Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Barcelona’s return to earth suits Guardiola fine


Barcelona have made the best start to the Spanish league season by any club since Bobby Robson’s 1996-97 vintage scored 30 goals in their first nine games.

Under Pep Guardiola, the Catalans have amassed 28 goals from nine league matches, winning their last seven to move to the head of the standings.

They have let in just eight, joint lowest in the league with Villarreal and Sevilla.

But looking back through the stats, you can see why Guardiola is so cautious (“We’re top with 87 points still to play for,” he said at the weekend.)

King Kun? Messi shows him who’s boss


Don’t Mess-i with me!

It was the battle between the young pretender and the crown prince but there was to be no revolution, just wonderful football.

Atletico Madrid’s hot-shot striker Sergio Aguero has stolen all the headlines in recent months and has quickly been compared to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. A match-winning display in March’s 4-2 win over Barca further boosted Aguero’s profile. (more…)

It’s time to stop kicking the ball out of play


Lionel Messi

Barcelona’s equalising goal against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday sparked a real old furore because it stemmed from a Barca throw-in after the home side had apparently kicked the ball out of play because one of their players was injured.

The truth is, with players so apt to diving and other theatrics these days, the “player down” excuse for stopping the game should be defunct, as it thankfully now appears to be in England where only the referee decides when the game should be stopped. (more…)

Ronaldinho morphs into a striker


Ronaldinho scores

Ronaldinho’s great bullet header in AC Milan’s 1-0 win over derby rivals Inter on Sunday surprised the Brazilian as much as everybody else.

The former Barcelona player was so shocked at scoring such a goal that he ran around the San Siro pitch like a headless chicken before being hugged by his team mates and performing his customary dance. (more…)

Friday afternoon question: Which is the best derby?


A typical Milan derby

Families will be divided and bars will be filled with talk of nothing else this weekend when Everton host Liverpool on Saturday and the Milan derby takes place a day later.

Despite the plethora of foreign players on show at Goodison and the San Siro, as well as Spanish, Scottish and Portuguese managers, the two derbies will still sum up what is great about being a football fan.

Does Henry merit a place in Barca’s starting XI?


Henry listens to the ref

Thierry Henry is in danger of playing a peripheral role in Pep Guardiola’s new look Barcelona with his continued failure to find his feet in Spain.

The France striker missed Sunday’s 6-1 rout of Sporting Gijon due to a throat infection, and that leaves Guardiola with a tough choice as to whether to keep a team that claimed a first league win of the season, or continue rotating his players for Wednesday’s visit of Real Betis.

Strange results signify little… but we can all dream, can’t we?


Van NReal Madrid and Barcelona lose their opening matches in Spain, Bayern Munich have to wait until their third game to taste victory under Juergen Klinsmann, AC Milan lose while Juve and Inter can only draw in Italy and three games in, not one of the big four in England’s Premier League can muster a 100 percent record…

It would be nice, wouldn’t it, to read something in to all this.

Smaller clubs that are nimbler in the transfer market have made a series of astute buys while we were watching the Olympics and the soccer superpowers were trying to prise away each other’s big stars, you might say. Once great names like Atletico Madrid, Schalke 04, Lazio and Manchester City are at or near the top of their leagues and are ready to rise again!

Xavi and Iniesta can prove there’s life after Ronaldinho


Brothers in arms: Xavi and IniestaAs we all saw during Euro 2008, Xavi and Iniesta are two of the best ball-playing midfielders in Europe. Now it’s time they showed it for Barcelona.

Don’t get me wrong — the two little midfielders have been good enough for the Catalans over the past few seasons. But now that Ronaldinho has gone, along with Deco and possibly to be followed by Eto’o, this is the moment for the two gifted midfielders to show they can really carry the team.

Eto’o proves transfer talk is not always tittle-tattle

Very few people believed the story that Samuel Eto’o was considering a move to Uzbekistan’s Kuruvchi.

All of sudden it turned out to be true with Barcelona’s Cameroon striker speaking at a news conference in the country’s capital. Despite mega money being thrown in his direction, Eto’o will probably not end up there but at least they got him to go out and talk. Even if it was just a publicity stunt, it worked.

Ronaldinho heads to AC Milan – your views

Ronaldinho is finally leaving Barcelona after months of speculation and will sign for AC Milan on Wednesday.

Many questions remain, however. Will Milan let him play at the Olympics? Barca said no and Milan also stopped Kaka going so it seems unlikely he can shoot off to Beijing.