Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Soccer Break Wednesday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/A fine Wednesday to you all, and a few statistics to begin with. Attendance at the Nou Camp: 95,486. Estimated crowd noise (in decibels): 121.8. Estimated noise of a referee’s whistle (in decibels): 121.8.

The operative word above is estimated, because of course we have no idea, but a quick dig around on the internet shows some debate about whether Robin van Persie could have heard Massimo Busacca’s whistle despite the defeaning noise at the Nou Camp.

Sending-off or no sending-off, here’s another statistic for you from the Champions League thriller. Completed passes: Barcelona – 738 ; Arsenal – 199. The Londoners did mighty well to hang in there and can be proud of their efforts, but the Catalan team’s superiority told in the end. Few teams could touch them in that mood.

Do you think 11 against 11 would have seen Arsenal through? Or was the red card just a mere sideshow?

Soccer Break Tuesday

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/After Chelsea’s vintage performance in a 3-1 win at Blackpool, Tuesday’s edition will start with a look at Fernando Torres.

Poor old Torres. He’s undoubtedly a classy player, but one who seems to be feeling the burden of expectation that has fallen on him after his British transfer record fee of £50 million in January.

Can Shakhtar Donetsk gatecrash western Europe’s party?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Shakhtar Donetsk’s impressive 3-2 win at AS Roma in their Champions League last 16, first leg match was perhaps overshadowed by Arsenal’s unlikely comeback against Barcelona on the same night, but it will have nonetheless reverberated around Europe.

It would be audacious to expect Shakhtar to appear in the final at Wembley in May, but the Ukrainian champions appear to have one foot in the last eight after a textbook display of counter-attacking football at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

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.

Should Totti be allowed to make World Cup comeback?

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Italy coach Marcello Lippi says we won’t know until next week whether Francesco Totti will come out of international retirement at the World Cup.

It’s unclear if the wait is because Totti has not decided yet, Lippi has not made up his mind or they are just building the tension ready for the announcement of the 30-man preliminary squad on May 11.

Is there a way to stop end-of-season farces?

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AS Roma are absolutely livid after Inter Milan regained the lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Lazio, where the home fans cheered the goals as much as the away supporters.

Lazio fans hate Roma so much that many of them wanted their own side to lose on Sunday as it meant their bitter city rivals were knocked off top spot. This was despite the fact Lazio are not clear of relegation yet.

Is Serie A title race exciting for the wrong reasons?

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It’s the most exciting Serie A title race in years with Inter Milan, AC Milan and AS Roma all in the running with just nine games remaining. Just like most other European leagues, it could all go to the last day.

Inter ran away with the league in the last three years and Italians moaned about about the lack of competition.

Lippi unmoved by Totti’s come-get-me hints

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While everyone at AS Roma would probably do the Birdie song standing on their heads if Francesco Totti asked, the Italian capital’s golden boy learned his charms have limits this week.

The striker has been hinting for some time he’d like to come out of international retirement, having quit Italy after being part of Lippi’s 2006 World Cup-winning team.

Vlog on the pitch – Who are Romans supporting in the Champions League final?

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The Champions League final is almost upon us and the views of the Roman locals are quite interesting.

As Paul Virgo explains above, AS Roma fans are rooting for Barcelona while Lazio supporters want Manchester United to win.

Even Mourinho can’t halt Serie A decline as England dominates

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The sight of Serie A sides flopping in the Champions League has become a familiar one and although the three teams eliminated this week were a little unlucky, a mental block against English opposition is developing.

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, was hired in June largely to boost their hopes of challenging Europe’s elite after years of failure.

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