Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
The World Cup is under way and with it the traditionally lifeless opening group matches with teams happy to settle for a draw, fearful all could be lost in only the first encounter.
But that could change for ever with one magic swipe. Teams that win their first match in the group phase should be awarded four points for victory compared to the current three, and all but make sure of a spot in the second round. That would give teams a great incentive to play entertaining, attacking football instead of the drab game we saw between Uruguay and France in Group A on Friday. After all this is the World Cup.
Fabio Capello has announced his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup and the big news is that Jamie Carragher is back, while there is no place for Bobby Zamora or Owen Hargreaves.
Meanwhile Brazil have omitted Ronaldinho as expected and Italy coach Marcello Lippi has decided to leave Francesco Totti at home. Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas are in Spain’s squad despite injuries.
Here’s a total random idea: go and choose the best five matches of the last 10 years – a lot easier said than done.
Where do you begin? Do you only pick matches you have seen yourself ? As I am based in England, do I pick only matches played in England, or as I am lucky enough to travel round the world and watch football, do I go for international matches too?
Just a heads up we will be running a live World Cup draw blog on this site from around 1630 GMT on Friday so feel free to join in the fun.
Which seeded teams will be the unlucky ones to get France or Portugal? Will hosts South Africa get a fortunate draw?
Sepp Blatter revealed this morning that Ireland have appealed to FIFA to be allowed to compete as a 33rd team in next year’s World Cup.
“I will bring it to the attention of the Executive Committee,” Blatter told (stunned) journos. “I cannot confirm what will happen, but I will report it.”
Nicolas Anelka’s arrival at Chelsea in January last year hardly had the fans buzzing amid all the big-money signings since Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich transformed the fortunes of the west London club.
The peripatetic France striker seemed like a stop-gap and few expected him to be part of Chelsea’s long-term future.
Monday morning update 2: Mike Collett claims, with some justification it must be said, to have altered his predictions on Friday afternoon. I do indeed have an email from Mike asking me to change them, so I guess we’ll have to give him credit for getting Liverpool v Man City, the double pointer, bang on at 2-2. OK, Mike … but next time, one shot please.
I also decided to give Mitch a one-point bonus for his 5-0 prediction in the Spurs game (closer than anyone else), making him one of the week’s big winners with 18 points. Martyn Herman would have got 20, including a two-point bonus for being the only person to predict an Arsenal defeat, but I docked him two for trying to sneak in a 2-2 prediction on the Anfield game … after the final whistle.