Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

from Left field:

Messi, Maradona and Batista

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SOCCER-WORLD/With Sergio Batista at the Argentina helm, Lionel Messi has the chance to develop into the truly great footballer his talent has promised since last year’s exploits with Barcelona.

It could be that when the Argentine Football Association make their choice of coach for the 2014 Brazil World Cup cycle, they opt for a different candidate from Batista – Alex Sabella of Estudiantes for instance.

But what matters for Messi is that with Batista he really feels he is playing as well as he does with Barcelona – a bone of contention among Argentines throughout last year’s World Cup qualifiers and into the finals in South Africa where with each passing match the tactics of Diego Maradona isolated him more and more.

By the time Argentina crumbled against Germany in their quarter-final, Messi was back in his team’s own half looking for the ball, Javier Mascherano was floundering on his own in a midfield packed with Germans and Juan Sebastian Veron was wasted warming the bench.

Premature move for Swiss prodigy Ben Khalifa?

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SOCCER-EUROPE/SWITZERLANDThe Swiss Super League is certainly not the strongest in the world but it’s a fairly safe bet to say that it beats the German fourth division. So why has 18-year-old Nassim Ben Khalifa, one of Switzerland’s most exciting prospects, swapped the former for the latter?

Last year, Ben Khalifa hit the headlines when he led the attack in the Swiss team which surprised everyone by winning the world under-17 championship in Nigeria.

Forlan’s fond memories of Leeds

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SOCCER/FORLANIt was a surreal experience to sit at Atletico Madrid´s training ground talking to a Uruguayan former Manchester United player about the Leeds United team circa 2002.

That´s what happened to me on Monday after interviewing Diego Forlan, whose face lit up when I told him I was from Leeds.

Mixed reactions for Liverpool fans over possible sale

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/Liverpool supporters will be glad to be possibly getting rid of their current U.S. owners but probably did not envisage another set of Americans taking over.

The board of have agreed the sale of the club to New England Sports Ventures (NESV), the owners of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

Bit late for De Jong rebuke, Mr Marwijk

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If Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk had slapped down Nigel de Jong after the World Cup final, Hatem Ben Arfa might now not be facing six months out with a broken leg.

Instead, only after a second “robust” challenge has De Jong been punished by being dropped for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers with Moldova and Sweden.

Lazio soar like their new eagle

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SOCCER-ITALY/Lazio, Serie A champions in 2000 but largely also-rans ever since, came up with a not very new idea before the season to try to boost their fortunes this term.

An eagle, the symbol of the Rome club, flies around the Stadio Olimpico before home games for good luck.

Champions League podcast – 2

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Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Karim Benzema and Juan Mata are among the strikers up for discussion in the latest edition of our Reuters Sports Champions League podcast. Kevin Fylan is joined by Ed Osmond, Owen Wyatt, Paul Radford and Mark Meadows.

Listen!

What if Juventus or Liverpool never return to their best?

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SOCCER-ITALY/Form is temporary, class is permanent. The phrase is often used for top players experiencing a difficult spell, but does it refer to clubs as well?

Looking back at the European game, it appears the biggest clubs tend to stay at the pinnacle of the sport give or take a few dips.

from Photographers' Blog:

Yes, my job really is this glamorous

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When people ask me what I do for a living, or they hear tales from my wife about me being away at the Olympics or shooting football or golf or a Papal visit somewhere, the usual response is to tell me how glamorous my job is, rubbing shoulders with all these famous sporting and political icons and how lucky I am to get to attend all these events and call it work!

Granted, I am incredibly lucky to have an office that regularly includes Premier League football grounds and other major sporting events, but glamorous......not a word I would often use, and last night was a perfect case in point.

from Left field:

Things may get worse before they get better at Liverpool … but there is a glimmer of hope

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPA damp squib of a performance from Liverpool in their League Cup defeat by Northampton Town was described by The Telegraph today as one of the most humiliating nights in the club’s history.

Given the (lack of) status the League Cup now enjoys that is probably stretching it a bit far – I don’t think it gets close to the FA Cup defeat by Bristol City , for example – but the whole dismal episode did add weight to the theory that things are likely to get worse before they get better for a club that once prided itself on striving for excellence in everything.

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