Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
1. Lionel Messi is a more effective “big game player” than Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese may be the world’s most expensive player but Argentina forward Messi has got the better of the man whom he succeeded as World Player of the Year on their last four meetings.
Starting with the 2009 Champions League final in Rome, when Messi scored Barca’s second in a 2-0 success, and continuing through the last three La Liga “Clasicos”, the 23-year-old from Santa Fe has produced the goods when it counted.
Although he did not score himself on Monday at the Nou Camp, his two assists for David Villa early in the second half made it 4-0 to the hosts and effectively killed off the game.
It’s one of the most farcical scenes I’ve ever seen in soccer. Real Madrid duo Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos taking ages to take kicks in the 4-0 win at Ajax and getting second yellow cards for timewasting and hence being sent off.
Deliberate? They face automatic one-match suspensions in the final group game against Auxerre, which is a dead match for Real with the Spanish club already assured of first place in Group G and qualification for the last 16.
Any eyebrows raised when Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho signed 32-year-old Portuguese compatriot Ricardo Carvalho from Chelsea have been firmly put back into place as the centre back is proving an extremely astute purchase.
As well as helping to keep Real’s tally of goals conceded down to five in 10 La Liga matches, Carvalho has netted two key strikes, scoring the only goal against Osasuna in September and the opener in Sunday’s 2-0 Madrid derby win over Atletico.
A sense of deja-vu is sweeping Eastlands after Manchester City’s lame surrender against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday re-opened the cracks in the club’s glittering facade.
Manager Roberto Mancini has unrivalled spending power in English football but, just like Mark Hughes who he replaced nearly a year ago, is realising that there is one vital ingredient money cannot buy — team harmony.
Should Real Madrid have stepped in and taken Zlatan Ibrahimovic off Barcelona’s hands instead of AC Milan?
Perhaps a preposterous idea, but after the opening round of matches in La Liga, Real may be concerned they did not heed coach Jose Mourinho’s warnings about the need for a third striker.
Yet here we are again at the start of another European season. In fact the likes of Juventus and Liverpool have already begun competitive action in Europa League qualifiers and this weekend France’s Ligue 1 begins and England’s Community Shield pits double winners Chelsea against runners-up Manchester United.
Join us for tonight’s Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in Madrid. Will it be Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho who wins the competition for the second time? Either way, we’re expecting a belting final at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
Saturday’s Champions League final should be the only show in town but the build-up to the game in Madrid is offering a host of distractions.
The beautiful Spanish weather could easily lull a Bayern Munich or Inter Milan fan into thinking they had just popped over for a holiday…that is until they look at the news stands.
The Special One finally allowed emotion to get the better of him on Sunday when tears were clearly visible in his eyes after Inter Milan wrapped up a fifth straight Serie A title and the second part of a potential treble.
Jose Mourinho is normally so clinical, so self-confident. Were they just tears of joy after retaining the scudetto or did he cry because he knows he will leave Italy after Saturday’s Champions League final with Bayern Munich?
Failure and Pep Guardiola are words that haven’t appeared together in the same sentence for some time, but the Barcelona coach has a big task on his hands if he is to prevent them being applied to his side’s end of the season.
He was right to argue after Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Inter Milan that it was hardly a case of his team being a victim of their own success.