Pitchside

  • Miguel Delaney will be covering Europe's super clubs for us this season. He kicks off his regular column with a look at the ongoing transfer war between Barcelona and Real Madrid...

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    Barcelona felt they had to respond. Not to a goal, however, nor a Real Madrid victory - at least not on the pitch. It was a signing. Back around the turn of the millennium, when the Spanish sports papers would annually proclaim their domestic title “the league of stars” on account of the latest mega-purchases, the Catalans felt they urgently had to make a statement.

    One former player confided that, in

    Read More »from The Barca-Madrid arms race has peaked – and it could damage both clubs
  • City set to host 2022 World Cup final doesn’t yet exist

    Some fantastic cities have hosted the World Cup final – Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Madrid, Buenos Aires, even merry old London and soon we will likely be adding to the list Lusail.

    You know Lusail right? With its wondrous….eh….and its magnificent…hmm. Well no actually, we can't say much about Lusail, the Qatar city set to host the 2022 World Cup final and there is very simply reason for that - it doesn't yet exist. .

    Of course, there are several reasons to be suspicious of 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.

    The circumstances in which the tiny Gulf state fended off competition from the United States and

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  • Everything that was wrong with the LMA’s appalling statement

    Banter - noun - the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks: there was much good-natured banter. (Oxford Dictionaries)

    This is the definition a quick internet search brings up for 'banter', the horrible colloquial term that has slithered its way into the modern lexicon. That the word is synonymous with the likes of Richard Keys and Andy Gray, the disgraced/disgraceful football show presenters, and their odious brand of 'lad culture' tells its own tale.

    In what way do the racist text messages alleged to have been sent by Malky Mackay fit this definition? It's difficult, no, impossible

    Read More »from Everything that was wrong with the LMA’s appalling statement
  • Barcelona look to erase memories of ‘annus horribilis’

    This year may end on a high note for Barcelona, but 2014 has been awful for the Catalans so far.

    The Neymar transfer scandal which led to the club president stepping down hit the club in January, a few months before a transfer ban was implemented in March relating to the signing of under 18 players.

    We continue our extensive live coverage of Europe's top teams this season with ALL of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich's matches this season getting the live commentary treatment. We will also be covering the biggest matches in Italy and France across the 2014-15 campaign.

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  • Barcelona v Elche: With Luis Suarez absent, defence will be key

    Barcelona's signing of Luis Suarez from Liverpool was arguably the biggest deal of the summer.

    But, given the Uruguayan cannot play until late October, it could be Luis Enrique's defensive reinforcements that make the difference as they look to win back the Liga title.

    We continue our extensive live coverage of Europe's top teams this season with ALL of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich's matches this season getting the live commentary treatment. We will also be covering the biggest matches in Italy and France across the 2014-15 campaign.

    The club's first trophyless

    Read More »from Barcelona v Elche: With Luis Suarez absent, defence will be key
  • How will Mario Balotelli fit in Liverpool’s team?

    Squawka react to the news Mario Balotelli is coming back to England by attempting to work out how he will fit in Brendan Rodgers' XI...

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    When it was announced Luis Suarez would be making the switch from Liverpool to Barcelona there was a certain section of the Anfield support for whom the overriding feeling was very much one of relief.

    [OPINION: WHY BALOTELLI TO LIVERPOOL IS A BAD IDEA]

    Though undoubtedly the club's finest payer and the driving force behind their remarkable second-place finish last season, unfortunately Suarez's time in England had almost come to be defined by the

    Read More »from How will Mario Balotelli fit in Liverpool’s team?
  • Football lost a rare unifying force this week

    Presumably you're all familiar with Red Issue. If you aren't, they're an 'edgy' Manchester United fanzine who split their time between producing undeniably excellent journalism that puts many of the national newspapers to shame, and decrying 'grief junkies', people who they believe wallow in mawkishness whenever there is a public 'tragedy'.

    Their infamous cover following Fabrice Muamba's heart attack caused much wringing of hands among those who like their hands wrung, and while it's up to you whether to be offended by it or not, the central point seemed to be that it was silly, at best, to

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  • Opinion: Why Balotelli to Liverpool is a bad idea

    Mario Balotelli’s return to the Premier League is a gift for neutrals – it will be great to have one of football’s most fascinating and entertaining personalities back.

    It may also come as a relief for the man himself to escape the depressingly poisonous atmosphere that surrounds him in Italy.

    But for Liverpool? It represents a huge risk.

    There are reasons why it makes sense, of course. Liverpool need a striker and Balotelli is a good one with Premier League experience – plus he’ll sell plenty of shirts.

    But can he turn his flashes of quality into consistent, dependable contributions? And is

    Read More »from Opinion: Why Balotelli to Liverpool is a bad idea
  • Revising a reputation: Why Nani deserves better

    The hero’s welcome given to Nani on his return to Lisbon was in stark contrast to his farewell from Manchester. Most people could barely summon a “meh”; the majority of those who were animated wanted to say good riddance rather than wish him well.

    Even the club barely bothered to say goodbye. The official Twitter feed settled for a matter-of-fact announcement of his departure. No thanks, no highlights package, no leaving card, nothing. It was all a bit underwhelming for a man who played 229 times for United – more than authentic heroes like Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul McGrath.

    [UNITED SIGN

    Read More »from Revising a reputation: Why Nani deserves better
  • What on earth has gone wrong at Fulham?

    Eurosport Supervising Editor Seán Fay has been a Fulham season ticket holder for six seasons in which he has seen the team go from Europa League finalists to Championship strugglers; he tries to make sense of why it has all gone so wrong at Craven Cottage.

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    On Wednesday night, while watching Fulham crash to their third consecutive Championship defeat, I, like most in the home end, was screaming at the team to get to the ball to Patrick Roberts.

    If you haven't heard of Roberts, you will soon enough. He's is an immensely gifted attacking midfielder who moves with a smooth grace that is a joy

    Read More »from What on earth has gone wrong at Fulham?