Barcelona's treble success of last season was as spectacular as it was deserved, but the way the current season began it seemed as though getting anywhere near to repeating the trick would be a near-impossible juggling act.
Injuries, suspensions and the registration ban on new players meant a severely depleted squad for Luis Enrique to deal with in the first three months of the campaign and it is only now that he is beginning to have players return, with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic all coming back in the past two or three matches.
Those last couple of games have shown exactly why Barcelona remain the team to beat, particularly the awe-inspiring front line of Leo Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
With the qualifiers done and the playoffs decided, the table is set for the 2016 UEFA European Championship. The tournament won't commence until June 10th, which means we're still more than half a year away. However, at Soccer Box, we are ready to help football fans all around Europe to prepare for the big continental competition. We've begun stocking Euro 2016 jerseys for a range of different international football squads, from Germany and Spain to Belgium and Sweden. These are the official kits that your favorite international teams are going to be wearing at Euro next summer, and thanks to Soccer Box, you can get yours today!
At the beginning of this season, it wasn't clear just how much time Willian, a 27-year-old Brazilian midfielder who has played for Chelsea since the 2013 2014 season, would get to spend on the soccer pitch. Willian made 36 appearances during the 2014 2015 campaign and was a strong part of the season's Premier League-winning squad. However, with fellow Brazilian teammate Pedro transferring to Chelsea over the summer, many football pundits pointed to Willian as the player most likely to lose his spot in Jose Mourinho's starting lineup.
However, in what has turned out to be a dismal campaign at Chelsea so far, Willian has been one of the lone bright spots. The attacking midfielder is the football club's top scorer for the season, with two goals in league play and five overall. He's singlehandedly kept the Blues in the running in the Champions League and is one of the few reasons fans are still holding out hope for a turnaround in the Premier League. Needless to say, Jose Mourinho has
Wolfsburg scored a massive victory, Borussia Dortmund snapped their seven-game winning streak, and Bayern Munich continued to avoid defeats in the 13th week of the Bundesliga title race 2015/16. The Bavarians are widening their lead over the rest of the table, with Dortmund's loss allowing the defending league champions to move from a five-point advantage to an eight-point lead. With 12 wins and only one draw on their record this season, Munich already seem like a foregone conclusion to clinch yet another German football championship next spring.
Bayern were in-form in their away fixture against Schalke 04, winning 3-1 to improve both their point total and their goal difference. Even with their star striker, Robert Lewandowski, going scoreless, the Bavarians still racked up three goals, including a last-minute contribution from Thomas Muller. Anyone waiting for the wearers of the Bayern Munich home jersey 2015/16 to show signs of weakness is going to keep waiting,
Coming into the first El Clasico match of the 2015 2016 season, most soccer fans and pundits alike were expecting to see a fairly competitive game. Games between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid tend to bring the excitement, and the November 21st fixture had numerous different interesting narrative angles to consider. As it turned out Barcelona crush Real Madrid and confirm their position atop the La Liga table, but what happened during the match?
Heading into the game, no one knew quite what to expect. Barca were leading the La Liga table, but Real would have the home field advantage. New Vikings manager Rafael Benitez would be facing Barcelona for the first time in his tenure. Lionel Messi, rumors indicated, he might be back on the pitch after a lengthy injury spell. And the top five most expensive players in the history of football-Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Neymar, and James Rodriguez-were all set to be on the pitch at the same time, for the first time
Gianluigi Donnarumma hasn't gotten a ton of play time at AC Milan this season, but in his limited appearances, he's already impressed football fans and pundits across the globe. ESPN FC has praised him for showing "shades of Buffon," a reference to Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon. Bleacher Report said Donnarumma provided proof that "the future is extremely bright for AC Milan. Other soccer-focused publications have showered the young keeper with similarly glowing praise. Donnarumma is, it seems, the breakout star of the 2015 2016 AC Milan season.
A Changing of the Guard
At the beginning of the season, Diego Lopez was the starting goalkeeper for AC Milan. The 34-year-old veteran is only in his second season with the Red and Blacks but has enjoyed a long and fruitful career. Having served as the first-choice keeper for both Villarreal and Real Madrid, Lopez is the kind of experienced goalkeeper that a team like
On October 5th, Poland's Legia Warsaw officially sacked their manager, Henning Berg. Despite the fact that Berg had coached the Legionnaires to an Ekstraklasa league title in 2014, a runner-up finish in 2015, and a Polish Cup victory in May, the football club didn't seem to hesitate in ejecting him at the first sign of trouble. Legia Warsaw weren't even in deep trouble, sitting fourth on the 2015 2016 league table when Berg was fired.
In a statement, Legia chairman Boguslaw Lesnodorski said that "the current formula of cooperation with the coach has expired, as it didn't guarantee accomplishment of all our goals in terms of sporting results during this season and the team's development." Just like that, Berg's 22-month tenure at Legia Warsaw came to a close. The club didn't take long to appoint a replacement, and we take this opportunity to profile the new Legia Warsaw manager Stanislav Cherchesov.
Just like Juventus have enjoyed four years of dominance in the Italian Serie A (until this fall, at least), Celtic FC have been the team in the Scottish Premiership over the past four years. Benefitting from the absence of the Glasgow Rangers, who were relegated from Scotland's top flight at the end of the 2011 2012 due to a new corporate identity. But, is their dominance affecting the clubs European performances? Are Celtic in need of a domestic challenge?
The Rangers remain the most successful team in Scottish football history, with 54 titles under their belts. The Celts are getting closer to that count, though, with 46 titles of their own. In addition, Celtic will likely snag a fifth consecutive Scottish Premiership victory in 2016. The Rangers, meanwhile, are still toiling in the second tier, looking for the last promotion back up into the top league that they used to dominate.
From 1964 to 1983, Johan Cruyff played 369 matches with AFC Ajax and scored 271 goals. Players with the football club have notched more appearances (603, the remarkable tally attained by forward Sjaak Swart) and scored more goals (Piet van Reenen's record of 273), but arguably no footballer has had quite the impact on Ajax that Cruyff has. After retiring from professional soccer, Cruyff managed Ajax for a time, from 1985 to 1988. He returned as an advisor in 2011 and has been a part of the football club, in some capacity, ever since, but last week the news broke that Johan Cruyff leaves role as advisor at Ajax.
It looks like the 68-year-old Dutchman's long and impressive journey with the Lancers has officially come to a close. On Monday, November 16th, Cruyff announced that he was quitting his advisory role with AFC Ajax. The announcement came via his weekly column in the De Telegraaf newspaper,
Maurizio Sarri doesn't want to hear it uttered. In fact he says it remains out of the team's vocabulary. Goalkeeper Pepe Reina recently joked that Sarri will kill him if he says it.
Club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis doesn't want to say "that little word" either. For the cinema tycoon, taking this team from bankruptcy to these heights in 12 years while impressively being the only Italian club to compete in Europe for the last six seasons he must surely be floating near cloud 9 these days.
For De Laurentiis, the thought of Napoli having a genuine chance of capturing their third Scudetto yes, that wicked word under a tactical mastermind like Sarri all while playing some of the best football in Serie A seems too good be to be true at the moment.
Despite the pair as well as the players not wanting to get too ahead of themselves, prominent football figures in the peninsula have come forward