Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

A quarter of a billion euros doesn’t get you much these days…

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SOCCER/Uncomfortable questions are being asked about Real Madrid’s policy of forking out a quarter of a billion euros on players following their shock elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Olympique Lyon on Wednesday.

Florentino Perez returned for a second term as president pledging to end Real’s five-year run of failure in Europe’s elite club competition but the nine-times European champions’ dream of a 10th triumph in May’s final at their Bernabeu stadium was shattered by the French side.

The construction magnate spent a record 94 million euros to bring Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United and 67 million on Brazilian playmaker Kaka but neither were able to step up on Wednesday when it really counted.

The Spanish papers were severely critical of Perez on Thursday, dubbing his project a “galactic failure” and accusing him of focusing too much on glamour and spectacle at the expense of sporting success.

Real remains a work in progress after sneaky 3-2 win

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******Real Madrid’s expensive new team boasts an awesome array of attacking talent and huge goal-scoring potential but their defence looked worryingly porous in their opening match of the La Liga season on Saturday.******President Florentino Perez spent 250 million euros ($359 million) to bring excitement and spectacle back to the Bernabeu after two barren years and judging by Saturday’s 3-2 win over Deportivo Coruna, when Real twice surrendered the lead and created a host of chances, the fans will not be disappointed.******The return of the suspended Pepe and injured pair Christoph Metzelder and Sergio Ramos may help to eradicate the errors that blighted their performance.******However, Real’s hopes of mounting an effective challenge to treble-winners Barcelona seemingly rest on the ability of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and their team mates to score more goals than are inevitably conceded.******Sports daily Marca said in an editorial on Sunday that Real were following a script against Depor that the fans had become well used to over the years.******”An opponent with a solid back line who refuses to be intimidated by so many star players and knows how to exploit the whites’ defensive weakness but who ultimately yields to massive firepower,” the paper wrote. “This (Real) promises excitement.”******Perez’s latest creation resembles the band of “galacticos” he assembled during his first stint in charge in 2000-2006, who included Zinedine Zidane, Figo, David Beckham and Brazilian striker Ronaldo.******DYNAMIC SIDES***El Pais soccer correspondent Jose Samano said that coach Manuel Pellegrini was under orders from Perez to focus on attack because the president had grown up watching dynamic Real sides including players such as Alfredo di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas in the 1950s and 60s.******”Over time soccer has become more conservative but not in the mind of (Perez),” Samano wrote.******”Manuel Pellegrini has no other option than to field as many defenders as attackers, a gamble that almost got them into trouble against Depor,” he added.******”Madrid were struggling to dictate the game and obviously won’t be a balanced and well calibrated side anytime soon but their box of tricks is limitless.”******Writing in El Mundo, Orfeo Suarez said that the new-look Real side were “terrific going forward and vulnerable at the back“.******”That’s the conclusion to be drawn from the start of the second Florentino Perez era; understandable because it’s a project under construction,” he said.******”Madrid kept Depor’s hopes alive because they are not yet a team and perhaps never will be, and some of the stars are still not firing on all cylinders.”******PHOTO: Real Madrid’s Raul celebrates his goal against Deportivo Coruna with Karim Benzema (L) and Kaka (C) during their Spanish first division soccer match at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid August 29, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Selling Robben is good business but is it good sense?

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If reports in Spain are correct and Real Madrid have agreed to sell Arjen Robben to Bayern Munich for 25 million euros, that would seem to be an excellent piece of business for the Spanish club.

Real paid a king’s ransom to take Robben from Chelsea a couple of years ago — when £24 million pounds was a lot more in euros than it is now — and I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t quite make the impact the fans were hoping for.

Move over U2, now Real’s Ronaldo rocks

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Watching Cristiano Ronaldo getting the rock star treatment at a packed Bernabeu stadium on Monday night, I found myself thinking back to the U2 concert I had been to at Barcelona’s Camp Nou last week.

At a record $130 million, the Portuguese winger has cost Real considerably more than the Irish band’s entire world tour, which kicked off in the Catalan capital and is reported to be their most expensive to date at an estimated $100 million.

Ronaldo set for Real Madrid – your views

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Manchester United said on Thursday they have received a world record 80 million pound ($131.2 million) bid for forward Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid.

“At Cristiano’s request – who has again expressed his desire to leave – and after discussion with the player’s representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player,” a statement on the United website said.

Vlog on the Pitch: Florentino’s new era at Real Madrid

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Florentino Perez began his second spell as Real Madrid president on Monday and immediately signed up Zinedine Zidane and Jorge Valdano for the project.

Those appointments are all very well, but the question we all want answering is which players Florentino is going to bring in. Will he content himself with one major signing, a la Zidane, or will he, as some have speculated, sign basically a whole new team.

Where should Perez splash Real cash?

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Florentino Perez is on course for an unopposed return to the Real Madrid presidency on Monday, and is promising to set in motion a major spending spree to build a “spectacular sporting project.”Speculation on who might be arriving has reached fever pitch in the Madrid-based media, and the architect of the ‘Galacticos’ policy has done everything he can to stoke their enthusiasm, short of naming names.“We are going to have great players to continue increasing the club’s income in as short a time as possible,” he told sports daily Marca.“We will go a bit further into debt because I think we have to make up for lost time by doing in one year what should have been done in two or three.”He told radio station Cadena Ser he expected to make five or six signings.With a war chest of up to 300 million euros being spoken about in the Spanish media, they have moved quickly to fill in the gaps.With Arsene Wenger, Carlo Ancelotti and Jose Mourinho slipping off the radar, Villarreal’s Manuel Pellegrini has now emerged as a surprise front runner for the coaching role.As for players, all the usual names are present. Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, AC Milan’s Kaka and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery top the shopping list, along with Liverpool’s Xabi Alonso, and Valencia trio David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata.But where do Real really need strengthening if they are win back the initiative from treble-winners Barcelona, and bring the spectacle back to the Bernabeu?Iker Casillas will continue between the posts, but Fabio Cannavaro’s departure for Juventus leaves them short of a partner for Pepe in the centre of defence. The injury-prone Christoph Metzelder cannot be relied upon.Left back has also been a problem position with first-choice Gabriel Heinze struggling.The area where they have suffered most this year is in midfield, where they have lacked the quality and pace to open up defences in the big games.Arjen Robben spends too much time on the treatment table, the ageing Guti flickers only intermittently, while Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Marcelo and Royston Drenthe have failed to step up when needed.In attack, Ruud van Nistelrooy missed most of the campaign with a knee injury and will be 33 by the start of next season. Raul will be 32. Gonzalo Higuain and Klaas Jan Huntelaar are not yet finished articles.Where would you splash the cash?PHOTO: Perez speaks during the presentation of his presidential candidature for Real Madrid, May 28, REUTERS/Susana Vera

Wenger makes his point with customary elegance

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“Highly intelligent” and “Arsene Wenger” sit neatly together in countless newspaper columns outlining the exploits, achievements and travails of the cerebral Arsenal manager.

Consequently there was no elaborate deconstruction required following an interview with a French television channel at the club’s training ground this week.

Florentino’s back — is Kaka coming with him?

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Florentino Perez is back on the scene and if the Madrid sports press are right the first ‘Galactico’ of his second era at Real Madrid will be Brazil’s Kaka, assuming he wins next month’s election to the presidency.

“Kaka signed” Marca said on a special wrap-around front cover for Saturday’s edition, while AS led with “Kaka, the details of the agreement.”

The Real Madrid Presidential Candidacy ‘Promisometer’

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The campaign to be the next president of Real Madrid Football Club has finally kicked into gear with the claim from the little known Eduardo Garcia that, if elected on June 14, he will bring with him the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Promising big-name signings has long been an easy way for candidates to drum up support for the presidency at Real and Barcelona, the two member-owned Spanish clubs, but ever since Florentino Perez came from nowhere to take the 2000 election what was once an entertaining sideshow has become the key battleground.

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