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Real in fine fettle ahead of four-game Barca showdown

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SOCCER-SPAIN/In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Iain Rogers in Madrid looks at the calm before the “Clasico” storm, Johan Cruyff”s latest musings on the Real-Barca rivalry and the recent fine form of Valencia and striker Roberto Soldado.

Real in fine fettle ahead of four-game Barca showdown

With an unprecedented four “Clasicos” in 18 days just around the corner (unless something very strange happens in the Champions League quarter-final second legs), Real Madrid and Barcelona had a final run-out in La Liga before they meet next weekend, wins for each meaning Barca will travel to the Bernabeu with an eight-point lead with seven games remaining.

Jose Mourinho took a calculated risk by leaving Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Ozil, Xabi Alonso and Marcelo out of his starting lineup for Real’s game at Athletic Bilbao. What was essentially his B-team secured a comfortable 3-1 win against a disappointing Bilbao, with Kaka netting two goals from the penalty spot and providing a splendid assist for substitute Ronaldo that suggested he may be starting to get back to something near the form that won him a World Player of the Year award in 2007.

The Brazilian playmaker, who cost Real 65 million euros from AC Milan at the end of the 2008/09 season, has taken longer than expected to recover from the knee surgery he needed after the World Cup, leading to questions over his commitment and long-term fitness.

Soccer Break Monday

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ARSENAL-TAKEOVER/Hello everyone at the start of this new week, where before we talk Champions League and give a reminder of the weekend’s action, there’s news of another foreign takeover.

Arsenal are not enduring the easiest of times on the pitch but on Monday announced that American billionaire Stan Kroenke is taking over the club. Arsenal fans, what are your thoughts? Will this new era usher in drastic changes such as a new manager?

Barca closing in on La Liga title

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SOCCER-SPAIN/In our latest Monday Spanish soccer post, Mark Elkington in Madrid reviews the situation in La Liga after Real Madrid’s shock 1-0 defeat at home to Sporting Gijon and looks ahead to this week’s Champions League action.

La Liga is Barca’s to lose

In a week when Real Madrid were reported by local media to have vetoed the playing of any Shakira songs in the Bernabeu because of her romance with Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, the Spain defender gained more than ample revenge.

Soccer Break Friday

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SOCCER-WORLDThe first day of the fourth month means April fools day, so we would really love to hear from you if there are any dubious stories doing the rounds.

Here are some. Frank Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ at the World Cup is to be finally given. Ronaldo will start playing for Spain. And here is a list of five other classics from the past.

Soccer Break Wednesday

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SOCCER-FRIENDLY/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.

TV spat threatens La Liga matchday 30

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SOCCER-SPAIN/TAX-STRIKEIn the latest edition of our Monday Spanish soccer blog, Mark Elkington looks at a dispute that threatens the next round of La Liga matches, Spain’s Euro 2012 qualifiers against Czech Republic and Lithuania and the problems affecting second-division leaders Rayo Vallecano.

Courtroom drama

Many of La Liga’s finest packed their bags and headed off to represent their countries last week while the action in Spain switched from the pitch to the courtroom.

New Reuters Spanish soccer blog

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SOCCER-SPAIN/CLASICOStarting today, Madrid-based Reuters sports correspondents Iain Rogers and Mark Elkington will be writing a regular Monday column on La Liga for the Reuters soccer blog.

In its inaugural edition, Iain looks at the how the great rivalry between Spain’s dominant clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid has taken on an added piquancy this season and reviews some talking points from the weekend league action.

Soccer Break Friday

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SOCCER-EUROPA/Friday. That means almost weekend. Which means yet more football. When does it ever stop? We don’t want it to though, especially with some cracking FA Cup games in store as well as Europe’s top sides slugging it out in their respective leagues.

First however, here’s our take on the Europa League action on Thursday. Some nicely poised ties, though it was not a good night for Liverpool or Manchester City, or Mario Balotelli for that matter.

Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Breathe in. Breathe out. The Champions League is over for this week after a tense two days of last 16 drama. And now for Europa League action on Thursday with yet more top sides in action.

First of all however let’s dissect the Champions League from Wednesday where underdogs Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 progressed past their more fancied rivals, AC Milan and Valencia respectively.

Soccer Break – Friday edition

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SOCCER-SPAIN/Lionel Messi one day, Cristiano Ronaldo the next. It does not get any better than seeing the world’s best players at the top of the their game after Ronaldo’s hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a 7-0 hammering of Malaga.

There’s plenty to get your teeth into here, while other Real blogs are debating the future of midfielder Kaka. Could you see him in the Premier League?

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