Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

The strange story of Ibra and Pep

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As Barcelona close in on the signing of Javier Mascherano from Liverpool, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future at the club seems to becoming ever more complicated.

Coach Pep Guardiola’s decision to move for the combative Mascherano is understandable after Yaya Toure’s departure to Manchester City.

Added to the signings of David Villa, a proven goalscorer already familiar with half the squad from Spanish international duty, and the versatile Adriano Correia, who can cover Dani Alves at right back or play in midfield, they look like sensible choices.

But can Guardiola’s judgement be questioned is in his handling of the Ibrahimovic conundrum?

Ibrahimovic? Milan need something

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AC Milan have confirmed they are trying to sign Barcelona forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic and judging by their pre-season form, they really need a spark.

Ronaldinho showed some good touches in Sunday’s drab 0-0 draw with Juventus, Milan’s final pre-season friendly, but he will never be the player of old and has never been a out-and-out striker.

Real put faith in youth to topple Barcelona

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SOCCER-WORLD/Real Madrid’s signing of Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil is further proof that they have opted for youth and pace this year, after glitz and glamour failed to knock Barcelona off their perch last season.

Poster boys Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema were Real’s star signings in a 250 million euro rebuilding programme last summer, but they only managed second place as another trophyless campaign ended back in May.

Bullfighting banned in Catalonia — So how will David Villa celebrate now?

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SOCCER-WORLD/Now that the Spanish region of Catalonia has banned bullfighting, what will happen to striker David’s Villa goal-scoring celebrations?

Villa struck a matador’s pose after he scored in Spain’s World Cup games in South Africa – you can see an example on FIFA’s official site here — raising eyebrows by some in Catalonia who viewed it as a gesture of support for the “fiesta nacional”.

Franckly, there’s only one replacement for Fabregas

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/ARSENALEvents, dear boy, events… If they can blow governments off course, they can blow the plans of football managers right out of the water. Just ask Arsene Wenger.

The Arsenal manager thought he was building, slowly but surely, an Arsenal team that could go one better than the 2006 side that lost the Champions League final to Barcelona.

Barcelona land Villa, Cesc to follow?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/Breaking news from Spain, where Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign David Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros.

The timing is interesting, coming as it does immediately after Barcelona successfully completed the defence of their league title, and before the distractions of a presidential election.

Guardiola needs to show mettle after Mourinho mugging

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Failure and Pep Guardiola are words that haven’t appeared together in the same sentence for some time, but the Barcelona coach has a big task on his hands if he is to prevent them being applied to his side’s end of the season.

He was right to argue after Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Inter Milan that it was hardly a case of his team being a victim of their own success.

Are Inter fans getting overexcited too early?

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Reaching a European Cup final for the first time since 1972 is success in itself for Inter Milan fans, as witnessed by the delirious scenes at Milan Malpensa airport as the team arrived back from eliminating holders Barcelona.

Jose Mourinho’s side are on for a treble, unprecendented in Italian soccer, but they have not yet tied up Serie A (two points ahead with three games left), the Italian Cup (final against Roma May 5) or the Champions League (final against Bayern Munich May 22 in Madrid).

Barcelona v Inter Milan — Champions League live

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Barcelona attempt to come back from a 3-1 defeat in the first leg when they host Inter Milan at Camp Nou. Will it be a happier night for Lionel Messi? Can Pep Guardiola get his own back on Jose Mourinho? Or will the Italians confirm their superiority and make it through to the final in Madrid?

Bayern Munich booked their place after a hat-trick from Ivica Olic earned them a 3-0 win in the second leg against Olympique Lyon and a 4-0 victory on aggregate. Read on in the live blog for details on how that happened.

Barca, Inter trade blows before European showdown

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/It’s considered irresponsible for a coach to call for fans to intimidate visiting teams and referees, just as it courts controversy to accuse rivals of diving a lot.

The restrictions on coaches are not so tightly applied to players so it was Gerard Pique and Thiago Motta who waded in to do the dirty work, in the buildup to Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final return between Barcelona and Inter Milan.

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