Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Liverpool display authority of old to reopen title race

Photo

Liverpool reopened the Premier League title race with a 5-0 win over Aston Villa that must have thrilled Anfield, while leaving fans wondering why they haven’t seen similar displays all season.

This was exactly the sort of performance the occasion cried out for. Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at Fulham, following on from the Old Trafford debacle, had left the door ajar, and Liverpool duly barged it open with another display of absolute self-belief.

For the first time in years, Liverpool look like a team who think they’re in the business of winning titles, not just challenging for Champions League places.

They’re a point behind Alex Ferguson’s side now, albeit having played a game more, and the 13 goals racked up against Real Madrid, United and now Villa are a powerful argument that the title race is not over.

from Africa News blog:

Togo need a miracle

It is hard to fathom what the motivation for Jean Thissen’s decision would be. He takes on the job as national team coach of Togo just over two weeks before the resumption of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers and with the very real prospect of having to do without his best player.

Thissen is the third new coach to take over at the helm of a side who are still in the World Cup race and set out at the end of this month on the final leg of the fight for one of the five berths for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Swansea show up Premier League tedium

Photo

The (almost complete) lack of Premier League action at the weekend saw thumbs being sucked all over the place, and the Reuters Soccer Blog is no exception. While some were predicting the end of the Big Four, and others picked over Rafa Benitez’s latest contract comments, we found ourselves enthralled by the silky football displayed by Championship side Swansea City in their FA Cup game against Fulham.

Here, Padraic Halpin waxes ornithological about The Swans, while in the post below Neil Maidment bemoans the lack of on-field drama this season. Are they right? Is it just an overreaction? I’ll turn the comments off on Neil’s piece, just to keep things tidy, but they’re on here as usual. For now, over to Padraic:

Premier League drama is better off the field

Photo

The Premier League table has made pretty interesting reading this season, what with Aston Villa and Chelsea threatening the end of the Big Four era and Tottenham stuck far too low down the standings for the comfort of their fans.

Sadly, the football itself is not providing the same level of drama.

A quick glance at the 2008/09 Player of the Year candidates shows the theme of this season rather nicely: defence.

Should France keep inviting African teams to Paris?

Photo

Tunisia fansYou can understand why the French rarely invite any of their former colonies over for so-called friendly internationals. On Tuesday night they again faced a barrage of abuse in their own backyard, with the vast majority of a sell-out crowd at Stade de France coming to support Tunisia against Les Bleus.

When Algeria played at the Stade de France in 2001, the game was eventually called off midway through the second half after Algerian supporters invaded the pitch. The match against Morocco last year earned notoriety after the jeering during the singing of La Marseillaise.

UEFA running big risk with Euro expansion

Franz Beckenbauer’s announcement that the European Championship finals will feature 24 teams instead of 16 from 2016 must have been welcomed by fans of countries that have found it difficult to qualify for recent major tournaments.

But as my colleague Mike Collett argued during Euro 2008, UEFA is running a big risk by trying to fix something that is not broken.

Retirement beckons for doddery League Cup

Photo

Crewe score against Liverpool’s second XI

The League Cup came through a difficult birth and a forgettable youth to enjoy a long, proud middle age but the time has come for this doddery old relative to be shuffled off into retirement.

When it was launched in the early 1960s the new, midweek competition was pretty much ignored by the big clubs, as evidenced by Rotherham and Rochdale reaching the first two finals.

Vlog on the pitch: Football’s top 10 moments … in ballet

For England fans of a certain age Gordon Banks’s amazing reflex save from Pele’s header will always rank among one of football’s greatest moments.

You’ve seen it on TV, read about it in print and talked about it at the pub — now you can relive the whole thing in the medium of ballet.

Doesn’t Clarke deserve a better Chelsea send-off?

Photo

Clarke and MourinhoAfter 20 years’  loyal service most employees can expect a carriage clock or a bottle of wine. When your employer is one of the richest men in the world, and some of your colleagues earn more than 100,000 pounds a week, you might even hold out hope for a silver hip flask or even a set of golf clubs and a cheery farewell.

Steve Clarke’s reward at Chelsea is for the club to reject his resignation, after he sought to join Gianfranco Zola at West Ham.

English football needs a Kevin Pietersen

Photo

Joe Cole scoresEngland play Croatia on Wednesday and you know what? It won’t be a surprise, or a disgrace, if they lose.

Why? Because Croatia are a technically gifted, cleverly organised, highly motivated international team, who beat England twice to reach Euro 2008 and outplayed Germany when they got there.

  •