Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Maradona gets one over on England again

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SOCCER-WORLD/Argentina and England have one of the great soccer rivalries and although they were not playing each other on Saturday Argentina still managed to score a psychological victory over their old foes.

Diego Maradona, whose “Hand of God” goal and wonderful slalom against England in 1986 are among the most iconic images of any World Cup, emerged the undoubted victor with his astonishing touchline sideshow compared to England coach Fabio Capello’s unhappy performance.

Both teams are tipped to do well at these finals, and both started the tournament with difficult matches against tough but beatable opponents.

Both got off to excellent starts — Argentina scoring through Gabriel Heinze after six minutes of their Group B match against Nigeria and England scoring after four minutes of their Group C game against the United States with skipper Steven Gerrard firing home.

Benitez leaves Liverpool, next stop Inter?

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After months of speculation, Liverpool have confirmed that coach Rafael Benitez has left the club.

Disagreements with the owners and a poor season for the Reds have led to the decision to part company by mutual consent. Do you think it was inevitable?

Walcott left out of England World Cup squad – your views

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So England coach Fabio Capello has been pretty true to his word about only wanting in-form players in his World Cup squad.

Theo Walcott will not be going to South Africa after two patchy friendly performances where he did a lot of running but the end product again just was not there. That hat-trick in qualification in Croatia in the end did nothing for his cause.

More World Cup questions than answers for England’s Capello

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SOCCER-WORLD/A muted send-off and a manager wanting more perhaps told the true story of England’s 3-1 friendly victory over Mexico at Wembley on Monday in which Fabio Capello was left with more questions than answers over his World Cup squad selection.

On the plus side, goalkeepers Joe Hart and in particular Robert Green would have given the Italian confidence in a position that poses a problem for fans with first-choice stopper David James still susceptible to a clanger.

Does Hodgson deserve a crack at top job?

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SOCCER-EUROPA/I was chatting to a bunch of Fulham fans after last night’s Europa League final defeat and the question they all asked was, “What did Roy Hodgson say about his future?”

You can tell why they would be anxious. The man who saved them from relegation after coming in midway through the 2007-08 season, guided them to seventh at the end of the next campaign and then on into their first major European final will not be short of job offers, you wouldn’t think.

Should Capello bring Carragher out of England retirement?

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/Is Fabio Capello so short of defenders that he has to beg Jamie “I’d rather miss a penalty for England than Liverpool” Carragher to come out of retirement and represent his country at the World Cup?

Carragher walked out on England three years ago because he was unhappy at being in so many squads but so few teams, and when he was in he did not like being played at full-back when he wanted to play centre-back.

from Left field:

Who will rise to the occasion and become a worthy replacement for Beckham?

SOCCER-ITALY/BECKHAMFabio Capello has plenty of options for the right midfield slot, even if David Beckham's snapped Achilles rules him out of the World Cup.

Between Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon (if fit) and James Milner there is a wealth of talent at the Italian's disposal.

Rooney’s relentless workload must worry Capello

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QATAR/Fabio Capello hates the concept of “one-man teams” but the England manager faces an anxious few months watching Wayne Rooney shoulder a punishing workload at Manchester United.

The striker is far and away United’s most important player this season as he takes up the slack left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer move to Real Madrid and his value to his club is matched by that to his country.

Diouf could scupper Owen’s World Cup race against time

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Michael Owen’s quest to find favour under England coach Fabio Capello ahead of June’s World Cup finals may have got a little harder with the arrival of Senegalese striker Mame Biram Diouf at Manchester United. 

In only his second appearance since joining from Norwegian side Molde, Diouf opened his United account with a well-taken header in Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League win over Burnley and has firmly installed himself as a rival for the precious substitute time Owen has so far enjoyed unchallenged this season.

Should Rooney seek his fortune abroad?

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Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.

Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.

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