Bayern in an autumn crisis mode

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It is early October and the situation at Bayern Munich is worrisome they just drew 2-2 with Hertha Berlin on sunday and lost the match against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League 3-0 at the Parc des Princes which meant the firing of Carlo Ancelotti from the bench after just being 15 months in charge of the Bavarians.But the problems are way deeper that everyone thinks and it isn’t only on just that Ancelotti on the bench.For the last five seasons Bayern Munich completely dominated the Bundesliga and no one had the formula how to stop Bayern  from winning the Bundesliga,only with Borussia Dortmund being the main competition besides their limited finances compared to Bayern’s lavish budget and funding by the biggest sponsors in German football,in short nobody could stop the Bavarian machinery led by Pepe Guardiola on the bench and there were lots of happy times in Munich in the last five seasons even under Ancelotti last season the Bavarians looked unstoppable in the Bundesliga besides they suffered a set back in the DFB Pokal last season where Eintracht Frankfurt won the semifinal match against them.But the club board has forgave to Ancelotti and pretended that that didn’t mattered since a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title was won and that was objective of the season and in the Champions League they were stopped in the quarterfinals.But the problems which were swept under the rug in previous seasons came to light at the beginning of this season,Robben and Ribery are on the wrong side of their thirties and they can’t give like they did last seasons,Lahm retired at the end of the last season together with Xabi Alonso besides they could played a couple of more years in a weaker league,but decided that it was their best call on their careers when they were one last time at the top and Manuel Neuer’s injury created a hole in the goalkeeping position which is current being filled by Sven Ulreich until January next year when Neuer is poised to return.The whole summer the Bavarians spent chasing Sebastian Rudy,Niklas Sule and Corretin Tolisso who came from Hoffenheim and Lyon while the only real investment which the Bavarians made was James Rodriguez who came from Real Madrid on a loan spell since it is unvaluable to Zidane and the Blancos would love to get rid of him.All this led to a bad start in the season where the Bavarians are now five points behind their main competitor and rival Borussia Dortmund besides they stolen too many players from the yellow-black outfit from Westphalia which includes Robert Lewandowski who can’t stop scoring and still he is one of the best strikers in Europe.The hiring of former Bayern player Willy Sagnol will be a band-aid for Bayern’s problems besides Sagnol did coach Bordeaux but he currently didn’t won any trophies which it could lead to develop itself into a  full-blown crisis as the season marches on.But this isn’t the first time the Bavarians are in a crisis,it happened when Luis Van Gaal and Jupp Heynckes were on the bench of the Bavarians and allowed Borussia Dortmund to cruise to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012,but what it is different it is early detected and the Bavarians can catch up with Dortmund to make the race way interesting but also it could lead to a complete meltdown and a cleanup of the locker room next summer which is needed espeically since Robben and Ribery are on the wrong side of their thirties and are becoming a drag for the rest of the team,but one thing is for sure Bayern is in a crisis mode and they can’t deny it,in order they come back to a winning form Salihamidzic and the rest of the club board with Rummenigge and Hoeness have to make the right moves to avoid a meltdown like in 2011 and 2012.

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Checkered Green and Gold:A story of Croats in Australia and football

An Australian fan waves a national flag

Australia,one of the most beautiful countries in the World,the island-continent on the edge of the earth,but also a land with a tradition of immigration.However only in its recent history has achieved results in world football.But in the beginnings of the sport one imigrant community played an active role in Australian football and that are Croats.No immigrant community has played such an active role in popularizing football in Australia like Croats did whether in establishing football clubs,producing players for clubs and the Socceroos and even winning trophies.Croatian migtation to Australia began in the 1850s and continued in the first half of the 20th Century,but it was after WWII that Croatian immigration to Australia increased due to economic and political conditions in Communist Yugoslavia which forced both economic immigrants and enemies of the Communist regime to flee Croatia and settle in Australia.In 1931 the first Croatian football club in Australia was formed which was HNSK Zora which existed for a number of years but it shut down.But the early 1950s became a boom of establishing Croatian football clubs in Australia starting with the establishment of the Adelaide Raiders in 1952 which was followed by the establishment of two clubs which played a huge role in the old National Soccer League which were Melbourne Knights founded in 1952 and Sydney United in 1958 and from there the number of the Croatian diaspora clubs grew to a such number that in 1974 the first edition of the Australian-Croatian Soccer Tournament was organized which became one of the oldest football tournaments in Australian football.That was in a period when the general Australian public labeled the European version of football as an immigrant sport and very few Australians such as Reg Date who was an early pioneer participated in the sport besides that the Socceroos made it to tne 1974 FIFA World Cup where Australia immediately crashed in the first round,but was the Croatian community who built the Socceroos.In total there were 47 Croatian-Australians who to this date played for the Socceroos which included Eddie Krncevic one of the first diaspora players to return to Croatia when it made the Communist Yugoslavia where he played for Dinamo Zagreb in the mid-1980s,Željko Kalac who was a decade ago the goalkeeper of AC Milan and was featured in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany,Mark Bresciano who made a career in Italy,Mark Bosnich who made a career at various English football clubs including a stint at Manchester United,Ned Zelic who payed across Europe and Asia,Tony Popovic who recently brought the Western Sydney Wanderers to glory as the coach of the club,but most notably the most famous was Mark Viduka who in his career played for Dinamo Zagreb,Celtic and Leeds United and in total scored 202 goals in 409 appearances in his career.Among the new generaration there are Ivan Franjic,Tomi Juric and Matthew Spiranovic.Spiranovic is currently playing in China,Franjic is in South Korea,while Juric is in Switzerland playing for FC Luzern.However the most intriguing stories are with the two most successful clubs among Croatian-Australians which are the Melbourne Knights and Sydney United.Founded in 1953 Melbourne Knights is the most successful club in the Croatian diaspora together with Toronto Croatia and the the mid-1990s where the most successful period the Knights where they won back-to-back titles but also they had notorious rivalries with the Yugoslav-based Footscray JUST and the Greek-based South Melbourne which often spilled into violent brawls and fights.When it comes to Sydney United which were founded in 1958 they were less successful but they had memorable moments in the late 1990s when they reached the NSL finals twice but failed to win.Howevr ever since the establishment of the A-League in 2005 and the desire of the Football Federation of Australia to end the dominance of the diaspora clubs,both and all other diaspora clubs were condemned to play in National Premier Leagues and that is were the fortunes changed for Sydney United where they won two titles of the NPL and are the current title defenders of the new season.Nevertheless the Croatian diaspora contributed like no other diaspora community to popularize and build the sport of football in Australia and that is a fact which can’t be ignored and it is widely recognized by the Australian football community.

 

Atomic Napoli is taking the Serie A by storm

"FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-CHIEVO"

They play by far the most attractive football in Europe and tear up defences of their opponents with an atomic style of football which mesmerizes every single football fan,in the start of the Serie A season they won all of their matches and sound more and more like a serious contender to win the Serie A title and breakup the dominance of Juventus which for the las six seasons dominated the Serie A.That club is Napoli and the glory days of the late 1980s under Maradona have returned with a new generation of players and a coach which is seen as one of the best in Italy.In the first six matches of the Serie A the Partenopei have won all six,scored 22 goals and only conceded 5 and collected 18 out of possible 18,this is their best start since the 1987-88 season where under the Ma-Gi-Ca trio of Maradona-Giordano-Careca led the title race with AC Milan which in the end lost by three points,but they were one of the dominant attacking trios of the late 1980s in the Serie A,however a new attacking trio is reminding the magic of the late 1980s Napoli,but it is consisted of Mertens-Callejon-Insigne trio which is destroying defences all across the Serie A and giving an attractive and atomic style of football.The victory over SPAL was the eleventh consecutive victory of the Partenopei in the Serie A which is a new record and it is causing headaches in Torino which are counting on another title this season,but the Bianconeri will not have a cakewalk like recent years they had since the competition has ramped up especially the pride of Southern Italy which is dreaming to return the Serie A title to their home city after almost thirty years of absence.For that two years ago was hired Maurizio Sarri who led Empoli back to the Serie A in 2014 and a 15th place a season later.However with the departure of Rafael Benitez back to England,Sarri came back to his home town to take over the Partenopei in the 2015-16 and it his impact was immediately felt when the Partenopei won the title of Winter champions after 26 years and besides Gonzalo Higuian scored 36 goals the Partenopei fell short of ending the title drought.With the sale of Higuain to Juventus for 90 million Euros which infuriated the fans of the Partenopei and left big boots to fill in the attack but it came in the form of the Mertens-Callejon-Insigne trio with Mertens known for scoring goals (last season Mertens scored 28 goals) while Callejon and Insigne are doing the assists,but also the rest of the team is doing its part with a highly set defence with the likes of Hysaj,Ghoulam and Maggio going forward knowing that Koulibaly will clean after them.Aslo there is Jorginho who is one of the most underrated and skillful midfielders in Europe who is tying the defence and the attack and allows Hamsik and Zielinski to have greater freedom in the offense.But the fireworks start with the Mertens-Callejon-Insigne trio which have scored 60 goals last season and this season are continuing to tear up defences apart,in fact Napoli is first in the category of number of goals scored by a match with 3.8 goals scored which is ahead of PSG,Barcelona and both Manchester clubs.It says a lot about the Partenopei that the magical days of Maradona have returned to Sao Paolo and for a number of years the Partenopei are title contenders but somehow they can’t go all the way,but this might be the season where Napoli can put the dominance of the Bianconeri to an end and judging by the early Serie A start we are in one of the best title races in years and Napoli can win the Serie A scudetto after almost three decades of drought.However right after the final Word Cup qualifiers the Partenopei have two crucial tests which will shape the autumn-winter part of the season and probably the rest as well,those are matches with Roma and Inter who are making their own title bids with Roma having a not good start but the Giallorossi are climbing back with Edin Džeko being the frontman in the attack and the Nerazzurri who had one of the best starts in years with Mauri Icardi tearing up the defences.But the Partenopei have something which both Roma and Inter don’t have which is an atomic style of football which is based on fast and precisive assists,something which neither the Giallorossi nor the Nerazzurri do in their plays.But the season is still early,the real matches are just ahead for the Partenopei so is the goal to win the Serie A title.

When Željezničar was a European sensation

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1985-Ronald Reagan began his second term at the White House,Mikhail Gorbachev became the new head of the state of the USSR and the Cold War was entering in its final years which culminated with the end of the USSR six years later,meanwhile in Yugoslavia,a football club from Bosnia-Herzegovina which was known as the little Yugoslavia became a European sensation and achieved the biggest success of Bosnian club football.Sarajevo is the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina,a blend of east and west,the European Jerusalem but also the home of two football clubs-Sarajevo and its city rival and once the European sensation Željezničar which of all Bosnian clubs made it furthest in a European competition.Founded in 1921 by a group of railway workers,FK Željezničar was a financially poor club since it represented the working class of Sarajevo,nevertheless it became the symbol of the working class but it wasn’t until the early 1970s that the Blues would have success both in the national and international level where under coach Milan Ribar and players like Josip Bukal who in nine seasons with the Blues made 237 appearances and scored 106 won the Yugoslav First Division title in the 1971-72 season after a dead heat race with Red Star Belgrade and made its first European breakthrough where in the UEFA Cup made it to the quarterfinals where they suffered a heartbreak defeat in penalty shootouts against Ferencvaros after both in the first and second legs of the tie ended 2-1 for both sides.For its next European breakthrough the Blues would have to wait 13 years.In the 1983-84 season the Blues finished third just two points behind Red Star Belgrade and on same points as Partizan Begrade but Partizan had a better goal difference than the Blues.That happened in a year when the city of Sarajevo hosted one of the biggest sporting events in its history,the Winter Olympics which gave the exposure of the city to the World,but the Blues would give even more exposure to Sarajevo in sports with its marvelous run in the UEFA Cup in the 1984-85 season.With legendary coach Ivica Osim on the bench who came to the club in 1978 and star striker Edin Bahtic the Blues began their European journey.However it didn’t started quite well,in the first round they were drawn against Bulgarians of Silven who in the first leg won the match by a single but at Grbavica Stadium in the second leg Edin Bahtic scored a hattrick which put Silven on their knees and with a 5-1 victory in the first round the Blues passed to the second round.There stood the Swiss club of Sion which the Blues have barely defeated them since Sabandžovic scored an own goal in the first leg at Grbavica.The third round took them to Romania to face Universatea Craiova and after a 2-0 in the first leg everyone thought it was over,but Grbavica was an unconquered fortress for an European team which played there and carried by their faithful fans the Blues made a stunning comeback where they won 4-0 at their home in Grbavica.All of a sudden everyone began to talk about the new European sensation from Yugoslavia which was Željezničar and Sarajevo lived and breathed blue that spring.Dinamo Minsk was the next club to fall and the Blues cruised to the semifinals where the last obstacle to a dream final with Real Madrid or Inter Milan was the Hungarians of Videoton which prior to the semifinal Željezničar knocked out Partizan Belgrade in the third round and pulled an upset by knocking out Manchester United in the quarterfinals.The first leg ended in a favorable result for the Hungarian side which was a 3-1 victory with Haris Skoro giving the Blues a glimmer of hope in the return leg at Grbavica.The Blues won the second leg at Grbavica but it was a pyrrhic victory for the Blues with a 2-1 which wasn’t enough for the Blues to play in the UEFA Cup final and a lot of fans were weeping what could have been if the Blues made it to a dream final against Real Madrid.We could only guess that Željezničar would even lift the UEFA Cup and achieve the same result as Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade have made in Europe since they are the two only Yugoslav clubs who won European trophies,nevertheless Željezničar achieved a result which no Bosnian club matched in the last 32 years and it will pass a very long time that Željezničar or another Bosnian club would achieve a serious result in Europe.

Is this the season of Leeds United’s promotion to the Premier League?

Leeds United v Norwich City - EFL Cup Fourth Round

It hasn’t been seen in a long time but Leeds United is leading the table of the EFL Championship which is a rarity considering that Leeds was in chaos since their relegation from the Premier League in 2004,but 13 years later this maight be the chance for Leeds to get back in the Premier League.It is the early stage of the EFL Championship season but the thing is that the leading places are already being crystalized for the promotion race till May next year.And Leeds took an early lead in the promotion race,however Wolverhampton and Cardiff City which also played in the Premier League before are right behind Leeds.Leeds has a turbolent history of ups and downs in English football,from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s led by the legendary Don Revie the Peacocks were a dominant force in English football with two titles from that era (1968 and 1974),an FA Cup (1972) and two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups (1968 and 1971) as well three more European finals.It was the golden era of the club and produced countless players like club legend Billy Bremner who made 587 appearances in his 16 years at the Peacocks to names like Jack Charlton,Albert Johanneson,Eddie Gray,Peter Lorimer and others.That was the glory days of the Peacocks,but in the early 1980s it was all decline for Leeds for a whole decade until Howard Wilkinson took over and the Peacocks were back by winning the title in 1992,the 1990s where a successful period of the club and they lived the dream of playing in Europe,unfortunately tragedy struck in the semifinals of the UEFA Cup in 2000 when two Leeds fans were killed by Turkish hooligans before the match against Galatasaray.The last which was seen of the Peacocks was in 2001 when they played in the semifinal of the Champions League and when just two seasons later was discovered that the club had piled up a huge debt it can’t repay it was all downfall for Leeds.The Peacocks went bankrupt,suffered a heartbreak in the EFL playoff final in 2007 and then it was relegated to League One where it spent from 2007 to 2010 when it climbed back to the EFL Championship where it is currently,but not without controversy which was surrounded by Massimo Cellino who bought the club in 2014 which was despised by the fans who sought to buy a majority stake of the club.Cellino’s ownership of the club proved to be a chaotic period of hiring and firing coaches in  a short period of time,in fact the Peacocks went through six coaches in three years of Cellino’s ownership.But the club is stable now with the ownership of Andrea Radrizzani who bought the club from Cellino who brought Tom Christiansen to coach after Gary Monk left after the Peacocks fell in the final stretch of the season which saw them finishing 7th a place out of the playoffs to see the possibility of playing in the Premier League.For that the club has turned the tables brought Tom Christiansen on the bench and reinforcements like Pierre-Michel Lasogga who joined the Peacocks on loan from Hamburg where he played crucial roles in saving the German club from the relegation from the Bundesliga.In the first eight matches of the new EFL season the Peacocks had a good startwhere they collected 17 out of 24 points and are at the top of the table,but the season has just started and it is long one.The real tests are coming for the Peacocks in the following where Ipswich Town and Cardiff City are on the schedule in the next two rounds which will be a real test for Tom Christiansen’s men,however a looming question is this finally the season that Leeds United returs to the Premier League after 14 years of waiting?