...

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The 20 “Most Important” Football Clubs In The World

It doesn’t do any of us any harm to occasionally remind ourselves of the sheer blustering pomposity of the biggest clubs in football. Tonight’s ambassadors for “giving the fans what they want” (as ever, a thin mask for “making more money for ourselves”) are Milan, who had some very important opinions to give on the subject of a European Super League. “”I still believe a European league will be an unavoidable step, though it may take more time than expected,” said the Milan director Umberto Gandini. “Between the 50 most important continental clubs, none would give up playing in their respective countries”. Disregarding the increasingly popular opinion that perhaps the “most important” clubs should perhaps be expelled from all other competitions, packed onto a space shuttle with anyone that likes the idea of Milan playing Manchester United every week for the rest of eternity and sent to Jupiter so that they can get on with it there without inflicting it upon the rest of us, the use of the phrase “most important” which is the giveaway. The winding up of G14 and subsequent inclusion of the biggest clubs into the European Clubs Association was supposed to put an end to all of this, but it was simplistic to assume that the more atavistic tendencies of the biggest clubs would vanish merely because Michel Platini invited them for tea and...

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Slaves To Fortune

Is there any sound more grating than that of the petulant millionaire? One of the curiosities of the situation concerning Cristiano Ronaldo’s on-off move to Real Madrid is the lack of media training that he appears to have received. In an era in which players seemed to have been groomed from puberty, Ronaldo’s candour has been most refreshing. He has made more comments of any interest to the casual observer than David Beckham has managed over the last twelve or thirteen years or so. Unfortunately, most of the things that he has said have revealed him to be a petulant, over-grown schoolboy and, more-over, something of a liar. It’s difficult to say what motivated him to say that it would be fulfilling some sort of childhood dream to sign for Real Madrid other than stupidity, because everyone knows that to be a lie. The best guess that one can put forward would be to presume that Ronaldo’s statement was meant to make friends in influence people, but whether the world-weary supporters on Real Madrid will be impressed by vacuous nonsense is a highly nuanced question. Was it his “dream” to play for Real Madrid when he signed a five year contract to play for Manchester United last year? We’ll probably never know the exact truth. One can forgive Ronaldo his little outbursts on account that he is, in the overall scheme...

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