It’s almost Christmas and the time has come to take stock of the season so far, most notably the European Cups for which qualification kicked off in June, when the focus of many was on the World Cup.This is now six months ago and of course there is a lot to write about as a lot has happened. There will be more than just this single post on European football over the next two weeks. The first part will look into this week’s Champions League last group games, next up will be the smaller European Cup, i.e. Europa League and the last bit will feature the Leagues of England, Germany, Spain, France and Italy not necessarily in that order.
The Champions League this season holds no surprises for the ardent football fan. Except maybe one or two smaller ones. First, Copenhagen FC qualified in style and without a doubt for the knock-out stages of this year’s competition showing that football in Scandinavia can compete at the highest level, leaving behind them Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos in third and fourth . If this success is only a one-off remains to be seen in February once the tournament resumes.
Inter meanwhile finished second in the group behind Spurs. Apart from Harry Redknapp no one really considered them capable of finishing top of the group, underlining Redknapp’s managerial clout. This role however, was surely fancied by Inter but they are in the process of finding themselves after last season’s treble success under Mourinho. His successor Benitez faces a difficult time as expectations are sky-high from last season’s spoiling.
The once stylishly playing German team Werder Bremen failed completely, one is inclined to say. Thomas Schaaf‘s team drop out of any European competition for this season finishing fourth in a tough group with Tottenham and last season’s winner Inter. After ten years it seems the end of an era has come for many household names at the club from Germany’s smallest federal state, namely Torsten Frings. His best years are now clearly behind him leaving question marks over his future come the end of this season.
The state of Scottish football is once more highlighted by the failure of Rangers to manage to qualify for the next round. After a promising start, they faltered and secured a place in the Europa League. Their misfortune on the other hand secured three places for Spain in the new year and will leave football fans in Scotland wondering if one day they will miss the boat completely.
The strongest contingent has been provided by England with four teams. Tottenham surely surprised many but their performances made every one forget that Liverpool for the first time in what must have felt like ages did not qualify for this year’s Champions League but have been replaced splendidly by Spurs.
There won’t be any Portuguese or Dutch representative in the competition next year but two from France, Olympique Marseille and Olympique Lyon showing that the game is healthy after their dismal World Cup and the same number from Germany, Bayern M