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Soccer Break Thursday

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/So Real Madrid finally broke their last 16 jinx and made the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2004 with a solid home performance against Olympique Lyon. Can’t imagine anyone left in the draw would like to face Jose Mourinho’s men when the last eight and semi-final draws are announced on Friday.

Which team would you want? Managerless Schalke 04? Real are divided on that given they would then face former striker Raul. Or Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk? Tottenham Hotspur would appear to be another one of the weaker teams left but at this stage of the competition any side is a threat.

To focus on Real, there are many talking points. Marcelo’s opening goal clearly settled the home support while there is no doubting Mourinho’s effortless ability to succeed.

In Wednesday’s other match Chelsea coasted through against FC Copenhagen, little surprise there. However Fernando Torres was again left waiting for his opening goal at the London club after coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute.

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.

Everton and Moyes running out of options

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPBy James Illingworth

Sympathy for the plight of their rivals may be kept to an absolute minimum by the red and blue halves of Liverpool but even the staunchest of Kopites should spare a thought for David Moyes.

Having seen his side claim partial revenge for their 2009 FA Cup final defeat by knocking Chelsea out on penalties last month, Moyes could not prevent first division Reading ending Everton’s cup run in the fifth round on Tuesday.

Marvellous Marseille fans keep singing through the pain

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/I had been told the Stade Velodrome had a great atmosphere and after the constant noise the Marseille fans made in Wednesday’s 0-0 Champions league draw with Manchester United, I have one question – what would it be like if the stands had roofs?

Despite the dire match, the supporters at either side of the ground never stopped chanting and banging drums for a second. If the Velodrome wasn’t open to the elements I can only imagine that the noise would be even louder and give the home side an even bigger advantage.

Torres is a one-goal striker and a steal for Chelsea

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SOCCER-EURO/Will Fernando Torres ever recapture that heady mix of fearlessness, ruthlessness and irresistible skill he showed in his first 24-goal season at Anfield?

Is £50 million enough to buy you a strike rate of a goal every 1.375 games?

You know what? It doesn’t matter.

Liverpool needed a 24-goals-a-season striker but Chelsea don’t. Chelsea have spent so much money for a player who can score one goal rather than 24, or to put it another way, the goal.

If Torres goes, Liverpool should heed Spanish lessons

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SOCCER-SPAIN/If the excited reports on the 24-hour channels are correct, Fernando Torres may soon arrive at Chelsea’s training ground to seal a move that will leave Liverpool in a dangerous situation — under pressure to sign high-profile reinforcements and with wodges of money to spend as the deadline fast approaches.

Kenny Dalglish accepted on Monday that transfers are part of football and the internet chatter suggests many fans have reached the conclusion that Torres may have reached the end of the Anfield road.

Liverpool sign Suarez but will he play with Torres?

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/UPDATE: Liverpool have confirmed that Torres put in a written transfer request on Friday night. The club have rejected it. Read the statement here.

Liverpool and Ajax have just announced that Luis Suarez is joining the Premier League club in a deal worth up to 26.5 million euros.

Kenny makes cute move in turning to Clark

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPKenny Dalgish resisted the temptation to surround himself with Liverpool “old boys” on Monday when Steve Clarke was named as first team coach at Anfield.

It was an astute decision by Dalglish to hire his fellow Scot whose background work at Chelsea as assistant to the high-profile Jose Mourinho was a factor in the London club’s back to back titles in 2005 and 2006.

Dalglish needs a quick fix to hint at hope for future

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/

Kenny Dalglish may not be a long-term solution as Liverpool manager but his appointment will give hope to disgruntled fans and provide a fillip to the club’s underperforming players.

The Liverpool hero has been thrust back into the limelight after 10 years out of management and will lead the club out at Old Trafford for an FA Cup clash against Manchester United on Sunday after replacing Roy Hodgson at the helm.

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