Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Champions League final approaches with so many distractions

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Saturday’s Champions League final should be the only show in town but the build-up to the game in Madrid is offering a host of distractions.

The beautiful Spanish weather could easily lull a Bayern Munich or Inter Milan fan into thinking they had just popped over for a holiday…that is until they look at the news stands.

All anyone wants to talk about is whether Inter coach Jose Mourinho will quit for Real Madrid after the match, where incidentally both sides are gunning for trebles.

The fact the game is being played in the Bernabeu and Mourinho’s squad are practising at Real’s training ground just adds to the drama that seems to follow the Portuguese wherever he goes.

Bayern 2 Berlin 0

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SOCCER-GERMANY/As much as Berlin enjoys hosting the German Cup final every year for the badly needed economic stimulus the 75,000 fans bring to the city, watching Bayern Munich celebrate titles on successive Saturdays in Olympiastadion while at the same time knowing their only Bundesliga side, Hertha Berlin, have been banished to the second division might have been just a bit too painful.

Berlin will be the only European capital without even a single club in the top domestic league. It must be hard to imagine Berlin being such a soccer wilderness for those  in places like London, where Chelsea just won a domestic double, or other capitals with stacks of top teams to follow.

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.

Champions League live blog — Bayern Munich v Olympiqye Lyon

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Bayern Munich take on Olympique Lyon in the first leg of the second Champions League semi-final and we’ll be following the match between these two stylish teams live from 1845 GMT, 2045 in central Europe.

Will the game be able to match Inter Milan’s crackling 3-1 victory over Barcelona? We’ll be here from around an hour before kick-off with on-the-spot detail from our reporter in the stadium, Karolos Grohmann and plenty of other contributors. Please join us for the fun.

Not much ‘typically German’ about this Bayern Munich team

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/What did Manchester United’s Alex Ferguson mean when he criticised Bayern Munich players for what he said was their attempt to influence Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli after Rafael Da Silva fouled Franck Ribery?

“They all rushed towards the referee,” Ferguson told British TV, complaining about the second yellow card that got his right back sent off. “Typical Germans.”

Premier League in decline or just a minor blip?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/English clubs have failed to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since 2003, after Arsenal were undone by a superior Barcelona side driven by the brilliant Lionel Messi and Manchester United suffered an astonishing breakdown against Bayern Munich.

They joined Premier League leaders Chelsea on the sidelines, as well as Liverpool after their exit in the group phase. The question is whether this is a shift in the balance of power or merely a blip.

Champions League Live: Man Utd v Bayern, Bordeaux v Lyon

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We’re following the Champions League quarter-final, second legs live this evening. Join us here for updates and on-the-spot comment from Manchester United v Bayern Munich and Bordeaux v Lyon. Can Bayern hold on to their slim lead at Old Trafford? Will Wayne Rooney be fit? Is there any way back for Bordeaux? And can anyone match the feats of Lionel Messi in Barcelona’s victory over Arsenal last night?

Champions League quarter-finals — live

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We’re live blogging the night’s two Champions League quarter-final first legs, with expert commentary and analysis, including on-the-spot details from our reporters in the stadiums (or stadia, if you prefer).

Join us here from around 1645 GMT for all the build-up and action from the biggest club competition in town.

A new Champions League era or just a blip?

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As many French teams in the Champions League quarter-finals as English clubs and only one Spanish side through.

Does this mark a sea change in Europe or is it just a freak season like 2004 (the last time two French teams reached the last eight)? 

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