Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Villa, the Spanish goal machine, stuck in the Europa League

Photo

It’s hard to believe Spain striker David Villa will not be playing in the Champions League again this season.

The Valencia frontman was in irresistible form against Belgium in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday when the European champions romped to a 5-0 victory in La Coruna.

Villa won and then missed a first-half penalty, before making amends by scoring two and setting up another two as Spain maintained their 100 percent record in qualifying to all but assure themselves of a place in South Africa next year.

Villa was already Spain’s second highest scorer of all time and now has 33 goals from 51 appearances –- just 11 short of Raul’s national record of 44.

A question for all you trivia buffs

Photo

Giorgi Megreladze - remember the name, it may well earn you some money in later life.

Why, I hear you ask. Well, the FC Olimpi forward has become the first man to score a goal in the newly revamped UEFA Europa League.

Eastern Europe’s UEFA Cup love affair still burning

Photo

What have the UEFA Cup and the Eurovision song contest got in common?

A) Some people don’t take them as seriously as they could.

B) They give lesser known participants the chance to appear on prime-time TV.

C) East European countries have started to dominate them

And the answer, I’m starting to think, is C … because of A and B.

This year will be the third year in the past six that an ex-Soviet team plays in the UEFA Cup final after victories by Russian sides Zenit St Petersburg last year and CSKA Moscow in 2005.

Watching Shakhtar Donetsk’s dramatic victory over fellow Ukrainian team Dynamo Kiev, I wondered why eastern European teams were enjoying such a love affair with a competition others have lost their passion for.

  •