Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
from UK News:
The son of a miner, Robson's career was characterised by dignity, loyalty and hard graft and no little success.
As a player he won 20 England caps, but it was as an innovative manager that he will be best remembered, notably his success in guiding England to a World Cup semi-final in 1990, when his side came agonisingly close to reaching the final.
Before his stint with the national team, Robson managed Ipswich for 13 years, guiding the Suffolk club to FA and UEFA Cup success and twice led the Portman Road side to the runners-up spot in the old First Division.
If your first reaction on hearing about the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic deal was “How much?” then I can assure you you weren’t the only one.
To land Ibrahimovic, who is due to be presented this evening at the Nou Camp, Barcelona will not only hand over the Cameroon international striker but will also give Inter Milan a reported 45 million euros and the loan, for one season, of Aleksandr Hleb.
It would be among the biggest swap deals ever in soccer but there is a long way to go before it becomes reality.
Inter Milan and Barcelona may have agreed to the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o (plus a bit of cash for the Italians on top) but the players have yet to agree terms and that looks trickier than might be expected.
Watching Cristiano Ronaldo getting the rock star treatment at a packed Bernabeu stadium on Monday night, I found myself thinking back to the U2 concert I had been to at Barcelona’s Camp Nou last week.
At a record $130 million, the Portuguese winger has cost Real considerably more than the Irish band’s entire world tour, which kicked off in the Catalan capital and is reported to be their most expensive to date at an estimated $100 million.
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.
While Real Madrid were tying up their deal to sign Kaka from AC Milan, Barcelona seemed curiously ambivalent about the possibility of losing one of their big-name players, the Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o .
The 28-year-old has a contract until 2010 when he will be able to leave free of cost, unless an extension can be agreed or the club decide to cash in on him now.
Manchester United palpably failed to become the first team to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era but few would bet against Barcelona managing the feat next season.
And where would be the perfect place for Pep Guardiola’s stylish side to achieve it? The Nou Camp? No, next year’s final is in Madrid and the Barca fans I spoke to in Rome after the game could not think of a better venue to show their rivals and world football that they are undisputed kings.
Barcelona deposed Manchester United as European champions with an outstanding 2-0 victory in the Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
Samuel Eto’o struck the opener after 10 minutes when he cut in from the right past Nemanja Vidic with surprising ease and his low shot beat United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at his near post. Xavi cracked a free kick against a United post at the start of the second half before Lionel Messi sealed the win after 70 minutes when he scored with a beautifully timed header from Xavi’s cross.
Full-time: Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0.
Samuel Eto’o 10, Lionel Messi 70
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From Mark Meadows at the Stadio Olimpico:
- – - -
Not quite the dream final. United just didn’t turn up after that initial burst came to nothing. Barca did what they had to do without being amazing. Did Fergie’s talk of greatness in the buildup get to his men? I’ve never seen United look so nervy. Well done Pep Guardiola.
- – - - 2-0 to Barcelona. Messi nods in after a hanging cross for what is a rare header from the Argentine. Ferdinand was no where near him. Game over? A chant of MESSI, MESSI MESSI rings out from my right. - – - - Wayne Rooney, who has been quiet all night and is now patrolling the right wing, has just failed to put two crosses in to the dangerzone with United well-placed. Dimitar Berbatov is taking off his tracksuit… And he’s on for Park.
- – - - Park is a hair’s breadth from nodding in a Rooney cross, and Park’s got longish floppy hair. United resorting to old fashioned English crosses to try to get a foothold back in the game. - – - - 53: Xavi strikes the post with a low freekick and Van der Sar barely moved at first. Tevez has hardly touched it since coming on. How many packs of gum does Fergie have? - – - -
50: Messi wants a penalty for a push in the box but the referee and most of the neutrals shake their heads. - – - - Tevez on for Anderson was pretty predictable given the Brazilian did nothing in the first 45. Tevez has the chance to make a name for himself on what could be his last game for United. Henry tests Van der Sar from close in. - – - - A curious first half, that. United made such a good start that I bet many of their more pessimistic fans were just waiting for Barcelona to get one against the run of play. United were very cool after going behind. They could probably do with getting in amongst the Barcelona midfield a bit more, stop Barca winning the ball back so quickly. Plenty of time before they have to panic. - – - - 45: Messi has just stormed into the box and Van der Sar fluffed the safe and the ball nearly ran free. That’s got the Barca crowd really excited, especially with United’s midfield all over the place at the moment. Half-time. - – - - 43: Victor Valdes, who took a bit of a knock earlier and is not taking goalkicks, has just been forced to rush out of goal to prevent Ronaldo from a clean run on goal. He’ll be needing some treatment at halftime. - – - - 35: United looking a bit nervous, especially in defence with some tentative passing. Strange for the holders… The fans in Red look especially tense too. - – - - 25: Xavi curls a freekick just over. That caused a lot of ooohs from the crowd. Lionel Messi had earlier shot over but United have still had the better chances despite being behind. - – - - 16: Is former United defender Gerard Pique a lucky man? The Barca centre-back blocks a barnstorming Ronaldo run and gets a yellow, but some in the press box are howling that he was last man. Ryan Giggs shoots over with the free kick. - – - -
10: 1-0 to Barcelona: Samuel Eto’o. Completely against the run of play Eto’o beats Nemanja Vidic very easily to get into the box and his shot goes in despite Edwin van der Sar getting touch. That followed two more good chances for Ronaldo. Was Barcelona’s first attack… - – - - 2: Cristian Ronaldo, who looks dashing in all white (Real Madrid might like that) tests Victor Valdes with a long range free kick first up which the keeper spills. Park Ji-sung is unable to get the rebound on target. The United fans suddenly get noisier. - – - - 1: Barcelona kick off.
Now the teams are in, and there are no big surprises (see below) here’s Mike Collett’s view from the press seats at the Stadio Olimpico: