Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.
Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.
Whenever this subject comes up, I can’t help but look to the great strides made by Spain at international level, progress that must have been aided by the far more adventurous attitude taken by some of their players in recent times.
Spain used to have a similar reputation to England in this regard, with virtually everyone happy to stay at home and enjoy the riches available from clubs swimming in cash from huge TV rights deals. Heading into the 1998 World Cup, every member of the Spain squad played for a Spanish club, while four years later Gaizka Mendieta was the only export (and he was about to come home, after confirming a lot of prejudices in a nightmare season with Lazio).
Out of eight Spanish and English teams playing in the Champions League this week, only Arsenal were victorious.
Was this a blip for the two powerhouses, or is it another indication that Europe’s top club competition is becoming more balanced?
“Of course I would like to play for Barca, who wouldn’t? We could have a lot of fun. It would be a pleasure to play with Messi, with my colleague Alves, with Xavi, Iniesta, Ibrahimovic, with all of them. They are a brilliant team.
“I have played against them and I know their quality. But at the moment I can only do it on my Playstation.”
One swallow does not make a summer, but Sevilla’s bristling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday offers hope that the answer to the question posed in Thursday’s blog is ‘no’.
Three teams can challenge for the La Liga title this year.
Manolo Jimenez’s side inflicted a first defeat on Real with a vibrant, attacking display that was reminiscent of their performances under Juande Ramos when they won back-to-back UEFA Cups.
A few days ago, Real Zaragoza president Eduardo Bandres said: “The Spanish league will be a matter totally and absolutely between two teams, among other things because the system for distributing television rights determines that it will be this way. It is unique in Europe and because of this the Spanish league is one of the most boring in Europe.”
The television channels would beg to differ, as they regularly run adverts or open their coverage of matches from La Liga claiming it is the ‘best league in the world’ with clips of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi running in the background.
Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ignored the predictable boos on his first return to Inter Milan without answering the sceptics who still doubt his ability to finally make a mark in Europe.
Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in the Champions League Group F opener prompted more questions than answers for both sides, even if Barca shaded the contest in terms of chances and technical ability.
It’s hard to believe Spain striker David Villa will not be playing in the Champions League again this season.
The Valencia frontman was in irresistible form against Belgium in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday when the European champions romped to a 5-0 victory in La Coruna.
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.
Barcelona’s new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a glowing report by Pep Guardiola after their Spanish Super Cup victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.
But the doubts remain as to whether his qualities will be enough to replace or improve upon those the side have lost with the swap deal which sent former number nine Samuel Eto’o to Inter Milan.
Louis van Gaal came to Bayern Munich because the Bavarians were looking for a “soccer teacher“, someone who would rid the club of former coach Juergen Klinsmann’s experiments — the innovative training methods, the meditation sessions and the Buddha statues – and bring the club back to basics.
So far so good. By the time Van Gaal arrived in July, Bayern had already signed strikers Ivica Olic, Mario Gomez and defensive midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.