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World Soccer views and news

Champions League draw … Kaka, Ibrahimovic back to Milan

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The draw for the group phase of the 2009-10 Champions League has just finished in Monaco and it’s thrown up a couple of groups to savour especially.

Real Madrid getting drawn in Group C means they will face AC Milan … and that means a return to the San Siro for Kaka, who made the switch over the close season. Likewise, Barcelona’s big signing Zlatan ibrahimovic will be on his way back to Milan, after Inter joined the holders in Group F.

Plenty of other intriguing match-ups … Any of them catch your eye?

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Girondins Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, VfL Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Olympique Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL

Group E: Liverpool, Olympique Lyon, Fiorentina, Debrecen

Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

PHOTO: Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta holds the trophy after their Champions League final soccer match victory against Manchester United at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, May 27, 2009. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Unimaginative Inter could have taken punt on Cassano

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Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has again lamented the lack of a playmaker* following Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Bari in their Serie A opener.

Creativity was already a problem for the champions last season and now talented striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has left for Barcelona, it is difficult to see where inspiration is going to come from judging by their Super Cup defeat to Lazio and the Bari draw.

Why Mourinho is raging at Lippi

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Jose Mourinho is no stranger to run-ins with rival club managers, but this week the Portuguese raised his aim and had a swipe at Italian national team boss Marcello Lippi.

The Inter Milan coach had taken exception to Lippi tipping Juventus for this year’s Serie A title.
He accused him of lacking respect, arguing a national team coach should be seen to be impartial even if deep down he wants Juve to win (Lippi had two glorious stints at the Turin club split by a dismal, short one at Inter).

‘Special One’ makes few friends in China

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If Inter Milan were intending their trip to Beijing for last week’s Italian Super Cup to be a China charm offensive, coach Jose Mourinho was obviously not kept in the loop.

The accepted form for European club officials on pre-season trips to China is to politely praise everything local and talk up the footballing potential of the world’s most populous nation.

Why are Barcelona paying so much for Ibrahimovic?

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If your first reaction on hearing about the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic deal was “How much?” then I can assure you you weren’t the only one.

To land Ibrahimovic, who is due to be presented this evening at the Nou Camp, Barcelona will not only hand over the Cameroon international striker but will also give Inter Milan a reported 45 million euros and the loan, for one season, of Aleksandr Hleb.

Will Ibra-Eto’o swap actually happen?

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It would be among the biggest swap deals ever in soccer but there is a long way to go before it becomes reality.

Inter Milan and Barcelona may have agreed to the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o (plus a bit of cash for the Italians on top) but the players have yet to agree terms and that looks trickier than might be expected.

The strange case of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the ultimate soccer enigma.

He scores goals for fun when playing Bologna, Chievo and Palermo but often goes missing against AC Milan, Manchester United or Liverpool (which is why he is never in the running for the top awards despite the incredulity of Inter fans).

The tall-yet-skilful attacker has been racking up Serie A titles but the Champions League seems a distant prospect and with all due respect to Sweden, he is not likely to win any honours in international football.

Mourinho is back and his tongue is sharper than ever

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Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has interrupted his holidays to remind soccer fans what they have been missing in the month since the end of the season.

The outspoken Portuguese, whose side are favourites for a fifth straight scudetto this term, has far from mellowed while lying on the beach.

Kaka deal highlights Serie A decline

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The departure of Kaka from AC Milan to Real Madrid marks the end of the Italian era in European football. Not only can Italian clubs not attract the best players in the world to play in Serie A but now, when they unearth a talent like Kaka, they can’t stop them from leaving.

Italians used to describe their Serie A as ‘il campionato piu bello del mondo’ , the most beautiful championship in the world. It was not just because Italians love nothing more than talking themselves up — Serie A was the first league in the world to sign up top foreign stars, bringing in international talent at a time when the English league, for example, stretched no further than Scotland in search of players.

Mourinho the magician does it again with Inter

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A Champions League with unfancied Porto, two Premier League titles with Chelsea — the first in fifty years — and the scudetto with Inter Milan in his first season.

Is there anything Jose Mourinho can’t do?

Roberto Mancini, who led Inter to the last three titles, should take a lot of the credit but Mourinho didnt try to stamp his authority on the team too much. After a bit of an experiment at the start of his reign, he realised Mancini’s tactics were the best with the personnel available.

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