Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The question of whether such-and-such a player is the world’s best tends to generate more heat than light, and a great many superlatives directed at Cristiano Ronaldo.
So, let me phrase this as carefully as I can: Just at the moment, is Franck Ribery the most influential player in Europe?
Ribery’s return to fitness, after his ankle ligament injury at Euro 2008, has coincided with Bayern Munich’s return to form, and of course, it’s no coincidence at all.
Juergen Klinsmann found his first couple of months as Bayern coach very difficult, as teams discovered they no longer had to treat the Ribery-less champions with quite such respect.
It’s been a great season so far for people living above Germany’s white sausage equator, as fearless Hoffenheim and classy Bayer Leverkusen continue to make Bayern Munich look very ordinary, and very worried, indeed.
Bayern have won their last four games in the Bundesliga but that run has merely been enough to prevent them falling any further behind Hoffenheim, who have won five in a row, scoring 17 goals in the process, and Leverkusen, who have racked up four successive 2-0 victories.
Germany captain Michael Ballack has backed down and offered an apology after he angered coach Joachim Loew by suggesting in a newspaper interview that senior players were not being treated with enough respect.
Werder Bremen’s Weserstadion is not the most comfortable place to watch football, with its slightly rickety feel, but it must be one of the most exciting.
Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga made it 10 goals in the last two league games for Thomas Schaaf’s side, who have now shrugged off a bit of early-season lethargy to restate the case for being the most entertaining side in Germany, certainly, and quite possibly Europe as a whole.
I’ve blogged before about the wealth of youngish goalkeeping talent in the Bundesliga, a list headed by Rene Adler at Bayer Leverkusen, Manuel Neuer at Schalke and Bayern Munich’s new number one Michael Rensing.
While Adler remains first choice in Leverkusen, and Neuer will certainly regain the gloves from the 19-year-old Ralf Faehrmann as soon as he’s fit, Juergen Klinsmann might just be getting a bit worried about Rensing, who had a shocker in Bayern’s 5-2 defeat at home to Werder Bremen at the weekend.
Manchester United and Bayern Munich opened the defence of their respective league titles with draws, prompting worried looks among supporters.
Normally it would be silly to judge a side on the first match of the season, but in United’s case there was clearly something missing in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle…a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
Barcelona’s Argentine forward Lionel Messi took a step closer to Beijing on Wednesday when FIFA ruled that clubs are obliged to release players aged 23 or under to play at the Olympics.
Barcelona and Bundesliga clubs Werder Bremen and Schalke, who want to keep Diego and Rafinha out of the Games, will probably fight on in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but for now FIFA has made the right decision, one that’s for the good of the game as well as the Games.
Werder Bremen have dashed the Olympic hopes of Brazil playmaker Diego, telling the 23-year-old they will not release him and thus depriving the Games of perhaps one of the world’s most exciting young players
Werder sporting director Klaus Allofs said there was no legal reason for clubs to release their players because, he said, the Olympics are not part of world soccer’s governing body FIFA.