Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
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.
For two of Europe’s biggest clubs there is bad news. The strike that could have seen the cancellation of La Liga matches this weekend has been called off, so Real Madrid must play three days before their Champions League quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur.
Well well well. Now the Champions League really is wide open..
So here’s that quarter-final draw again:
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur
Chelsea v Manchester United
Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan v Schalke 04
As Gary Lineker put it, there will be an English team in the semi-finals, but could Tottenham make it two sides? Real are certainly not invincible.
Now, before taking a look at all the domestic leagues over the weekend, a recap of Thursday’s highlights from the Europa League. Quite a night of upsets.
The pain for Arsenal fans just rolls on it would seem, as a trip to my office’s kitchen confirmed on Monday when I heard two voices grumbling about “Van Persie” and “not enough shots”.
The North London club’s woes of the last two weeks or so have been much publicised, but perhaps at last there is some news to cheer Gunners fans up in the return of former keeper Jens Lehmann? Who would you prefer in goal? Lehmann, or Arsenal’s only currently available goalie Manuel Almunia, in good form in the last two matches against Barcelona and Manchester United?
When former Germany keeper Jens Lehmann said earlier this month he wants to play at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, many said it was just another provocative statement by the 39-year-old at the twilight of his career.
Even Germany coach Joachim Loew and national goalkeeping coach Andreas Koepke ruled out a return, saying there were four talented keepers in the squad already, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Rene Adler, Hanover 96 keeper Robert Enke, Manuel Neuer who plays for Schalke and Werder Bremen’s Tim Wiese.
Former Germany goalkeeper Jens Lehmann is no stranger to controversy. But in recent weeks he has stirred up a debate despite being in the twilight of his playing days.
First he delayed the publication of his memoirs for next year and then signed another one-year contract extension with Stuttgart after saying last year this was his final season.
Starting at the back there is nothing like a commanding goalkeeper and we have three contenders who have been nothing like a commanding goalkeeper.
When I was a keen but accident-prone goalkeeper growing up, the one piece of advice all my teachers and coaches used to give was: “Stand up when a player’s coming through on goal, and make yourself as big a target as possible.”
Jens Lehmann took that literally when he came into Germany’s news conference on Wednesday. The 38-year-old keeper, who has taken some stick from the media lately, said: “I’m going to stay standing up and give you all more surface area to aim at.”