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Villarreal vs Juventus – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the Europa League holders Villarreal take on Serie A giants Juventus, who have just bolstered their squad with a £66 million striker in Dusan Vlahovic during January.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.

Route to the last 16

La Liga outfit Villarreal were able to secure their path into the knockout stages after pipping Atalanta to the runners-up spot in their group.

Unai Emery’s side suffered defeats home and away to Manchester United, but went undefeated beyond that and had their place confirmed prior to the final group game.

Juventus on the other hand were able to clinch top spot thanks to a 1-0 win over Malmo in their final group game, while Chelsea were held by Zenit.

Max Allegri’s team earned five wins from their six games, but it was a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Thomas Tuchel’s Blues that will give Emery’s side confidence heading into the final game.

Team news

Villarreal will be without their top scorer Gerard Moreno for the game, while Francis Coquelin and Ruben Pena will also miss the game. January signing Giovanni Lo Celso is a doubt, while Etienne Capoue is also expected to be racing against time to be available.

Arnaut Danjuma has been one of the stand out players for the Yellow Submarine so far this season, and his performances have seen him ear-marked as the true danger man for Juventus to deal with.

Juventus welcome Vlahovic to Europe’s elite competition for the first time in his career after his big money move from Fiorentina, and he should start.

Paulo Dybala is expected to miss the game, while Federico Chiesa is out for the rest of the season with an ACL tear. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will miss the game, which will likely see Danilo partner Matthijs De Ligt in the heart of defence.

Breakdown and Prediction

This is a game that will be decided by who plays less badly over the two legs, because neither team are particularly good right now.

Villarreal will be sturdy off the ball with their setup there to contain Juventus and pick them off on the counter with Danjuma’s pace.

Juventus are trying to become a ball dominant side who can sustain attacks and apply constant pressure to their opposition, but they’re in shocking form and really struggling this season.

Neither team have much chance of doing big things in this tournament this season, but in a game likely to be close you’d have to make the assumption that individual quality will make a difference.

Ultimately, the goals of Vlahovic will likely prove vital in this tie and the home tie back in Turin for the second leg should see Juventus qualify – just.

Villarreal 1-1 Juventus
Juventus 2-1 Villarreal
(Juventus to qualify 3-2 on aggregate)


Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.

The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Lionel Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or

Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time in his career, extending his record as the player to win it the most times.

The Argentine captain capped off a wonderful year for himself by pipping Robert Lewandowski and Jorginho to the award, making him the first Ligue 1 player to win the honour since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.

Messi had previously won each of his six awards with FC Barcelona, the club he played his entire career for before a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain.

The award was met with a mixed response from fans, with many believing Bayern Munich and Poland striker Lewandowski deserved the honour.

But in the end, Messi’s victory in the Copa America and Copa Del Rey as well as finishing as the top goalscorer in both tournaments and La Liga was enough to secure him the record breaking achievement.

Lewandowski finished second while Chelsea’s Jorginho rounded off the podium in third, having helped his club win the Champions League and led Italy to winning Euro 2020 in the summer.

Karim Benzema finished fourth, while N’Golo Kante finished fifth. The Premier League continued to dominate the top ten as Cristiano Ronaldo finished sixth, Mohamed Salah finished seventh and Kevin De Bruyne finished eighth, while PSG stars Kylian Mbappe and Gianluigi Donnarumma completed the top ten.

FIFA ensured that Lewandowski didn’t go home empty handed however, as the inaugral “Striker of the Year” award was given to the man who scored 64 goals in 54 games last season en route to yet another Bundesliga title.

Chelsea were crowned the inaugral “Club of the Year” winners, while Pedri was confirmed as the Kopa Trophy winner -given to the best Under-21 player in the world.

Messi’s victory moves him two clear of Ronaldo in the record hunt, as the Portuguese legend finished outside of the top three for the first time since 2010.

Zinedine Zidane resigns as Real Madrid boss as Max Allegri returns to Juventus

The European managerial merry-go-round has begun.

As the season comes to an end, the biggest clubs in Europe are making the tough decisions that can break or break the new season and it turns out that the heavyweights want change this summer.

After Antonio Conte resigned as manager of Inter Milan, he has been followed by Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid who officially resigned for the second time with a year left on his contract.

It had been widely expected that Zidane was going to walk away from Madrid again, as he oversaw a trophyless season with the club. He took the La Liga title race all the way to the final day, where Atletico Madrid’s victory meant they claimed the title.

He also took them to the Champions League semi-finals, where they couldn’t overcome a solid Chelsea side and were dumped out following defeat at Stamford Bridge in the second leg. But with so many injuries throughout the season and the club struggling financially, he wasn’t able to get the squad he was promised and has decided to call it a day with no sign of change this summer.

It was believed he was going to be replaced by Max Allegri, who had been without a job for two seasons after leaving Juventus following five consecutive Serie A titles. However, it was revealed on Thursday that Allegri is in fact set to return to Juventus, with the Turin side deciding to sack Andrea Pirlo.

Former midfielder Pirlo was originally hired as the youth team coach, but was promptly promoted once Maurizio Sarri was sacked last summer after winning the league. Despite his legendary status and strong squad, Juventus only finished fourth on the final day when Napoli failed to win allowing the Bianconeri to leapfrog them in the table.

While Pirlo was hopeful of staying, the decision was taken away from him and it seems now that Allegri will return and be given the keys to the rebuild that the club will undertake.

It means that Real Madrid will likely turn their attention to Conte now that he is a free agent. Conte previously almost joined Madrid back in 2018 when Zidane left the first time, but the club in the end went for Julen Lopetegui and we all know how that went.

There is also the chance that the club could go for Mauricio Pochettino, the current PSG manager. After failing to win Ligue 1, it’s believed that he is considering his future at the club after signing an 18-month contract in January of this year.

It was believed that his position could be under threat, but reports in France suggest they are keen to keep him for the upcoming season but he could be tempted to leave with his former club Tottenham Hotspur also back in the race for him.

It’s said that Spurs are confident they could strike a deal with PSG and Pochettino to bring him back to north London less than two years after sacking him. It seems as though both parties are open to making it happen, but PSG aren’t the most keen.

If Spurs and Pochettino were to push for it though, they could look to try and bring Zidane as a replacement. A French legend with plenty of success in Europe as a player and a coach, Zizou could be the perfect answer to the managerial position should it become available.

It’s a managerial merry-go-round in Europe, with the top clubs making big changes at the top. There’s a big summer incoming and there are plenty of twists and turns coming.

What will Juventus do with Andrea Pirlo and Cristiano Ronaldo this summer?

It’s been a long, tough season for Juventus and manager Andrea Pirlo this season but it’s finally all over for them.

It’s been pretty poor from them throughout the season, but a 4-1 win on the final day of the season meant that they just about secured qualification for Europe’s elite club competition when Napoli failed to beat Verona.

But that win came despite Pirlo dropping Cristiano Ronaldo from the starting lineup, despite him being completely fit for the game. That in itself offered up a lot of questions in the media about the player’s future, but also the manager’s after a very underwhelming season.

Despite just about qualifying for the Champions League, it’s impossible to think that Pirlo hasn’t underachieved. After winning the league for the previous nine seasons, finishing fourth and heading into the final day with their fate not even in their own hands is simply not good enough.

He was able to win silverware though, winning the Coppa Italia thanks to a 2-0 win over Atalanta in the final, but overall you’d be hard pressed to find a Juventus fan content with how the season has gone. Especially if you consider the fact that Maurizio Sarri was sacked despite winning the league due to his style.

Pirlo’s side play uninspiring, dull football and really failed to get the best out of a large section of the squad. He should be praised for the form of Federico Chiesa, Juan Cuadrado, Matthijs De Ligt and even Ronaldo himself, who was Serie A’s top scorer this season, but the decision to often play a rigid 4-4-2 system is certainly questionable.

Add to that the fact the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Paulo Dybala and Alex Sandro have really struggled under him, Juventus could look to move him on a year early in his contract and try to bring in someone better to oversee the rebuild they need.

The biggest question of the rebuild will undoubtedly circle around the future of the legendary Portuguese attacker. At 36 years old, it’s fair to say Ronaldo isn’t quite the player he once was. Despite that though, he has been Juventus’ top scorer every year since joining the club and won the Serie A golden boot this season with 29 league goals in 33 appearances and 36 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

Despite his phenomenal numbers, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that having Ronaldo in your team takes away from the numbers that your other attacking players can put up. For example, Karim Benzema has scored 30, 27 and 30 goals in the three seasons since Ronaldo left Real Madrid. In the nine seasons they spent together, he only bettered 27 once and only bettered 30 once.

Dybala managed to score 26 times in the season before Ronaldo joined Turin, but since his arrival he’s registered just 32 in the three seasons combined.

Ronaldo is currently on around €60m per-season and is entering the final year of his contract, but the chances of another club stepping in to try and sign him this summer is so, so low. His wages are insane and it’s unlikely that a club so desperate for the European Super League because of their financial situation is likely to be able to just pay him off.

It’s hard to see Pirlo and Ronaldo both being at the club at the start of next season and if I had to bet money on one of them leaving it would be Pirlo. But something tells me that Juventus may see next year as another write off campaign.

Focus on securing a better season, then the following season start over without Pirlo and without the huge burden of Ronaldo in the team for the new manager to work with and build from.

It’s certainly a situation to keep an eye on, and one that no matter what way it goes won’t totally be a surprise.

Lille crowned champions of France as Juventus scrape Champions League qualification

Paris Saint-Germain are not the champions of France anymore, after Lille were crowned the winners of Ligue 1 thanks to their win over Angers on the final day.

The French title race went down to the wire, with PSG needing to better Lille’s result on Sunday to be able to leapfrog them at the final hurdle and win the title for a fourth straight season.

It was never on the cards on the day though, as Lille took an early lead and never looked back. Record signing Jonathan David was put through on goal by Renato Sanches and slotted past the goalkeeper, before Burak Yilmaz smashed a penalty home on the stroke of half-time to all but seal the title in the first half.

PSG had an eventful first half of their own, with Neymar missing a penalty after mind games from the Brest goalkeeper before Angel Di Maria scored directly from a corner. Kylian Mbappe added another in the second half but that wasn’t enough though as Lille stayed firm throughout the second half of their game to be crowned champions for the first time since the 2010/11 season.

It’s an incredible achievement from Christophe Galtier’s side, who have blended youth and experience brilliantly and maintained a very exciting style of play to be able to go toe-to-toe with the billionaires in the capital.

Mauricio Pochettino’s job when appointed in January was to ensure success. While he has won two domestic cups since joining, the club were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Champions League by Manchester City and now were pipped to the title too, in a league many deem to be a one-horse race.

Considering he only signed an 18-month contract on arrival, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Qatari owners decide to cut ties now and bring someone else in this summer with a more long-term view at things.

Elsewhere on the continent in Italy, Juventus were able to scrape qualification into the Champions League on the final day after Napoli failed to beat Verona and they beat Bologna 4-1.

Ronaldo watches on as an unused substitute

Manager Andrea Pirlo made the unthinkable decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the team for the must-win game, but the choice worked brilliantly as the Bianconeri raced into a 3-0 lead in the first-half. Ronaldo didn’t even come on as Juventus waited patiently, but as Napoli failed to break down Verona and were held to a 1-1 draw their fate was confirmed.

They’ll be joined in the competition by AC Milan, who beat Atalanta 2-0 thanks to two Franck Kessie penalties to finish 3rd and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.

Milan had led the table for a short period during the winter, but eventually faded away and as injuries and poor form picked up their season threatened to spiral out of control. Stefano Pioli was able to manage the situation well though and saw the team win four of their last five games to secure a wonderful season for themselves.

While Ronaldo’s future will almost certainly now be called into question, Juventus will be delighted to have been able to qualify after a very rocky season. They can now focus on rebuilding the squad, with or without Pirlo and Ronaldo, to try and reclaim their place as Italy’s best.

As for PSG, they also have some big decisions to make this summer. Despite the hundreds of millions spent revamping the squad over the years, they are still in need of some big upgrades at full-back and in midfield. Add to that the fact that Mbappe is entering the final year of his contract and there is a lot going on that needs to be addressed this summer.

How Europe’s leagues can be settled on the final day

A long and crazy season is finally coming to an end, but not before a wild final day across Europe’s top leagues.

While the Bundesliga in Germany is settled, with Bayern Munich finishing as champions for a ninth consecutive season and the top four places already cemented, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A are all far from complete as we enter the final game of the campaign.

With champions and Champions League places to be settled in them all, lets take a look at all the potential outcomes of the three leagues so that you’re all caught up ahead of the games.


The French title race has been one of the most riveting all season long, with Paris Saint-Germain looking to become champions for a fourth season in a row.

Their quest for success has been matched all the way though by LOSC Lille, who have led the way with the points tally since the 20th game of the season. PSG have tried to close the gap but failed to win key games, but Lille have continued winning games to go into the final day of the season as favourites to win the title.

As it stands it’s a three-horse race, although AS Monaco will need a lot of things to go in their favour to become champions.

If Lille win their final game of the season against Angers they will be champions, no matter what else happens in the division.

Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG must better Lille’s result to become champions again. Should they draw with Brest and Lille lose, they will both end the season on 80 points but PSG will win the title on goal difference with the league breaking any ties via GD and then goals scored – not head to head.

If Monaco are to pull off the impossible, they must win their final game of the season against Lens and hope both PSG and Lille lose. On top of that, they will need a six goal swing in their favour for the goal difference. It’s unlikely, but still possible and would represent the biggest shock of all the potential possibilities.


While the champions of Italy are already crowned with Inter Milan ending the dominance of Juventus thanks to the brilliance of Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku in particular, the rest of the division is a free-for-all.

The four places directly below them are all still up for grabs, with the potential of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus team finishing up in the Europa League places very real.

The final day of the season will see Atalanta take on AC Milan, where a win for Milan will not only confirm their place in the Champions League for next season but also move them above Atalanta in the league table. That would also allow Napoli to move above them with a win in their final game against Verona. Should both Milan and Napoli win their games, it won’t matter what Juventus do on the final day against Bologna as they will be unable to be caught.

Juventus must win their game and also hope one of AC Milan or Napoli do not in order to make the top four and ensure their record of appearing every year since 2012 continues. Should Andrea Pirlo’s side fail to win, then both Napoli and Milan will qualify regardless of their own results.


The simplest of all, but the most tense end to the season will be the Spanish league title race between Madrid’s two biggest clubs Atletico and Real.

The two sides, along with FC Barcelona, have competed all throughout the season to be crowned champions, with Diego Simeone’s side at one point holding a massive lead with games in hand too. However a bad turn in form earlier in the season has seen them be dragged back into the tussle and it will now go down to the final day.

Barcelona were in the race up until this past weekend, when a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo meant they now were unable to match the winning points tally but the tightness of the battle between the top two was on show in the matches involving the two Madrid sides.

Atletico were able to wrap the title up during the last game, if they had won their game against Osasuna and Real Madrid had failed to win. However as Real Madrid took the lead through defender Nacho, Atleti fell behind. They managed to turn the result around however, with goals from substitute Renan Lodi and a late winner from summer signing Luis Suarez meaning the title is still in their hands.

This weekend Simeone’s men will travel to Valladolid knowing that a win will secure them a first title since 2013. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will however host Villarreal, who need a win to secure European football themselves next season but also have a Europa League final in the midweek following to navigate.

Should Real Madrid win and Atletico Madrid’s fail to, they will win the title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since their 2006-08 campaigns. Los Blancos’ huge win in December in the Madrid derby means they will win the league should both teams finish level on points, with Spain opting for a head-to-head tie-breaker rather than goal difference.

Remembering Greatness: Lilian Thuram

When you think back to the legendary French national team back in the late nineties and early 00’s, one thing they were built off was a solid defence.

Along with the elegance of Zinedine Zidane in midfield and the explosive technique of Christophe Dugarry and Youri Djorkaeff in attack, in addition to the youthful energy and skill of Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, they were able to field a defence that was complete with everything you’d ask for.

One of the stand-out performers of that golden generation was right-back and absolute unit Lilian Thuram.

Standing at 6ft tall, Thuram was a physical defender who used those gifts to great effect constantly. He had fantastic pace, excellent strength, a brilliant football brain and was a leader throughout his career, winning a trophy at every club he played for as well as at international level.

He started off with AS Monaco in Ligue 1 as a teenager and after a couple of seasons as a back-up squad player, he finally broke into the team as a regular in the right-back position. In that first season with Monaco he won the Coupe de Ligue, although he wasn’t selected to play in that game by a certain Arsene Wenger.

He would go on to make 193 appearances for the French giants, while making his international debut in 1994. He also competed in Euro 1996, starting four out of five of France’s fixtures as they went out in the semi-finals on penalties after conceding just two goals throughout the tournament.

Those performances would earn him a high-profile move to Parma in Serie A, as he became part of their legendary team filled with talent such as Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Juan Sebastian Veron and Hernan Crespo.


He made over 200 appearances for the club and won three trophies during his time in the famous yellow and blue shirt, all of which came in 1999. An excellent campaign saw Parma do the double, winning the Coppa Italia on away goals after drawing 3-3 with Fiorentina over two legs, before lifting the UEFA Cup thanks to a 3-0 win over Marseille in Moscow.

Thuram became a stalwart of the team and was a leader of the changing room as they went on to win the Supercoppa Italiana with a 2-1 win over league champions AC Milan, with Thuram captaining the team as one of the three centre-backs.

While he never lifted the Serie A title with Parma, many regard that period of his career as the best despite the trophies that would follow at club level. Not only did he do brilliantly with the Italian side, but he was magnificent as France dominated the international scene too.

Continuing in his right-back role with the national team, France won the 1998 World Cup with Thuram starting six out of seven games and the team conceding just once with him in the team. That goal came in the semi-final against Croatia, where Thuram played Davor Suker onside to allow them to take the lead. He made amends for losing that perfect record however by scoring twice to send Les Bleus through to the final – his only two international goals.

At Euro 2000 he was just as influential and important, starting five out of six games and completing every minute of each of those games. In fact, the only minutes he missed during the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 were when he was rested in the third group game of both tournaments with France already qualified, such was his importance.

The following season with Parma would go on to be his last as he led the team to a fourth place league finish and a Coppa Italia final, where they were beaten by Fiorentina 2-1 on aggregate.

His phenomenal reputation and ability earned him a move to Serie A heavyweights Juventus, who took him and Buffon at the same time for a deal that would be worth around €41million today.

The move saw him final claim some of the many titles his ability deserved, as he racked up four Scudetto’s (although two were later revoked due to the match-fixing scandal) and two Italian Supercoppa’s in five years at the club.

Once again playing as a right-back under Marcelo Lippi and then Fabio Capello, Thuram showed the world that while he was known as a no-nonsense central defender that had shone as one of the best around in the toughest defensive era, he could go both ways.

He continued to use his pace and intelligence to overlap and cause problems for opposition defenders in a team that dominated the bulk of possession and he was able to adapt brilliantly.

French players Christophe Dugarry, Lilian Thuram, and Robert Pires celebrate with their trophy after winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup 3-0 against...

Thuram was an ever-present in the team that made it all the way to the 2003 UEFA Champions League final, where they were beaten by Serie A rivals AC Milan on penalties at Old Trafford.

After the match-fixing scandal that rocked Italian football, Thuram was coming to the end of his career at 34 years old. That didn’t stop the top clubs wanting him however, as European champions Barcelona paid €5m to bring him to Spain.

There he would act largely as back up to Carles Puyol, Rafael Marquez and Gabriel Milito at centre-back with his pace now not what it once was. It was a transitional period for Los Cules and while they didn’t win La Liga during his time at the club, he was part of the club that won the Super Cup in 2006 – playing one half of the second leg in a 4-0 aggregate win.

Thuram would retire at the end of his two year spell as the third player to hit 100 international caps and most capped French player every with 142 caps to his name, with a record of having won everywhere he went.

Without a doubt one of the best pure defenders the modern game has ever seen, but also one of the most underrated attacking full-back to play the game too. One of France’s greatest ever exports, remember Lilian Thuram’s greatness next time you’re talking about all-time great defenders.

The European Super League is rubbish but why are people shocked?

News broke on Sunday that rocked the footballing world, as it was announced that 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs have agreed to form a breakaway ‘Super League’.

The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ as well as Spain and Italy’s three biggest sides have all signed a letter of intent that will see the club’s form their own super league to compete with the UEFA Champions League.

While dates and such aren’t official yet and likely won’t be for a while, it was a huge signal that these clubs are done with the way things are handled by FIFA and their respective leagues.

The move comes just one day prior to UEFA’s plans to announce a Champions League revamp from 2024 onwards, that will see the format of the competition change to a league-like structure where each team will play ten games rather than the traditional six group games.

It’s said the top sides aren’t happy with the revenue share from television deals that would take place if it went through, and thus have decided to form their own league that they control themselves.

The leaked news was met with shock, anger and disgust by many including – and most vocally – Gary Neville, former Manchester United defender and current part-owner of EFL club Salford City.

His argument was simple; it shouldn’t be done during a pandemic when other club’s are struggling for money and he was disgusted that clubs with a footballing tradition such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal would even consider accepting the proposal.

What he failed to consider is that other clubs’ financial position is absolutely nothing to do with any of those clubs or any other club potentially involved. It is not those top clubs’ responsibility to ensure that smaller clubs in and around them and the footballing pyramid are financially secure, in fact, it’s none of their business whatsoever.

Add to that the fact that as he has so conveniently pointed out in the past, these are multi-million pound businesses now and they’re being run as such.

Why would Daniel Levy of Tottenham Hotspur turn down a reported £350m plus guaranteed stability in this league since there are no plans for relegation or promotion currently, in favour of less money and less stability? Because Burnley weren’t invited to the party? It makes no sense.

These clubs are doing what their owners feel is best for their pockets and you absolutely cannot blame them.

Is it right? No. Is it fair on fans? Absolutely not. Is the European Super League even an attractive idea from a fan standpoint? Barely.

But that isn’t the point. The point is that these clubs are the reason that the competitions they’re competing in are so successful and make so much money. They have openly asked for a bigger chunk of the pie because of that and have been outright denied that by UEFA in the Champions League.

Whether you agree or disagree is another argument entirely, the point is that they disagree. They’ve now taken their powers, combined them and decided that they can do it themselves. The TV companies will lap it up because they’re the biggest teams with the best players in the world going head to head regularly. They’ll be dripping in sponsorship money and they’ll be in control.

Their initial plan was to directly compete with the Champions League, not their own domestic leagues and that is important. The talk of a ‘breakaway league’ has only come about because the domestic leagues in question are refusing to allow them to take part in both competitions.

But is the Premier League still the Premier League when the biggest possible fixture is Everton vs Leicester? Is La Liga still valuable when the biggest game of the season is Sevilla vs Valencia? Does anyone care about the Champions League if the best players aren’t involved? The answer is no.

UEFA have rightly got the leagues on their side and it means it’s almost certain that this won’t go ahead anyway. With threats of bans from domestic leagues, continental competitions and even international tournaments in alignment with FIFA, players won’t do it and eventually UEFA and the clubs in question will find a compromise.

It’s really important though that this narrative of big clubs having to babysit smaller clubs is quashed. The attention should be on what it does to fans and for the competitive nature of the sport.

Fans would be forced to travel abroad on a far more regular basis for games that are essentially meaningless since there is no chance of promotion or relegation and would simply be to rack up extra currency for the power-hungry owners to spend elsewhere, because they’re not pumping it back into their clubs.

The irony and hypocrisy of people taking the moral high ground when the Champions League and Premier League were revamped 30 years ago for this exact reason absolutely reeks.

Fans don’t want the super league to happen, the only people that do are the cash-hungry owners. Separate those people from the clubs they represent and you’ll be much closer to the root of the problems.

Remembering Greatness: Edgar Davids

Football in 2021 is defined by statistics and roles on the pitch more than ever before in the past.

There is no such thing as just being a defender, or just being a midfielder any more. Now you’re either a ball-playing defender or a no-nonsense centre back, you could be a box-to-box midfielder who excels defensively or a technical wizard going forward.

It’s all more specific now, but one player from the 90’s and 00’s that fits into any central midfielder role that you want to put him in is Edgar Davids.

A combative defensive midfielder, with the flair and personality of a number ten, Davids represented some of the biggest clubs in Europe and won everything at club level there was to win.

With his flowing dreadlocks he was always a stand-out player on the pitch. He had an ability to make everything look simple and easy. Despite being a defensive midfielder by nature, he had that aura about him that struck fear into the opposition. He was fleet of foot, creative, expressive and an absolute joy to watch.

The best comparison I could possibly give to anyone that hasn’t watched him would be to say he was N’Golo Kante mixed with a bit of Riyad Mahrez. His left foot was special and his attacking skills were great, yet it was defensively where he pulled up most trees in his career.

Football. UEFA Champions League Final. Vienna, Austria. 24th May 1995. Ajax 1 v AC Milan 0. Members of the Ajax team celebrate with the trophy as photographers take their picture. L-R: Finidi George, Edgar Davids, Jari Litmanen and Nwankwo Kanu. : News Photo

He broke into the Ajax team back in 1991 after joining the club as a 12-year-old, overcoming two previous rejections from the club. His fierce style of play in the middle of the park saw him nicknamed ‘The Pitbull’ by Louis van Gaal during his time in Amsterdam and the energy he displayed in the infamous 3-4-3 system helped bring the club a UEFA Champions League title in 1995.

The following year in 1996 when Ajax reached the final once again, Davids missed the first penalty of the shootout as the club went on to lose but he never let that affect his career. It was almost a pillar of what he stood for on the pitch for the rest of his career – keep going, never stop going.

He also helped the Dutch side to three Eredivisie titles, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup before he decided to move on at just 23-years-old having already been part of so much success.

It wasn’t all roses for him when he made the move to Italy initially, joining AC Milan under Oscar Tabarez. Milan struggled and Tabarez was sacked in December, replaced until the end of the season by the legendary Arrigo Sacchi. He made 25 appearances in all competitions as they finished in 11th place, then after just ten appearances under new boss Fabio Capello he was allowed to join rivals Juventus.

The legendary Marcelo Lippi referred to him as “my one-man engine room” and often used him in the centre alongside French playmaker Zinedine Zidane, with the two striking up a super partnership and friendship. Even after Zidane left for Real Madrid, Davids continued to have great success with the Turin side.

He won three Serie A titles, two Supercoppa Italianas and even an Intertoto Cup, while also reaching yet another UEFA Champions League final which he lost on penalties.

Following that loss, Davids found himself on the fringes of the Stadio Delle Alpi and in January 2004 he joined FC Barcelona on loan for the remainder of the season. At this point Frank Rijkaard was under immense pressure, with Los Cules sitting in fifth in La Liga.

Davids’ arrival sparked an upturn in Barca’s fortunes that season and while they didn’t quite make it to the title they did end up finishing in second place behind eventual champions Valencia.


Davids completed the trifecta in Serie A by joining Inter Milan after his loan wasn’t made permanent. He only stayed there for a year before joining Tottenham and succeeding in the Premier League during his 18 month stint at the club, finishing in fifth before returning back to Ajax and ending his club career with Barnet as a player-manager.

His international career was also tremendous, representing the Oranje 74 times over 11 years. He was known for being outspoken, once saying in a radio interview that manager Guus Hiddink “had to take his head out of some players’ asses.”

He was named in the team of the tournament at the World Cup 1998 as Holland finished fourth, as well as at Euro 2000 and then in 2004 he was named captain of the national team by the legendary Marco Van Basten.

There are some players that will always be remembered for what they do on the pitch and some will be remembered for reasons nothing to do with football.

Davids is one who will be remembered for skill, tenacity and ability, as well as his trademark dreadlocks and glasses. If there was ever a footballer that defined the ‘streets will remember’ moniker it’s him.