If you haven't enjoyed Real Madrid and Barcelona's thoroughly entertaining one-upmanship this summer... well, you're just a robot.
We did, of course, so thought we'd dedicate our latest issue – available in print and in a specially-designed-for-iPad version – to the fascinating battle set to take place between Europe's most bonkers attacks. While Flo Perez & Co. were snaring World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez for an eye-watering €80 million, and adding Bayern Munich's Toni Kroos for good measure, Barcelona were beefing up their strikeforce with freescoring Liverpool nutcase Luis Suarez.
Both sides have points to prove domestically as they bid to wrench back the La Liga crown from Atletico Madrid, while Barcelona have some catching up to do after their Clasico rivals scooped a long-awaited 10th Champions League title. As fun as it sounds, though, we all know that gung-ho madness won't win you much in the long run – so what else have the Spanish giants been up to in their bid to end the season smiling? Quite a lot, we'll have you know...
Luis Suarez will conveniently return to make his competititve debut in El Clasico later next month (October 26) – but that's only the start. Barcelona's new boss Luis Enrique has to find a way to make his side lovable again after an ill-fated spell under Gerardo Martino, and all with a transfer embargo hanging over his head too (he's done alright in the market so far, mind).
Then there's Lionel Messi: will he ever be the same again after his hamstring injury? How can Neymar prove the boo-boys wrong? Where on earth does Suarez fit in? Will Ronaldo vs Bale develop into something a little tastier this season?
How on earth did James Rodriguez get so good? Well, wonder no more on that one as FFT's South American expert Martin Mazur guides you through the story of how a painfully shy boy from Cúcuta ended up costing a combined €125m over two summers, via a headline-grabbing World Cup for Colombia. The lad done good.
Both clubs will be desperate to get their hands on Ol' Big Ears again this season, but the road ahead looks trickier than ever. England's contenders look better prepared for the challenge, for starters; is an upset on the cards this time out? Our thorough Champions League dossier looks ahead to Europe's glitterball showpiece, providing the lowdown on the managers, clubs and hot prospects you need to look out for this season. What will Pep do next? Can Liverpool stamp their mark? Who are the minnows? And what does Jurgen Klopp have in store for us this time?
Elsewhere, whether you think they're a pile of tosh or otherwise, we all enjoy a good old conspiracy theory. From tapped-up refs to coded Messi messages (oh, and the 1966 World Cup was rigged, don't you know), FFT brings you 28 of the craziest claims to have crept into consciousness.
Gigi Meroni won't be a familiar name on English shores, but his story needs telling nonetheless. The maverick Italian was a breath of fresh air for 1960s football until his fascinating life was cut short at 24 in a tragic road accident. His penchant for dribbling was mirrored by an unpredictable lifestyle off the pitch, earning him his nickname 'The Butterfly' and a host of admirers. Not to be missed.
But enough of that fancy foreign muck, you say. Here's the down 'n' dirty best of the rest, starting with FFT's trip to Kingstonian. AFC Wimbledon saved the seventh-tier side by buying their ground in 2003, but by living away from their spiritual home and taking their tenants' fans, are the phoenix club 'doing an MK Dons'? We investigate...
Then there's our feature on why it helps to have God on your side. If you hadn't noticed yet, there's a growing number of clubs who see a man – or woman – of the cloth as an essential member of the backroom team. Morning, Reverend.
This month's One-on-One, meanwhile, is a genuinely fascinating one. Dean Windass has led a more colourful life than most footballers, and in a frank interview with FFT the Hull legend opens up about his battle with depression and the long road to recovery that followed. Then there's the game for Aberdeen in which he was sent off three times. And when he got a man-of-the-match award – playing in goal...
If that's not enough, we bring you a Performance masterclass with new Manchester United signing Radamel Falcao, an exclusive chat with AC Milan boss Filippo Inzaghi in Planet Football, the 22-year-old manager, football quadruplets and much, much more... enjoy!
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get FourFourTwo Newsletter
The best features, fun and footballing quizzes, straight to your inbox every week.
Joe was the Deputy Editor at FourFourTwo until 2022, having risen through the FFT academy and been on the brand since 2013 in various capacities.
By weekend and frustrating midweek night he is a Leicester City fan, and in 2020 co-wrote the autobiography of former Foxes winger Matt Piper – subsequently listed for both the Telegraph and William Hill Sports Book of the Year awards.