Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Friday afternoon question: Who’s the best free kick taker?

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The above question came up in Mark’s blog about Del Piero (see below) and it stuck in my mind after my colleague Andre Assier interviewed Juninho this week.

Here’s an extract from Andre’s piece, which you can read in full here:

Olympique Lyon’s dead ball specialist Juninho scored his 40th free kick goal for the club against Steaua Bucharest in a Champions League game on Wednesday to make his mark on the French side’s scoring records.

The strike in a 2-0 home win meant the Brazilian midfielder joined compatriot Sonny Anderson as the club’s all-time top scorer in European competition with 16 by netting his 94th goal in all competitions for the French champions.

Del Piero…34 years young

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Italy coach Marcello Lippi doesn’t want him, his predecessor Roberto Donadoni wasn’t keen, but Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero just keeps on coming up with the goods.

Few visiting players get standing ovations at the Bernabeu, but Il Capitano deserved it after two sublime strikes in Juve’s shock 2-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday which sent the in-form Turin club to the Champions League last 16.

Barcelona’s return to earth suits Guardiola fine

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Barcelona have made the best start to the Spanish league season by any club since Bobby Robson’s 1996-97 vintage scored 30 goals in their first nine games.

Under Pep Guardiola, the Catalans have amassed 28 goals from nine league matches, winning their last seven to move to the head of the standings.

We need a Hull or a Hoffenheim in the Champions League

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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.

Time to revamp player awards

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This week we had the nominations for FIFA world player of the year, discovered the winner of the FIFPro world player of the year and mulled the contenders for the Ballon d’Or.

Exactly how many gongs do we need? In the recent past the situation was a bit clearer.

It really is time to call in the cameras now

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There has been a long-running debate about video technology in football and surely the time has now come to assist referees and linesmen with offside decisions.

This week’s Champions League matches featured several howlers. Both of Dimitar Berbatov’s goals for Manchester United against Celtic were shown to be offside by TV replays yet the Belgium linesman kept his flag down.

It’s time to stop kicking the ball out of play

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Lionel Messi

Barcelona’s equalising goal against Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday sparked a real old furore because it stemmed from a Barca throw-in after the home side had apparently kicked the ball out of play because one of their players was injured.

The truth is, with players so apt to diving and other theatrics these days, the “player down” excuse for stopping the game should be defunct, as it thankfully now appears to be in England where only the referee decides when the game should be stopped. (more…)

What’s not to love about Werder Bremen?

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Ozil scores the winner

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.

Friday afternoon question: Should Villarreal draw worry United?

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Last time Manchester United were drawn in the same Champions League group with Villarreal in the 2005-06 season, most fans and pundits predicted a stroll into the last 16 of the competition with Lille and Benfica also looking as little more than stepping stones for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men.

United finished bottom of the group and bowed out of Europe before the winter break after a dreadful run including a pair of 0-0 draws with Villarreal while the Spanish side reached the semi-finals in their Champions League debut.

Vlog on the Pitch: Scolari is a tough man to please

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Chelsea seemed to do just about everything right in their Champions League victory over Bordeaux this week but new coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was not overly impressed.

Check out the latest Vlog on the Pitch as Owen Wyatt and Jon Bramley try to work out why the Brazilian was so underwhelmed.

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