Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Batista breeze replaces Maradona whirlwind

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Argentina have not suddenly become world champions after beating Spain 4-1 nor have the Spanish lost the sheen of their World Cup victory.

For Argentine fans, though, the performance more than the result gives them hope for a fresh start, possibly with Sergio Batista at the helm right through to Brazil 2014.

So forgotten was Diego Maradona on that sunny late Tuesday afternoon in Buenos Aires that there were no chants of “Maradoooooo, Maradoooooo”.

Whenever things went wrong with the national team, that was the chant that rang out at the Monumental. Until they went wrong with Maradona himself in charge.

Houllier should be perfect match for Villa

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SOCCER-FRANCE/A tricky start to the season in which manager Martin O’Neill left before a ball was kicked, midfielder James Milner joined Manchester City and the club limped out of the Europa League, Aston Villa were in need of steady hands. Gerard Houllier should be just the man.

The 63-year-old Frenchman, who won five trophies with Liverpool and three French league titles, has swapped his job as technical director of the French Football Federation (FFF) for the Villa hot seat and brings a wealth of experience with him.

Time for international minnows to swim in their own pond?

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SOCCER-EURO/Most sports fans love an underdog but I suspect many people watching Liechtenstein’s approach against Scotland on Tuesday will have been relieved for the Scots when Stephen McManus popped up to head his side’s winner in the seventh minute of stoppage time.

In soccer, for a minor team to hold or even beat one of the big boys, there is usually some spoiling involved and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there is a difference between robust tackling and honest battling and some of the things on show at Hampden Park on Tuesday – and all too often before.

Spain suffer Argentine embarrassment but write them off at your peril

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SOCCER-FRIENDLYTrying to read anything into Spain’s 4-1 defeat in Argentina is tough considering it was a friendly. Did the world champions take it too lightly? Was Del Bosque right to field Pepe Reina in goal with fringe players Nacho Monreal, Alvaro Arbeloa and Carlos Marchena in the back four for a match that was never going to be that ‘friendly’?

Or was it that Argentina really got it together under new coach Sergio Batista?

Spain started poorly conceding two goals in the first 13 minutes and the third came after an embarrassing slip from Reina in the 34th, but they responded well in the second half and hit the woodwork three times overall.

Euro 2012 qualifiers – live

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We’re following all tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifiers live. Join us here for updates, comments and pix … and details of all the goals as they go in.

4-2-3-1…4-5-1…4-4-2…that’ll be four midfielders and two forwards then?

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So Fabio Capello’s masterstroke in revitalising Wayne Rooney and turning England from World Cup no-hopers to instant Euro 2012 favourites was….to tell the Manchester United striker to hang back a bit.

That sage advice, if most of the English press is to be believed, transformed England’s formation from a prehistoric 4-4-2 to the liquid 4-5-1 that all the modern young bucks were using in South Africa.

Are AC Milan now Serie A favourites?

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As the dust settles after the end of the transfer window, Italian soccer fans are gradually coming to terms with a possible shift in power at the top.

No one is outwardly saying it, but whispers and hints abound. AC Milan may finally have a squad capable off wrestling the title off Inter Milan after five long years.

Ballack clings on to captaincy but will he make the team?

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SOCCER-GERMANY/When Germany coach Joachim Loew confirmed Michael Ballack as team captain this week he put an end to a tug-of-war with defender Philipp Lahm. Lahm had been the captain at the World Cup in South Africa and wanted to remain after Ballack’s return from injury.

The 33-year-old Ballack was forced to miss the tournament due to an ankle injury but had insisted he was the undisputed team captain. Yet without Ballack’s heavy presence in midfield, Germany played exciting fast-paced football in South Africa, finishing in third place with their youngest World Cup squad in 76 years and winning considerable respect.

from Shop Talk:

Major League Soccer turns to training clubs’ ticket sales staff

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mls1With new teams on the way and attendance rising, Major League Soccer has turned to a league-funded program to train its clubs' new sales staffers to help drive ticket demand.

The new 45-day training program, dubbed the MLS National Sales Center, got its start last month with the graduation of 10 trainees to jobs with seven clubs. MLS calls it the first ticket sales school owned by a pro sports league.

Transfer deadline day live blog

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We’re following all the deals as they happen on the final day of activity in the transfer market. Comments always welcome…

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