Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
UEFA has come up with the wonderful idea of spreading out the Champions League last 16 matches over a month.
Instead of the two-leg ties all being squeezed into a two-week period, we now have the luxury of just two games per night for the next few midweeks.
Imagine if the two standout ties of the round, AC Milan v Manchester United and Inter v Chelsea, had been played on the same night. It would have been torture trying to choose between the two matches.
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.
Here’s a total random idea: go and choose the best five matches of the last 10 years – a lot easier said than done.
Where do you begin? Do you only pick matches you have seen yourself ? As I am based in England, do I pick only matches played in England, or as I am lucky enough to travel round the world and watch football, do I go for international matches too?
David Beckham can look forward to en emotional evening at Old Trafford, after AC Milan were drawn to play Manchester United in the second round of the Champions League.
Beckham had said in the days leading up to the draw that he would love a chance to return to his old stamping ground and the England man has his wish in the pick of the matches (although Inter Milan v Chelsea isn’t bad either, for all you Mourinho watchers).
There’s a big difference for reporters like me between covering AC Milan and Inter Milan at their shared San Siro stadium.
For Milan games in the Champions League, the press get a lovely buffet spread before kickoff. Hot pasta, salad, maybe even some nice chicken and good Chianti.
APOEL Nicosia, Olympiakos and FC Zurich’s performances in the Champions League this year may have done enough to strengthen the case for more group stage places to be kept open for teams from smaller soccer countries.
Earlier this year, UEFA decided to split the qualifying contest into two halves — one for teams who are champions in their countries, the other for non-champions.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s match-winning performance against Olympique Marseille on Tuesday has helped defuse the fierce criticism he attracted for his irresponsible sending off against Almeria at the weekend.
The Portuguese forward, a world record signing for the La Liga club in the close season, apologised for the two yellow cards he picked up — one for ripping off his shirt to celebrate a goal (which had the effect of showing off his bulging muscles to the cameras) and the second for recklessly kicking an opponent.
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.
Going into the last round of Champions League group games, Italy was the only nation with a chance of having all four entrants in the last 16.
The Italians were getting quite excited about this, especially as they have the Germans on their tail in the fight to keep the four berths in future seasons, but Tuesday’s woeful performance by Juventus in a 4-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich ended Serie A hopes of a clean sweep.
After our (rather unsuccessful) attempts to convince you of Raymond Domenech’s appealing qualities, our thoughts turn to that much-maligned manager from Madrid, Rafa Benitez.
Liverpool went out of the Champions League on Tuesday night despite a 1-0 win over Debrecen, as Lyon failed to bite in Fiorentina.