Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Forlan’s fond memories of Leeds

Photo

SOCCER/FORLANIt was a surreal experience to sit at Atletico Madrid´s training ground talking to a Uruguayan former Manchester United player about the Leeds United team circa 2002.

That´s what happened to me on Monday after interviewing Diego Forlan, whose face lit up when I told him I was from Leeds.

“I used to love playing there. I remember they had a really strong team,” he said thinking back to his spell with Manchester United between 2002 and 2004.

The Atletico frontman had been a bit stilted while the television camera had been on him, talking about his team, La Liga, Uruguay and his future, but he relaxed as we shaped to go.

Should Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League?

Photo

RTR2DT1A[1]ATLETI SMALL

Rules and competition formats which apply to other sports can rarely be implemented in soccer but UEFA may want to have a look at the benefits of a European club basketball formula if it is to further improve the Europa League.

The winners of Eurocup, the continent’s second-tier club basketball competition, win a berth in the Euroleague — the equivalent of
football’s Champions League — and the move has had only a
positive effect in attendances and the overall quality of teams.

Does Hodgson deserve a crack at top job?

Photo

SOCCER-EUROPA/I was chatting to a bunch of Fulham fans after last night’s Europa League final defeat and the question they all asked was, “What did Roy Hodgson say about his future?”

You can tell why they would be anxious. The man who saved them from relegation after coming in midway through the 2007-08 season, guided them to seventh at the end of the next campaign and then on into their first major European final will not be short of job offers, you wouldn’t think.

Europa League final — live

Photo

We’ll be providing updates direct from the Hamburg Arena, where Atletico Madrid look to land the first leg of a possible Cup double in the final of the Europa League against Fulham.

The English side have upset the odds all season, knocking out the likes of Juventus and Hamburg on their way to the final. Join us for all the details from a couple of hours before kick-off.

First Europa League final has a familiar feel

Photo

SOCCER-EUROPA/The first Europa League season, following its rebranding from UEFA Cup, draws to a close with a final line-up no-one would have expected here in Hamburg, but still, there is a familiar feel heading into this match.

Fulham’s roller coaster ride is reminiscent of the journey made by Spain’s Alaves, when they made it all the way to the final in 2000-01.

Europa League semi-finals — live

Photo

The Champions League has brought little joy to English clubs this season but the Europa League has been a different story, with Liverpool and Fulham both in with a chance of making the final.

Join us for live chat and on-the-spot details from our reporters as Liverpool take on Atletico Madrid and Fulham face Hamburg in the semi-final second legs.

Liverpool miss Torres more than Atletico

Photo

SOCCER-EUROPA/We were treated to the all too rare sight of rival fans standing and sportingly applauding each other at the end of the Europa League semi-final first-leg between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at the Calderon on Thursday.

The Spanish club’s 1-0 victory had not poisoned the atmosphere, as so often happens, and both sets of supporters sang out the name of former Atletico striker Fernando Torres, now at Liverpool, to the tune of “I love you, Baby.”

20 long years for Liverpool faithful

Photo

Madrid-based correspondent Martin Roberts writes:

SOCCER-EUROPA/One anniversary Liverpool fans will not be celebrating this summer will be the 20 years since their side last won a league title, a long wait that not only frustrates supporters but must dent any team’s claim to be more than also-rans.

It must be humiliating for those supporters who can remember when Liverpool had the League trophy ready and waiting if a home win sealed the title – all they had to do was fetch it down from the trophy room and give it a quick polish.

Bravo for the unpredictable King’s Cup!

Photo

SOCCER/Spain’s much-maligned King’s Cup struggles to make an impression these days with La Liga and the Champions League squeezing it into a distant third in terms of prestige and matches poorly attended.

But this week’s Cup action served up a veritable feast of drama that more than matched what is generally served up in the other two competitions.

Chelsea target Aguero impresses his suitors

Photo

******The prospect of seeing Sergio “Kun” Aguero pulling on a blue shirt next season instead of the red and white stripes of Atletico Madrid must be a mouthwatering one for any Chelsea fan.******The 21-year-old Argentina striker, nicknamed “Kun” after a Japanese cartoon character with a similar hairstyle, showed why he remains a target for top clubs when he came off the bench and scored two superb goals in the 2-2 draw at the Calderon on Tuesday.******Cash-strapped Atletico turned down offers for him over the close season including, reportedly, one of around 35 million euros from Chelsea. His contract includes a buyout clause worth 60 million.******The London club are waiting to hear the result of their appeal against FIFA’s transfer ban and could make another move for Aguero either in the January transfer window or next summer.******Coach Carlo Ancelotti said this week he could see Aguero playing alongside Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba but added that he thought it would be hard for Chelsea to snare the Argentine.******The contrasting playing styles of the pair were evident on Tuesday.******Aguero, with his low centre of gravity, is hard to shake off the ball and is at his best running at defenders. On his day he is a deadly finisher, as Barcelona found out to their cost last season.******Drogba is all about muscle, which he used to good effect on Tuesday when he outjumped the Atletico defence to score a header and then bulldozed his way through to net a second.******Aguero fathered a son, Benjamin, with Diego Maradona’s daughter Giannina in February and Maradona, who is also Aguero’s boss as Argentina coach, advised him last year to seek a move to Inter Milan.******Atletico, 18th in La Liga after nine matches with just one win, are almost certain to miss out on a Champions League spot for next season, making it much more likely Aguero will move on from the Spanish capital.******PHOTO: Atletico Madrid’s Sergio “Kun” Aguero (L) scores with a free kick against Chelsea, Nov 3, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina

  •