Coming off the long run: European football this week
Off the long run
It's been a big week for European football this week. Our favourite bald guy who most ESPN football viewers would recognise (Gianni Infantino) announced to us earlier in the week that the European Football Championships in 2020 (EURO 2020) would be hosted throughout Europe rather than in one country.
The decision had long been in the making by UEFA president Michel Platini who cited the troubled economies of the European countries and their inability to be able to build the new stadia and infrastructure as reasons for what is currently officially a one-off.
The host cities will be selected in 2014 with at least 13 to be selected - although given the format of the Euros from 2016 I expect that to get up to 16. Here is my tip for the hosting cities of EURO 2020.
(current capacities listed)
Group A - Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam; King Badouin Stadium, Brussels
Group B - Estadio de Luz, Lisbon; Estadio Dragao, Porto
Group C - Old Trafford, Manchester; Hampden Park, Glasgow
Group D - Parkenstadion, Copenhagen; Friends Arena, Stockholm
Group E - San Siro, Milan; Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Group F - Allianz Arena, Munich; Olympiastadion, Berlin
Westfalenstadion, Dortmund - 83,000
Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid - 85,454
Camp Nou, Barcelona - 99,354
Stade de France, Paris - 81,338
Semifinals and final: All played at Wembley Stadium, London, 90,000
I think it's a great idea, let's face it, Europe is effectively the United States of Europe courtesy of the Euro and European Union. And the terrific transport infrastructure in Europe means that fans should be able to get around the cities fairly easily.
Back to the present, the makeup of the Champions League second round has been determined after the latest round of games. We know that Chelsea will not be able to defend their title after crashing out to Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus. But there is more than enough quality to make up for the demise of Chelsea and Manchester City this early on.
In my opinion, Borussia Dortmund is the form team in Europe at the moment. The team that is dressed a bit like the Wellington Phoenix is a young, vibrant team and is playing some terrific football at the moment. If the team can resume this form after the upcoming winter break in Germany, I can't see why they can't go all the way to Wembley Stadium in May for the final. Jurgen Klopp, their manager, could be the latest manager linked with the Chelsea job should Roman Abramovich fail to land Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United will be thereabouts although I dare say I'm not sure United are good enough this season to win in Europe. Mind you, we said the same about Chelsea last season and look what happened.
It's a bit too early to be looking at who will be in the final, we'll wait for what the second round draw throws up when it's made closer to Christmas.
But for now, that's it for what has been a massive week and year of European football. Come back for more in February.
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