Courtesy of our friends at Eversport, Sport360 brings you live streams of the 2016 AFC Cup qualifiers as Pakistani side KESC FC face Druk United of Bhutan in Group A and Macau's Casa Benfica take on FC Alga of Kyrgyzstan in Group B.
K-ELECTRIC FC VS DRUK UNITED FC
CASA BENFICA VS FC ALGA
Barcelona will take the latest step in their quest to win six trophies in a calendar year as they face fellow Spanish outfit Sevilla in tonight’s UEFA Super Cup.
With a remarkable treble of the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa Del Rey secured at the end of last season, Barca could now add the UEFA and Spanish Super Cups in the next fortnight before finishing the year with the Club World Cup in Japan.
Tonight’s contest in Tbilisi, Georgia, will see Barca missing Brazilian Neymar, who has been struck down by mumps and is expected to be out for two weeks, with Manchester United target Pedro almost certain to be his replacement.
Jordi Alba is also absent through injury but the Catalan giants are otherwise at full strength, although manager Luis Enrique may opt to rotate his squad in the build-up to the new La Liga campaign.
“We’ve had an interesting pre-season and now we’re ready for the first competition,” said Enrique. “It’s a challenge we’ve been preparing for from the very first day and we are in good shape to compete for a title.”
Enrique refused to directly discuss the future of winger Pedro, who could be playing one of his last games for Barca if the long-mooted move to Old Trafford finally goes through.
Enrique is keen to keep hold of the Spain international but appeared to accept there’s a possibility that he’ll leave as he said: “I’d like to be able to count on all the players for the whole season.
We have already spoken a lot about Pedro and we’ll have the solution soon.”
Although the contest is among the lowest of Barca’s priorities, Enr-ique insisted that he is determined to return home with silverware.
“Every competition is a challenge and we are taking it with the same level of seriousness as any other competition. The Spanish Super Cup will also be difficult and important,” he said. “The more trophies you can win, the better. It means we are continuing to make history – we enjoy what we do and we want to win titles.”
Sevilla boss Unai Emery has selection concerns in defence, with new signing Adil Rami and Timothee Kolodziejczak hoping to rec-over from a bout of food poisoning – right-back Coke and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak are on standby to step into unfamiliar roles.B
Barcelona have four European Supercup titles; only AC Milan have won more in the competition history (5)
— InsideWorldFootball (@insidewldftball) August 10, 2015
The back-to-back Europa League winners haven’t beaten Barca for five years but April’s 2-2 La Liga draw was one of the most exciting games of the season.
New arrival Michael Krohn-Dehli, who played under Enrique at Celta, said: “I have only good things to say about him.
“He has clear ideas about how he wants to play football, he is honest, a good communicator and he knows how players think.
“I have played for a lot of coaches and Luis Enrique is one I learned the most from. Without him, I wouldn’t be at Sevilla now.”
For the past decade, the United States have gleefully welcomed world football’s finest to its shores. Manchester United, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid, among illustrious others, have made numerous trips Stateside, eager to tap into the development – and marketing riches – which breaking into one of the biggest sporting market delivers.
Yet for one European superpower, coming to American has not been on the agenda…until now.
Remarkably, Bayern Munich have flown over the pond just once since 2004. Make no mistake, the five time European champions have vast support all over the globe, and especially in North America.
They proudly boast about the 260,000 club members on their books who have special club benefits and voting rights. Furthermore, there are 3,800 fan clubs worldwide with 300,000 members. The eight groups which began the push in the US has now grown to 83 across 32 states in the last 12 months, more than any other European club in the US.
Yet while, for example, the two Manchester clubs have feverishly chased the dollar – United toned down public engagements this summer from a wearisome 184 in 2014 to 71 during their tour last month – Bayern have chosen to operate differently.
The moneymen in Munich have been content to stay close to their roots. Globe-trotting, exhausting pre-season tours which double up as painstaking promotional journeys were not for them.
There has, however, been a seismic change in attitude.
Considering the pace at which world football is growing, there was simply no option but to adapt.
Last July, Bayern set up an office in midtown Manhattan which has become the headquarters of their US operation. Small steps have been taken – they currently employ just four staff members plus two freelancers and two interns – though progress is notable.
The timing is critical.
Fox Sports will begin broadcasting the Bundesliga from this Friday, the first season in a five year deal which will transplant German football into over 90 million American homes. Sky Deutschland has the rights to the Bundesliga and the German second division. But after Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox increased its stake to over 50 per cent, the landscape has changed.
The network will broadcast games in the Americas, Asia and other countries in Europe this season in a deal which is worth upwards of $190 million (Dh700m) a year.
Media partnerships with the likes of MSN and Univision have been signed to help distribute content.
Previously, Gol TV broadcast Europe’s best-supported and most frugally run league. Yet with the projected viewer numbers a fraction of Fox’s reach, the exposure wasn’t enough to take German football onto the next level globally.
Now, however, interest will increase considerably.
And for that reason, Bayern knew they needed an American presence. It wasn’t good enough to just be at the end of a phone. Face-to-face meetings with sponsors and prospective partners moving forward were vital.
Heading up the US venture is Rudolf Vidal, a former goalkeeper whose inability to carve out a life on the pitch pushed him to a role to advance matters off it.
Vidal, a former reserve goalkeeper at TSV 1860 Munich,was born in Colorado, and holds German and US citizenship, something which was vitally important when looking for a figurehead in the States.
Bayern are undoubtedly late to the party (club bosses wish they’d acted sooner), especially considering the vast support Manchester United and Barcelona have built up over the past 10 years. Yet the Germans are aggressively playing catch up with their European rivals.
They played games in China this summer ahead of the opening of an Asia office in Shanghai.
— FC Bayern München (@FCBayern) August 6, 2015
New revenue streams will flood back to Germany and help boost transfer funds for a club valued at around $1.85 billion (Dh6.8bn).
“We could see a change within the last five years when we started to become very successful in the Champions League and saw the potential of our big global fan base,” Vidal told Sport360.
“The reality is that most of the revenues are domestic yet we have 400 million fans worldwide. That is a huge opportunity to try and monetise.
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“We realised that in order to generate more revenues and put the best possible team out on the pitch we needed to internationalise.”
Jorg Wacker, executive board member internationalisation and strategy, was brought in to head the internationalisation process.
“German soccer values are very family and fan driven and about respecting tradition.
“Mia San Mia is our motto. It translates to ‘We are who we are’ – it represents those values, our strong connection to our heritage and our fans and that is reflected in everything we do.
“It is great to see how far interest in FC Bayern in the States has come. The buzz around soccer has grown a lot in the US so it is definitely the right time to be here.”
Abu Dhabi’s efforts to help Manchester City earn true global recognition has seen clubs spring up in North America, Australia and Japan to join the figurehead team in England.
The City Football Group have not hidden their modus operandi. Bayern, however, have zero interest in creating an MLS franchise. That is not their style, even if Adidas, a major MLS sponsor whose shirts are worn by all 20 teams, have strong links to Bayern – Herbert Hainer, the chief executive of Adidas, is a supervisory board chairman of Bayern.
Building the Munich brand by utilising the stars guided by Pep Guardiola back in Bavaria is all they require.
PSG, who were in town recently on their own pre-season tour and remain desperate to give their Qatar funded project greater global reach, dropped into Bayern’s offices to chat about their US push.
The French League, although fiercely competitive, doesn’t yet have the kind of global reach of their European cousins.
City’s footprints in New York are noticeable, especially in terms of their tireless work in establishing strong links in the community and local schools.
Deals in the works will see Bayern attempt to emulate training programmes and partnerships. The Germans’ approach is more
understated yet tries to ensure deep roots continue to grow.
In association with the Goethe-Institut in New York, Bayern are helping teach German across the country while a partnership with youth organisation Global Premier Soccer sees coaches in 11 different states reach over 55,000 football playing children.
Nevertheless, the way Abu Dhabi have attempted to turn the US blue isn’t the Bayern way.
“Growing the fanbase is the most important goal for us,” added Vidal. “We know we have a strong footing in the football landscape, one of the top four clubs in the world. One of our key values is also maintaining financial responsibility, which is very important for us even as we internationalise.
“It means we would not spend more money than we are able to generate. We have been very profitable in the last 20 years. Everything built over that period of time has been on the basis of fiscal responsibility. The stadiums are full, there are very strong economic structures in place.
“The most important thing is to be successful. You can be the best brand in the world but if there is no success on the pitch, it doesn’t help you.”