Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
from Mark Meadows:
Annoyingly for Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, the supposed plot line of El Clasico on Saturday did not follow the script. The much-anticipated power shift from Catalunya to Madrid did not take place and his team are back to the drawing board as far as playing against Barcelona is concerned.
Mourinho blamed bad luck for the loss, as you would expect, but a lot of the press have zoomed in on Real's psychological barrier when it comes to facing Barca.
These things are always difficult to quantify but the awe-inspiring Real team that crushed everyone so far in 2011 simply crumbled when Barcelona reversed a one goal-deficit and went 2-1 up.
Even Mourinho conceded the third Barca goal was a 'psychological blow', though I would argue it was the second goal that mentally defeated them.
It is all because UEFA believes head-to-heads rather than goal difference in all group games should be the first deciding factor.
OK, I’m not actually going to list 100 reasons. The 100 refers to the amazing 100-1 odds some bookmakers have given to Denmark’s chances of winning Euro 2012 following Friday’s draw.
Yes they are in the toughest group with Germany, Netherlands and Portugal but it is quite possible for those three teams to cancel each other out with draws meaning Denmark only need a win and a draw to guarantee second spot.
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.
Xabi Alonso’s 30th birthday on Friday has prompted an avalanche of praise for the Real Madrid midfielder and has also served to highlight the former Liverpool man’s importance in coach Jose Mourinho’s plans for Spanish and European domination.
Widely regarded as one of the finest players of his generation, as well as one of the most astute purchases by big-spending Real president Florentino Perez, the quietly-spoken Alonso has gone from strength to strength since joining Real for a fee of 35 million euros ($47 million) at the end of the 2008-09 season.
Three Premier League defeats in four games and Champions League last 16 qualification compromised. The last few weeks have been very tough for Chelsea coach Andre Villas-Boas.
Previous managers Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti were dismissed seemingly for less by ruthless owner Roman Abramovich.
Those who arrived late to the Republic of Ireland’s party in Dublin could be forgiven for wondering what was going on as 10 years of hurt were banished and Euro 2012 qualification was assured.
Ten years to the day after they last secured qualification for a major tournament (beating Iran in a playoff to make the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea), the Irish rounded off a resounding 5-1 aggregate victory over Estonia to book their place at Euro 2012.
Have Argentina, the world’s biggest exporters of soccer players, lost their feeling for the national colours Diego Maradona wore with such pride and passion? Has the ever increasing exodus of players to Europe dented their edge, made them soft?
Fans’ opinions on websites after Argentina’s pale 1-1 draw with Bolivia, the first time their neighbours have taken a point in nine World Cup qualifiers this side of the border, suggest that’s what they are thinking.
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.
The deft chip on the run with which Fernando Torres beat Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann to seal Spain’s 1-0 victory in the final of Euro 2008 gave the success-starved Iberian nation their first major trophy in 44 years.