Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Classy Wilshere looked like a Barcelona No 4 in the making

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SOCCER-FRIENDLY/Scrunching up the eyes a bit, and using just a touch of imagination, watching Jack Wilshere on the ball for England against Denmark was almost like watching Xavi. It was quite a shock, in fact, to see a player in an England shirt pause, look up and think before picking out a team mate with a precise, considered pass.

Comparing Wilshere to the peerless Barcelona midfielder Xavi will be stretching it for some. I was pretty surprised, I must say, to read match reports on Thursday suggesting Wilshere had been a bit disappointing.

The conventional wisdom on Wilshere seems to be that Capello risks wasting his talent by playing him in such a deep role. Reporters in England clearly want to see Wilshere playing much closer to the opposition penalty area, wreaking havoc with his deft touch and eye for a pass.

The problem is that Capello’s England have a far more pressing problem than the need for a tricky midfielder to set up chances. As was made abundantly clear at the World Cup in South Africa, England must learn how to hold the ball with more assurance and for much longer periods of time if they are to mix it with the best.

Relief in Barcelona as Guardiola extends contract

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SOCCER-FIFA/During Barcelona’s 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp last Saturday, which set a Spanish record of 16 straight La Liga victories, there was one thrilling passage of play which perfectly illustrated the work ethic Pep Guardiola has instilled among his squad of wonderfully gifted players.

The ball was played into space for Atletico forward Sergio Aguero. Lionel Messi suddenly appeared, sprinting back into defence. The World Player of the Year ran shoulder to shoulder with his Argentina team mate, stole the ball, beat Felipe Luis with an audacious piece of skill and started yet another assault on the visitors’ goal.

FIFA takes agenda by scruff of the snood

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/There will be a lot of fashion-conscious footballers holding their breath for item “V.1.b” at the International Football Association Board’s annual meeting next month.

Forget goal-line technology and positioning of goal posts and the other very sensible items on the agenda, the one sure to get a few people rather hot under the collar is the “wearing of snoods” – those snugly neck warmers much loved by the likes of Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri.

Chambery’s French passion underlines renaissance of domestic cups

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SOCCER-FRANCE/Fifth division Chambery’s stunning win over top-flight Sochaux to reach the French Cup quarter-finals has got a lot of people talking and I think it’s fair to say domestic cup competitions around Europe are enjoying a bit of a resurgence.

As this week proved with other games, Cup shocks are nothing new in France – something I knew before moving to Paris on Monday — but the fact newspapers and fans are stilll excited about Chambery’s run speaks volumes.

Torres is a one-goal striker and a steal for Chelsea

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SOCCER-EURO/Will Fernando Torres ever recapture that heady mix of fearlessness, ruthlessness and irresistible skill he showed in his first 24-goal season at Anfield?

Is £50 million enough to buy you a strike rate of a goal every 1.375 games?

You know what? It doesn’t matter.

Liverpool needed a 24-goals-a-season striker but Chelsea don’t. Chelsea have spent so much money for a player who can score one goal rather than 24, or to put it another way, the goal.

If Torres goes, Liverpool should heed Spanish lessons

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SOCCER-SPAIN/If the excited reports on the 24-hour channels are correct, Fernando Torres may soon arrive at Chelsea’s training ground to seal a move that will leave Liverpool in a dangerous situation — under pressure to sign high-profile reinforcements and with wodges of money to spend as the deadline fast approaches.

Kenny Dalglish accepted on Monday that transfers are part of football and the internet chatter suggests many fans have reached the conclusion that Torres may have reached the end of the Anfield road.

Liverpool sign Suarez but will he play with Torres?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/UPDATE: Liverpool have confirmed that Torres put in a written transfer request on Friday night. The club have rejected it. Read the statement here.

Liverpool and Ajax have just announced that Luis Suarez is joining the Premier League club in a deal worth up to 26.5 million euros.

Is Adebayor enough to placate Mourinho?

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SOCCER-EUROPA/Jose Mourinho got the birthday present he had been pestering Real Madrid for on Tuesday when the La Liga club landed Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor on loan until the end of the season.

The Portuguese, who turned 48 on Wednesday, has been pressing for a centre-forward since the start of the season when Real set out with Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema as their two recognized frontmen.

Would Juve not be better off selling Buffon?

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SOCCER-ITALY/Juventus need a striker desperately but don’t want to bust their budget and yet have two top goalkeepers.

The answer? Why not sell one of the goalkeepers and use part of the proceeds to recruit a world-class forward?

Football still offside in attitude to women

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The British media furore over two television presenters’ sexist comments over a lineswoman at a Premier League match at the weekend has thrown the spotlight on the subject of women in soccer – be it on the pitch or off.

Sky Sports duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray have apologised for saying female officials “don’t know the offside rule” when they were talking about lineswoman Sian Massey at Saturday’s match between Wolves and Liverpool when they thought their microphones were switched off.

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