top 50 since 90/91: ranks 30-21

for these clubs, their two best seasons and major stars in those campaigns are quickly remembered:

30. glasgow rangers (scotland), 19 seasons in europe

best season 2007/08 – uefa cup finalist with barry ferguson and kevin thomson

season 1992/93 – uefa champions league 3rd place, with aleksey mikhaylichenko

29. lazio roma (italy), 14 seasons in europe

best season 1998/99 – cup winner’s cup winners with pavel nedved, marcelo salas, roberto mancini, alessandro nesta, dejan stankovic and christian vieri

season 1999/2000 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist, with sinisa mihajlovic, diego simeone, pavel nedved, dejan stankovic, and juan veron

28. bayer leverkusen (germany), 13 seasons in europe

best season 2001/02 – uefa champions league finalist, with michael ballack, zé roberto, lucio, and ulf kirsten

season 1997/98 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist, with emerson, ulf kirsten and jens nowotny

27. galatasaray istanbul (turkey), 17 seasons in europe

best season 1999/2000 – uefa cup winners with hakan sukür and gheorghe hagi

season 2000/01 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist with gheorghe hagi, jardel, and taffarel

26. spartak moscow (russia), 17 seasons in europe

best season 1990/91 – uefa champions cup semifinalist with tchertchessov, ivanov and radchenko

season 95/96 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist with yuri nikiforov

25. panathinaikos athens (greece), 19 seasons in europe

best season 1995/96 – uefa champions league semifinalist with krzysztof warzycha

season 2001/02 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist with giorgios karagounis, angelos basinas and antonios nikopolidis

24. dynamo kiev (ukraine), 19 seasons in europe

best season 1998/99 – uefa champions league semifinalist with andreij shevchenko and sergiy rebrov

season 2008/09 – uefa cup semifinalist with betão

23. fc paris saint-germain (france), 13 seasons in europe

best season 1995/96 – cup winners cup winner, with youri djorkaeff and raí

season 1994/95 – uefa champions league semifinalist, with raí, george weah and david ginola

22. benfica lisbon (portugal), 16 seasons in europe

best season 1991/92 – uefa champions cup 6th place, with cesar goncalves brito

season 2005/06 – uefa champions league quarterfinalist, with anderson polga, luisão, emmanuel petit, simão and giorgios kouragounis

21. werder bremen (germany), 15 seasons in europe

best season 1991/92 – uefa cup winners cup winners, with klaus allofs, wynton rufer, dieter eilts and marco bode

season 2008/09 – uefa cup finalist, with diego, naldo, tim wiese, claudio pizarro and mesut özil

mainz 05 – what’s going on in germany?

hannover's ya konan is the bundesliga's top scorer this season, and a symbol for hannover's current success.

a quick look at the bundesliga table will surprise the most curious football fans. hannover 96, almost relegated to second division last season, are currently sitting in third place and are a huge surprise in the still young season. after almost one fifth of the season, borussia dortmund was expected to do okay; but five victories in a row and the second position is more than they could’ve hoped for, and they’ve played some brilliant football. the fans (with a bundesliga leading average attendence of 80,000 every match) are dreaming of the 90s, where borussia was one of europe’s leading clubs and even beat zinedine zidane’s juventus in the 1997 champions league final. young stars kagawa, from japan, and götze, the newest german promise and a probable world cup starter for 2014, are playing in a team capable of brilliant performances, besides the wins.

but what about bayer leverkusen, who beat dortmund away in their first match? or werder bremen? schalke 04, with raul and huntelaar? vfl wolfsburg, who still have edin dzeko, and now have diego? and, even worse: where is bayern munich?

bayern's choach van gaal would love to have 10 points more - mainz's coach tuchel has them!

bayern is in a mini-crisis. they had a slow start due to the players not being quite fit yet. after all, eleven bayern players were in action until the last weekend of the world cup, and after their vacations, there as not enough time to be at 100%. some good performances (against wolfsburg, werder and roma) had been there, and the last-minute 2×1 victory at a strong hoffenheim team seemed to give bayern the momentum they needed. and it seemed ideal – their next match was against mainz 05, a small club who had won all of their matches and were leading the table. at home and during the oktoberfest, bayern would beat the league leaders and start their own attack towards the top.

szalai (left), schürrle (middle, claimed to be the new thomas müller) and holtby (right, the new özil?) are a trio of very young and successful players for mainz.

but they didn’t win. mainz deserved a 2×1 victory in the allianz arena and are now, even more than before, the team of the moment. they’ve done well over the last years anyway, but to lead the bundesliga after a win in munich is a special moment for the club.

after a crisis almost ten years ago, club manager heidel decided to sack the coach, but he couldn’t find a replacement. so he decided to make one of the players the new coach, to see how that went. and it worked beautifully; jürgen klopp is now considered to be one of the top coaches in german football, having had a lot of success at mainz. the offensive defender system, very dynamic and physical, was idealized by him and inspired by english football. with his ability to lead and motivate a group, and his great rapport with the press, it was only a matter of time for him to go to a “big” club – and one that would fit him like a glove, current 2nd placed borussia dortmund.

mainz tried out another coach, who managed to lead them back to the bundesliga after a couple of years in the second division. but things were not going well between jörn anderson and his team, and even before the first matchday of last season, he was sacked and thomas tuchel was installed. and it seemed like jürgen klopp all over again: a nobody, this time coming from the sucessful youth team. same football philosophy, same fire and emotion during a match, same courage and leading abilities. and a big surprise for the bundesliga! mainz beat bayern at home in the 3rd match of the season, and they never had to fear relegation during the entire run until may. they even managed to be unbeaten in their last five matches, and have now won six in a row. with young players, a great and team-intensive tactic and very attractive football – just like dortmund, with klopp.

thomas tuchel took over the team 4 days before last year's season started - and has had success ever since!

mainz 05 are leading the bundesliga table, and it is not a coincidence. they have played as well as their points show, and if there are no major injuries in their future, this run might even last a while.

bayern munich won’t want to let that happen. 10 points behind mainz, they have to start to score some goals and make some points. sunday, against borussia dortmund and jürgen klopp, would be a nice time to start. but currenlty, even another loss wouldn’t be too big of a surprise any more.

klopp is a legend at mainz, where he played and coached for over two decades. he is now currently right behind mainz in he standings, and will play with dortmund against bayern next sunday.

truth be said: these top teams, pre-season favorites, are not fully fit yet (since quite a few players were involved in the final stages of the world cup) and have some injury worries.

bayern’s best two players, robben and ribéry, are out of action; robben won’t play again this year, ribéry will be back in november.

werder bremen has been without their best defender naldo since the beginning of the season, and barely survived a few weeks without mertesacker and pizarro; özil is gone, new signing wesley is still finding his place.

schalke let 15 players go and got 14 new ones, also for financial reasons. the team, with raul and huntelaar, hasn’t found a rythm yet, but it has won the last two matches.

wolfsburg had problems adapting to their new coach, but now dzeko and grafite are working, and new signing diego is being integrated into the team – 3 wins in their last 3 matches.

bayer leverkusen lost michael ballack early in the season, still are without a fully fit simon rolfes – and recently had both top attackers stefan kiessling and patrick helmes missing.

hamburg started well into the season, but has gone 4 matches without winning (3 losses); due to lack of fitness, but also lack of team spirit.

so the door is still wide open for hannover, dortmund and mainz. let’s see how long they can stay up there!

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 10:15  Comments (1)  
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time for european football – part one

the preliminary round is done with, the group phases will begin next week. some interesting groups have been drawn, and traditional teams will play some newly rich, unknowns will play famous sides, new stars will be born and olders will become legendary.

özil will have to prove himself at real madrid.

i will organize the uefa europa league groups and the uefa champions league groups based on the current rankings (considering the last four seasons in europe) and their historical rankings (since 1955). using simple maths, i will determine the toughest group. just a quick way to create an overview of this year’s competitors.

cl = champions league, el = europa league, (historical rank/current rank)

cl group g:

a star at the world cup, how will it go for "prince" at milan.

ac milan (5/8), real madrid (1/16), ajax amsterdam (10/48), aj auxerre (86/122);

you could argue that real hasn’t been in the quarterfinals for six years, ajax is not what they used to be; but this group has three of the best 10 clubs in history, which makes it the strongest group of all. milan has the best record in the last few years, and they just got prince boateng, zlatan and robinho to add to pato and ronaldinho… but real madrid, still without kaka but with higuain, cristiano ronaldo, özil, xabi alonso, khedira and casillas, are almost considered favorites. let’s see how josé mourinho’s and ibra’s rendezvous ends. ajax has luiz suarez, uruguaian world cup hero. this is the toughest group of this european semester.

here are the other groups, with their main stars:

cl group c:

nani might be a star this season, for manchester

manchester united (9/1), valencia fc (20/23), glasgow rangers (17/25), bursaspor (319/171) – not an easy group for the english giants, but they should go through. valencia are favorites for the second spot, but i think bursaspor will challenge them more than the rangers.

manu stars: van der sar (ned), evra (fra), ferdinand (eng), owen (eng), berbatov (bul), rooney (eng), giggs (wal), park (kor), hernandéz (mex), vidic (srb), nani (por), scholes (eng)

others: navarro (spa, val), j. sánchez (spa, val), soldado (spa, val), mata (spa, val), r. costa (por, val),  weiss (slk, ran), insúa (arg, bur), erdogan (tur, bur)

cl group f:

ramires showed promise in the world cup and should do well for chelsea.

chelsea fc (22/4), olympique marseille (29/28), spartak moscow (36/51), msk zilina (267/107) – chelsea is through, marseille will battle it out with spartak; i think the russians will go through.

chelsea stars: cech (cze), ivanovic (srb), cole (eng), essien (gha), ramires (bra), lampard (eng), benayoun (isr), drogba (ivo), mikel (nig), malouda (fra), zhirkov (rus), ferreira (por), kalou (ivo), terry (eng), anelka (fra)

others: l. gonzález (arg, mar), a. ayew (gha, mar), heinze (arg, mar), mandanda (fra, mar), ibson (bra, mos), saenko (rus, mos)

cl group a:

maicon is still one of the best players in the world.

internazionale (7/6), werder bremen (33/9), tottenham hotspur (34/35), twente enschede (100/68) – the defending champ, a current top ten club from germany, the strong brits – and the current dutch champions. this is tough, and even inter has to be careful. hotspurs, werder and inter should battle it out, enschede might decide it by taking points away.

inter stars: césar (bra), zanetti (arg), stankovic (srb), lucio (bra), eto’o (cam), sneijder (ned), muntari (gha), maicon (bra), cambiasso (arg), d.milito (arg), samuel (arg)

others: wiese (ger, bre), naldo (bra, bre), wesley (bra, bre), arnautovic (aut, bre), marin (ger, bre), hunt (ger, bre), silvestre (fra, bre), frings (ger, bre), almeida (por, bre), pizarro (per, bre), mertesacker (ger, bre), gomes (bra, tot), bale (wal, tot), lennon (eng, tot), jenas (eng, tot), pavlyuchenko (rus, tot), keane (irl, tot), van der vaart (ned, tot), gallas (fra, tot), modric (srb, tot), crouch (eng, tot), dos santos (mex, tot), defoe (eng, tot), landzaat (ned, twe), ruiz (cor, twe)

those were the first four of 20 groups, this series will have three more parts. stay tuned.