Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

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.

Manchester United went awol in the 1970s and 1980s but their sheer size meant they were always likely to regain the glory of the 1950s and 60s. Real Madrid and Barcelona have had their ups and downs in Europe but domestically they have dominated massively and surely always will.

But what will happen to spluttering giants Juventus and Liverpool?

Juve are still suffering indirectly from their 2006 match-fixing demotion. They bounced straight back to Serie A with aplomb and quickly returned to the Champions League but damage had been done.

from Photographers' Blog:

Yes, my job really is this glamorous

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

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.

from Left field:

Can European soccer learn from NFL on team parity?

NFL/
The NFL prides itself on ‘parity’, on the competitive balance between different clubs being close, ensuring that games are tightly-fought contests and that as many teams as possible start the season with some sort of chance of making the Super Bowl.

Looking at the start to this season, with surprise results and with unfancied teams such as Houston and Tampa making bright starts, the balance is very healthy.

Brilliant Berbatov finally arrives for United

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/Dimitar Berbatov chose the perfect moment to finally endear himself to the Old Trafford crowd on Sunday with a superb hat-trick that earned Manchester United a much-needed 3-2 victory over fierce rivals Liverpool.

The mercurial Bulgarian, whose Premier League career has been peppered with sporadic moments of brilliance at both United and former club Tottenham Hotspur, began the new season under pressure to find consistency and, most importantly, the back of the net.

Messi’s legacy assured in 10 years at Barcelona

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/

Ten years ago to the day, Lionel Messi stepped off a plane in Barcelona as a scrawny 13-year-old blessed with extraordinary gifts but in need of a big break.

The club’s decision to take a chance on the kid from Rosario and pay for costly treatment for a growth hormone deficiency turned out to be one of the best decisions they or any other club have taken. According to Barcelona legend, his first contract was signed on a paper napkin after Carles Rexach, then Barca’s youth team coach, was persuaded here was a player he could not afford to let slip away.

Dortmund’s yellow wall of sound

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SOCCER-GERMANY/

There are places where football is primarily business and then there are places where football is fun as well as business, with the former taking precedence. Dortmund is such a place.

When Borussia play in the massive 81,000-seater Westfalenstadion then the whole city lights up. Families, friends and couples pour into this strictly-for-football-only stadium, dressed in bright yellow to enjoy an afternoon of excitement. With the second highest average attendance in Europe behind Barcelona last season, Borussia is a club that caters primarily for fans. There could not be stronger proof of that than the South Tribune, nicknamed the Yellow Wall, a 25-thousand capacity standing-only tribune, the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Champions League live blog

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Real Madrid v Ajax Amsterdam is the highlight of Wednesday night’s Champions League action, with Arsenal, Chelsea and AC Milan among the other big teams in action. Join us here for updates.

Reuters Champions League podcast

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Join us for a look at the first round of matches in the 2010-11 Champions League. Paul Radford, Neil Maidment, Owen Wyatt and Mark Meadows chew the fat with host Kevin Fylan.

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