It’s always fun times when the Champions League returns because as a fan you get to see the best competing against the best.
I remember dreaming of one day playing in the Champions League after going to watch Ajax by myself. My friends would tell me it is too cold to watch, so I would go to my teammates and ask them – but would hear the same thing. “It’s too cold, you’re crazy!”
So I would go on my own. If I told you the number of times that I sat on my own in the stadium watching Ajax, with my knees and ankles being frozen, you would tell me this guy is an iceman. But I learned so much and sometimes I got goosebumps and sat there with a big smile on my face as the team walked out with flowers to throw to the fans while the famous Champions league music played.
Not long after it was my turn to play against the best, with the likes of Zidane showing me football that was out of this world. Damn that guy was good. I can go and talk to you for days about how great it was but it think we will need a couple more pages for that because watching and playing will be never the same sensation.
Now that I’m a fan and watch the action from a birds eye view it still gives me that amazing feeling when I hear the Champions League song. That piece of music gives you the feeling a boxer gets when he hears “let’s get ready to rumble!”
Back to the guys who are active and entertaining us today, I think Madrid are looking great again. Ronaldo is always demanding the best of himself, which is what makes him so unique, and the team is so well-oiled and look like the hunger is still in the team and I love seeing that. They all want it again and will do whatever it takes to make it three in a row.
All the English teams have started strong and I expect a lot from them this season because they have invested a lot of time, money and effort to make their squads big enough to compete in two competitions. This is going to be a long season so all the players want to end it with a big trophy before going away for the summer to fight for the even bigger one, the World Cup.
Chelsea’s main focus is winning the Champions League because that’s always the next objective after you win the domestic league. You want more and there’s only one trophy out there to make your season even better. But they have Man Utd and City going after it with the same determination, that we could see in all of their first games. This season could be the time that the English teams start ruling again.
Spurs also looked impressive in their win over Dortmund. This German side have become one of the dark horses to watch out for in Europe, finishing as runners-up in 2013 and making the quarterfinals last season. But Spurs showed why they are becoming one of the top sides in England with a 3-1 win.
Liverpool could also cause some surprises with their counter attacks and speed. They’re England’s most successful club in Europe and their comeback against AC Milan in the 2005 final shows how you can never rule them out.
PSG look great but can they play the way they did in that great first half against Barcelona throughout the whole tournament? I’ll be watching them closely over the next couple of games to see if they are solid enough to win it. The surly have the players to do so.
Barcelona are impossible to leave out of the conversation as they are always in contention of winning it. Messi and co can pass their way through any defence in the world as they showed against Juventus in their opening game. It’s Buffon’s last chance to lift the trophy and if they can repeat their performances from last season and get a bit of luck along the way it could be the best sendoff possible for Gianluigi.
Bayern are the other big team that are in with a real chance of winning the competition. They have made the final three times since 2010, winning it in 2013.
Whatever happens this season it can’t be missed. Watching and playing football is still one of the happiest things in my life!
Premier League is the most popular league in the world today.
So then why is the world questioning whether or not it is the best league in the world?
It’s the high intensity, speed and power of the home grown players, as well as the
variety of international culture that brings this league to a whole different
But Chelsea’s crash on Wednesday evening put everything back in perspective. Fans
started doubting their own beliefs and neutrals couldn’t believe what they had witnessed.
It was the downfall of a hero – as unexpected by their followers as by their
Ahead of my first Chelsea game, Ray Wilkins told me: “Make sure the fans feel your
hunger to win, your skill and intelligence in reading the game, and I assure you,
they will fall in love with you.”
The league is still this same way. There’s heart and passion, and all fans want is
to come out, support their teams and be entertained for 90 minutes. But
sometimes players fall into the trap of playing these same league tactics in
the international tournaments.
When I played for the Netherlands, against England, we came into the game aware that
the 1st half would be a big battle, but by the start of the 2nd half they’d start to loose energy and focus and therefore they’d offer us opportunities to strike them while exposed.
But all the while, I’ve had the pleasure to play many exciting games; there is no comparison
to the atmosphere in the Premiere League. For me it’s always been the most
enjoyable league to play in and to watch. Once you’ve had a taste of it, you’re hooked.
The French league is more technical and has a lot of fast players. PSG will now be
the team that people will keep an eye on, although the French league isn’t at
its best yet.
Siere A is also going through some changes, with their game opening up rather than the
hard, solid defence play they’re used to. Juventus seem like the only team with
the right balance so far, particularly with highly rated young star Paul Pogba
generating several beautiful moments.
The Bundesliga could be the most exciting league to watch at the moment, especially
since all teams competing for the German title are close up together, which
makes for a constant threat because the other team is right behind you, breathing
on your neck.
This is what makes the players perform better, the games exciting to watch and glues
you to your chair for 90 minutes straight.
La Liga is the most elegant league of them all, with players like Cristiano
Ronaldo and Lionel Messi who make the game enjoyable for fans of any sport.
I never want to miss the El Clasico, and whether you’re a fan of the two teams or
not even following the Spanish league, it is always a must watch. Last year
Atletico showed a mix of hard work and class to clinch the title. This is the
perfect league for a young upcoming player to learn about tactical game plan
and the technical ability you’ll need in the game.
“We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it, we like it.”
The words chanted by a group of Chelsea fans, if I may
call them fans, who shoved a black man off the Paris Metro in footage
which has been circulating the web since the Champions League last-16
match on Wednesday.
Hateful, infuriating and embarrassing to football.
Sadly, racism and football have been connected for
decades and the sight of fans drunkenly chanting abuse around cities is
nothing unusual. But why is this old fashioned ignorance still prevalent
in the game
today? The victim of the abuse, a Frenchman of Mauritian descent named
Souleymane, is somebody’s husband, brother, friend, and a father of
three. An innocent local racially attacked by a mob of football fans –
Football is supposed to bring people together for
entertainment. People pay to watch the players, support their favourite
teams and with a bit of luck celebrate victory – but the people you see
chanting in the
video are not fans of football. Chelsea is a great football club with a
fantastic fan base, and the “fans” at the centre of this controversy are
a disgrace to the club and to English football. They are merely using
the sport as an outlet to behave like pathetic,
Perhaps it would be unfair to impose stronger punishments
on Clubs due to the actions of a small bunch of supporters, but Chelsea,
the FA, the Premier League and the police must do what they can to send
message that racism is totally unacceptable.
Anyone in the world can speak the language of football and the sport repeatedly shows us that human beings are equal.
I don’t see colour!