Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Euro 2012 qualifying draw throws up England v Wales

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The Euro 2012 qualifying draw in Warsaw got off to a mixed start with a less than tuneful performance from a Polish boyband.

However, when we finally reached the main event, those famous coloured balls did not disappoint with Andriy Shevchenko (who surely should have been voting in Ukraine’s election) helping dish out some fabulous encounters like England v Wales. Germany, Turkey and Austria are in the same group while Denmark, Norway and Iceland will also all meet.

Here’s the full draw. What do you reckon? England in the group of death? Interestingly, Armenia were switched from the same group as Azerbaijan on political grounds.

Group A: Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan

Group B: Russia, Slovakia, Ireland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra

Group C: Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands

Group D: France, Romania, Bosnia, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg

Group E: Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San Marino,

Group F: Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Malta

Group G: England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, Montenegro

Group H: Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland

Group I: Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, Liechtenstein

PHOTO: Construction work continues at the Olympic stadium in Kiev December 11, 2009. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Could the next big vacancy be at Milan?

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Carlo Ancelotti

AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti was told his position was secure after the 2007 European champions finished fifth in Serie A last term and missed out on this season’s Champions League.

However, two defeats in their opening two league matches have put him under pressure again. The arrivals of Ronaldinho and Andriy Shevchenko were designed to help stop the rot but Milan’s main problem last season was a static midfield and the issue remains unresolved.

Rivaldo, Ronaldo and that last big pay cheque

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Rivaldo

If you had told Rivaldo a few years ago that he would end up playing in Uzbekistan, it is doubtful he would have believed you.

Playing in Greece with Olimpiakos and AEK Athens was already an unusual place for the ageing former World Cup winner to wind down his career. Gary Lineker went to Japan, David Beckham to the U.S. but the Brazilian signing for Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor is something else.

Will Shevchenko ever rediscover his old form?

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Andriy Shevchenko has completed his move back to AC Milan but unlike Ronaldinho’s arrival in July, there was no fanfare from the Rossoneri.

Milan fans looked on with shock, pity and a small sense of ‘we told you so’ as Shevchenko struggled to fit in at Chelsea during two forgettable years in England.

Friday afternoon question: Is this the end of a Chelsea era?

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Even costlier miss?

The futures of coach Avram Grant and several Chelsea players are uncertain following their Champions League final defeat by Manchester United. But how many will leave?

Speculation that Grant will be axed has intensified after chief executive Peter Kenyon said finishing second in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup was not good enough.

Vlog on the pitch – why do English players slip taking penalties?

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David Beckham slipped and missed a key penalty for England against Portugal at Euro 2004 and now John Terry’s loss of footing has handed the Champions League to Manchester United.

Is it nerves or a lack of technique? Vlog on the pitch regulars Owen Wyatt and Jon Bramley are joined by Pedro Redig to discuss Wednesday’s final, with some fan reactions also included.

What next for Shevchenko?

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Shevchenko and DrogbaIf a footballing-loving Martian suddenly appeared, you’d be hard pressed to persuade him that Andriy Shevchenko was once the most feared striker on our planet.

He broke records galore in seven years at AC Milan, but his two seasons at Chelsea have been utterly miserable. Injury has played a part in his fall from grace, but generally the 31-year-old has been too slow for the demands of English football and has lost his magic touch.

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