Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Jose Mourinho and winning appear to go hand in hand after the colourful Portuguese coach delivered at the first time of asking in Wednesday’s King’s Cup final.
All the more significant was beating Barcelona for the first time as Real coach, which sets up a fascinating double header in the Champions League semi-finals on April 27 and May 3.
The pictures of Real’s celebrations are everywhere but what was not captured was defender Sergio Ramos dropping the trophy off the open-top bus during their victory parade. Or maybe not.
Real fans will be hoping their team do not let slip their slight pyschological advantage ahead of the Champions League having kept Barcelona dangerman Lionel Messi largely quiet during the final. The pacy Argentine stood still for five minutes after the final whistle, inconsolable.
Short and sweet today with little news on Monday and plenty of action to look forward to this week.
Manchester United will look to stretch their Premier League lead against Newcastle United on Tuesday, though will their Wembley antics distract them? ‘A hole lot of trouble for United’ read one headline.
Barcelona destroyed their fierce domestic rivals 5-0 in November, and although the gap at the top of La Liga remains difficult for Real to peg back, they looked a very difficult team to beat against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League quarter-finals.
So there were no incredible comebacks after all. Sorry Tottenham and hapless Heurelho Gomes, but the neutrals have got their Real Madrid v Barcelona semi-final and expect the hype to be greater than almost any two games ever played.
In the other semi-final Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson will be able to take a close look at Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who was largely untroubled by departing holders Inter Milan last night.
So this week’s Champions League quarter-final action is over and the semi-finals are set up. As expected Real Madrid strolled through their second-leg against Spurs and will now face Barcelona. The Spanish giants are set to clash four times in 18 days, including Saturday’s La Liga match at the Bernabeu and the King’s Cup final on April 20 in Valencia.
After their astonishing win at the San Siro, Schalke 04 finished off the job against Inter to set up a meeting with Manchester United.
In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the calm before the “Clasico” storm, Johan Cruyff”s latest musings on the Real-Barca rivalry and the recent fine form of Valencia and striker Roberto Soldado.
Real in fine fettle ahead of four-game Barca showdown
With an unprecedented four “Clasicos” in 18 days just around the corner (unless something very strange happens in the Champions League quarter-final second legs), Real Madrid and Barcelona had a final run-out in La Liga before they meet next weekend, wins for each meaning Barca will travel to the Bernabeu with an eight-point lead with seven games remaining.
Hello everyone at the start of this new week, where before we talk Champions League and give a reminder of the weekend’s action, there’s news of another foreign takeover.
Arsenal are not enduring the easiest of times on the pitch but on Monday announced that American billionaire Stan Kroenke is taking over the club. Arsenal fans, what are your thoughts? Will this new era usher in drastic changes such as a new manager?
How can the upcoming domestic matches beat this week’s European action for goals? 19 were scored in Thursday’s four Europa League quarter-finals, with a further 18 coming in the four Champions League last eight ties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
What the top leagues around Europe do have however is drama, with most leagues set to go down to the wire, whereas only two out of eight of next week’s quarter-final second legs are in the balance.
Strong belief in emulating the 1999 treble must surely be gripping Old Trafford after Manchester United’s somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win at Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final first leg, but Alex Ferguson and his troops will also be aware they are still a long way from crossing the finish line first in any competition.
With Wayne Rooney losing his appeal to have a two-game ban reduced and the ever-present threat of injuries crippling a squad well short of the talent of the 1999 crop, United will once again have to dig deep into their resources as the strength-sapping season reaches its climax.
Where to start after four brilliant Champions League quarter-finals, even if the intrigue for next week’s second legs has all but gone from three of the ties with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1, Real Madrid 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 in total charge against holders Inter Milan after the 5-2 triumph at the San Siro.
However, the appetite has most certainly been whet for the very probable ‘Clasico’ semi-final between Real and Barcelona, a meeting of the world’s two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. April 26 or 27 and May 3 or 4. Do not miss these dates. Not that Spain’s two leading clubs are thinking that far ahead.