Soccer Break Thursday – Champions League recap

April 7, 2011

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Where to start after four brilliant Champions League quarter-finals, even if the intrigue for next week’s second legs has all but gone from three of the ties with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1, Real Madrid 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 in total charge against holders Inter Milan after the 5-2 triumph at the San Siro.

However, the appetite has most certainly been whet for the very probable ‘Clasico’ semi-final between Real and Barcelona, a meeting of the world’s two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. April 26 or 27 and May 3 or 4. Do not miss these dates. Not that Spain’s two leading clubs are thinking that far ahead.

There is of course more top European action on Thursday in the Europa League, which has a distinctly Portuguese feel this year. Not that Spain’s Villarreal agree mind you.

In 2003, who can forget the young Jose Mourinho leading Porto to UEFA Cup glory and the way he would rise to the top of the managerial tree in years to come. This time round there could be a similar story. Porto’s current coach is Andre Villas-Boas, who used to work under his compatriot. Could he be the new Mourinho? Watch this space…

Attention now turns back to domestic leagues so read our Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 previews to bring you up to speed with what lies in store in the coming days.

A club usually associated with the English title race is Liverpool, who despite their mediocre season continue to hit the headlines. Plus basketball star LeBron James has invested in the Anfield club.

Here’s more on Wayne Rooney, the goalscorer in Manchester United’s Champions League 1-0 win over Chelsea in London on Wednesday, after it was announced he will miss the FA Cup semi-final against city rivals…Manchester City.

And finally, remember former United player Eric Cantona’s karate kick directed at a fan in 1995 and the bizarre press conference that followed? Well, the fan that day is back in the papers again in 2011.

Discuss all these topics and other stories in world soccer on the Reuters Soccer Facebook page. And please feel free to send us recommendations for your pick of the day’s stories.

Picture: Manchester United’s Edwin Van der Sar (R) saves a header from Chelsea’s Fernando Torres (C) during the first leg of their Champions League quarter final soccer match at Stamford Bridge in London April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

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