Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Confederations Cup shapes up well…except for the weather

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For all their scepticism about South Africa’s potential to host the World Cup, the build-up to the test event, the Confederations Cup, has so far gone without any major hitches.

It is a dream scenario for the home nation and FIFA, still trying to temper the doubters and persuade the world all will be ready by 2010, has added to the chorus of congratulations.

Sepp Blatter devoted a good deal of his traditional pre-tournament news conference on Friday to pouring scorn on the doubters.

Admittedly, there is much last minute activity and privately officials have spoken of the frustration of a society where urgency is not always a priority.

Overtaking Baggio could solve Inzaghi’s image problem

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After bagging his 300th career goal last month, AC Milan’s Filippo Inzaghi has set his sights on Roberto Baggio’s tally of 318.

The 35-year-old hit a hat-trick in Sunday’s 5-1 thrashing of Torino in Serie A to take his total up to 304 and he looks good to achieve his target next season.

Mourinho goes all shy on us

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Jose Mourinho has finally met his match.

I’ve never seen the Inter Milan boss look so timid and uncomfortable as when he was confronted by a pole dancer on a famously bizarre Italian TV show.

He looked away as the half-naked beauty strutted her stuff, twitching in his chair and scratching his ear to try to avoid embarrassment.

Should Tardelli even whisper the Italian anthem?

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Marco Tardelli is famous for that crazy goal celebration as Italy won the 1982 World Cup.

He loves his country so much that he is ready to whisper the Italian national anthem at Bari on Wednesday despite the fact he is now assistant coach to Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni. 

The luck of the Irish continues

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It may prove difficult to switch a nation’s sporting focus from rugby to football, especially one that is basking in the glory of a first rugby grand slam in 61 years, but a wave of good fortune is boosting hopes of Ireland featuring at the World Cup finals in South Africa next year.

Guided by the mercurial talents of Italian Giovanni Trapattoni, the Irish have made a solid, undefeated start to a tricky qualifying group containing World champions Italy, Dimitar Berbatov’s Bulgaria, Cyprus – who beat them 5-2 in Euro 2008 qualifying - and a skilful Montenegro.

Lippi and Capello get grief for two very different reasons

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Italy coach Marcello Lippi probably expected to be grilled for again overlooking Antonio Cassano, but England counterpart Fabio Capello may not have foreseen the furore surrounding him actually picking a player.

Tottenham Hotspur’s Ledley King has a chronic knee problem which prevents him training yet Capello still deemed the centre back good enough for an England squad recall for the friendly with Slovakia and World Cup qualifier with Ukraine.

Italian protest reopens doping ban debate

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All professional matches in Italy started 15 minutes late at the weekend in protest at the Court of Arbitration for Sport banning two players for a year for turning up late for a doping control.

Daniele Mannini, now at Napoli, and Davide Possanzini were punished for tardiness after Brescia’s game against Chievo in Dec. 2007. Both said they did nothing wrong and Italian football has for once come together to support them.

Does the captaincy really matter in football?

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Here’s a question for you: Who is Manchester United’s official club captain?

The hullabaloo surrounding the England cricket skipper has shown how different the role is in the two sports.

Where has the art of Italian defending gone?

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During the 1980s and 90s, Italian defences were world-renowned as the toughest of the lot.

The word catenaccio became known in other languages and jokes about boring Italian teams winning 1-0 were all the rage.

Lippi enters the Respect debate – but is he on the losing side?

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One of the benefits of being a World Cup-winning manager is that nobody complains if you turn up at a party and start badmouthing the hosts – they’re too grateful you came in the first place.

Italy boss Marcello Lippi did that this week when he reprimanded his country’s professional footballers for their treatment of referees at a ceremony celebrating the 40th anniversary of their union, the AIC.

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