Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

It’s still July and already we see a European domestic shock

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Yes it’s July when people should be on beaches in Europe rather than sweltering in soccer stadiums.

Well modern football (and Euro 2012 at the end of the campaign) dictates we have to start proper matches in July in the European season these days.

The Scottish league has already started while on Friday VfL Wolfsburg made a miserable start to their season by going out 3-2 at fourth division RB Leipzig in the first round of the German Cup.

Borussia Moenchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart, the other Bundesliga teams playing on Friday, beat third division opposition while former German champions Rot-Weiss Essen, now in the fourth tier, overcame second division Union Berlin on penalties.

Germany doing just fine without Ballack

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SOCCER-GERMANY/Germany captain Michael Ballack was in the stands to watch his team lose 2-1 to Australia in a friendly on Tuesday, the first time he was present since their World Cup quarter-final win over Argentina last year.

He was in no mood for any chats with reporters, opting to sit back and watch the game, surely knowing that his own international career is quickly drawing to an end.

Soccer Break Wednesday

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SOCCER-FRIENDLY/Now the international period is over we can focus on domestic issues again, or can we?

Tuesday’s matches provided plenty of drama, from the battles Spain and the Netherlands had to fight to get through tricky Euro 2012 qualifiers, to Ghana’s lighting up of London, to Australia’s World Cup revenge against Germany in a friendly.

Soccer Break Wednesday

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SOCCER-EURO/Happy middle of the week to you all, and if like me you are in London where the sun is out and there is very little football to write about, you are forgiven for thinking the season is over and the grasscourt tennis season is about to kick in.

Don’t look so worried, David (right). While the weather will probably change before I’ve finished writing this blog, the good news is it’s only March and there is plenty more football left. It’s just this week it’s the international break.

Paul the Octopus will predict no more…

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GERMANY-OCTOPUS/SOCCERIt is with great sadness that we report the death of the world’s foremost psychic cephalopod.

Paul the Octopus, the mystic mollusc himself, became a more significant World Cup figure than Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Franck Ribery with his extraordinarily accurate predictions from his tank at Sea Life in Germany.

Premature move for Swiss prodigy Ben Khalifa?

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SOCCER-EUROPE/SWITZERLANDThe Swiss Super League is certainly not the strongest in the world but it’s a fairly safe bet to say that it beats the German fourth division. So why has 18-year-old Nassim Ben Khalifa, one of Switzerland’s most exciting prospects, swapped the former for the latter?

Last year, Ben Khalifa hit the headlines when he led the attack in the Swiss team which surprised everyone by winning the world under-17 championship in Nigeria.

Euro 2012 qualifiers – live

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We’re following all tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifiers live. Join us here for updates, comments and pix … and details of all the goals as they go in.

Ballack clings on to captaincy but will he make the team?

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SOCCER-GERMANY/When Germany coach Joachim Loew confirmed Michael Ballack as team captain this week he put an end to a tug-of-war with defender Philipp Lahm. Lahm had been the captain at the World Cup in South Africa and wanted to remain after Ballack’s return from injury.

The 33-year-old Ballack was forced to miss the tournament due to an ankle injury but had insisted he was the undisputed team captain. Yet without Ballack’s heavy presence in midfield, Germany played exciting fast-paced football in South Africa, finishing in third place with their youngest World Cup squad in 76 years and winning considerable respect.

Schalke get Ruhrpott Raul but Spain may have the last laugh

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GERMANY/Raul’s decision to join Schalke 04 in Germany rather than one of the English sides interested in taking him will have plenty of Real Madrid fans scratching their heads, I suspect. “What is he doing going to the Bundesliga when he could have gone to la Premier?” I can hear them ask. ”What a step down after playing for Real in the Best League In The World (TM)!” “And where is this Schalke place anyway?”

So pretty good news for the Bundesliga then, eh? It’s rare for a player of Raul’s considerable reputation, and even more distinguished salary, to choose Germany over England and he hasn’t even gone to Bayern, the one big beast of the Bundesliga.

Sorry Germany, the oracle octopus has spoken

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SOCCER-WORLD/OCTOPUSThere are only three things that are certain in life — death, taxes and the World Cup predictions of a British-born octopus in western Germany.

That being the case, there’s hardly any point in playing Wednesday’s semi-final between Germany and Spain — the Spanish have got it won.

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