Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Game, set and match: Real 2 Barça 6

Photo

If Chelsea were cautious in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Barcelona, what will they do after seeing this display?

Spain’s sports journalists will be doing their best to outdo one another in superlatives after a performance that ranks right up there with the 5-0 Barça managed at the Bernabeu with Johan Cruyff in their team in 1974.

If that Barça team was largely about one man, the current vintage has quite extraordinary talent running all the way through it. From Puyol and Piqué at the back, to Xavi and Iniesta in central midfield to the attacking trio of Henry, Messi and Eto’o this is quite some collective.

We’ll have more on this tomorrow, but for now let’s take a quick look at the early reaction from Spain:

Will United live to regret missed chances?

Photo

Arsenal played poorly at Manchester United on Wednesday but escaped with a 1-0 defeat that leaves them still in with a chance of reaching the Champions League final.When you consider that they haven’t conceded a goal at home in the competition all season, the situation doesn’t look half bad. After all, they have already beaten United in north London this season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again.First though, their big performers need to turn up, because they went missing at Old Trafford. Theo Walcott barely got a kick, Emmanuel Adebayor was subdued and Cesc Fabregas was overwhelmed in midfield.It will also help if Robin van Persie is fit after missing the first leg. Without the Dutchman, and the ineligible Andrey Arshavin, they looked lightweight in attack.United were not at their best either and will be frustrated at not putting the tie to bed. However, they did not allow Arsenal an away goal and so will start clear favourites to reach Rome and a possible re-match with Chelsea.Remember, they were in far worse shape after drawing 2-2 at home with Porto in the quarter-final, first leg. And with such a plethora of attacking options, Alex Fergsuon’s side will be confident of breaching Arsenal’s Emirates fortress.PHOTO: Manchester United’s John O’Shea (C) celebrates with Darren Fletcher (L) and Rio Ferdinand (R) after scoring during their Champions League semi-final, first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Barcelona frustration at textbook Chelsea display

Photo

Chelsea will feel they are within touching distance of the Champions League final after holding Barcelona to a goalless draw a the Nou Camp in the first leg of their semi-final.

The Chelsea performance oozed professionalism, with Guus Hiddink’s players showing terrific resilience to leave Barca coach Pep Guardiola bemoaning Chelsea tactics and the performance of the referee.

Special nights needed after Champions League overload

Photo

I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m not as excited as I should be given it’s the Champions League semi-final first legs this week.

Both ties should be making my mouth water. Manchester United v Arsenal is always a decent game in the Premier League and with Alex Ferguson’s men still wearily battling for the domestic title, Arsene Wenger’s boys have the perfect opportunity to spring a surprise.

Another 4-4 draw for Liverpool, another trophy chance gone?

Photo

4-4 is the sort of scoreline that delights neutrals, TV companies and marketing executives but it‘s not one that Liverpool fans will remember with any fondness.

A point from Tuesday night’s draw with Arsenal at Anfield was enough to take Liverpool top of the Premier League table on goal difference from Manchester United, but seeing as Alex Ferguson’s side have two games in hand it’s hard to see the title ending up anywhere but at Old Trafford.

Does Ronaldo’s strike rank among the greatest?

Photo

Cristiano Ronaldo’s thunderous strike in Manchester United’s 1-0 win at Porto has been hailed as a wonder goal, but just how good was it?

Few could find such power on a shot from 40 metres, few would even try to shoot from there. The context of the game, where United needed to win to reach the Champions League semi-finals, also adds weight to the argument that it was one of European football’s great goals.

Liverpool nearly pull it off — twice

What a game.

Liverpool, 3-1 down from the first leg in their Champions League quarter-final clash, went 2-0 up at Stamford Bridge only for Chelsea to surge back in the second half and make it 3-2.

Two late goals from the Reds made it an amazing finish but Guus Hiddink’s side scored again and it finished 4-4 (7-5 on aggregate.) 

Can United and Villarreal improve for Champions League?

Photo

Manchester United and Villarreal must find some misplaced form to get the away results they need in Wednesday’s Champions League second legs.

United, who visit Porto, have not looked like European and English champions recently and have a lot to do to reach the last four after last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw with the Portuguese side at Old Trafford.

Is the Bundesliga set to surpass Serie A?

It is now widely accepted that, after a long stint as the world’s most glamorous championship in the 1980s and 90s, Serie A has fallen behind the Premier League and Spain’s Primera Liga.

Problems with hooliganism and the 2006 match-fixing scandal have not helped and attention is now moving to whether the Italian top flight can repel competition from the Bundesliga for third place.

Majestic Barcelona leave Bayern speechless

Photo

“Perhaps if they only bring eight men to Munich then we have a chance.”

Bayern’s Mark van Bommel, a former Barcelona player, was brutally honest after Barca’s 4-0 win in the Champions League quarter-final first leg at the Nou Camp.

  •