Hosted by Mina Rzouki with support from guests James Horncastle, Raphael Honigstein and Julien Laurens, The Euro Leagues podcast makes its mark on what is a saturated market for sports related shows. Yet this is not the cliched drivel you would expect from a podcast talking about football; this podcast is different. As a listener you feel a part of the conversation. Rzouki and her guests bring the intricacies and inside stories to life in a way that is both accessible and feels strangely fresh at the same time.
It’s engaging in a way I didn’t expect it to be. It forces the listener to think, to contemplate, and to reassess. Its simplicity is its strength, providing a well spent hour for hardcore football fans and for the casual observer alike.
Crucially, the listener is not overwhelmed by the guests, as can often be the case in a format that doesn’t leave itself open to innovation. There are no dulcet tones. There is no screeching or shouting and, thankfully, an absence of hyperbole as Rzouki and her guests dissect the current state of play on the continent in a succinct yet engaging manner.
And what we are left with is raw passion, as if the listener was eavesdropping on a group of mates having a conversation down the pub. The dialect creates a hum that draws the listener in. You could drop in and out if you wanted to, but there is genuinely enough here to keep you engrossed for 60 minutes. Horncastle shows himself to be the star of the show, so what I feared would be overkill in which much of the discussion is dominated by just one person for a good 15 minutes, it is something you hardly notice.
There is, however, an absence of humour that you might find from other sports podcasts like Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy, but it’s meant to be like that. And the beauty of it is it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is framed as a semi-serious debate and the end product is something much more comprehensive.
It is as irreverent as the synopsis says it is, blending the right amount of frank discussion with the light-heartedness that is required. And, as the talking points are shaped by what is making the headlines, this carries an authentic freshness about it where no two shows are the same.
It’s engaging and endearing in equal measure. It has warmth and depth, and there is definite chemistry between those in the studio. That ultimately makes for a very pleasant listening experience even if the show is constrained by its running time.
Image: Roberto Gearfield Lombardi @ Wikimedia Commons