45 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Lee Wellings: How far have Manchester City come?

Not many games whet the appetite quite as much as Barcelona vs Manchester City, in the Champions League this month.

This column recently outlined why an important era is approaching for the Catalan club as their dominant decade gives way to uncertainty. Can they remain at the very top when clubs fuelled by petrodollars are starting to accelerate?

Barcelona got past Paris St Germain last season but the French club with the Qatari funding weren’t yet up to full speed.

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Lee Wellings: ‘Donut’ try to fight it – football is now business

If you scored a match winning goal at the highest league level in your country how would you react? With a slice of pizza behind the goal?

You may have seen Dominic Oduru of Columbus Crew do just that in a match last year against Chicago Fire, provided by the club’s ‘official’ pizza provider. Thank goodness he hit the target otherwise that pizza may have gone to waste. What company was it? Let’s not go there,

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Lee Wellings: Right time for Barca to build a new camp

When you’re in possession of Europe’s largest football stadium, one of the world’s most iconic sporting venues, planning to expand is not the most obvious move.

But Barcelona have looked to the future and know if the club stands still, their years at the top of world football are under threat.

And so a grand project to modernise the Nou Camp will be put to its members. In April a referendum will decide if the Barcelona will have a ‘New Camp’

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Lee Wellings: Heat is not just on Qatar but on prejudice as well

It’s a worrying scenario isn’t it.

A searing sun, temperatures over 40 degrees, players and spectators wilting, the action bordering on farce as it becomes survival of the fittest, not the most talented.

It’s not going to happen with the World Cup in Qatar 2022 though is it? Just ask Jerome Valcke.

No, I refer of course to the Australian Open tennis. You see Melbourne can get quite hot at this time of year.

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Lee Wellings: Twitter World Cup Year – LOL!

Brazil 2014 will be the first World Cup dominated by twitter.

Not the first World Cup of the twitter age, but the first since twitter became an unstoppable juggernaut thundering through every town and city on earth.

For those who despair of the idiocy and indiscretion that drag down the positive side of this social phenomenon, a World Cup consumed by twitter commentary could be a depressing thought. It could be yes,

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Lee Wellings: Been watching the Club World Cup in Morocco?

No I thought not.

It’s taken seriously in South America, where it feels like a Champions League final to them, a chance for the Copa Libertadores winners to topple the best from Europe.

And it occasionally makes its mark elsewhere. I still remember waking to the news that Zico’s Flamengo had humiliated Liverpool 3-0 in the annual Intercontinental game in Tokyo in 1981. I thought my team were indestructible before that.

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Lee Wellings: In Switzerland, they play football as well

Sometimes the FIFA HQ in Zurich feels more familiar than my own office with the amount of stories I’ve needed to cover there in my role as Al Jazeera Sports Correspondent. The most powerful man in that building, and indeed world football, is of course Swiss, Mr Blatter. And over in Nyon we find UEFA, that powerful continental governing body. Olympic football is run in conjunction with the IOC, based in Lausanne. As football reflects life,

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Lee Wellings: The Tiger’s tale of football, business and identity

Who actually owns a football club?

“Legally it’s the owner, emotionally it’s the fans.”

A fan of Premier League club Hull City gave me this assessment while discussing his opposition to the owner’s plan. That plan is to change the name to Hull Tigers.

Who’s right and who’s wrong? Can there be any definitive right or wrong? Both have their reasons, both have their wishes and needs and ambitions.

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Lee Wellings: How strong is the African World Cup challenge?

It was a goal so beautifully created and finished it almost made you forget the cold.

Victor Moses was involved twice, and cleverly fed full-back Francis Benjamin. A great cross was finish with international class, by Shola Ameobi.

This moment of perfection came during Nigeria’s thrilling 2-2 draw with Italy in London. No doubt, the African champions can play. But are they contenders to actually win the World Cup in Brazil?

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Lee Wellings: Thursday’s club is full of woe

What is the link between La Liga bottom club Real Betis, French strugglers Lyon, English FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic, now mid-table in the English Championship, and Eintracht Frankfurt, fourth from bottom in the Bundesliga?

Thursday nights. The Europa League.

The ugly little brother of the Champions league gets such bad press one sometimes feels reluctant to criticise it.

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Lee Wellings: Football’s Not The Laughter Business

I’m not sure I’ve that much in common with Cristiano Ronaldo. Though maybe we’ve both had a sense of humour bypass.

Cristiano was of course so offended by the FIFA President joking about him that he felt the need to respond, in a barely concealed waspish fashion.

But I certainly haven’t found much to laugh about from the world of football recently. And just as I baulk at world leaders who latch on to sporting success with hollow congratulations,

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Lee Wellings: Khan-do attitude for American in London

There are now six American owners of English Premier League teams. A statistic that would once have been mind boggling.

The latest is Shahid Khan, and to spend time with him at Fulham FC is an education into the mindset of the new breed of owners.

I say new breed, but he is very much an individual. Smart, practical and innovative, the fact he has been ‘ranked’ as one of the world’s 500 richest people should not surprise.

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