Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Remember the great Glen Campbell hit of the 1960s “Wichita Lineman” which opens with: “I am a lineman for the county”.
It didn’t take long for wags to change that to: “I am the linesman at Notts County” and I’ve been told that linesman at Meadow Lane have been humming that tune to themselves ever since.
Notts also has the unique distinction of linking Italian giants Juventus, post-war English scoring hero Tommy Lawton and 19th century footballer Harry Cursham, who has scored more goals in the history of the FA Cup than any other player.
Just three years ago Juve were facing up to the fact they’d be playing in Serie B after being found guilty of match-fixing.
Now, they sit third in Serie A with two games to go but that is not good enough for the Old Lady of Turin. The risk they might miss out on an automatic Champions League spot was too great.
After years of racist chanting from the stands, Italian soccer has finally realised it has a problem.
Inter Milan goalscorer Mario Balotelli, born in Palermo and of Ghanaian descent, was racially abused by sections of the Juventus crowd during Saturday’s 1-1 Serie A draw in Turin.
The sight of Serie A sides flopping in the Champions League has become a familiar one and although the three teams eliminated this week were a little unlucky, a mental block against English opposition is developing.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who won the trophy with Porto in 2004, was hired in June largely to boost their hopes of challenging Europe’s elite after years of failure.
There’s still a long way to go to the final in Rome but from what we saw over the first legs of the opening knock-out round of the Champions League a lot of people will be expecting another all-English affair at the Olympic Stadium.
If you take Mark’s dad as an authority, and I’m sure he knows as much as anyone, serie A sides are unlikely still to be challenging but is there anyone else capable of preventing another Premier League tour match?
Jose Mourinho will clash with old foe Alex Ferguson in the Champions League last 16 with holders Manchester United playing Inter Milan.
It is England v Italy twice more with Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri facing former club Chelsea while Arsenal and Roma, two teams who love to play the beautiful game, also meet.
Saturday’s El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid and Sunday’s clash between Juventus and AC Milan both have real tradition and a zest which Europe’s nouveau riche clubs can only dream of.
The likes of Paolo Maldini, Raul, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes might be handsomely paid by their clubs, but the fact they have spurned chances to get even richer elsewhere suggests they share at least some of the fans’ devotion to the colours they wear.
Inter Milan’s Patrick Vieira recognised this recently when talking about his former Juventus team mate Alessandro Del Piero.
Even Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have got on better of late and the only coach to have real gripes with new Argentina boss Diego Maradona is Scotland no. 2 Terry Butcher.
Few visiting players get standing ovations at the Bernabeu, but Il Capitano deserved it after two sublime strikes in Juve’s shock 2-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday which sent the in-form Turin club to the Champions League last 16.