Former Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger’s Discusses Barça After 0-0 Draw in Champions League.
MIAMI, Fla. (November 7, 2019) —
Arsène Wenger analysed Barcelona for BeIN Sports for the midweek UEFA Champions League match versus Slavia Prague. He maintains that Barça play like a “team in crisis.”
The reigning La Liga champions were stunned on Tuesday night after they were unable to break the deadlock against Slavia Prague and were held to a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou.
“They’re top of the league, they’re top of their group and they play like a team in crisis,” the legendary former Arsenal boss said on beIN Sports.
“Their game is too slow. There is no dynamic in the last 30 meters, it’s too individual.
“And every time they lose the ball, it looks like they will concede a goal on [the] counterattack because they cannot deal with pace against the opponent… the team lacks dynamic, lacks energy, lacks confidence.”
It was the first time since 2012 that Barcelona captain Lionel Messi failed to score in a home Champions League group game. He came close, striking the bar in a superb solo effort.
Wenger agrees with my own opinion that Barcelona are far too reliant on the Argentine superstar. He echoed that in discussing the Culés’ failure to make the breakthrough against Slavia Prague.
“Barcelona is an interesting case because they have a history of fantastic collective play, and on top of that, came Messi to make differences,” the 70-year-old explained.
“Today, it looks like they play and they wait for Messi to do something, but the basic strengths of the team play is a bit gone. And you think, when will Messi get the ball to do something?”
“And before, the music, the basic music, was the fantastic team play, making it difficult to catch the ball, and then on top of that came Messi.
“Today, it looks to me that they lost charisma.”
Wenger continued his brutal assessment of Barca’s performance with a stat comparison for ‘distance covered’ in the match.
Barcelona managed to cover 97 km in comparison to Slavia Prague’s 109 km, with the Frenchman saying it was the equivalent of 84 box-to-box runs.
He added: “Barcelona was beaten tonight really, physically, and then, not enough pace.”
While critical of Barça manager Ernesto Valverde, he was careful not to blame him entirely. “At the end, it’s always the coach who is guilty, he’s not always responsible,” he said. “There’s a difference between being guilty and responsible, you know?”
“As we said, Valverde does not make the decision on who comes in. He has to do the best with what he has.”
“So, what we speak about raises many questions: who has the final word when you buy a player? Secondly, is this really the player that the team needs?”
Por primera vez, las cámaras de televisión han tenido acceso al día a día de jugadores como Leo Messi, Gerard Piqué, Marc-André ter Stegen o Luis Suárez.
Miami, Fla. (October 30, 2019) —
Fútbol Club Barcelona will be releasing its own in-house documentary that will take viewers behind the scenes.
This follows other clubs who have produced documentaries, such as Netflix’ work with Juventus and Amazon’s work with Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Leeds United.
The Blaugrana version will be an eight-episode documentary each consisting of 45 minutes that focus around eight key games from the 2018-19 season. The exclusive content features dressing room footage, the players’ reactions to last season’s shocking defeat to Liverpool, interviews, and a glimpse into the players’ home lives. Actor John Malkovich provides the narration.
The documentary will be available via Barça sponsor Rakuten and their distribution partners in Europe from November onwards. It will be available in North America although the distribution partner has not been announced.
It is definitely a not-to-be-missed series.
Here is the trailer for the project:
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Thursday Oct. 24th, at 6:00 p.m. the City of Miami Commission will meet at City Hall and Miami Freedom Park is once again on the Agenda.
Some Commissioners are determined to destroy the grand vision of Miami Freedom Park, a project which will transform a place that is public on paper but which in reality cannot be enjoyed by most residents of Miami. A project which will provide so much for our community: jobs, a large park, a tech hub, public soccer fields, a home for Inter Miami CF and a place for all to gather.
Some commissioners are trying undermine our 62% majority vote that we City of Miami voters returned last November. They represent the people and should not place their own agenda over the will of our residents.
Voice your support for our Miami Freedom Park! Inter Miami CF needs your support at 6:00 p.m. at City Hall.
The Generation adidas Cup is one of the premier competitive youth soccer tournaments in North America. Now in its 13th edition, the tournament is contested among teams at the Under-17 and Under-15 age brackets.
Regional qualifying matches began this Columbus Day weekend (October 11-14) at this year’s host site in Chester, Pennsylvania, home of the Philadelphia Union, at the Power Training Complex!
All matches are free and open to the public. and Live streams of all be the games are available on individual teams’ websites (ex: philadelphia union.com)
In the regional qualifying, MLS teams are divided across three different groups (A, B, C). In addition to the games taking place over Columbus Day, qualifying matches in each group will also occur during the 2020 President’s Day weekend in February.
Teams receive three points for a win, two points for a penalty kick win, one point for a loss on penalties, and zero for a straight loss.
The top two teams from each group will advance to play in Division 1 of the 2020 Generation adidas Cup Finals at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas. The third and fourth placed teams from each group will play in Division 2 and the remaining teams will play in Division 3.
The Under-15 age group (players born on or after January, 1, 2005) will again be represented at this year’s finals. 24 U-15 MLS clubs go through Regional Qualifying. The four group winners will advance to the Final Event to compete in an 8-team international challenge.
LaLiga North America continues its expansion and promotion of Spain’s top soccer league in the United States and Canada by partnering with Sling TV.
Miami, Fla. (September 18, 2019) –
Sling TV has become the official sponsor of La Liga in North America. The agreement will result in additional programming dedicated to La Liga.
Sling TV curently broadcasts La Liga regular season matches via beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Español. Subscribers are able to watch all matches on Sling TV’s Best of Spanish TV service and World Sports.
Additional content as part of the new partnership will include weekly La Liga segments: the Luis Garcia Show (in Spanish) and the Jimmy Conrad Show, (in English). Facebook users will be able to watch exclusive commentary ahead of the top four matches of the week on LaLiga’s Facebook page.
Sling TV will also show La Liga Ambassadors Club, which includes meet and greets with former players as well as player Q&As on Facebook Live throughout the season. Also encompassed in the partnership are La Liga experiences and merchandise which will include sweepstakes, giveaways and promotions across both partners’ platforms.
With increased coverage, Spain’s top soccer league is enjoying an increased following in North America, beyond traditional strongholds like Miami and Los Angeles. In the three meetings between rivals FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF last season – two in LaLiga, one in the Copa del Rey – beIN Sports and beIN Sports en Español reached a combined audience of more than 2.7 million viewers.
What The Parties Are Saying:
“When we started our venture here and created our plan to grow the brand while getting the clubs and players closer to fans, doing it alone was going to be tough, so having partners that can come in and help amplify what we’re doing and commit to our strategy is just proof of the success,” Gartner said. “Having Sling TV come in as the first commercial partner we have for the region on a deal that’s anchored primarily on the original content strategy we set out to do is a good validation of how we see the market and how we see the strategy to grow here.
That the content being developed is bilingual is important to LaLiga North America, says Gartner. It fits into their target market which consists of native Spanish speakers and a younger, bilingual audience. He also believes the additional content will allow partners of LaLiga to reach out to the target market in a more customized way.
“LaLiga’s rabid fan base has found a home at Sling TV,” said Alfredo Rodriguez, vice president of marketing at Sling TV. “As the Official North American sponsor, LaLiga fanatics can now get a premium experience through the partnership, gaining access to everything LaLiga through exclusive content and giveaways.”
About LaLiga North America
LaLiga North America is a joint venture between Spain’s domestic league and Relevent Sports Group, which also produces the International Champions Cup each summer, operating to support the league’s growth on the continent through content development, activations, marketing agreements, commercial partnerships, exhibition matches and youth academies.
About Sling TV
Sling TV provides over-the-top (“OTT”) TV services with more than 640 channels in 22 languages across multiple devices. As of July 29, 2019, Sling had 2.47 million subscribers.
US-based broadcaster ESPN has retained domestic broadcast rights to the second and third tiers of the US club soccer system after extending its deal with the United Soccer League (“USL”).
The Disney-owned network has signed a three-year deal that covers TV and digital rights to the USL Championship, the second tier of the US Soccer system, as well as the third-tier USL League One until 2022.
Under the terms of the agreement, ESPN has committed to tripling the number of USL games shown across its family of channels, including the addition of Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes and expanded coverage on its direct-to-consumer streaming service ESPN+.
The relationship between the USL and ESPN will enter its fifth full year in 2020 as the league celebrates its 10th anniversary season. Under the new agreement, 18 regular-season games from the Championship will air on ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU or ESPN Deportes annually in addition to the USL Championship Final. All other matches will be streamed live on ESPN+.
“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with the United Soccer League, and showcase the USL Championship and USL League One competitions across ESPN networks and ESPN+ through this new agreement,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions.
Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed but, according to sources cited by The Athletic, ESPN will pay the USL a rights fee ‘in the low seven-figure range’.
“We are thrilled to continue with ESPN and ESPN+,” said USL executive vice president Court Jeske. “USL is an organisation that aims to put the fans first and we know that supporters across the country will be very pleased with this new three-year agreement and the exposure it brings.”
As well as the USL, ESPN holds rights to a number of top soccer properties, including Major League Soccer (MLS), Italy’s Serie A, England’s FA Cup, and the qualifiers for the UEFA 2020 European Championship.
Riccardo Silva is a respected entrepreneur who has built MP & Silva, the international media rights agency he co-founded in 2004, into a billion-dollar enterprise that has had significant success in the business of sports rights arbitrage.
The 47-year-old Milanese has made repeated attempts to assert his influence in American soccer over the past two years via his founding of the Miami FC along with ex-AC Milan defender Paolo Maldini.
His latest attempt to influence the game in America came in June when he presented Major League Soccer (“MLS”) executives and owners with “an offer they surely couldn’t refuse.”
According to a report by John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, Silva met with MLS commissioner Don Garber. At that meeting, he offered the astronomical sum of US$4 billion for the global media rights to MLS for ten years from 2023 forward. This sum would have quadrupled the league’s media rights fees some six years before those rights were even due to go to market.
There was, however, one catch. Silva’s bold offer was conditioned on MLS agreement to introduce a system of promotion and relegation at some point in the future.
The alacrity at which this offer was dismissed would make even Usain Bolt look slow by comparison. The phrase “pro-rel” is pretty much on the list of banned words on the 7th Floor of 420 5th Avenue in Manhattan. MLS has always been opposed to the idea, even with four billion dollars on the table.
The money would no doubt be transformative for the league and its teams.
“As commissioner Garber stated in his letter to Mr Silva, we are not in a position, nor are we interested in engaging with Mr Silva on his proposal,” said Dan Courtemanche, the league’s executive vice president of communications, in a statement.
Some say that Riccardo Silva’s offer was nothing more than a publicity stunt or move to make MLS look bad. He likely knew that MLS could not accept his offer even if they happened to be interested.
The league is contractually bound to its current broadcasters until 2022. MLS is prohibited, under the terms of its current domestic TV deals with ESPN, Fox and Univision, from discussing a new media rights agreement until at least 2021. At that point, the agreements in place allow each of the incumbent broadcasters an exclusive negotiating windows and renewal options to exercise before their contracts expire in 2022.
Silva has a vested interest in seeing a system of promotion and relegation introduced in North American soccer. In May of 2015, he teamed up with his fellow countryman Paolo Maldini, the retired soccer star, to buy Miami FC, an all-new franchise that joined the second-tier North American Soccer League (NASL) last year.
Silva has exhibited a great deal of passion for the Miami FC. His exuberant spending, at least by NASL standards, on highly regarded players has positioned Miami FC as a major force in the league – this year, they claimed the NASL spring title in style and defeated two MLS sides, Orlando City and Atlanta United, in the US Open Cup.
It is no secret that Silva, an ambitious entrepreneur, does not want Miami FC to be stuck in lower league soccer and the lack of prestige that comes with it. He has previously discussed the possibility of moving Miami FC from their current home to the Miami Dolphins’ 65,000-seat Hard Rock Stadium, while unconfirmed reports last year said he had spoken to the United Soccer League (USL), which enjoys a close affiliation with MLS and was recently upgraded to division two status, about a possible switch.
The Deloitte Sport Business Study
In 2016, Silva International Investments, another of Silva’s companies, commissioned Deloitte’s Sport Business Group to conduct a report into the pros and cons of inter-league movement in North American soccer. To the surprise of no one, the report concluded by recommending the introduction of promotion and relegation into the existing American league system, saying the global model of divisional ups and downs ‘could have numerous long-term benefits, including increased attendances, increased broadcast audiences, improved commercial revenue and a positive impact on both elite players and grassroots participants.’
However that same report also pointed out that North American soccer is not yet ready for a drastic structural overhaul. The gap in quality from one division to the next was a primary reason. The lack of proper infrastructure in many lower tier clubs is another factor.
The report was criticised for failing to bring anything new to the discussion surrounding the contentious issue of promotion and relegation. It also did little to ingratiate Silva with MLS or the US soccer establishment. Garber classified the study as a flagrant attempt to sway opinion. His deputy, Mark Abbott, said report raised “serious credibility questions” since it had been commissioned by an owner of an NASL team.
Silva believes sports ownership requires a free-market approach, one that is prevalent in soccer leagues outside the US but generally deemed incompatible with the culture of American sport. He certainly could have invested in MLS if he wanted to, but the restrictive, single-entity business model is one he finds overly inflexible. Certainly the US$150 million expansion fee factors into his assessment. By comparison the NASL expansion fee is roughly ten times less, and Silva has cited it as the number one reason for why he deemed that league a more attractive investment opportunity.
“I am not sure that the closed rules of the MLS will be successful in the long term,” he said in an interview with FourFourTwo last year. “The NFL, the NBA, and so on, are different. They are either the best league in the world in their sport or the only league, so it makes sense to have a closed league and use salary caps.” He added:
“But the MLS is not like that. It is probably number ten or 15 in the world. So, the best way to grow it is to be open, for the teams to be independent. I believe the NASL has more potential, even if it is much smaller at the moment.”
MLS “owners,” on the other hand, are actual members (read investors) of MLS, LLC, the limited liability company that owns the league. The MLS model succeeds by increasing infrastructure investments, having stable ownership and grassroots development, rather than teams coming and going and short gains.
What’s clear is that Silva has his work cut out to convince a group of executives who view a system of promotion and relegation as a top great of a risk, especially at a time when MLS is eyeing further expansion and franchise licence fees are on the rise.
MLS sees a pro-rel system now, or down the road, as a vehicle that would only create uncertainty and inhibit the league’s growth efforts, regardless of the short-term riches Silva was offering.
The ties between SUM, MLS, US Soccer and Concacaf appear stronger than ever. Despite his signature business being one of the world’s go-to sports media rights companies, despite his determination, resources and connections to match his lofty ambition, for now at least, Silva remains an outsider looking in. Whether that changes only time will tell.