Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Is Spanish football more polarised than ever?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/BARCELONA-PRESIDENTReal Madrid and Barcelona dominate European football in terms of economic might and sporting success, a study of the continent’s five major leagues has shown.

But are the Spanish giants sucking the life out of La Liga in pursuit of short-term profits and at the expense of their long term competitiveness on the football field?

“The Football Transfer Review”, produced by sports marketing firm Prime Time Sport and published last week, showed Real and last season’s treble-winners Barca increased earnings to 407 million euros ($555 million) and 385 million euros respectively during the 2008-2009 season.

The Premier League’s top earners were Arsenal with 357 million euros, while Manchester United had slipped back to fourth with 317 million.

Are Henry’s days at Barcelona numbered?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Thierry Henry has cut a forlorn figure sitting on the bench during Barcelona’s last three La Liga matches, raising questions over the French striker’s future in Spain.

The 32-year-old struggled in his first year at the Nou Camp but was a key figure in their treble-winning campaign last season scoring 26 goals in all competitions.

‘Iniesta generation’ flooding Barcelona maternity wards

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/The first week of May 2009 was a rather good one for Barcelona fans and it seems like many of them celebrated in the time honoured fashion.

An historic 6-2 humiliation of arch rivals Real Madrid at their Bernabeu home on May 2 that effectively wrapped up the La Liga title was followed on May 6 by Andres Iniesta’s brilliant, last-gasp goal at Stamford Bridge that took Pep Guardiola’s side through to the Champions League final at the expense of Chelsea.

Can Ronaldinho really get back to his best?

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Ronaldinho is enjoying his best form in four years but he is still some way off the awesome performances he managed in the middle of the last decade (Noughties? ).

Sunday’s hat-trick in AC Milan’s 4-0 win over Siena featured a penalty and a close range header, but the third goal where he sent a perfect shot into the top corner from distance was a reminder of the Brazilian at his Barcelona best.

Messi quietly stealing the limelight from Ronaldo

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Real Madrid forward SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Cristiano Ronaldo has not not been shy in trumpeting his intention to win back the FIFA World Player of the Year award, but current holder Lionel Messi appears to have other ideas.

The monstrously-gifted Argentine has consistently stolen the limelight from the most expensive player in football history with a string of sublime performances for Barcelona in the first half of the season.

Bravo for the unpredictable King’s Cup!

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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.

Real’s precision missiles v Barca’s extraordinary teamwork

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s thunderous free kick for Real Madrid against Olympique Marseille and Barcelona’s slick passing move that led to Xavi’s equaliser away to Dynamo Kiev were given a statistical overhaul in the Spanish media on Thursday.

Under the heading “Precision missiles” in sports daily AS, Ronaldo’s net-buster was measured at 102.7kph over 33.4 metres, and reached a height of 3.70 metres before tearing past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.

Early Christmas present for Van Gaal, Bayern

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal got an early Christmas present. He gets to keep his job until at least after the festive season is over following Bayern’s 4-1 crushing of Juventus in Italy to advance to the Champions League knockout stage.

Two weeks ago the Dutchman, who took over in July, looked to be on his way out with Bayern needing two wins in the remaining Champions League matches to advance, while languishing in seventh place in the Bundesliga.

Messi wins Ballon D’Or almost unanimously

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There was never any doubt was there? Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been awarded the 2009 Ballon D’Or by French magazine France Football.

The 22-year-old became the first Ballon D’Or winner from Argentina, eclipsing runner-up and last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo by a record 240-point margin.

Ibrahimovic volley gives Barcelona bragging rights

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A Barcelona-Real Madrid game that veered from the brilliant to the banal, as is pretty much always the case in these contests, was settled 1-0 in favour of the Catalans by a great finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, following an even better pass from Dani Alves.

Real will go back to the capital content with their performance in all areas … apart from in front of goal. They will rue missing six or seven good chances to get something from a game that was pretty even, although that was partly to do with the sending-off of Busquets for a daft handball.

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