Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Will you be watching the Europa League final later on Wednesday? Do you even know who is in the final? Does it annoy you that such a tough competition gets undervalued because of the unstoppable rise in popularity of the Champions League?
Anyway, enough questions. Venue: Dublin. Teams: Porto and Braga, two very contrasting Portuguese clubs. This could be one hell of a game, so watch it.
Porto will of course seek to get back to the heights of 2003 and 2004, when they followed their UEFA Cup triumph over Celtic with Champions League glory. But lose, and Braga winning would cap a remarkable season for the minnows. Either way, the signs are good for Portuguese football, in contrast with the country’s economy.
On Tuesday the bank-rolled Manchester City outfit reached the Champions League qualifiers for next season and could even secure an automatic berth if they pip Arsenal to third place in the Premier League. That would be a real kick in the guts to Arsene Wenger, who has barely spent anything in comparison to City since he took over the North Londoners in 1996.
European competition is almost over for another season after Braga and Porto booked their places in the Europa League final in Dublin.
Well it looks like being a Barcelona v Manchester United final in the Champions League on May 28 after the Catalans booked their Wembley tickets on Tuesday, though Schalke 04 will have something to say about that in the penultimate match of the 2010-11 competition.
Barcelona were simply too good for Real Madrid despite the 1-1 scoreline, and you get the feeling that in this sort of form they will be hard to stop.
In our latest Monday post on Spanish soccer, Iain Rogers in Barcelona muses on the ill-tempered Champions League clash between arch rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid and the possible repercussions for the Spanish national team and looks at the unrivalled brilliance of World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
Bad Spanish blood boils over into Champions League “Clasico”
Last week’s Champions League semi-final first leg between Real Madrid and Barcelona made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The Champions League is the biggest club competition in the world and generally where players peak, so Wednesday’s semi-final first leg should be the best of the recent encounters between the Spanish rivals.
They might be running away with the Premier League title and facing a side who are 10th in their own table (ok, those portents look pretty rosy), but they have come unstuck the last two times they have lined up against German rivals in the semi-finals.
In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Mark Elkington in Madrid looks at the state of play ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final between arch rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona, Diego Forlan’s relegation to the bench at Atletico Madrid and the curse of the balls on the pitch.
Real bristling with confidence before Champions League semi
Last week’s dramatic King’s Cup final victory over Barca has provided a palpable boost to Real coach Jose Mourinho and his players and they romped to a 6-3 win at third-placed Valencia on Saturday despite resting several key squad members.
By Philip O’Connor
It was as if Stale Solbakken’s winning machine had been taken by the moment.
Crowned champions minutes before kickoff by Odense’s failure to beat Nordsjaelland, they quickly fell behind to lowly Lyngby.