Futbol 2020-21

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Wombatz
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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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so except porto there's only teams left that i actively dislike to various extents ... i want bayern vs. city so at least one of them goes out and chelsea vs psg for obvious reasons (being a potential tüchel fanboy i'd probably involuntarily have to root for the former) ... plus a porto win over real and a dortmund win over liverpool, not because i like dortmund but because it would be so funny if they'd make the finals now while they've committed to a new manager for next season who's doing his best to arrive utterly deconstructed.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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Champions League has been extremely underwhelming this year. Just back from a ski holiday, missed the London derby but let's take a moment to appreciate one Erik Manuel Lamela and his eight seasons at Spurs. The last of the players bought with the Bale money, and probably, after Eriksen, the most successful at Spurs. There is no player in the world (maybe Dmitri Payet) would can score a rabona nutmeg in a derby and then get sent off 30 minutes later. Still think he's the best option we currently have in the #10 role.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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Hard for me to see a way Jose survives after this collapse. Even if they win the League Cup final, he's gone at the end of the year. No top 4 and this collapse on top of the performance in the derby against Arsenal will be enough for Levy to cut the cord. This has been a terrible stretch and the players clearly have had it. Its just not working.

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DarkAttraktor
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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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holy fucking shit !

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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I wonder if Oršić gets a call up this summer

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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if anyone asks, the narrative is that spurs are shit because my boy watches youtube/tiktok/whatever too much and doesn't do his home schooling properly, ok?

our plan is to fire mourinho immediately and then lure ralf rangnick's highly competent but power-hungry machinery away from taking over schalke/the national team and have him battle it out with levy and see what arises from the ashes of that disaster ... but really, what could be the alternative with these players? branko zebec? harry as player-manager (as the only way to keep him)? dele as a player-manager (as he's the only one who knows how to unlock his own talents)? a collective player-managership?

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DarkAttraktor
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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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talk about narratives, i love how the narrative in croatian media and social media is now "is this win even better than the 1997 post war 5-nil thrashing of partizan in the CL qualifiers return leg ?" i mean the idea of comparing global elite's financial venture capital-powered tottenham side with the decrepit, ramshackle, sorry ass 1997 partizan team from an eastern european state ravaged by international sanctions hits a new, special level of hilarious :D

btw, dinamo plays some really spectacular football in recent years (outclassed atalanta last year and should have gone through their CL group). they totally deserved this. now it's onto villareal.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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and here are the CL pairs (sorry Antoine for stealing your bit :) )

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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:D

And the semis:

Champions League semi-final draw
Bayern / Paris vs Man. City / Dortmund
Real Madrid / Liverpool vs Porto / Chelsea

Europa League semi-final draw
Granada (ESP) / Manchester United (ENG) vs Ajax (NED) / Roma (ITA)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) / Villarreal (ESP) vs Arsenal (ENG) / Slavia Praha (CZE)

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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Wombatz wrote:
Fri Mar 19, 2021 3:43 am
if anyone asks, the narrative is that spurs are shit because my boy watches youtube/tiktok/whatever too much and doesn't do his home schooling properly, ok?

our plan is to fire mourinho immediately and then lure ralf rangnick's highly competent but power-hungry machinery away from taking over schalke/the national team and have him battle it out with levy and see what arises from the ashes of that disaster ... but really, what could be the alternative with these players? branko zebec? harry as player-manager (as the only way to keep him)? dele as a player-manager (as he's the only one who knows how to unlock his own talents)? a collective player-managership?
I think you and I parent the same child.

Yeah Rangnick would be ideal but Levy wont sublimate his ego that much. Actually that's not fair, I do think Levy is a very vain man, and fancies himself a football Billy Beane, but I dont see him as a control freak. But I would like to see a Director of Football installed.

Probably Hasenhüttl is the safe bet. Max Allegri seems to be a good fit for the current squad and would play a similar style to Poch. The American guy from Salzburg if you wanted the hipster choice. That's my short list. I love Gasperini but we dont have the players for that system, and he has a pretty spotty record in Serie A before Atalanta.

As far as the players go, I dont have time for a post right now. Generally I think this is a decent squad and another manager could get a tune out of them. There is top 4 quality here. We're better than Arsenal on paper, certainly better than West Ham. But players like Sissoko should have been sold at peak value, we just hold on to players way too long now.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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DarkAttraktor, interested in hearing your take on this:

New York Times Sunday Sports Section


Arrests Shake Up a Soccer Scene in Serbia Ruled by Gangsters and ‘Gravediggers’
A reputed gangster and leader of an “ultras” fan group, who also reportedly had ties to the government, has been arrested following a series of gruesome murders connected to a Belgrade soccer stadium.


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The entrance to the bunkerlike room inside a stadium used by Partizan Belgrade, a storied soccer team in Serbia, with graffiti reading “the Gravediggers.”

By Andrew Higgins
March 20, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

BELGRADE — Shortly after arresting a man suspected of leading a criminal gang last month in connection with a series of killings involving beheadings and torture, Serbian police officers raided what they believe was the band’s secret lair: a bunkerlike room in the bowels of a stadium used by Partizan Belgrade, a storied soccer team in the Serbian capital.

The room, located in a defunct restaurant under the stands, has been sealed off as a crime scene after investigators hunting for evidence of ties between soccer hooligans and organized crime found weapons there.

The wall outside is daubed in white and black paint with the name that the Partizan fans use for themselves: “the Gravediggers.”

The name is well deserved. Serbian soccer fans, at least those who in prepandemic days used to cram into the rowdy south stands of Partizan’s stadium and the equally anarchic north side of the arena used by its Belgrade archrivals, Red Star, have long had a reputation for extraordinary violence.

A French fan who traveled to Belgrade in 2009 to cheer on his team, Toulouse, in a game against Partizan died after being beaten with iron bars and bicycle chains. In that case, 14 Partizan fans were convicted of murder.

The violent tendencies have also made Serbian soccer fans, particularly those of the two rival Belgrade teams, a powerful force on the street and in the country’s tumultuous politics.

The question now consuming Serbia is what led to the arrest last month of Veljko Belivuk, who is suspected of being a gangster and the leader of a group of violent Partizan fans. He has long operated with impunity, and is reported to have had close ties to the government and security forces.


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Police arresting Veljko Belivuk, second from left, during a raid at Partizan’s stadium in Belgrade on Feb. 4.


In the government’s telling, Mr. Belivuk is a brutal mobster whose arrest signals a determination to rein in the criminal bands that helped fuel the horrific violence of the Balkan wars of the 1990s, assassinated a reform-minded prime minister in 2003 and have hobbled Serbia’s efforts to become a normal European country.

“Our message is that we’re done with this gang,” President Aleksandar Vucic, who is a dedicated Red Star fan and has admitted to brawling at games in the past, declared on March 6 after state television aired grisly images of a beheaded corpse and the mangled body of a young man with a Red Star tattoo on his leg — purported victims of Mr. Belivuk’s gang.

Investigators have also linked Mr. Belivuk to a decade-long drug war between two rival criminal clans over control of a lucrative trafficking route across the Adriatic Sea from Serbia’s neighbor, Montenegro, to Western Europe.

The government’s version of why Mr. Belivuk and 16 of his confederates were arrested, however, has dismayed those who follow the workings of Serbian soccer clubs and their fans, the most violent of which are known as “ultras.”

“Our soccer hooligans are controlled by the state — they do what the state tells them to do,” said Mirko Poledica, the president of the Union of Professional Football Players “Independence,” Serbia’s main association of players.

Violent fans like Mr. Belivuk, he said, are such a fearsome force that controlling them has always been a priority for any government that wants to avoid trouble and stay in power.

Mr. Belivuk was a tool of the government, he said, used to help break up opposition rallies and provide street security for Mr. Vucic’s inauguration in 2017.

Ana Brnabic, Serbia’s prime minister, said in an interview that Mr. Vucic, far from being Mr. Belivuk’s partner, was his target. “I have credible information that his life was in danger,” she said. “It was high time to act because of all the threats made by organized crime.”

But she conceded that criminal gangs had developed “strong links” to state and security structures, and that these were now being investigated and uprooted. “Obviously, the mafia would not be so strong if it did not have support in the government,” she said.

Adding to a widespread view that Mr. Vucic is hiding something, however, has been a vicious vilification campaign in pro-government media outlets directed at those who have challenged the president’s story of a straightforward crackdown on organized crime.

Vladimir Vuletic, a Belgrade law professor and former Partizan vice president who went public with accusations of government collusion with the arrested gang leader, has been savaged daily in tabloid newspapers supporting Mr. Vucic.

Ms. Brnabic denied the campaign was orchestrated by the government.

Also smeared by the tabloids has been Krik, a highly respected group of investigative journalists that has reported for years on links between government officials and Mr. Belivuk’s gang.

Stevan Dojcinovic, Krik’s editor in chief, said that organized crime in Serbia — and government officials — had long been tied to the “brutal force of nature” provided by soccer hooligans.

“Politicians have always been afraid of our hooligans. No matter who is in power they always form a partnership with them,” he said.

The difficulties of partnering with the hooligans, however, was made evident by the demise of Serbia’s former president, Slobodan Milosevic. Under his rule in the 1990s, hooligans flooded into the ranks of state-sponsored paramilitary groups that spread mayhem in Bosnia and Kosovo after the breakup of Yugoslavia.


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Police patrolling the empty Partizan stadium during the Serbian Cup game in Belgrade this month.


That Mr. Milosevic, for whom Mr. Vucic served as information minister and whose security services worked closely with hooligans and criminals, was in serious trouble became clear when Red Star’s ultras started chanting “Slobodan Kill Yourself!” at games. (His parents had both died in suicides.)

Mr. Milosevic lost power in 2000 after the ultras led students and other protesters in storming the Parliament building in Belgrade.

When Yugoslavia, of which Serbia was then a part, began to unravel in the late 1980s, an early sign of impending war came in May 1990 when Red Star traveled for a game in Zagreb, the capital of the neighboring Yugoslav republic of Croatia. The game was suspended after rival fans staged a violent melee and set fire to the stadium.

Among the Red Star supporters who had traveled to Zagreb for the match was Mr. Vucic, who later boasted that he “often fought” at games.

Mr. Poledica, the chief of the soccer players’ association, said: “Our politicians always fear the stadium and its terrible power. They know that any dissatisfaction in the stadium can quickly spread to the street. They want to control it.”

He added that he did not know why the authorities had turned against Mr. Belivuk but speculated that Mr. Belivuk and his followers had gone too far. “Everyone knew they were violent, that they beat people and made threats. But cutting off heads?”

Mr. Belivuk’s lawyer, Dejan Lazarevic, said that his client had not yet been formally charged and that there was no evidence to support the accusations of murder, kidnapping and other serious crimes made against him by officials.

Mr. Vuletic, the professor, said that Mr. Belivuk and a hoodlum known as “Sale the Mute,” who has since been killed, first took control of the south part of Partizan’s stadium soon after Mr. Vucic became prime minister in 2014, and began beating up anyone chanting insults against him.

Suspicions that Mr. Belivuk had powerful friends in the government, or at least law-enforcement, have been growing since 2016, when he was arrested on murder charges but then released after DNA and other evidence against him either disappeared or had to be discarded because of tampering.

Krik, the investigative reporting group, later published photographs showing a member of Serbia’s gendarmerie, a police force, attending soccer games with Mr. Belivuk. At the time, the officer was in a relationship with a senior official responsible for the Interior Ministry.

This partnership with the government, said Mr. Dojcinovic, the Krik editor, broke down last year for unknown reasons, possibly because of an internal rift in Mr. Vucic’s governing Serbian Progressive Party, some of whose members have been caught up in the investigation into Mr. Belivuk.

Among those taken in for questioning by the police in connection with the case is Slavisa Kozeka, the president of the Football Association of Serbia. Mr. Kozeka, a senior official in the governing party, was earlier an activist in a far-right nationalist outfit that was led for years by a convicted war criminal.

All the bad publicity has infuriated peaceable Partizan fans like Vladimir Trikic. Walking around the central Belgrade district of Dorcol, he showed off murals of artists, theater directors and poets who have cheered on the club. Partizan, though closely tied to the former Yugoslav Army, he said, has “always been a team for intellectuals.”


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A mural in the Dorcol neighborhood of Belgrade depicting Branislav Petrovic, a Serbian poet, wearing Partizan’s colors.


For ordinary Partizan fans, Mr. Belivuk was never really a supporter but an impostor sent by Mr. Vucic to control and discredit his own team’s bitter rivals.

At a Partizan game in Belgrade last week, held before mostly empty stands because of the pandemic, Zoran Krivokapic was one of a handful of fans who managed to get into the stadium. He said that he had attended every home game for 47 years and blamed the rise and fall of Mr. Belivuk on what he said was a personal vendetta against Partizan by Mr. Vucic, the president.

“He wants to destroy Partizan and let Red Star rise,” he said.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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Wombatz wrote:
Fri Mar 19, 2021 3:43 am
lure ralf rangnick's highly competent but power-hungry machinery away from taking over schalke
I wasnt even aware this was happening until you mentioned it, but I guess he has now pulled out of negotiations.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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^^this is a good summary of what's been going on. serbia is a private, captured state and nowadays football hooligans are fully integrated into its coercive apparatus. in earlier time they used to have links only through the state security (and drug trade) but nowadays the connections they establish with the state and the society at large are much more open and random (in 2019 there was even a property dispute in the belgrade jewish community with the vucic aligned-fake jews trying to take over some property that was resolved by the actual jews recruiting a hooligan firm to intimidate the fake jews). there isn't a state anymore, people live in natural environment here.

now when vucic came into power in 2012 all the red star hooligans got onto the state budget through various security and construction companies they founded through lucrative public procurements awarded through vucic. the red star north didn't get quite gentrified - because we are about talking hooligans, afterall - but they got surprisingly quiet since they have business to run now. the more humourous among them even started a red star tifo brand rebranding themselves as "gospoda cigani" (mr. gypsies as opposed to just regular gypsies red star fans are usually called). vucic is a hardcore red star fan and they would never ever get into champions league and have this sort of a budget if vucic wasn't the president. he has all sorts of connections to both the football and the basketball club.

the partizan hooligans however were much lower in the pecking order and they had to do the dirty laundry for the ruling clique - they were mostly used to intimidate enemies of the regime - journalists and people who in any way stood up, to infiltrate and sabotage spontaneous protests from within (big topic during 2020 protests), they were driven around the country by the busloads on election days to threaten and intimidate people around the voting areas in small towns and in general do everything the regime can't use the police force for. the point is that both sides work for the regime, but their value and utility is determined by club affiliation.

now why this happened with belivuk is still a mystery for me too but he was clearly doing stuff for the regime as late as 2019 (they also prepared a convenient little indictment against him - starting from 2019 :lol: ). there are some information that DEA had something to do with the downfall of his crew inside the police (it wasn't just belivuk who fell - there was also a series of high ranking police officials) and there was even talk about the former police minister stefanovic being involved (but nowadays this talk is being quickly swiped under the rug - you never know whether because a deal was settled or vucic was just using the media to mafia-style intimidate stefanovic). vucic's framing is that they were wiretapping him (vucic) and that the former defense minister had something to do with it. i can't say i have a clear picture yet.

vucic was a tifo but he wasn't a hooligan tho (he'd wish tho). he was more one of those dorky, awkward appendages.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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wow ! macedonia beating germany away is just pure awesomeness :lol:

didn't watch the game, just saw the headlines.... simply no words for this. if i know macedonians well, they will make 31.03. a national holiday :lol:

all of a sudden the ukraine netherlands austria north macedonia EURO group looks mighty interesting !

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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DarkAttraktor wrote:
Wed Mar 31, 2021 4:07 pm
wow ! macedonia beating germany away is just pure awesomeness :lol:

didn't watch the game, just saw the headlines.... simply no words for this. if i know macedonians well, they will make 31.03. a national holiday :lol:
None of these matches seemed interesting to me. I did watch Croatia lose to Slovenia which was really dull, and then scrape by Cyprus (a garbage poacher's goal by Pasalic) and missed the match against Malta yesterday. They miss the clinical striker or anyone with pace outside of Perisic. They just dominate possession and end up launching crosses into the box or hitting shots from outside the box. Low energy version of Leipzig, Two centerbacks and 8 attacking midfielders. You know I watched the U21s today (much more interesting, shouldve been watching the juniors) Croatia v England at the European Championships, and at that level they have the same issues. They dominated against the English and got caught out on two counterattacks, but missed a handfull of open shots on net, 1-on-1s with the keeper. Japhet Tanganga played for the England side. Croatia lost although they by and large played better, but they still advanced to the quarterfinals to face holders Spain.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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i am really really trying to stay out of the qatar 2022 orbit but this score tonight got the best of me

didn't watch any game, not even the africans.

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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haha, and here i was thinking how useless international games are but too bored to actually post about that. i saw parts of the game and north mac should have had a clear penalty (deliberate handball on a muddled cross/half-hearted shot going toward goal, not some of that technical var shit) while the penalty for germany was a gift by the ref (not unrelated to but even much softer than the pen for england ... anyway it's clear we can't go back to no var as the refs are already whistling var-like and without being able to check for contact that's totally silly). and despite that, north mac still won! i do feel for werner a little, who again missed a sitter in slapstick fashion, but then again it must be made clear that leaving the rats is never a good career move. you hear that, mr sabitzer?

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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spurs being spursy and rats being ratsy ...

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Re: Futbol 2020-21

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Nothing to say really about Spurs. They've dropped 15 points from winning positions this season, and 13 of those points have been dropped in the last 15 minutes of the match. That is astonishing for a Mourinho side. The first goal Tanganga tried to clear it but drilled it into Newcastle players head, and then it fortuitously ricocheted right to Sanchez who then drilled it right at another Newcastle player's feet, then Hojbjerg missed a tackle, and Rodon couldnt recover and they just passed it into the net. The entire back line had a very poor game. Sadly Sanchez was racially abuse online after the match.

I did watch the Rats v Bayern match. Rats were fine but against top sides they flail around in the final third without a real striker. Forsberg in the false 9 doesnt really work. The absence of Angelino really highlights how dependent they are on him for their attack getting forward.

And I wanted to watch Lille - PSG but I overslept and only caught the last 20 minutes, which luckily included Neymar losing his shit and getting sent off. Most of the match was Lille defending well and organized against waves of PSG attacks. I was vaguely aware of Lille but this article in the Times filled me in on stuff I had no idea about. What a mess:

Antoine, what do you think?


A French Soccer Team Clings to First Place as the Bottom Falls Out
Lille will play its deep-pocketed rival Paris St.-Germain for the league lead on Saturday. But not even a title may spare it from a financial reckoning.


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Lille is tied with Paris St.-Germain atop the French league standings entering their game Saturday.

By Rory Smith
April 2, 2021

On the surface, the pitch was a convincing one. Last year, the owners of Lille O.S.C. commissioned a graphic designer to produce a glossy prospectus, one intended to entice an investor into buying out their stake in the French soccer club.

There are dozens of these documents swirling around soccer’s financial netherworld at any given time, passed around by the army of bankers, lawyers, private equity investors, deal-makers and middlemen who serve as gatekeepers to the handful of individuals both wealthy and foolhardy enough to buy and sell teams.

Generally, pitches like the one about Lille are treated with both caution and cynicism, but this one probably would have been worth a second glance. The club’s infrastructure was sound: It had a large training facility at Luchin, and a capacious, modern stadium. Its location, too, was fertile ground for an ambitious, dynamic sort of a team: at the center of a transport nexus connecting London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, in the center of a part of northern France that contains the headquarters of dozens of corporations and a population of two million people, almost a third of them younger than 20.

The centerpiece of the sales document, though, was Lille’s squad itself. The club’s real value, the prospectus claimed, lay in its talent. Every year, the club had invested substantial sums in crops of bright, young prospects, thanks in no small part to the work of Luis Campos, the Portuguese recruitment guru who oversaw the team’s transfer activity.

Each influx of players was referred to as an “acquisition vintage”; as with wine, the idea was that the prospects would get better with age. The club estimated that its squad, at the time, had a cumulative transfer value of around $420 million. Its ceiling, though, was much higher: If all the players developed as they should, the club claimed, it was sitting on a pool of talent worth as much as $1 billion.

In ordinary circumstances, this weekend would be the moment that Lille’s approach was vindicated. On Saturday, Lille travels to Paris St.-Germain for the most significant game of the Ligue 1 season: The teams are tied atop the standings, with the P.S.G. side built for hundreds of million of dollars, the one that can call on Neymar and Kylian Mbappé and the rest, ahead of Lille only on goal difference.

But for Lille, the season when everything came together is also the season it all fell apart.


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The Gathering Storm

Gérard López, Lille’s former owner, used to boast that if his team was not “the best in the world in trading players, we’re probably in the top three, four or five.” This season should have been his proof.

But if anything — and through no fault of their own — the market value of Lille’s players has not only fallen this season, but it has also dropped to such an extent that, in December, López had no choice but to cede control of the club.

The end game arrived just before Christmas. López was summoned to London to meet with Lille’s two main creditors, JP Morgan Chase and Elliott Management, the activist investment firm founded and run by the hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer.

In that meeting, the French sports newspaper L’Equipe reported, López tried everything he could to broker a deal to pay back the loans — worth around $140 million — that were set to come due this summer. He suggested a five-year financial restructuring, and proposed bringing on board an investor from the Middle East. He did not, it seems, want to give up Lille easily.

Whenever he could, he found time to call Christophe Galtier, Lille’s coach, to update him on the progress of the talks. “He kept me informed of the situation last night,” Galtier said in December. “We talked a lot, when it was possible to talk.” Galtier was clearly touched: He dedicated the team’s win against Dijon the next day to the man who had brought him on board in 2017.


Elliott and JP Morgan, though, were unmoved. López’s reign was over. The director Marc Ingla soon followed him out the door. Eventually, so would Campos. In their stead, almost immediately, came a company called Callisto Sporting SARL, a subsidiary of an investment firm called Merlyn Partners.

Both companies are registered in Luxembourg. Both are linked to Maarten Petermann, a former European head of special situations at JP Morgan. Olivier Létang, a veteran soccer executive, was named Lille’s president. The creditors’ decision, and the swiftness of their action, was rooted in the unavoidable fact that the financial reality of French soccer had shifted too much for López to be able to meet his commitments.

Like every club in Ligue 1 — with the exception of Qatar-funded P.S.G. — Lille was facing a cash-flow crisis. The league’s decision to cancel last season meant it had forfeited a tranche of broadcast revenue. Stadiums had been empty, at that stage, for almost nine months, and there was no sign that fans would be permitted to return any time soon. And, most pernicious of all, the league’s new television deal had collapsed; if a replacement could not be found, French domestic soccer was facing ruin.


Lille’s circumstances, though, were particularly perilous. López’s tenure had always been something of a roller coaster; the club had been sanctioned on several occasions by the D.N.C.G., the body that oversees the economic health of France’s soccer teams, and at one point was threatened with relegation because of its precarious finances.

Its release valve was always Campos’s seemingly never-ending pipeline of talent. In the summer of 2019, Lille had sold players — including the wing Nicolas Pépé, to Arsenal — for almost $180 million. A year later, even at the height of the pandemic, it had managed to turn a profit of $71 million in the transfer market.

Despite those impressive returns, the club was barely keeping its head above water. Quite how it burned through so much money is not entirely clear, although the considerable running cost of its stadium is generally regarded as a significant factor. In 2018-19, the club posted an operating loss of $77 million. The year before, that deficit was $120 million.

In a bull market, the club’s creditors had been prepared to tolerate those figures. That changed as 2020 became 2021, as revenues cratered, and as French soccer teetered on the brink. The club was heading for “bankruptcy in January,” according to Létang. This time, Lille could not sell its way out of trouble.

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The Midas Touch

The squad that has brought Lille into contention for its first French title since 2011 — and, more impressively, its first since the Qatari investment in P.S.G. fundamentally altered Ligue 1’s competitive balance — is testament not only to the deft and astute management of Galtier, but also to the keen eye of Campos.

There is a reason that even José Mourinho, not a man given to complimenting other humans, is happy to talk about his friend’s “great career.” Campos, after all, is the technical director who pieced together the Monaco team that made the semifinals of the Champions League in 2017 and was then sold across the Continent for the better part of a billion euros.

His work at Lille was, quietly, no less impressive, even if he was never, technically, an employee of the club. Instead, he was employed by a company called Scoutly, which was wholly owned by Victory Soccer, the vehicle through which López and Ingla owned Lille.

López insisted that this Byzantine approach was necessary so that Campos could operate with “independence” in the market. Regardless, Lille benefited from the arrangement. Its squad is replete with the fruits of Campos’s labor: Boubakary Soumaré and Jonathan Ikoné, spotted in the reserve ranks at P.S.G.; Zeki Celik, plucked from the obscurity of the Turkish second division; Renato Sanches, offered a shot at rejuvenation after four years in the wilderness; and the two crown jewels, the most salable assets, the Dutch defender Sven Botman and the Canadian forward Jonathan David.

The belief that they might, together, one day be worth as much as that Monaco team of Mbappé and Bernardo Silva and Fabinho and the rest was, of course, overstated. That assumption rested on the idea that every single player would reach his maximum value, but it was, for a while, an explicable delusion.

That changed as soon as the pandemic struck, and it calcified as the scale of French soccer’s financial crisis was laid bare. Ligue 1 expects to sign a new television deal in the coming weeks, almost certainly with Canal Plus, the broadcaster it ditched last summer.

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Lille’s team has always been its biggest asset.

Broadcast money will bring some respite for the country’s clubs, but it will not fill the hole left by the empty promises of Mediapro. The teams of Ligue 1, then, are hurriedly trying to cut their budgets accordingly. Several already have agreed to pay cuts with their players. Lyon has offered a reduction in exchange for stock options.

Most, though, will still need to sell players, trading on Ligue 1’s self-styled reputation as the “league of talents.” The problem is not only that prices will be depressed by the fact that so many teams in France need to raise funds, but also that few clubs in Europe retain their purchasing power.

It was that, ultimately, that forced the hand of Lille’s creditors: Campos might still have provided players who can be sold, but in a market likely to be saturated by cut-price deals, Lille can no longer rely on premium fees.

What happens next — what happens this summer — is not yet clear. Létang has said little beyond an insistence that the club cannot rely on qualification for next season’s Champions League for its financial health. Stability, he said, will be his watchword. The players have, as yet, not been alerted to a looming fire sale.

A place in Europe would go some way, of course, to boosting the club’s finances. A French title, combined with a good showing in Europe next season, might help increase demand for some of the more recent acquisition vintages. Like wine, they will get better with age. The problem, now, is that what is inside the bottle matters rather less than the amount someone is prepared — or able — to pay for it.

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Antoine
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Re: Futbol 2020-21

Post by Antoine »

A mess behind the scenes but solid on the field! They have a game in Lyon in ~20 days, but otherwise the forthcoming fixtures look "easy" until the end.
Beware of Monaco's come-back though...

Concerning PSG, hard to say, it seems they'll soon be out of ECL and maybe will re-focus on Ligue 1 a bit... They probably lost too much against the top teams this year.