Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Champions League draw — your views

Photo
-

So, here we go again. For the fifth successive season, Liverpool will face Chelsea in the Champions League.

Quarter-finals:

Villarreal v Arsenal

Manchester United v Porto

Liverpool v Chelsea

Barcelona v Bayern Munich

Semi-finals:

Manchester United or Porto v Villarreal or Arsenal

Barcelona or Bayern Munich v Liverpool or Chelsea

Liverpool will perhaps be marginal favourites in the all-English quarter-final after knocking Chelsea out at the semi-final stage in 2005 and 2007 but their fans will need no reminding that last season, when Chelsea got to play the second leg at home, it was the Londoners who came through.

This year? Once again, Chelsea will be at home for the second leg. Will that make the difference again?

Otherwise, Man Utd must be pretty pleased with a draw that pits the holders against Porto in the quarter-finals, with a possible semi-final to come against Villarreal or Arsenal (and Arsenal will be pretty pleased as well, you’d think … at least with the first bit).

Benitez deal comes at perfect time for Liverpool

Photo
-

The news that Rafael Benitez has agreed a new deal that will keep him at Liverpool until at least 2014 could not have been better timed for the club.

Uncertainty has stalked the 18-times English league champions for the past few seasons with rifts between co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, confusion over the proposed new stadium and above all the future of the manager Benitez.

Real’s Ramos unlikely to stay despite successful spell

Photo
-

Quite a few sceptical eyebrows were raised when Real Madrid gave Bernd Schuster the boot back in December and brought in Juande Ramos.

After an impressive spell at Sevilla, Ramos had faltered badly at Tottenham and it seemed the Real board were taking a big gamble in bringing him back to Spain with a contract until the end of the season.

Nothing’s gonna stop United … just look at the fixture list

Photo
-

My colleague Patrick Johnston has been wondering aloud about the effect a 4-1 defeat by Liverpool is going to have on Manchester United. He’s in good company, because Guus Hiddink also believes the door is open a little bit.

The match must have been enjoyable for Liverpool fans but it’s not going to have an effect on the title race.

United could afford to drop points but manner of defeat must hurt

Photo
-

Please don’t try and tell me that a 4-1 defeat at home to your arch-rivals does not affect you — it must do.

At lunchtime on Saturday Manchester United knew they could probably afford to lose against Liverpool and still claim another Premier League title but does the manner of their capitulation offer hope to the chasing pack?

Real’s problems begin in the boardroom

Photo
-

The Spanish press have one question on their minds following Real Madrid’s Champions League humiliation at the hands of Liverpool.

Why has the club that dominated Europe from 1998 to 2002 failed to make it past the last 16 of the Champions League in five years, despite spending (wasting?) tens of millions of euros in the transfer market?

A European night at Anfield is a trip back in time

Photo
-

I had heard a great deal about the fabled Anfield atmosphere on European nights but nothing quite prepared me for my first visit.

Quite a night I chose as well. The 4-0 thrashing of Real Madrid in what was the first meeting on Merseyside between the two European powerhouses will sit high on anybody’s list of magnificent Anfield occasions.

Vlog on the Pitch: table football special

-

Owen Wyatt has invested in new 3-D technology to provide a fresh look at Real Madrid chances of knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League.

Click on the video above to hear our views on the key battles at Anfield, and a look at what the Spanish papers and Real Madrid players are saying ahead of the match.

Galaxy rewarded by playing hard ball over Beckham

Photo
-

So often in the past we have seen transfer deals go through simply because the player asks to leave. Clubs fear the players won’t play to their full potential if their wish is denied so they cave in and take the transfer fee.

But recently, some clubs have started fighting back against player power and have been rewarded.

Premier League deja vu creeping in again

Photo
-

As Dimitar Berbatov sluggishly rolled in Manchester United’s winner at Newcastle United on Wednesday it suddenly occurred to me that the Premier League season that threatened a different story is heading for a very familiar ending.

At the top, the midweek matches saw United record their 11th consecutive league win and strengthen their grasp on the title, while Chelsea and Liverpool consolidated Champions League spots and Arsenal made up ground on an Aston Villa side which might just be running out of steam.

  •