Soccer Break Monday

April 18, 2011

SOCCER-SPAIN/CLASICOReal Madrid 1 Barcelona 1. Pictures of the teams suggest they were both pleased with the result but you would imagine Barcelona came away the happier side. Though Real were down to ten men for almost the entire second half so must be relieved not to have lost.

Who gained the upper hand then from the first of four clasicos between last Saturday and May 3? Wednesday will be an interesting affair in the King’s Cup final, a one off match as opposed to the two-legged Champions League semi-final.

Another fierce rivalry that was played out over the weekend was the Manchester derby, where the blue half of the city emerged victorious to ease the pressure on Roberto Mancini who must surely fancy his chances of beating Stoke City in the FA Cup final to hand City their first piece of silverware since 1976.

Ugly scenes marred the end of the match in which Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli clashed but the United captain was quick to play down the spat. Balotelli in the news again though, will he stay at City?

At Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium a quite extraordinary end to the match provided two penalties and a managerial dispute after the final whistle following Liverpool’s 102nd-minute penalty to snatch a 1-1 draw with the Londoners, whose chances of the title are diminishing rapidly.

Thankfully Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, who suffered a sickening but accidental blow to the head in the second half and was stretchered off holding up play for eight minutes, is well.

In Europe several teams moved closer to winning their respective leagues, and back in England Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale was given the player of the year award. If the price on his head wasn’t already big enough, surely now he will be a major target for European clubs this summer. Will he stay or will he go?

Finally read here for the latest on the MLS and the start to the new season.

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: Real Madrid’s Raul Albiol (L) grabs Barcelona’s David Villa during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid April 16, 2011. REUTERS/Juan Medina

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