Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
By Mike Collett in London
If things had turned out differently, William Gallas could well have been facing Champions League heartache with Arsenal in Barcelona rather than glory with their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur this week.
The 33-year-old France midfielder is one of only a handful of players down the years to have moved across the North London divide — and is absolutely delighted he did.
After a naturally hesitant baptism at his new club at the start of the season, Gallas has played a huge part in Spurs success and played a vital role in their goalless last-16 second leg draw with AC Milan on Wednesday that put Spurs into the quarter-finals with a 1-0 m aggregate victory.
With 26 minutes played he saved a certain Milan goal with a goalline clearance and along with skipper Michael Dawson was at the heart of a defensive masterclass that echoed that of Liverpool or Arsenal themselves in their glory years.
Boca Juniors can’t escape the spotlight after another defeat, 1-0 at Velez Sarsfield on Sunday.
The big question surrounding coach Julio Cesar Falcioni’s team is whether he should continue to pick striker Martin Palermo when he can only count on one half of a brilliant, but aging double act that helped Boca win a string of trophies.
Breathe in. Breathe out. The Champions League is over for this week after a tense two days of last 16 drama. And now for Europa League action on Thursday with yet more top sides in action.
First of all however let’s dissect the Champions League from Wednesday where underdogs Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 progressed past their more fancied rivals, AC Milan and Valencia respectively.
A fine Wednesday to you all, and a few statistics to begin with. Attendance at the Nou Camp: 95,486. Estimated crowd noise (in decibels): 121.8. Estimated noise of a referee’s whistle (in decibels): 121.8.
The operative word above is estimated, because of course we have no idea, but a quick dig around on the internet shows some debate about whether Robin van Persie could have heard Massimo Busacca’s whistle despite the defeaning noise at the Nou Camp.
Administrators, managers, players, pundits and journalists should all hang their heads in shame at the news that Mark Clattenburg, one of the best referees in the English game, has felt the need to take a month off in the wake of the relentless criticism of his performances
Last month Clattenburg was in the spotlight after failing to book or send off Wayne Rooney when the Manchester United striker elbowed Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy in an off-the-ball incident in a Premier League match that eventually led to FIFA and the FA arguing about whether video evidence could be used to penalise a player after a referee had seen and taken action on an incident
After Chelsea’s vintage performance in a 3-1 win at Blackpool, Tuesday’s edition will start with a look at Fernando Torres.
Poor old Torres. He’s undoubtedly a classy player, but one who seems to be feeling the burden of expectation that has fallen on him after his British transfer record fee of £50 million in January.
Welcome back after a breathtaking weekend of soccer action around Europe. If you missed anything then read our European roundup.
Now for some blogs. The real drama of the weekend came on Saturday, when FIFA banned the snood (in our picture). Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has said they shouldn’t be worn by real men. What do you think?
Lionel Messi one day, Cristiano Ronaldo the next. It does not get any better than seeing the world’s best players at the top of the their game after Ronaldo’s hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a 7-0 hammering of Malaga.
Serie A leaders AC Milan visit Juventus this weekend in one of the showcase matches of the Serie A season but hardly anyone is expecting a “good game”.
I can count on one hand the number of top class matches in Italy this term where excitement, technical proficiency and flair have won the day.
Confident talk from Arsenal playmaker Samir Nasri in a piece by Mike Collett today, looking ahead to the second leg of the Gunners Champions League clash with Barcelona in the Nou Camp:
“We approached the game differently this year. Last year we were a little scared of Barcelona because they are fantastic and play amazing football and we were surprised how good they were.