Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
With all the hype surrounding this week’s Champions League quarter-finals, the events of the weekend seem like a distant memory. Here’s a recap of a fascinating set of results around Europe the past few days.
So we start with Real Madrid against Tottenham Hotspur at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. Predictions? Spurs have looked far better in Europe than in the Premier League this season, and their 0-0 against Wigan on Saturday could be a good omen.
Last week, when Chelsea held a news conference to preview their Champions League match against FC Copenhagen, manager Carlo Ancelotti spent the first 20 minutes fielding questions about John Terry’s re-instatement as England captain.
The Chelsea press officer finally stepped in in an attempt to steer the subject back to club football by asking if there were any questions about the forthcoming match or for fellow guest, defender Branislav Ivanovic.
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?
Former Chelsea midfielder Tony Cascarino must be in the running for an award for biggest over-reaction by a football pundit.
Cascarino told Sky Sports that Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is now fighting to hang on to his job, after the Blues lost two out of their last three games, including a particularly humiliating 3-0 defeat by Sunderland at the weekend.
Watching a repeat on Saturday of a TV comedy show first shown early in 2010 offered a stark reminder of how quickly and deeply Fabio Capello’s stock has fallen in the eyes of the average England fan.
As Alistair McGowan gurned his best Capello impression, the Italian-accented words were all about England’s success in qualifying and how they were looking forward to the World Cup with such high hopes.
England coach Fabio Capello would do well to take a transcript copy of Germany coach Joachim Loew’s post-match press conference – because in it he would find all the simple reasons why his side were trounced 4-1 and sent packing from the World Cup on Sunday.
In it, Loew rather clinically explained to the international press sat before him that his side were instructed to target John Terry, pull him out of position and pretty much walk into the huge gaps created in England’s snail-paced central rearguard.
I have come up with an idea that will revolutionise football. And I was sober at the time.
It would solve immediately the problem of knowing when players handle the ball and help referees and linesmen give the right decision every time and cut out attempts by players pleading they never handled the ball when they have — especially in the penalty area.
I admit its still a work in progress … but I reckon someone could invent an electro-magnetic liquid which players have to dip their arms in before kickoff. This solution, invisible, weightless, and undetectable would then dry to create a “second skin” from the points of the arm and hands the laws state constitute the areas of handball.
An electro-magnetic chip would then be placed in a ball, or the ball would be dipped in the same electro-magnetic fluid — and every time the two made contact … ball and arm/hand — a buzzer would sound from special loudspeakers in the stadium. The system would also be read through long-sleeved shirts and gloves.
Immediatly the buzzer goes off, everyone among the players, officials and fans, would know the player has handled — no argument. Naturally, goalkeepers would be exempt and the system would only be activated when the ball was in play, meaning players could still take throw-ins and pick up the ball when a whistle has been blown.
The beauty of this system is that the referee can still decide whether it is accidental handball or not, or ball to hand.
The idea occurred to me after being at Stamford Bridge to watch Chelsea v Bolton last week and Spurs v Chelsea on Saturday.
After the game at Stamford Bridge, Bolton manager Owen Coyle claimed his team were denied two definite penalties after handballs by Didier Drogba and John Terry were missed by the officials. Watching the replays afterwards, he was right. They were both definite handballs.
Michel Platini’s Gallic shrug said it all. “I’m not bothered. What do you want me to say?” he said.
The UEFA President and former France captain had just been asked for the third time in a few minutes on England coach Fabio Capello’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy because of something which happened off the field.
John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy following revelations about his private life.
Here is England coach Fabio Capello’s statement:
“After much thought, I have made the decision that it will be best for me to take the captaincy away from John Terry.
Has John Terry got a bit big for his boots by questioning whether Chelsea’s ambition matches his own?
The defender and club captain said that was the reason for the delay in him nailing his colours to the Chelsea mast in the wake of Manchester City’s reported 200,000 pounds per week offer to take him away from Stamford Bridge.