Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
It was no classic but Porto cemented themselves as one of Europe’s top sides on Wednesday with a 1-0 victory over compatriots Braga in the Europa League final in Dublin, surely the start of better days for the Portuguese game.
Key to this is that Porto’s coach Andre Villas-Boas and figurehead striker Radamel Falcao have agreed to stay at the club, a nice touch in the fast-paced football world where players and coaches come and go all too often.
Predictions for Porto next season? Can they repeat history and win the Champions League the year after winning Europe’s second-tier club competition? Why not.
At the very least, Portugal’s fine showing in Europe this season may bring a much needed economic lift to the country. Manchester is apparently set to profit immensely from having two clubs in the Champions League next term.
Ask most football fans about what day in the season they looked forward to the most in the past and the FA Cup would have often topped the list, but the grand old competition is on the wane.
Just another night of footballing action and another trophy for the all-conquering Barcelona, who on Wednesday clinched their third successive La Liga title despite a laboured 1-1 draw away to Levante.
Manchester United will be hoping a similarly weary Barcelona turn up at Wembley for the Champions League final on May 28, hopefully having themselves recently won their top domestic honour, the Premier League.
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.
Dominating football news on Tuesday are the allegations by David Triesman to a UK parliamentary inquiry that several FIFA executive committee members asked for favours in return for their votes for England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
Startling stuff, especially with the FIFA presidential election less than a month away and a third of the 24-man executive committee having been accused of corruption.
The chill winds of corruption allegations swirling once again around FIFA’s Zurich HQ have got world soccer’s bosses busy battening down the hatches in the forlorn hope that, if ignored, they will all just blow away.
But if they were to peep out of the windows of their ivory tower overlooking the Swiss financial centre they might see that, in the eyes of much of the world, it is their credibility that is blown and that the process of selecting the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals has been seriously tainted.