Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Chambery’s French passion underlines renaissance of domestic cups

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SOCCER-FRANCE/Fifth division Chambery’s stunning win over top-flight Sochaux to reach the French Cup quarter-finals has got a lot of people talking and I think it’s fair to say domestic cup competitions around Europe are enjoying a bit of a resurgence.

As this week proved with other games, Cup shocks are nothing new in France – something I knew before moving to Paris on Monday — but the fact newspapers and fans are stilll excited about Chambery’s run speaks volumes.

A packed little stadium for a game played in the midweek afternoon, a huge front page picture in L’Equipe and non-soccer fans mentioning the win in lifts all go to show that there is still magic in the Cup.

The FA Cup in England has taken a bit of a battering over recent years but minor league side Crawley Town being drawn at Manchester United in the fifth round and moneybags Manchester City needing 30 million pound striker Edin Dzeko to salvage a draw at third division Notts County has brought back a lot of romance.

Aston Villa’s Bent buy will flummox O’Neill

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/

If eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa decided to spend up to 24 million pounds on striker Darren Bent then former manager Martin O’Neill’s forehead must have been pinned to his living room ceiling when the news broke on Tuesday.

The absurdity of the switch lies not in the inflated figure or Bent’s abilities on the pitch and in front of goal, but in the timing of Villa chairman Randy Lerner choosing to dig deep into his pockets.

FIFA’s World Cup decision day — live

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We’ll be following all the presentations and the vote itself as FIFA’s executive committee decides on the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Spain/Portugal, Russia, England and Netherlands/Belgium are the four rival bids for 2018, while Australia, South Korea, Qatar, United States and Japan battle it out for 2022, with the vote to come on Thursday.

Mr. Rich invests in Bedlington for the love of the game

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/BEDLINGTONAmerican billionaire Robert Rich Jr, the 488th richest man in the world, can buy just about anything he wants to from private jets to diamonds, mansions to ocean-going liners and everything in between.

But this week it emerged that he has put some of his vast fortune at the disposal of a tiny, impoverished minor league English club by the name of Bedlington Terriers.

Will Rooney’s departure signal United’s decline?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Wayne Rooney’s demand for a move away from Manchester United has stunned manager Alex Ferguson, especially given the striker’s poor form and support the club have given him through personal problems.

After winning three successive Premier League titles with United and the 2008 Champions League, Rooney enjoyed his best personal season with the club in 2009-10 — when his impressive tally of 34 goals in all competitions was only enough to bring  the League Cup to Old Trafford.

Rooney’s place on United periphery needs urgent resolution

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/In eight months Wayne Rooney has plummeted from “the best player in the world” to a substitute against West Bromwich Albion and his current position on the Old Trafford periphery will need to be sorted out very soon.

Manchester United’s fans — and their American owners — do not expect the England striker to be warming the bench, particularly when the player says he is fit, even if manager Alex Ferguson says otherwise.

Euro 2012 qualifiers – live

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We’re following all tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifiers live. Join us here for updates, comments and pix … and details of all the goals as they go in.

4-2-3-1…4-5-1…4-4-2…that’ll be four midfielders and two forwards then?

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So Fabio Capello’s masterstroke in revitalising Wayne Rooney and turning England from World Cup no-hopers to instant Euro 2012 favourites was….to tell the Manchester United striker to hang back a bit.

That sage advice, if most of the English press is to be believed, transformed England’s formation from a prehistoric 4-4-2 to the liquid 4-5-1 that all the modern young bucks were using in South Africa.

Unlike Del Piero et al, at least Beckham may get a farewell game

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Fabio Capello’s impromptu announcement that David Beckham was too old to play for England has divided opinion across the blogosphere.

Some have said it was typical of Capello’s hard-nosed, no-nonsense style. Why should he have informed the 35-year-old? Why should he have made the announcement in a more official way? As coach he has the right to do as he wants and Beckham should have had the know-how to quit the international scene long ago.

Capello faces tough task to change England’s “mentality problem”

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Watching a repeat on Saturday of a TV comedy show first shown early in 2010 offered a stark reminder of how quickly and deeply Fabio Capello’s stock has fallen in the eyes of the average England fan.

As Alistair McGowan gurned his best Capello impression, the Italian-accented words were all about England’s success in qualifying and how they were looking forward to the World Cup with such high hopes.

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