Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

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)? 

To be fair to Lyon and Bordeaux, they deserved to qualify with Lyon overcoming the mighty Real Madrid and Bordeaux beginning to look a real good outside bet to go all the way. You’d get decent money on Arsenal and Bayern Munich too, who could easily chart a path to the Bernabeu in May. 

Eliminated Liverpool are having one of those terrible seasons which afflict top sides now and then but Chelsea’s exit and the manner of their weak home defeat to Inter Milan was the biggest surprise of the last 16.

How did Chelsea ever let Mourinho go?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/There will be plenty of time to pick apart Chelsea’s latest Champions League failure, but for now the question on many a fan’s lips on the way out of Stamford Bridge must have been simply, “How did we ever let Jose Mourinho go?”

Mourinho is still Captain of the Bridge, it seems.

The coach’s decision to play such an attacking line-up seemed to surprise Chelsea and Carlo Ancelotti never really found a way to deal with such an audacious strategy.

Sevilla training ground highlights disparity in La Liga resources

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Seeing Sevilla’s rather dilapidated training ground for the first time in the beautiful Andalusian sunshine on Monday morning really brought home the gulf in resources compared with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Currently fourth in the domestic league, a whopping 21 points behind leaders Real and second-placed Barca, Sevilla are the only other Spanish side still alive in this season’s Champions League but their Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios is a world away from both the Madrid club’s enormous, state-of-the-art Ciudad Real Madrid out near Barajas airport and Barca’s gleaming Ciutat esportiva Joan Gamper.

Real Madrid need stability — not another new coach

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/REALReal Madrid president Florentino Perez will have two conflicting voices whispering in his ear as he contemplates Wednesday’s devastating Champions League exit against Olympique Lyon.

His better angel will be telling him to stay calm, remember that the Primera Liga title is still very much in play, that the team has actually looked pretty good lately and that a bit of stability is long overdue.

A quarter of a billion euros doesn’t get you much these days…

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SOCCER/Uncomfortable questions are being asked about Real Madrid’s policy of forking out a quarter of a billion euros on players following their shock elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Olympique Lyon on Wednesday.

Florentino Perez returned for a second term as president pledging to end Real’s five-year run of failure in Europe’s elite club competition but the nine-times European champions’ dream of a 10th triumph in May’s final at their Bernabeu stadium was shattered by the French side.

Is Guardiola losing his Midas Touch?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/It was always going to be difficult for Pep Guardiola to repeat last year’s astonishing achievements when Barcelona swept up six trophies.

Since adding the Club World Cup to their haul in December, they have started to look vulnerable, and, more recently, jaded.

How bad can pre-match entertainment get?

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There are 20 minutes left to kick off for VfB Stuttgart’s match of the year, a round-of-16 Champions League tie against Barcelona. The game has been declared a sellout. Yet the stadium is only half full.

A last-minute influx fills the ground, many fans literally taking their places as the game kicks off. But who can blame Stuttgart supporters for leaving it so late – there was absolutely no motive for them to arrive any earlier.

Will Mourinho live to rue the Taste of England?

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There is a wonderful little shop in the centre of Milan called “Taste of England”.

It sells everything a homesick Englishman would want but Italian supermarkets don’t sell. Baked beans, rock-hard chocolate bars, Earl Grey tea.

UPDATE: Controversial Champions League gives way to Predictions League!

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Well the fight for fourth spot in the Premier League looks like being one of the most intriguing battles in Europe as we near the latter stages of the season. Tottenham and Aston Villa won but Manchester City drew 0-0 with Liverpool in a drab game to leave it all as close as an Olympic downhill.

The Bundesliga and La Liga get more exciting thanks to Bayer Leverkusen and Cristiano Ronaldo while Inter’s lead being cut to five points has made Serie A less clear cut.

Protesting United fans need a reality check

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Two European Cup finals in two years, three straight Premier League titles, a first ever win at AC Milan and yet Manchester United fans are not a happy bunch.

Before Tuesday’s 3-2 Champions League last 16 first leg win at the San Siro, a large group of United fans spent most of the afternoon swigging beer in Milan’s central square – Piazza Duomo.

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