Three covers, four cover stars. There’s Andrea Pirlo, the two times Champions League winner who was the boss on the pitch but is now trying to lead former club Juventus to European glory from the dugout. Then we have a couple of Manchester City players sharing a cover: Gabriel Jesus and Ederson. The two Brazilians have very different feelings when it comes to the prospect of goals being scored but agree on plenty of things regarding football, family and, interestingly, funk music.
And last but not least there’s Kylian Mbappé, who graces our limited-edition FIFA 21 cover. There’s also a special report on the player and the computer game in all versions of the magazine, examining the unique synergy between the two.
There’s plenty more to look forward to. Lyon’s Wendie Renard has now won enough seven ChampionsLeague medals, which meant it was prime time to speak to her about her achievements and ambitions. Ronald Koeman is our other featured manager, as he takes up the reins at his beloved Barcelona; we’ve also got Jürgen Klinsmann delivering his first Champions Journal column.
There’s loads more, including a feature on the fans who have been fortunate enough to attend European games since Covid-19’s arrival, plus a photo gallery celebrating Bayern München’s incredible run to the trophy last season. Forget the turkey –feast on this.
“It’s my job to score goals.” Well Erling, you’re certainly fulfilling the brief. Caroline de Moraes chats to Dortmund’s Norwegian sensation about his whirlwind rise, some fascinating Insta pics and – you guessed it – goals in Issue 6 of Champions Journal.
As Haaland kicks off his career, Zlatan Ibrahimović explains the secrets of his longevity to Paolo Menicucci. Behind the Zlatanisms – and he doesn’t disappoint – Ibra shows a more reflective side as he charts his progress back to the top after his horrendous career-threatening injury nearly four years ago.
From players to coaches, we listen in on a fascinating Zoom chat between Jürgen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann as they discuss the difficulties of managing a team during the Covid crisis. Graham Hunter, meanwhile, catches up with Mauricio Pochettino in Paris, talking wolves with the Argentinian whose players could not be tamed in Barcelona…
We’ve also gone back to basics, with Simon Hart examining a key tool of the player’s trade – the foot – and Dan Poole turning his focus on another – the ball – on the 20th anniversary of the much-loved and iconic adidas Finale.
Away from the pitch, for travel, Ivan Rakitić opens up about his love for the Andalusian capital, Seville; in music, Pascal Claude spins us some tunes from his insanely eclectic football singles record collection; and for food, Ali Riley tries to get us eating more healthily. And do watch our video of Ian Holyman’s wonderful conversation with Marcel Desailly about his back-to-back European Cup wins. The man’s a legend. (Marcel that is, though Ian’s getting there…)
Anyway, have a read and see for yourself!
If watching Paris hang on to knock out holders Bayern was tense, the drama off the pitch in the countdown to this issue going to press took some beating. Fan power was fundamental in seeing off the threat of a breakaway ‘Super League’, ensuring the principle of open competition will remain at the heart of the European game.
With a new format to the Champions League being introduced in 2024/25, we’ve gone back to the start to look at how the competition began and has evolved, hearing from protagonists down the years and looking ahead to what the future might hold.
Before then there’s the small matter of a trophy with big ears to win, and we’ve been fortunate to speak to two of the game’s most exciting young stars, Kylian Mbappé and Mason Mount, as they look to leave their mark this season. In his column Jürgen Klinsmann explains exactly what they will need to do to take home the trophy and for those of you pining for simpler times, we travel back 50 years to Wembley to celebrate the first of Ajax’s three era-defining triumphs. We also talk leadership with Fernandinho, Glasgow with chart-toppers The Snuts and take our place on the sofa with house-bound, home fans across Europe in this issue’s Gallery feature.
It was great to see the season end with fans back in the stands at the Champions League final in Porto. And in issue 8 of Champions Journal we pay tribute to 2021 winners Chelsea with a photo gallery of their big day out in the northern Portuguese city.
Just 25 days after the final, the new season was already up and running. Our first stop of 2021/22 was Albania, where Kosovan champions FC Prishtina won through the preliminary round tournament to reach the first qualifying round. From there, on to Bodø in Norway, to learn about the sustainable ethos underpinning a new era at the first-time Norwegian champions.
That’s not to say we’ve shied away from the bright lights and big names in issue 8. We’ve talked Neymar and Drogba with DJ and producer Marshmello; family and heroes with Paul Pogba; and Vinícius Júnior’s drive to succeed at Real Madrid. And with the Super Cup taking place in Northern Ireland, Jim Gracey tells us tales of Belfast’s favourite son, George Best. Jürgen Klinsmann takes his picks of the 2020/21 campaign, former Chelsea and Scotland ace Pat Nevin tells us about the art of writing and Sheridan Bird takes us a on a tour of Milan. That and a whole lot more.
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