The Big Analysis: Borussia Dortmund vs Real Madrid

“La BBC contra el Muro Amarillo,” ran Tuesday’s front page headline in Madrid’s football newspaper, Marca. Translated as, “the BBC (Bale, Benzema and Cristiano) against the Yellow Wall,” the paper focused on the challenge posed to Real Madrid’s superstars at Signal-Iduna Park in Westphalia, Germany. The Yellow Wall describes the 25,000 capacity grandstand behind the goal…

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Amsterdam’s last night of European glory

It was 14 September 1994 and Ajax were up against AC Milan. Never before or since had a single football match transversed generations with such poignancy and awe. Under a pregnant Dutch sky, an archaic, city-centre stadium hosted 21st-century football in a 20th-century setting. Naturally, the poignancy is a recent burden, heightened by a stuttering transition…

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Stalinist utopia and the Ghosts of Avanhard

The Avanhard Stadium was set to open on 1 May 1986 as the centrepiece of Stalinist utopia and regeneration in northern Ukraine. Soviet authorities saw the building of the new football ground as a key aspect in the development of the newly-founded town of Prypyat – named after the local river – aimed to be a…

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The Big Analysis: Burnley vs Watford

Monday night saw Sean Dyche take on his former team in Watford. Watford have been in fine form in recent weeks, impressing against a poor Manchester United side and beating West Ham in extraordinary circumstances – coming back from 2-0 down to win 4-2. So the 1,400 travelling Watford fans were in high spirits before…

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Juan Mata: a rare breed of footballer

It is the end of the 2012-13 season and Juan Mata has just received the Chelsea Player of the Year Award for the second year in a row. “I just want to say thank you to all my supporters and all my team-mates,” he tells the invite-only audience, encapsulating the essence of his personality in…

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Can Real Madrid end the Champions League hoodoo?

With the Champions League group stage underway, everyone will have an opinion on who will win this season’s competition. The usual suspects head the betting, with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and defending champions Real Madrid leading the way and a handful of other potential winners among the 32 teams. It’s a great market for providing long-term…

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The Big Analysis: Napoli vs Chievo

Last season was one of immense promise but little satisfaction for the residents of Naples. The overwhelming majority of them are die hard supporters of Napoli, and as we have seen so often in recent years, their club flattered to deceive. Maurizio Sarri was an unheralded appointment when he took charge as he came to…

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The Big Analysis: Borussia Dortmund vs Darmstadt

There are few clubs in European football that added more young talent to their squad over the course of the transfer window than Borussia Dortmund. Emre Mor, Marc Bartra, Ousmane Dembélé, Mikel Merino and Raphaël Guerreiro joined established domestic players Mario Götze, Sebastien Rode and André Schürrle in becoming part of Thomas Tuchel’s squad. Harnessing…

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