Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Balotelli courts maturity not Milan

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Mario Balotelli has got into more scrapes than a bad teenage skateboarder but the maturing Italy striker has finally found some inner peace and his game is therefore flourishing.

A goal and commanding performance in Friday’s 2-0 friendly win in Poland followed other good displays for Manchester City, notably the 6-1 hammering of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

After scoring in that derby he revealed a T-shirt which read “Why always me?”, a question the colourful character also used to pose while playing at Inter Milan.

He is rarely allowed to speak publicly by PR men scared at what the 21-year-old will say next but in one post-match interview in Serie A in January last year, the forward made himself a comedy hero among many Italian fans.

Who is new Inter coach Gian Piero Gasperini?

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It is the question on the lips of many football fans around the world. Why would the 2010 European champions recruit an unknown as coach?

Inter would argue Gasperini is not a nobody having guided Genoa to decent success in Serie A but the fact he was sacked by the mid-table side in November is not particularly aupiscious. He was also shocked to get the job.

Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONSGareth Bale. The dashing Welsh winger primed to scare the living daylights out of England on Saturday. Injured. Did anyone else hear that collective sigh of relief from England fans today?

But what about Tottenham Hotspur fans. Are you worried your star man’s recent struggles with injury could hamper your club’s Champions League quarter-final chances against Real Madrid?

Chambery’s French passion underlines renaissance of domestic cups

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SOCCER-FRANCE/Fifth division Chambery’s stunning win over top-flight Sochaux to reach the French Cup quarter-finals has got a lot of people talking and I think it’s fair to say domestic cup competitions around Europe are enjoying a bit of a resurgence.

As this week proved with other games, Cup shocks are nothing new in France – something I knew before moving to Paris on Monday — but the fact newspapers and fans are stilll excited about Chambery’s run speaks volumes.

What has happened to Maicon and Nesta?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONSMaicon was hailed as the best right back in the world not so long ago but Tottenham’s Gareth Bale has terrorised him twice in two weeks and Inter Milan fans are beginning to wonder if they should have cashed in and sold him to Real Madrid after all in the close season.

In the opposite San Siro dressing room, AC Milan’s Alessandro Nesta will also be getting a little twitchy after being exposed by Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Italian referee leads the way in battling racist chants

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SOCCER-ITALY/Italian soccer has long struggled with racist chanting, a horror which has largely been stamped out in countries like England and Germany.

The problem persists in Italy but finally the tide is turning and ignorant fans are being beaten.

Serb violence shows soccer still struggling to stop flares

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SOCCER-EURO/Italian police and stewards knew Tuesday’s Euro qualifier with Serbia could be a tense affair given the two countries’ problems with hooliganism and the high-profile nature of the match.

Why then were so many Serbian fans able to smuggle in flares and cause an abandonment?

Prandelli breaks the mould by naming his teams a day early

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SOCCER-EURO/In rugby, teams are often named several days before matches — a habit I’ve never really understood.

If there is any doubt about what lineup you will field, surely it makes sense to keep the opposition coach guessing until the final moment? The advantage may be slight, but it’s there and it might make the other coach mess up his preparations if he guesses wrongly.

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.

Where do awful Italy go from here?

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If you thought Italy were awful at this World Cup it could get even worse in future tournaments.

The slow, unimaginative holders were embarrassed 3-2 by Slovakia on Thursday to crash out in the group stage and retiring captain Fabio Cannavaro reckons the country is just not producing top players anymore.

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