Premier League Team of the Decade

If you’ve been keeping a keen eye over on our Trans World Soccer social media channels, you’ll notice we’ve been selecting our Premier League ‘Team of the Decade’ recently.

If you’ve not seen it, take a look at our team in full below – we’ve gone for an attack-minded 4-3-3.

Petr Cech (Chelsea & Arsenal)

The former Chelsea & Arsenal goalkeeper holds a number of records, including the most clean sheets in Premier League history. A Champions League winner with Chelsea in 2012, Cech tops the tree when it comes to goalkeepers this decade!


Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City & West Ham)

The Argentinian joined Manchester City on the eve of their financial revolution and his exceptional performances have helped City to many domestic trophies in the last ten years. At 34 years old he is still hanging in there…


John Terry (Chelsea)

Known for his world class reading of the game and rock solid performances in defence, Terry was a mainstay at the heart of the Chelsea defence in many trophy filled seasons, making him one of the league’s all time greats.


Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

The towering Belgian is one of the best defenders in the Premier League era and one of City’s greatest ever. The captain led his team to their first league title since 1968, winning three more before leaving in 2019.


Patrice Evra (Manchester United & West Ham)

Rounding off the back four is Patrice Evra. A fantastic servant to Manchester United during a very successful period for the club, the left back had quality in abundance in both attack and defence – making him one of the finest defenders to play this decade.


N’Golo Kante (Leicester City & Chelsea)

First up in our midfield three is N’Golo Kante. Renowned for his tireless work in central midfield, Kante was a major contributor to Leicester City’s miraculous title win in 2016, earning himself a move to Chelsea where he is the heartbeat of their team!


Frank Lampard (Chelsea & Manchester City)

Lampard was one of the finest footballers of his generation known for his late surging runs into the box. Lampard captained Chelsea to the Champions League in 2012 and had a major influence in multiple domestic successes.


David Silva (Manchester City)

Completing our three-man midfield is Manchester City’s Spanish magician, David Silva. Central to everything good that City have achieved in the last ten years, Silva’s ability on the ball means he glides around the pitch creating chances and scoring goals!


Eden Hazard (Chelsea)

Outstanding with both feet, Eden Hazard’s ability has gathered praise from all over the football world. A key man for Chelsea for many years, his move to Madrid has left big shoes to fill!


Wayne Rooney (Manchester United & Everton)

Playing for Manchester United and Everton during the 2010s, scoring over 100 Premier League goals, Rooney is a natural goalscorer who has been vital to his former clubs with some memorable strikes along the way!


Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

What else needs to be said other than AGUEROOOOO? Scorer of the decade’s most memorable Premier League goal when Manchester City lifted the title in 2012, the Argentinian striker has netted 173 times in the league since his arrival in England in 2011!

Kits of the Decade

With the decade nearing its end, we take a look at some of the best football kits from 2010 to 2019. Take a look at the five kits which made our cut…

FC Barcelona Home Kit 2010/11

One of the most recognisable kits from the past decade, Pep Guardiola’s men sported the classic blue and maroon stripes on their way to lifting both the La Liga and Champions League titles, with many branding the class of 2010/11 the greatest football side ever.


AS Roma Away Kit 2019/20

AS Roma’s away top for the 2019/20 season is the latest of a string of impressive kit designs for the Italian giants. Suppliers Nike are said to have taken inspiration from Jupiter, the Roman God of the Sky to produce the stylish clean white design with contrasting red lightning bolt.


Bayern Munich Home Kit 2014/15

For the 2014/15 campaign, Bayern Munich reverted from their classic all red kit with a retro throwback design. The red and blue stripes – reminiscent of famous kits worn during the 90’s, combined with the white edged finish ensured a sharp finish for the German champions.


Manchester United Home Kit 2012/13

The 2012/13 season saw footballing great Sir Alex Ferguson bow out after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford after securing the clubs record 20th League title. That year, sponsors Nike put a unique twist to the classic red devils look with a two-tone red chequered design – a kit as memorable as the season that unravelled.


Nigeria World Cup 2018

The Nigeria World Cup kit for the 2018 tournament in Russia broke the record for pre-ordered jerseys with three million people queuing to grab a piece of it, long before the first ball was kicked at the Mundial. With its unique retro features including a lime green and white zigzag pattern, the Super Eagles kit was the most talked about outfit at the global event.

Alternative Premier League Preview 2019/20

With the 2019/20 Premier League season set to kick off this evening when Liverpool take on new boys Norwich City at Anfield, we preview the new campaign with a difference…

Most Turbulent Summer

Newcastle United

With rumours of Rafa Benitez’s departure circling at St James Park for months this year, the time finally came during the summer when it was revealed that the Spaniard had turned down the option of a new contract, instead heading to the Chinese Superleague to take charge of Dalian Yifang.

Benitez’s departure sparked another round of fan protests against owner Mike Ashley, which has created a difficult environment for new manager Steve Bruce to walk into. Bruce’s appointment came when the Newcastle first team squad were in China for the Premier League Asia Trophy, with the Englishman flown out to meet up with his new club well into their pre-season preparations.

Players came and went throughout the summer with no one quite sure who was in charge of making the signings. £40 million striker Joelinton is the biggest name to arrive on Tyneside during the transfer window, but was he a Steve Bruce signing? Probably not, with the scouting team and people above Bruce making the decision before his arrival.

Injury prone Andy Carroll arrived at St James Park on deadline day, in a move which could be a hit or a miss in terms of the amount he will contribute to the team.

 

Best Business

David Luiz

The maverick Brazilian was a centre piece of Chelsea’s pre-season tour to Japan and has played over 160 games for the Stamford Bridge club over two spells. A £50 million signing for French giants Paris St Germain five years ago, David Luiz’s £8m move to Arsenal on deadline day seems to be the best business of the summer transfer window.

At a time when Arsenal were crying out for a new centre half, after club captain Laurent Koscielny sealed a move to French side Bordeaux, David Luiz will slot right into the heart of the Gunners defence. Key players from rival clubs do not come around very often, let alone for £8m in the age of big money signings.

Luiz is a player who will fit in well to the ball playing style of football fans have come to expect at the Emirates. With Celtic’s Kieran Tierney also recruited on the final day of the transfer window, Arsenal fans can expect to see a new look back four over the course of the season.

 

Worst Value for Money

Harry Maguire

Although there is no denying Harry Maguire’s ability as a centre half, with solid performances at club and international level over the last few seasons – it is quite astonishing that he has garnered a move to Manchester United for £80 million pounds – eighty million pounds.

Even in the times of astronomical transfer fees, £80 million is a sum which you’d expect to see paid for a match-winning centre forward or a play making midfielder, at very least a top-class player who has solid experience in the Champions League.

In Harry Maguire Manchester United have signed a strong, solid defender who reads the game well, but who will not make a remarkable difference to the United starting XI on the whole. United’s goals against record in the 2018/19 Premier League read 54 goals last season, more goals than Wolves, Everton, Crystal Palace and Newcastle.

Defence was clearly an area United needed to strengthen – but at £80 million for a centre half, it must be said that the money may have been used more wisely elsewhere. Toby Alderweireld, a player who has a wealth of Champions League experience and is only four years older than Maguire, reportedly has a buy-out clause of £25m – and that says it all.

Leicester City will be laughing all the way to the bank having made a £68m profit on a player they signed for £12m from Hull City in June 2017.

 

First Manager Sacked

Javi Gracia – Watford

With expectations at all Premier League clubs increasing every year and clubs around Watford spending heavily in a bid to secure domestic success, the pressure could be on for Javi Gracia in his first full season in charge of the north-west London side.

Summer signings Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr will be looking to make an instant impact as the league season kicks off tomorrow at home to Brighton and Hove Albion. With Arsenal, a rejuvenated Everton and reigning champions Manchester City to face in the first six fixtures, Gracia will be looking to pick up as many points as possible in matches against Newcastle and West Ham United.

With fans and owners expecting another solid season at Vicarage Road after last year’s run to the FA Cup final, Gracia will be hoping for a quick start to league proceedings in 2019/20 – otherwise the pressure could be on.

 

Bottom at Christmas

Sheffield United

Newly promoted sides are always tipped to struggle in the Premier League and Sheffield United could be in for a tough season back in the top flight.

Fellow promotion winners Aston Villa have spent big money during the summer window, with nine signings made in the hope that it will boost their survival chances, while Championship winners Norwich should build on a very successful season in 2018/19 with a core squad who know each other well.

Chris Wilder’s side will be looking to prove the doubters wrong and have new signings Phil Jagielka and Oli McBurnie to come into the team which will start the Blades’ first season in the Premier League since Neil Warnock’s side in 2006/07.

Premier League Season Review

As the latest football season comes to a close, the English Premier League has once again proved itself as the superior domestic league across the world.

A nail-biting title race between Manchester City and Liverpool, full of twists and excitement stretched all the way to the final day of the season, with fans of all clubs hooked.

There were also fantastic European campaigns for Liverpool and Spurs, who meet in Madrid for the Champions League Final and Chelsea and Arsenal, who will travel to Baku to battle for the Europa League. Today we will look back on another emphatic season and see who were the standout players, teams and managers of 2018/19.

 

Manager of the Season:

Josep Guardiola – Manchester City

Following last season’s record 100 points haul for the season, Guardiola became the first manager in Premier League history to successfully retain the title. Playing an elegant, attacking style of football, similar to that of Pep’s former Barcelona side, City won 32 of their 38 league games, scoring 95 goals. This also included an impressive 14 game consecutive winning run to finish the season and beat Liverpool to the prize by just a single point.

 

Player of the Season:

Virgil van Dijk – Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk has had a major impact on Liverpool since joining in 2017/18, with the Dutch defender becoming a clear fans favourite at Anfield this season. Powerful in the air, strong in the tackle and comfortable in possession, the commanding centre-half helped Liverpool to their highest ever Premier League points total, keeping 20 clean sheets in the process. Van Dijk has also contributed with some important goals at the other end for the Red’s and is now regarded by many as the top defender in world football. A worthy winner.

 

Surprise Package:

Wolves – 7th Place

One of the biggest surprises of the season was the success of Wolves. Promoted from the Championship the previous season, Wolves could yet be playing in Europe next season following a 7th place finish should Manchester City defeat Watford in the FA Cup Final. With their resilient defending and fast counter attacking approach, Manager Nuno Espirato Santo has gained plenty of plaudits for his side’s performances, with impressive defeats of Manchester United, Chelsea, Spurs and Arsenal at Molineux this season. The strike partnership between Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota in particular has been key to the sides success with 13 and 9 goals respectively.

 

Under Performers of the Season:

Manchester United – 6th Place

Yet another disappointing campaign at Old Trafford. Arguably the world’s biggest club, United have missed out on Champions League football for next season with many question marks now clouding over the futures of a number of players. Despite spending millions of the playing squad, 3-time Premier League champion Jose Mourinho was unable to meet expectations and was shown the door. His replacement, former United goal scorer Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived, and despite an initial up-turn in form, it appears as though the wheels may have come off for Ole, with his long-term future now also looking uncertain. A big summer rebuild required.

 

Signing of the Season:

Salomon Rondon – Newcastle United

Venezuelan frontman Salomon Rondon has enjoyed a successful season for Newcastle since joining on a year-long loan from relegated West Brom last summer. Identified by manager Rafa Benitez as the man to lead the line for the magpies, Rondon has been involved in 47% of United’s goals this season, having contributed 8 assists in addition to his 10 top-flight strikes. With West Brom failing to achieve promotion back to the Premier League, Rondon’s contract contains a £16.5 million release clause, however it remains to be seen whether he returns to St James’ Park next season.

AFC Ajax Academy Success Stories

After a 4-1 win over Real Madrid in this year’s UEFA Champions League, Ajax have earned themselves a quarter final match up against Italian giants Juventus. They have one of the most famous youth academies in world football, a set up which has been copied and envied by clubs all over the globe.

We have taken a look at some of the academy’s best success stories over the years.


Christian Eriksen

Eriksen began his youth career at Ajax in 2008 and made his breakthrough to the first team in a 1-1 draw against NAC Breda. Eriksen went on to play 113 times for Ajax, also earning an international call up for Denmark whilst in the Eredivisie.

Eriksen moved to Tottenham for a fee of £11 million in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most recognisable figures in the English Premier League. The Dane, following in the footsteps of compatriots Michael and Brian Laudrup, became an icon at Ajax in an era when they were losing some of their status in European terms. Eriksen’s subtle football and vision were a reminder of the club’s fine creators of the past. Inevitably, his talent outgrew the confines of the Netherlands, but he patiently waited for what he felt was the right stage of his maturity to move to Tottenham Hotspur.

Wesley Sneijder

Sneijder began his career at Ajax, joining the youth academy in 1991 as a seven-year-old, following the footsteps of his brother. He made his first professional appearance in February 2003 in a 6-0 win against Willem II. After leaving the Amsterdam giants, Sneijder went on to play for clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Galatasaray. Classed by many as a brilliant, diminutive playmaker, Sneijder inherited the fabled number 10 jersey at Ajax and made 126 appearances for the club.

Real Madrid paid an eye-catching €27 million for Sneijder in 2007 and he won the Primera Liga with Madrid. Upon joining Inter Milan, the midfielder won a Serie A title and the 2010 Champions League whilst guiding for the Netherlands, for whom he holds the record for appearances, to the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa.

Rafael van der Vaart

Midfielder Van der Vaart spent seven years at the Ajax youth academy, between 1993 and 2000. He went on to make 117 appearances and score 52 goals in a five year stretch with the 1st team. Van der Vaart has made over 400 professional football appearances scoring 135 goals, for clubs such as Real Madrid, Tottenham, Hamburg and Real Betis. Van der Vaart represented his country in three World Cups and three European Championships.

Ryan Babel

Ryan Babel began his career at Ajax in 1998, staying with the youth squad for six years until 2004. Whilst he was still 17, Babel made his first team debut in a 4-0-win vs. ADO Den Haag. He scored his first senior goal against De Graafschap in a 5-0 win and went on to make 54 appearances for the Dutch national team. Since leaving AFC Ajax, Babel has appeared for Liverpool, Hoffenheim, Besiktas and Fulham.

 


Daley Blind

Following on from his father, Danny, Daley Blind joined the Ajax Youth Academy in 1998. Consistently performing with the A-juniors in the 2006-07 season, Blind earned his place in the first team in the 2008-09 season, signing his first professional contract aged 17. Blind’s debut arrived later that season, in December 2008, in an away match vs. FC Volendam. Blind went on to play his trade for Manchester United before returning to his boyhood club in 2018. To date Blind has made 60 appearance for the Netherlands, scoring two international goals.

 

Edgar Davids

Davids made his senior debut in 1991. Recognized by Pelé as one of the world’s 100 greatest living footballers, Edgar Davids, a Suriname native, is one of the most complete midfielders to have played the game in the last twenty-five years. Davids spent six years in the youth set up at AFC Ajax before spending five successful years in the first-team.  Moves to AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Tottenham Hotspur and a return to Ajax were all part of his impressive football CV.

 

Dennis Bergkamp

Bergkamp joined Ajax Academy at the age of 11. Working his way through the squads, Bergkamp was handed his debut by another academy legend, Johan Cruyff, in a 2-0 victory against Roda JC. Winning the league title, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Cup on one occasion. Bergkamp moved to Inter Milan in 1993 and won the UEFA Cup once in his 2 years at the club. Bergkamp then moved to Arsenal in 1995 and became a club legend. Winning the Premier League on 3 occasions, being part of the team that went unbeaten in a season. Bergkamp came runner-up in the 1993 Ballon d’Or and 3rd place in 1992. He was also named in the Fifa 100, which is a list created by Pele of the 100 greatest living players.

 

Fancy following in the footsteps of Ajax’s superstars of past and present? Trans World Educational Experiences offer bespoke football tour experiences to some of Europe’s premier football destinations, including our Amsterdam Football Development Tours. For more information, visit our enquiry form here and allow us to prepare a sample itinerary for you. 

Champions League Last 16 Preview

With some huge ties in store in Europe’s elite club competition and places in the quarter finals at stake, we take a look ahead to this week’s fixtures in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

  1. Borussia Dortmund – Tottenham

No team in Champions League history has failed to qualify after winning their first leg 3-0 at home, and there’s no doubt Spurs are strong favourites to go through to the last eight in Germany tonight. With Harry Kane’s recent return to the side and the Premier League title race pulling away from them, Pochettino has said his side are going to Germany tonight to win.

However, after a disappointing first leg performance and the backing of the Signal Iduna crowd, Dortmund should not be written off just yet. The expected return of Marco Reus tonight will also be a big bonus for the home side who will be fancied by many to win the game tonight despite the overall tie looking like it is beyond them.

Players to watch: Harry Kane, Marco Reus

Score prediction: 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

 

  1. Real Madrid – Ajax

The weekend’s El Clasico defeat has left Real Madrid with a mountain to climb in the battle for the La Liga title, and it looks like Real will yet again be forced to put all their efforts into the Champions League. As with the majority of their season so far, Madrid were unconvincing in the first leg and it would have to be said Ajax were hard done by.

Ajax go into the game with nothing to lose and their attacking style of football could cause problems for a struggling Madrid side who will be without their suspended captain Sergio Ramos. Overall, Madrid should qualify but they will have to improve drastically if they are to be in with a chance of retaining their Champions League title.

Players to watch: Kasper Dolberg, Mathias De Ligt

Score prediction: 1-1

 

  1. PSG – Man Utd

Manchester United will go into Wednesday night’s fixture not fancied by many to go through. However, they would not be the first team to go to the Parc De Princes and get a result against a PSG side who go into the second leg with a fairly comfortable lead. With a squad full of European superstars it is hard to see past another positive result for the Parisians.

This game will probably come down to who has the stronger starting 11, with both missing fairly big names over the last few weeks. For United to go through it’ll take a huge performance from the big names like Lukaku and Pogba, but if Mbappe performs for PSG, being the game changer that he is, United could again struggle for a result.

Players to watch: Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe

Score Prediction: 2-1 PSG

 

  1. Porto – Roma

In the last 15 years, Porto have never qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions League after losing the first leg of their Round of 16 tie. This doesn’t bode well for a side that also lost track in the Portuguese league title race at the weekend after a loss to bitter rivals Benfica. However an away goal in the Italian capital two weeks ago means that the tie is far from over.

Roma, 2-1 winners in the first leg at the Stadio Olimpico, will fancy their chances in Portugal. A Roma goal will mean Porto have to score two to take the game to extra time and the Italians will set up to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Players to watch: Nicolo Zaniolo, Mousa Marega

Score Prediction: 1-0 Porto

Top Five January Signings So Far

With the Premier League season now at the halfway stage and the hectic Christmas schedule having a big impact at both ends of the league table, the January transfer window offers sides the perfect opportunity to add to their sides.

Whether it be a striker for some much-needed goals or someone to tighten up the defence in order to push on in the second half of the season, the January window is always a busy one.

In today’s blog we will review the top 5 January signings so far and provide an insight as to what to expect from each player.

5.    Jason PUNCHEON  –  Crystal Palace > Huddersfield (loan)

Bottom of the table Huddersfield are currently 8 points adrift from safety and look certain to return to the Championship after just two seasons. The Yorkshiremen have struggled to pick up results so far this season and have since parted company with former manager David Wagner. Before his departure however, Wagner did manage to secure the loan signing of midfielder Puncheon from rivals Crystal Palace until the end of the season. Puncheon, 32, will help to bring in some much-needed premier league experience for this season’s strugglers, with the Englishman set for his 200th top flight appearance in the coming weeks. The Terriers will be hopeful that Puncheon can add goals and assists from midfield for the league’s lowest scorers in what already appears to be a mammoth task to survive the drop.

4.    Nathaniel CLYNE  –  Liverpool > Bournemouth (loan)

Bournemouth have enjoyed a mixed season so far under manager Eddie Howe. The Cherries got off to a flyer with an impressive run of results early in the season leaving them in a lofty position in the league. However, in recent months results have taken a turn and Bournemouth have slowly began sliding down the table, coinciding with regular right back and club captain Simon Francis being ruled out for up to 9 months with injury. As a result, the club have moved to bring in full-back Nathaniel Clyne from Liverpool on a loan short term deal. Clyne, an England international has struggled for game time recently due to consistent injury problems and has fallen down the pecking order at Anfield. Blessed with lightning pace, Clyne can provide a major impact at both ends of the pitch provided he can rediscover his form shown in past seasons.

3.    Ryan BABEL – Besiktas > Fulham (loan)

Another one of this season’s strugglers, Fulham, have signed former Liverpool winger Ryan Babel from Turkish side Besiktas. Dutch international Babel, 32, has signed for Claudio Ranieri’s side on a temporary deal until the end of the season. No stranger to the Premier League following a previous three-and-a-half-year spell at Anfield, Babel will be sure to excite fans with his creative flair and hope to ease the burden on striker Alexander Mitrovic to get the goals to keep the London club in the Premier League. Despite his best years probably behind him, Babel will join Fulham as a player with a good pedigree on both the club and international stage and bring some much-valued experience to what is a relatively young squad.

2.    Christian PULISIC  –  Borussia Dortmund > Chelsea (£58mil, loan back)

The first major transfer story of the 2019 January window was the announcement of US International Christian Pulisic’s move to Chelsea. The 20-year-old attacker became the most expensive American in history following the reported £58 million move and will return to Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the season. Tipped as one of the most exciting young players in the world, Pulisic’s pace, skill and eye for goal will be sure to make him a top success in England over the next few seasons, with the blues battling off competition for his signature from a number of Europe’s top clubs.

1.    Dominic SOLANKE  –  Liverpool > Bournemouth (£19mil)

In another impressive signing for Bournemouth, Solanke joins Liverpool teammate Clyne in moving to the south coast club. As mentioned previously, the Cherries recent form has dropped and with current forward Callum Wilson continually being linked with moves to a top club, Howe has has added England international Solanke to increase competition amongst his already impressive attacking options. Highly rated at both youth and senior level, Solanke has yet to be afforded a consistent run in the side during his time at Chelsea and Liverpool but is sure to get his chance to shine at Bournemouth. A technically gifted, athletic and physical player, Solanke is sure to cause plenty problems for Premier League defenders in the coming months.

 

 

 

Twedex Unveiled as Global Travel Partners for The World School Games Event Series

Trans World Educational Experiences (Twedex) was today unveiled as Global Travel Partner of The World Schools Games Event Series in 2019.

The World School Games Event Series will see schools from across the globe compete in a range of sports competitions at various age categories, in a quest to unearth the World Champions of school sport. With the flagship World School Games event, staged annually in Dubai, set for expansion in 2019 to 48 schools competing at separate U11 and U13 events in athletics, swimming and football, the introduction of the Event Series aims to broaden the scope of competitive school sport on the world stage.

The world’s number one University for sport, Loughborough (UK), was last week announced as the host venue for the inaugural World Schools Netball Cup in June. The World Schools Football Cup will be staged in Barcelona (Spain) in October, as well as The World Schools Rugby Cup and The World Schools Cricket Cup in Dubai (United Arab Emirates).

Scott Macfarlane, of Twedex, is privileged to be involved in the expansion of one of the most exciting youth sports competitions in the world.

“The World School Games Event Series provides a unique stage for the world’s best school athletes to compete with and against each other, in a fun and competitive series of events, at truly world class facilities. At Twedex we are always looking for innovative ways to give young people the best sports travel opportunities possible. It’s the perfect fit.”

“We’re very proud to work in collaboration with The World School Games and will use our organisation’s skillset to enhance the travel and logistics experience of the travelling teams for each event in 2019.”

Adam Kerr, of The World School Games, is delighted to team up with Twedex ahead of a hugely exciting year for both organisations.

“To have secured the services of Twedex as Global Travel Partners is a terrific coup for The World School Games. Over 5,000 athletes from more than 40 countries will take part in a World School Games event in 2019. The travel and logistics at global events require a huge amount of expertise and planning, and our expansion in 2019 will mean we have more athletes than ever travelling across the world to take part in our events.”

For more information on the newly launched World School Games Event Series visit www.wsgevents.com | www.theworldschoolgames.com

Spanish Basketball: An Overview

Spain is a country often associated with a number of sports, no more so than football thanks to the continued global success and popularity of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as the national team’s World and European Cup victories in recent years.

One sport that appears to fly under the radar of those from outwith the country is the game of basketball. This week we will take a closer look at the nation’s game and provide an insight into Spain’s second most popular sport.

Within Spain there are a number of competitive leagues run by the Spanish Basketball Federation, with a range of teams from across the country competing regularly for the chance of silverware. The nation’s top division, the Liga ACB, also currently known as Liga Endesa is widely regarded as one of the most competitive and highest quality national leagues across Europe.

Liga ACB is also one of the most well supported professional indoor sports leagues in the world, with an average attendance of 6,500 for league matches in the 2016/17 season, the ninth-highest of any domestic professional indoor sports league and the fourth-highest of any professional basketball league in the world.

The competition consists of 18 teams and follows the usual double round robin format, with each team playing one another both home and away during the course of the season from October to May each year.

Teams are ranked by total points, receiving one point for a win, and no points for a loss, with the eight highest-ranked clubs at the end of the season competing in a seeded playoff, with the winner’s crowned league champion. Sides who finish as one of the two lowest-placed teams are then relegated to the LEB Oro division and replaced by the top team in the second tier plus the winner of the playoff.

In addition to club level success, Spain’s national sides have also enjoyed success on the court themselves, with their last major title win in 2015 at the European championships. Currently, the men’s side are second in the FIBA World Rankings, bettered only by the USA.

 

FC Barcelona Lassa

FC Barcelona Lassa, part of the FC Barcelona multi sports club, was founded on 24 August 1926, and is the oldest member of the Liga ACB. The team plays its home games at Palau Blaugrana, located at the famous Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona. The arena, opened in 1971, also plays host to the club’s roller hockey, futsal, and handball sides.

The club competes domestically in the Liga ACB and is an ever present in the prestigious EuroLeague. Barca have won several accolades in its time, including seven of the last thirteen ACB championships, and in 2003, completed a Liga ACB, Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) and EuroLeague triple crown.

FC Barcelona has played in a total of seven EuroLeague Finals, with the last one being their 2010 win. In 2017/18, they finished third in the domestic league and won the Copa Del Rey.

Real Madrid Baloncesto

Real Madrid Baloncesto is a Spanish professional basketball team that was founded in 1931, as a division of the Real Madrid C.F. multi sports club. Like Real Madrid’s football side, the basketball team has been the most successful club in both Spain and Europe.

Madrid have won a record 34 Liga ACB championships, including in both a 7-in-a-row and 10-in-a-row sequence. They have also won a record 27 Spanish Cup titles, 10 EuroLeague Championships, and 4 Saporta Cups.

The side play their games at WiZink Center, an indoor sporting arena located in Madrid, with a capacity is 15,000 people. The 2017/18 season was another year filled with success, with the team winning the domestic league and EuroLeague double and finished runners up in the Copa Del Rey.

 

Club Deportivo Saski-Baskonia

Baskonia are a side based in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the North of Spain. Historically, Baskonia are another team who have experienced domestic success over the years, winning three ACB championships, six Spanish Cups and four Spanish Supercups in its time.

On a European level, Baskonia are one of the most recognisable teams with an ever presence since the 2000/01 season. Although Baskonia are yet to win a EuroLeague title, the club has been runners up on two occasions, in 2001 and 2005. In 2016, they returned the EuroLeague semi-finals for the first time in eight years but were defeated after overtime by Turkish side Fenerbahce.

Baskonia’s last major achievement came in the 2009/10 season, defeating FC Barcelona to win the Liga ACB title. In 2017/18, the team finished second in the Liga ACB, and got to the quarterfinal of the Copa Del Rey and EuroLeague.

 

For more information on Trans World’s Basketball Development Tours, visit our dedicated basketball page here or enquire now!

 

La Liga Preview 2018/19

With the new La Liga season kicking off last weekend, today we will be taking a closer look at Spain’s big three; Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid and what we can expect from each side in the campaign ahead.

 

BARCELONA

Current league champions Barca will be looking for another successful season, with trophies targeted in all competitions. The Catalan club have already bagged the Spanish Super Cup defeating Sevilla 2-1 earlier in the month and opened their title defence with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Alaves at the Camp Nou over the weekend.

Newly appointed club captain and star man Lionel Messi has already vowed that his side will do everything possible to return the Champions League trophy to the club, the first time since 2014-15 season. Last year’s shock exit at the hands of Italian side Roma slightly over shadowed an otherwise successful domestic campaign.

New Signings:

In order to achieve their desired goals, Barca have made a couple of high profile signings to boost an already illustrious first team squad.

Brazilian attacker Malcom arrived in rather controversial circumstances in a £40 million move from French side Bordeaux. The player had been set to sign for last year’s nemesis Roma and had flown to the Italian capital, however a last second hijack bid from the Spaniards was enough to secure the signing. Malcom, 21, is seen as a top prospect, with his pace, trickery and eye for goal sure to make him a successful addition.

Arturo Vidal is another player sure to play a key role this season. The ex-Bayern Munich midfielder had seemingly fallen out of favour at the Allianz Arena and has thus sought a new challenge. Vidal, who has the ability to control a game with his wide range of passing, box to box running and tough tackling, could be a real steal for the Catalan’s with a transfer fee of just £18 million.

One player who will not be gracing the hallowed turf this season however is Andreas Iniesta. The midfielder leaves Barcelona after 22 magical years, following his progression through the academy to club captain and international icon. Iniesta, a World Cup winner with Spain, won nine La Liga titles, four Champions League’s six Copa del Rey crowns during his time.

 

REAL MADRID

Real Madrid begin the new season with many questions still looming following a summer of high profile exits. Ex-player and manager Zinedine Zidane’s decision to step down from his role at the club despite leading Madrid to a record third-successive UEFA Champions League was a shock. This news was overshadowed, however, by the news that star forward Cristiano Ronaldo would also be leaving the Santiago Bernabéu. The five-time Ballon D’or winner moved to Juventus in a £105 million deal, leaving many Madrid fans fearing the worst after losing arguably the world’s best player over the past decade. The Portuguese captain departs following nine years in the Spanish capital and an array of on-field success including four Champion’s League successes, leaving very big boots to fill.

New Signings:

While Madrid have so far failed to sign a recognised replacement for Ronaldo, they have made a few additions to the side.

Their hunt for a new first choice goalkeeper was finally completed with the arrival of Chelsea shot stopper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian, previously of rivals Atletico Madrid, signed a six-year deal following a fee of around £35 million. Madrid, who had previously been linked with Manchester United keeper De Gea, turned their attention to Courtois once it was made clear the Spaniard would not be allowed to leave Old Trafford.

Another player who has arrived at Madrid this summer is Vinicius Junior. The young Brazilian forward will finally link up with his team mates after agreeing to join the club last season in a delayed £40 million transfer from Flamengo. Perceived as a potential long-term replacement for the departing Ronaldo, the youngster may have to step up to the plate quicker than anticipated to fill the vacant void. With stars such as Gareth Bale, Marco Asensio and Isco around him however, Vinicius should have the perfect platform to develop into a top talent.

 

ATLETICO MADRID

Another team hoping to compete for silverware this season is Atletico Madrid. Often overshadowed by rivals Real, Atleti will hope to pounce on the uncertainty surrounding the Bernabéu. Unlike Real though, Diego Simeone has been able to keep hold of his star men, something as valuable as any new signing. Frenchman Antoine Griezmann has been subject of continuous speculation over the past few years with some of the worlds biggest clubs including Barcelona and Manchester United interested in the forward. Defender Diego Godin was another key member of the team also heavily linked with a move away from the Wanda Metropolitano however, along with Griezmann, both have committed their futures to the club with the signing of new contracts.

New Signings:

As well as retaining current players, Atletico Madrid have also strengthened in key areas with the aim of competing with both Spain, and Europe’s best.

One area clearly identified by Simeone requiring improvement was on the wings, with two of Europe’s highest rated wide men joining the club over the summer break. Firstly, Thomas Lemar joined from Monaco, fresh of the back of winning the world cup with France. Another graduate of the highly established Monaco development system, Lemar had been linked with moves to most of the continents biggest sides. However, it was Atleti’s offer of £70 million that secured his services on a five-year deal.

The second winger to arrive was Portuguese midfielder Gelson Martins Following a club incident last season, Martins became on of a number of high-profile Sporting Lisbon players to have their contracts terminated upon request. Alert to the situation, Atletico were quick to pounce, signing the pacey international on a free transfer.