Archive for the ‘UEFA Cup’ Category

UEFA Cup: Gooch, Standard Crush Sampdoria

December 4, 2008

Standard Liege continues to punch above its weight this season, this time with a 3-0 win over Serie A side Sampdoria. With American defender Oguchi Onyewu anchoring a strong Standard defense while the Belgian side’s attack put the Genoa side under pressure early and often.

Igor De Camargo opened scoring in the 23rd minute on a header past Sampdoria keeper Luca Castellazzi, who was a busy man on the tonight. Just over ten minutes later, a De Camargo corner found Onyewu outleaping the rest to head the ball home for a 2-0 lead. Shortly before halftime, a left footed blast from Milan Jovanovic sent both teams to the locker room with the home side leading a 3-0.

Sampdoria had one good scoring chance in the second half but Marius Stankevičius’ shot buzzed just above the bar. Meanwhile Jovanivic and Dieudonné Mbokani continued to lead attacks on Samp’s goal but muffed some well set up chances. With both teams running out of steam, the match faded out like a 1970s pop record.

The win put Standard Liege into the final 32 knockout stage which starts on December 18th and 19th.

Photo courtesy of UEFA.

Europa League To Replace UEFA Cup

September 27, 2008

UEFA announced yesterday that next years it will rename its venerable UEFA Cup tournament the Europa Cup in an effort to boost is prestige and appeal. It will also feature a 48 team field with home and away matches plus a more concerted marketing effort, new sponsorship, and will be more widely broadcast in Europe.

UEFA boss Michael Platini stated that “These changes will improve this historic competition which is very important for UEFA and for European football, as it gives more fans, players and clubs the thrill of European club football” and added that “I am convinced the new format will give the UEFA Europa League a successful new impetus.”

Since the advent of the UEFA Champion’s League, the UEFA Cup has been seen as something akin to the NIT tournament when compared to the NCAA basketball tournament. Fans know that the best of the best play in the Champion’s League while the rest play in the UEFA Cup so this may be a tough sell. That said, there may be some hope.

Where a new Europa League could find its niche is in selling itself as featuring the best clubs from the less wealthy leagues where the level of play is good but the passion is equal to or exceeds that of the Champion’s League. In the same way some Americans prefer college football to the NFL, there are millions of Ukrainians, Danes, Germans, Belgians, Swedes, and others who take great interest in watching their own local teams during European competitions. Capitalizing on that dynamic is what the Europa League should be all about.