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from Left field:

Milan’s future could lie with Inzaghi clones

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By Phil O'Connor

Defenders in Italy breathed a sigh of relief this week as Filippo Inzaghi hung up his boots. The bad news for them is that his new challenge is to produce the next generation of Italian goal-hanging greats as AC Milan's youth team coach. 

Inzaghi was the simplest of goal-poachers, with a bloodhound's instinct for sniffing out a chance and the cobra-like reflexes to exploit it. He was neither a dribbler nor a passer, and his career-long battle with the offside rule reached ridiculous proportions at times, but his finishing ability was second to none.

Indeed, it's worth asking if Inzaghi's greatest talent is something that can be taught - and if it can, is it still required?

 The manic ability of "Pippo" to make run after run off the last defender - and fail repeatedly, only to finally get one right and score - is seldom seen in the modern game, and requires enormous mental and physical endurance.

from Left field:

Sweden hope Ibrahimovic can sparkle now Milan are out

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Phil O'Connor

There was one soccer coach just as happy as Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola on Tuesday when his side knocked AC Milan out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

That man is Sweden coach Erik Hamren.

With Euro 2012 approaching fast, Hamren will be quietly pleased that top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic won't be involved in the final in Munich on May 19 and can instead avoid injury and stay fresh.

from Left field:

Ibrahimovic answers critics but questions remain about Milan

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Phil O'Connor

It's taken a long time, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic has finally delivered a performance worthy of his talent against an English team in the Champions League.

Long scoffed at by British fans and journalists  for his pale imitation of a  top-class striker in Europe's top competition, Zlatan delivered something of a virtuoso performance as Milan thrashed Arsenal 4-0 at the San Siro, rendering the last 16 return leg in London next month all but meaningless.

from Left field:

Barca tired? Not on this evidence

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Men tuning in for lots of action in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg ties would have rued the decision to stay in front of the TV on Valentines' Night when Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen and Olympique Lyon against APOEL Nicosia reached the 40-minute mark.

Both were 0-0. APOEL had not registered a shot on goal. Barcelona had dominated their German opposition with 78 per cent of possession, yet no opening score.

from Left field:

Va-va-voom. Vintage Henry scores on Arsenal return.

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The clock said 68 minutes, and no one at the Emirates Stadium in north London was looking at the action on the pitch as the fourth official held aloft his lit-up board to signal the re-introduction of Thierry Henry to English football.

Ten minutes later and he'd scored the game's eventual winner. Comebacks don't get this good this often.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Manchester City will struggle to offload pricey Tevez

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It is quite conceivable Carlos Tevez will still be at Manchester City in February.

For all the talk of his City career being over, after the Argentine was accused by manager Roberto Mancini of refusing to come on in a Champions League game in September, no concrete offer has been forthcoming.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Balotelli courts maturity not Milan

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Mario Balotelli has got into more scrapes than a bad teenage skateboarder but the maturing Italy striker has finally found some inner peace and his game is therefore flourishing.

A goal and commanding performance in Friday's 2-0 friendly win in Poland followed other good displays for Manchester City, notably the 6-1 hammering of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Monday – season already over?

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Anyone else feel as though all the excitement and potential late drama for this season has disappeared?

Manchester United took less than 40 seconds to score against title rivals Chelsea, all but killing the game and the Londoners' hopes of retaining their Premier League crown, while in Italy AC Milan made it 18 Serie A trophies with a 0-0 draw at AS Roma. Barcelona took a giant stride towards a third straight La Liga title with a 2-0 win over Espanyol. Click on this link for our European roundup.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday – titles at stake

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The week is ending but the drama is just cranking up. Yes, the weekend is almost upon us, and that means loads more football action around Europe where there is still plenty at stake.

European competition is almost over for another season after Braga and Porto booked their places in the Europa League final in Dublin.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Tuesday

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SOCCER-ITALY/AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi seriously believes he can sign Cristiano Ronaldo in the next transfer window. Where did that one come from? Probably because of his frustration with Zlatan ibrahimovic for being sent off for swearing and banned for three games (see Wayne, the punshment is even worse in Italy).

Of course Berlusconi has no chance of landing Ronaldo but he's a politician and positive thinking can do the world of good.

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