Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Has Alex Ferguson got lucky or did he see something in Nani that nobody else could?
The Scot has always stood by the Manchester United winger despite his extremely unfavorable comparison with Cristiano Ronaldo and on Sunday against Arsenal all the pieces appeared to fall into place for a player who has flattered to deceive.
Nani’s bamboozling dribble was too much for Arsenal defence as United went in front at The Emirates. The Portuguese then displayed perfect timing and weight of pass to slide the ball though for the marauding Wayne Rooney that effectively settled the game as they went on to win 3-1.
Rooney has been incredible this season, carrying United when they have not played well. But Nani’s contribution as the spark around the solid midfield platform of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes could be just the injection of firepower that will carry United to a 19th league title.
The best and the worst of Cristiano Ronaldo were again on display in Sunday’s 2-0 La Liga win over Malaga, and his sending off for violent conduct has prompted fierce debate over what some in Spain are calling his “Jekyll and Hyde” character.
The Portuguese forward netted a superb first-half double to put Real Madrid in command at the Bernabeu but his night turned from glory to shame when he was dismissed for lashing out at Patrick Mtiliga and breaking the defender’s nose.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo has not not been shy in trumpeting his intention to win back the FIFA World Player of the Year award, but current holder Lionel Messi appears to have other ideas.
The monstrously-gifted Argentine has consistently stolen the limelight from the most expensive player in football history with a string of sublime performances for Barcelona in the first half of the season.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s thunderous free kick for Real Madrid against Olympique Marseille and Barcelona’s slick passing move that led to Xavi’s equaliser away to Dynamo Kiev were given a statistical overhaul in the Spanish media on Thursday.
Under the heading “Precision missiles” in sports daily AS, Ronaldo’s net-buster was measured at 102.7kph over 33.4 metres, and reached a height of 3.70 metres before tearing past Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s match-winning performance against Olympique Marseille on Tuesday has helped defuse the fierce criticism he attracted for his irresponsible sending off against Almeria at the weekend.
The Portuguese forward, a world record signing for the La Liga club in the close season, apologised for the two yellow cards he picked up — one for ripping off his shirt to celebrate a goal (which had the effect of showing off his bulging muscles to the cameras) and the second for recklessly kicking an opponent.
There was never any doubt was there? Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has been awarded the 2009 Ballon D’Or by French magazine France Football.
The 22-year-old became the first Ballon D’Or winner from Argentina, eclipsing runner-up and last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo by a record 240-point margin.
A Barcelona-Real Madrid game that veered from the brilliant to the banal, as is pretty much always the case in these contests, was settled 1-0 in favour of the Catalans by a great finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, following an even better pass from Dani Alves.
Real will go back to the capital content with their performance in all areas … apart from in front of goal. They will rue missing six or seven good chances to get something from a game that was pretty even, although that was partly to do with the sending-off of Busquets for a daft handball.
Some of football’s biggest names, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, are in danger of missing out on next year’s World Cup, as countries such as Argentina, Portugal and France struggle in qualification.
Most, if not quite all of them, may make it in the end, of course, but for a bit of pre-weekend qualifier fun, here’s my stab at a world XI wtill fretting over their places at South Africa 2010.
One swallow does not make a summer, but Sevilla’s bristling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday offers hope that the answer to the question posed in Thursday’s blog is ‘no’.
Three teams can challenge for the La Liga title this year.
Manolo Jimenez’s side inflicted a first defeat on Real with a vibrant, attacking display that was reminiscent of their performances under Juande Ramos when they won back-to-back UEFA Cups.
An unusual headline in Spain’s El Mundo newspaper caught my eye this morning: “Real Madrid threatened by wizard.”
According to the respected conservative daily, the La Liga club has received a letter from the magician, whom it did not identify by name, warning that he has been contracted to cast a spell that would inflict injury on their Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo.