By Greg Lea.
It was a rule change that, in hindsight, should really have been introduced sooner. When Uefa decided in 2014 that future winners of the Europa League would automatically qualify for the following season's Champions League, the tournament was given a new dimension and its participants another incentive to take it seriously.
Sevilla were the first club to benefit from the amendment, with their 3-2 triumph over Ukranian outfit Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the final last May allowing them to enter the group stage of Europe's primary club competition this term despite only finishing fifth in La Liga. The Rojiblancos, who have won the tournament in each of the last two years and four times since 2006, are in a similar position this time around, too: ahead of the first leg of their round of 32 tie with Molde on Thursday, Sevilla's best chance of qualifying for the Champions League is by winning the Europa League once again.
In that respect, Unai Emery's
- Posted: February 18, 2016Categories: Liverpool, Manchester United, Athletic Bilbao, Schalke, Valencia, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla , Galatasaray, Lazio, Bayer LeverkusenRead more »
By Greg Lea.
- Posted: January 17, 2016Categories: Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Valencia, Sevilla , EspanyolRead more »
We're only just reaching the quarterfinals for the 2015/16 Copa del Rey, but the tournament has already brought its fair share of surprises. From the controversial disqualification of Real Madrid in the middle of the round of 32 (for fielding an ineligible player) to the surprisingly great showing from some of Barcelona's up-and-coming young talents, this year's Copa del Rey has offered entertainment and discussion in equal measure. Now, with the slate for the quarterfinal officially announced, we're checking back in with the tournament to assess the likely outcomes of the next run and whether or not FC Barcelona are a shoe-in to win the CDR title once more in 2016.
The Quarterfinal Draw
As is customary for the Copa del Rey, most of
- Posted: January 06, 2016Categories: Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, ValenciaRead more »
What a difference half a year makes. Last May, as the sun set on the 2014/15 La Liga season, Atletico Madrid weren't even particularly close to defending the title they had won a year before. The Mattress Makers finished the 2014/15 campaign in a respectable third place. However, their point tally of 78 was so far from Real Madrid (92) and Barcelona (94), that Atletico was hardly even in the same league, quality-wise.
Fast-forward to the first week of the New Year, though, and Atletico Madrid are back in the driver's seat, their consistency putting them above the flashier soccer squads of both Barca and Real Madrid. The Mattress Makers did lose one of their festive period fixtures, falling 0-1 to Malaga just five days before Christmas. However, Atletico followed that match up with two consecutive shutout victories, beating Rayo Vallecano 2-0 on December 30th and topping Levante 1-0 on the second day of the New Year.
- Posted: December 19, 2015Read more »
There can be no doubt that Gary Neville is an English football legend. A member of Manchester United's legendary "Class of '92," Neville spent almost two decades with the Red Devils, earning his first senior cap in 1992 and sticking around until 2011. He was the football club's captain for five of those seasons, contributed to eight Premier League victories, won the Champions League twice, and tallied 602 appearances. As a figure in England football history, and as a player period, Neville will never be forgotten.
Outside of England, though-and in the management game-Neville still has plenty to prove. He currently serves as assistant manager for the English national team, a post he has held since 2012. However, his more recent appointment to the
- Posted: December 09, 2015Read more »
By Karl Matchett.
While Nuno parting company with Valencia was one of the more expected outcomes of the current season, the appointment of Gary Neville as head coach to replace him was perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the campaign.
The former Manchester United right-back, respected though he is in the sport after excelling as an international player and then a diligent, insightful and well-spoken analyst, has no top-flight coaching experience at a club-although is assistant with the England national team-and is diving head-first into a new league, a new language and a new culture. Undoubtedly he will be helped to thrive by being surrounded by familiar faces and those who are affording him the opportunity to take the job in the first place, but as much as Neville remarked his "credibility would have been on the line" if he didn't take the role, so too will it now that he is the manager.
- Posted: October 10, 2015Categories: Valencia, Zenit St PetersburgRead more »
Zenit St. Petersburg have never won a UEFA Champions League title, or even gotten very close to doing so. In fact, the Russian club's European success is pretty much limited to a UEFA Cup (Europa League) victory in 2008 and a UEFA Super Cup title the same year. After a dynamite start to the Champions League 2015 - 2016 Group H, it seems like Zenit St. Petersburg might have what it takes to go a long way in the tournament. The Anti-Aircraft Gunners are up three points in Group H after just two games. Spanish soccer club Valencia are in second, while Lyon (France) and Gent (Belgium) are trailing in the bottom two slots.
Potential Frontrunner Status
So could Zenit St. Petersburg be potential frontrunners or dark horse contenders for the 2015 2016 Champions League title? It's tough to say. On one hand, the first month of the tournament has been remarkably competitive, to the point where Zenit's two-win record is pretty notable.
- Posted: September 15, 2015Read more »
15th September 2015.
After a two-year absence, Valencia CF will return to the big stage of the UEFA Champions League for the 2015 2016 season. The Bats have never won this particular tournament, and haven't contended in a championship match in a decade and a half now. However, after a strong fourth-place La Liga performance in 2014 2015, Valencia will be looking to turn over a new page in the UEFA's biggest club football competition. But is the Valencia CF Champions League history an indicator of future success or a series of big disappointments.
The Glory Days
To date, Valencia's most successful run at the Champions League occurred in the early 2000s. Though
Valencia got their start all the way back in 1919, they only qualified for the UCL (formerly known as the European Cup) once in their first 90 years of existence. When they did, for the 1971 1972, they reached the second round (or the round of 16), only
- Posted: April 17, 2014Read more »
As one of the most successful and most popular soccer clubs in Spain, Valencia CF (also know as the Valencia Club de Futbol) is a sports team that frequently packs its home stadium with supporters. In terms of Spanish football, Valencia CF ranks third in terms of size to Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. However, that fact hasn't kept Valencia from being a global heavyweight in terms of total audience draw. The team's home turf, Mestalla Stadium in Valencia, Spain, has a capacity of 55,000, but the team's current season ticket holder number of over 50,000 fills up most of that space on a game to game basis with most of those fans sporting the Valencia football shirt.
With that kind of support, it's
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