Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Soccer Break Friday

Photo

SOCCER-WORLDThe first day of the fourth month means April fools day, so we would really love to hear from you if there are any dubious stories doing the rounds.

Here are some. Frank Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ at the World Cup is to be finally given. Ronaldo will start playing for Spain. And here is a list of five other classics from the past.

How about Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho for Manchester United? Or do you agree that West Ham United would have been in the hunt for Europe bar refereeing decisions?

Back to this weekend, and the title races in Spain and Italy are really hotting up as our previews will tell you. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund are still well clear but need to steady the ship.

France break Irish hearts to seal World Cup slot

Photo

France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.

There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of “The Hand of God II” and “The Hand of Henry” in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.

Lesser lights may yet shine at this World Cup

Photo

Depending on the results of the second legs of the UEFA World Cup playoffs on Wednesday, next year’s tournament in South Africa could contain rather too many of football’s lesser lights for some fans out there.

Portugal, France and Russia, could all perish and the tournament, which is supposed to be the pinnacle of the game, could have a cast list including Honduras, New Zealand, North Korea, Slovakia, Bosnia and Slovenia.

World Cup playoff draw – your views

Photo

Draw for the European World Cup playoffs:

Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia

Two-legged ties to be played on Nov 14 and 18.

Is that the sound of a World Cup playoff shock I hear? France, 2006 runners-up, will have to beat Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland over two legs to reach South Africa next year and that is no easy feat.

Usual suspects will be at the World Cup, but would we have missed them?

Photo

So now we know which European teams are in the World Cup playoffs and we have a pretty good idea of the seedings, though FIFA’s updated rankings out at the end of the week will provide confirmation ahead of Monday’s draw.

It looks like Russia, France, Greece and Portugal will be the seeded teams with Ukraine, Ireland, Bosnia and Slovenia playing them. After Argentina’s qualification in the final match against Uruguay, it looks increasingly likely that all the big teams will be there in South Africa.

Can the Balkans do a World Cup quadruple?

Photo

Soccer leagues in the Balkans are suffering from an uncontrolled outflow of talent to wealthier and more competitive environments in Europe and it’s a trend that’s benefiting some of the region’s national teams.

At least three countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia stand a good chance of reaching next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

  •