Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
UEFA officials say they don’t expect any trouble, and certainly no retaliatory attacks on Manchester United or Chelsea fans but last week’s rioting on the streets of Manchester and stabbing of a Russian fan raises wider questions about who is to blame, and whether violence can ever be completely kicked out of soccer.
UEFA says it can’t solve the problems without the help of the police and local authorities. The clubs say they cannot be held accountable for the behaviour of all their fans. Politicians say it is a deeper sociological problem. But still the violence goes on.
After AC Milan’s victory over Liverpool in Athens, European soccer’s governing body has stepped up its security measures, notably introducing new modern turnstiles, specialised staff training and more cooperation with local police.
This time last year I blogged from the Champions League final in Athens, mainly about the oddly circuitous routes taken by Liverpool fans just to get there.
My plan was to do the same from Moscow, but so far fans are pretty thin on the ground. With hotel prices starting at about 800 euros a night, it seems the vast majority of fans are going to come in on the day and fly back pretty much as soon as the game is finished.
Vlog on the pitch duo Jon Bramley and Darcy Lambton think Manchester United will beat Chelsea on Wednesday but host Owen Wyatt is not so sure. (Although judging by the haircut he has already lost a bet this week.)
Who is your money on for the big clash in Moscow? Will Didier Drogba ignore the mind games and win the game just like the semi-final against Liverpool?
There have been a lot of stories lately about Avram Grant, and how he needs to prove his worth as a coach by seeing Chelsea to victory in the Champions League final on Wednesday (See Richard Williams in the Guardian for a flavour).
But Grant is far from the only one who goes into this final with something to prove or who is desperate to make amends for past disappointments.
I guess most if not all fans of Manchester United and Chelsea wish the Champions League final was being played a little closer to home.
The decision to waive visa restrictions should have helped a bit but with flight and hotel prices rocketing an awful lot of fans who would have made the trip to Paris, say, are presumably going to stay at home.
Footballers. If we aren’t reading about their exploits on the pitch, more often than not we can read about their exploits off it. Much is speculation and the rest can’t be mentioned before the watershed, but as I recently read, it’s not always bad.
West Ham United striker Craig Bellamy is more used to finding himself in hot water rather than hot weather, but following a recent trip to Sierra Leone, the Wales international has formed the Craig Bellamy Foundation there.
After Manchester United beat Chelsea to the Premier League title, the Londoners hit back by signing Porto’s Jose Bosingwa in the first big transfer of the close season (although he can’t play in next Wednesday’s Champions League final obviously).
Vlog on the pitch regulars Owen Wyatt and Jon Bramley are joined by Tony Donovan to discuss last weekend’s final day of the English league season and look ahead to what could be the main transfers in the summer window.
When Jose Mourinho burst onto the scene and Chelsea became the new force in English football, there were many who thought Alex Ferguson’s days as Manchester United boss were numbered.
Those doubters are suddenly running for cover after the feisty Scot steered United to their 17th league title and the 10th of his glittering Old Trafford reign.
Sir Alex Ferguson says Manchester United will go bouncing into the Champions League final after they secured the Premier League title with a 2-0 win over Wigan on Sunday.
Ferguson, understandably feeling pretty pleased, also more or less ruled out retiring even if United go on to celebrate a double with victory over Chelsea in Moscow later this month.
After 60 minutes of the 2008 Champions League final all eyes will be on the pitch, but for a not-so-obvious reason.
The match, to be held in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on May 21, kicks off at 2245 local time to accommodate mid-evening audiences in the rest of Europe.