Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
It is a bit early to be making judgements on the new Inter Milan (especially after a lacklustre first league game) but the 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan at the weekend suggests the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap could completely change their way of playing.
Ibrahimovic, who scored on his Barcelona debut in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Gijon, was everything to Inter. He was the target man, the talisman, the go-to man when a flash of inspiration or a goal was needed.
Inter’s over-reliance on the tall Swede was only exposed in Europe when better defences than in Serie A shut him out and nullified Inter’s occasional long ball approach.
In Saturday’s derby, Inter passed the ball more than I remember them doing under Jose Mourinho last season. Thiago Motta, a midfielder with attacking instincts which they lacked last term, scored a wonderful opening goal following a flurry of quick passes.
The draw for the group phase of the 2009-10 Champions League has just finished in Monaco and it’s thrown up a couple of groups to savour especially.
Real Madrid getting drawn in Group C means they will face AC Milan … and that means a return to the San Siro for Kaka, who made the switch over the close season. Likewise, Barcelona’s big signing Zlatan ibrahimovic will be on his way back to Milan, after Inter joined the holders in Group F.
He was supposed to be the man who would take soccer in the United States to the next level yet David Beckham is in danger of becoming an embarrassing liability to the game in the country.
On a weekend when 65,000 people turned out for a friendly match in Seattle, 82,000 watched a Gold Cup game in Dallas and the U.S. national team continued their impressive form with another victory, the soccer news was all about Beckham being booed by his own fans.
While new Real Madrid signing Cristiano Ronaldo was being presented in front of a packed and excited Bernabeu, another great European club was dealing with an influx of fans but for a very different reason.
Hundreds of AC Milan ultras turned up at the first day of pre-season training to protest against the sale of Kaka to Real and the lack of major signings to replace him and Paolo Maldini (whose heir as skipper is Massimo Ambrosini…)
There is nothing new about putting expensively assembled football teams into the hands of former players with glorious on-field pasts and little coaching experience. But I think it’s fair to say that Pep Guardiola’s remarkable success in his maiden season in the Barcelona dugout contributed to AC Milan and Juventus recently appointing novice managers Leonardo and Ciro Ferrara.
Juve’s Italy defender Nicola Legrottaglie said he sees Ferrara as “the Italian response to Guardiola”. Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani, meanwhile, preferred to compare Leonardo to the precedent they set with Fabio Capello, who like the Brazilian was a club director before his 1991-96 stint in charge that produced four Serie A titles and a Champions League.
The departure of Kaka from AC Milan to Real Madrid marks the end of the Italian era in European football. Not only can Italian clubs not attract the best players in the world to play in Serie A but now, when they unearth a talent like Kaka, they can’t stop them from leaving.
Italians used to describe their Serie A as ‘il campionato piu bello del mondo’ , the most beautiful championship in the world. It was not just because Italians love nothing more than talking themselves up — Serie A was the first league in the world to sign up top foreign stars, bringing in international talent at a time when the English league, for example, stretched no further than Scotland in search of players.
They took their time getting there but Kaka is now officially a Real Madrid player.
The Spanish club and AC Milan issued statements at 0030 local time with the player due to hold a news conference in Brazil, where he is on international duty.
AC Milan’s PR machine has ground to a halt in recent weeks but it may have to leap into action shortly to explain to fans why they have sold Kaka for a good deal less than they could have in January.
Reports say a world record deal, worth between 65 and 80 million euros, has been agreed with Real Madrid but Chelsea have not been counted out yet.
As impressive as two Champions League triumphs are, Chelsea’s appointment of former AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti will not leave their Premier League title rivals quaking in their boots.
Ancelotti ended his reign at Milan on Sunday after eight years, following top flight stints at Parma and Juventus, all of which amounted to just one Serie A scudetto.
from Left field:
It has been quite a day in the world of sport, especially for tired sports journalists.
Rafael Nadal lost to Robin Soderling in the fourth round at the French Open. Yes you read that right. The four-time champion's 31-match winning streak at Roland Garros is over.