May 7, 2013
Posted: 1332 GMT
After 124 games and 355 goals, there are only two teams left standing in the European Champions League.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund managed to navigate their way through an intense group stage and six dramatic knock-out stage matches to reach the final, scheduled for May 25 at Wembley.
Since there is still plenty of time to look ahead to the Battle of the Bundesliga, I have decided instead this week to take a look back at what has been an exhilarating season and pick my Most Valuable Player of the competition. Read the rest of this entry »
April 22, 2013
Posted: 1525 GMT
English Premier League footballers have it pretty good. They are rich, famous and idolized by millions of fans around the world.
It would be fair to say they are reaping the rewards of all the work done by English football officials over the last 21 years in making the nation’s top flight the most marketable and profitable soccer product on the planet.
However, as the Luis Suarez case showed this past weekend, the increased money has brought increased scrutiny, and that means players need to realize they have a responsibility to act in a professional manner. Read the rest of this entry »
April 16, 2013
Posted: 1200 GMT
Bayern Munich have clinched the Bundesliga title in record time, reached the semifinals of the European Champions League and the German Cup, and yet they are preparing to say goodbye to manager Jupp Heynckes at the end of the season.
Considering how well the Bavarians have done this year, we have to ask, do they really need Pep Guardiola? I say no they don’t.
Whatever way you look at it, Bayern have had an amazing campaign. Domestically, they are on course to set new league records for victories and points. Read the rest of this entry »
April 9, 2013
Posted: 1807 GMT
Carles Puyol is out. Javier Mascherano is out. All of a sudden, Barcelona have yet another defensive crisis ahead of a crucial Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain.
At a time when speculation regarding a big money move for Neymar continues to grab the headlines, is signing another forward really a priority at the Camp Nou?
Securing a top defender would be a better investment. Without one, future European campaigns could proves fruitless. Read the rest of this entry »
April 2, 2013
Posted: 1156 GMT
How tough is it to win the Champions League? So tough that since the competition's format was changed in 1991, no team has won the trophy in consecutive years.
You may know that the last club to successfully defend its title was AC Milan, and that was a side which had some world class players in its ranks. I am talking about guys like Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten among others.
As I prepare to interview Gullit on the CNN FC show this week, I decided to take a closer look at all the challenges clubs face in winning the competition these days, and I will tell you what, I don’t think any club will win back-to-back titles any time soon. Read the rest of this entry »
March 26, 2013
Posted: 1052 GMT
Everywhere I look, everyone I talk to, has Bayern Munich as the favorites in an upcoming high-profile European Champions League quarterfinal clash with Juventus.
I honestly can’t believe it. In my book, the Italian giants will not only knock the Bavarians out of the tournament, but they could go on to lift the trophy at Wembley in May.
I have said it for a while and I will say it again: Juventus may be the most underrated team in Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
March 20, 2013
Posted: 1018 GMT
David Beckham may be coming to the end of his career but he is still a man who can top a league. France Football magazine recently published its list ranking the world’s richest footballers and according to the publication the midfielder earned over $46 million last year, more than the two maestros considered by most fans to be the best players on the planet: Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Few soccer superstars can boast the business clout of "Brand Beckham", but how has the former England captain been able to hold on to his appeal? How is he still making more money in endorsements as a 37-year-old player past his prime, than the finest footballers of the current generation? Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2013
Posted: 1126 GMT
Ever since Cristiano Ronaldo admitted to being unhappy at Real in September last year, speculation has surrounded the future of the Portuguese star. His form may have been nothing short of miraculous but his Madrid-based ambitions remain plagued with vacillations.
The European Champions League glamor tie with his former club Manchester United has seen this area of unease brought into focus following a spurious report in El Pais that Real would sell Ronaldo if he didn’t commit to a new contract and after former teammate Nemanja Vidic told reporters he wouldn’t be "surprised" by a CR7 return to Old Trafford.
Whether driven by unhappiness in Spain, his love for the English Premier League, or due to stalling contract negotiations at the Santiago Bernabeu, according to some, it seems it is only a matter of time before the 28-year-old goes back to Old Trafford. Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2013
Posted: 1537 GMT
This week on The CNN Football Club show, we are welcoming one of the greatest defenders of all time - Marcel Desailly.
As I started to prepare topics of discussion with my star guest, who won two Champions League titles, the 1998 World Cup and Euro2000, I decided that it would be a good idea to write about the top center-backs in the Champions League this season. In other words, just like Desailly had inspired Olympique Marseille and AC Milan during the '90s, which top stoppers could do the same for their respective clubs during the current campaign? Read the rest of this entry »
February 19, 2013
Posted: 1227 GMT
I first said it three years ago and I will say it again now: Arsenal need a new manager. Arsene Wenger had a great run, but all good things must come to an end. Eight years without a trophy is not acceptable and the fact the club’s best players keep leaving is a clear indication they no longer believe in the Frenchman’s philosophy.
Let me make one thing clear. My opinion has nothing to do with this past weekend’s FA Cup defeat to English second-tier side Blackburn Rovers. And it wasn't Arsenal’s elimination from the League Cup - the lesser of England's two domestic knockout competitions - to lowly fourth division side Bradford either, though even now reading that statement tests credulity.
More that, for years now I have seen him lose the Midas touch that delivered so much glory to the proud North London side at the start of his tenure. Unfortunately, the time has come for the owners to recruit a new man with a new plan.
The trophy drought is indeed worrying, but if I were an Arsenal fan, what would really concern me is the fact that most of the team’s best players don’t want to work with Wenger anymore. Just look at some of the stars that have abandoned Arsene’s ship - Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Thierry Henry, Mathieu Flamini, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin Van Persie. Together, over the last eight years, all the players who have left the Gunners have gone out and won a combined 75 trophies. While Arsenal, as you know, have won none.
Obviously, many of those players I mentioned left because of money. The club has a strict wage structure and the owners deserve part of the blame by refusing to compete with some of Europe’s big spenders.
But the current situation is the culmination of a strategy that has been wrong for a long time. Wenger acts surprised when his best players leave in each close season and then stresses over the little time that remains to sign quality replacements. It happened in 2011 with Cesc and Nasri. It happened again last summer with Song and RVP. This has become a club that hopes for the best in the face of the brutal reality that money talks in the modern game.
The final indication that Wenger’s time has come at Arsenal is his loss of composure. Tired of seeing his team fail time and again, cracks have started to appear in his rusty armor. Earlier this season the 63-year-old was seen snarling at journalists’ persistent questions about failure, and on Monday he simply lost his cool. In the press conference before Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich, Arsene went into attack mode and reacted aggressively to suggestions he had not taken the Blackburn game seriously and he was about to sign a new two-year contract.
This from the man dubbed "The Professor" by adoring fans in his Gunners heyday for his suave sophistication and delivery of silverware via swashbuckling football to the Highbury faithful.
All the signs are there. The song is coming to an end, and Wenger and Arsenal have to stop dancing together. The coach deserves credit for building one of the greatest teams in Premier League history since he arrived from Japan's Grampus Eight in 1996 and he has led the Gunners into the Champions League group stages year in and year out.
However, finishing fourth cannot be a satisfactory objective for a club of Arsenal’s stature. Trophies have to be won, and it seems they will have to be won with someone else sitting in the dugout.
Don’t forget to tune in to the CNN Football Club on CNN International at 1700 GMT on February 21.