Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

What if Juventus or Liverpool never return to their best?

Photo

SOCCER-ITALY/Form is temporary, class is permanent. The phrase is often used for top players experiencing a difficult spell, but does it refer to clubs as well?

Looking back at the European game, it appears the biggest clubs tend to stay at the pinnacle of the sport give or take a few dips.

Manchester United went awol in the 1970s and 1980s but their sheer size meant they were always likely to regain the glory of the 1950s and 60s. Real Madrid and Barcelona have had their ups and downs in Europe but domestically they have dominated massively and surely always will.

But what will happen to spluttering giants Juventus and Liverpool?

Juve are still suffering indirectly from their 2006 match-fixing demotion. They bounced straight back to Serie A with aplomb and quickly returned to the Champions League but damage had been done.

from Left field:

Things may get worse before they get better at Liverpool … but there is a glimmer of hope

Photo

SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPA damp squib of a performance from Liverpool in their League Cup defeat by Northampton Town was described by The Telegraph today as one of the most humiliating nights in the club’s history.

Given the (lack of) status the League Cup now enjoys that is probably stretching it a bit far – I don’t think it gets close to the FA Cup defeat by Bristol City , for example – but the whole dismal episode did add weight to the theory that things are likely to get worse before they get better for a club that once prided itself on striving for excellence in everything.

Liverpool’s midfield not as much to shout about

Photo

 

SOCCER-EUROPA/In the heady days of Istanbul and Athens when Liverpool fans considered anything less than a trip to the Champions League final a disappointing campaign, the Kop would regularly belt out: “We have the best midfield in the world.”

It was the formidable midfield combination of Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and later Javier Mascherano that spurred the Anfield faithful into song.

Houllier should be perfect match for Villa

Photo

SOCCER-FRANCE/A tricky start to the season in which manager Martin O’Neill left before a ball was kicked, midfielder James Milner joined Manchester City and the club limped out of the Europa League, Aston Villa were in need of steady hands. Gerard Houllier should be just the man.

The 63-year-old Frenchman, who won five trophies with Liverpool and three French league titles, has swapped his job as technical director of the French Football Federation (FFF) for the Villa hot seat and brings a wealth of experience with him.

Toothless Liverpool losing touch already

Photo

Liverpool’s current plight was laid bare on Monday when they were humbled 3-0 by Manchester City — a result which left Roy Hodgson’s side fourth bottom of the Premier League.

After just two games it would be churlish to suggest Liverpool will spend too long down in the bottom half of the table, but the feeling that the 18-times English champions are in danger of losing touch with the top four was inescapable.

Deja vu all over again? Soccer romantics will hope so

Photo

SOCCER-ENGLAND/FULHAM-HUGHES‘Plus ca change’ was the defining refrain of the Premier League’s opening weekend, but football fans tired of the established order will hope déjà vu is lurking round the corner for Manchester United and Chelsea.

Neither the champions nor the runners-up broke sweat as they strolled to opening victories that pointed ominously to another two-horse race for the Premier League title.

Is Liverpool the right choice for Joe Cole?

Photo

England midfielder Joe Cole sprang a slight surprise by choosing to sign for Liverpool rather than other suitors such as Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.

The cynics are saying it is all to do with money and not about prestige given Liverpool will not be in the Champions League next season unlike the other two.

Benitez leaves Liverpool, next stop Inter?

Photo

After months of speculation, Liverpool have confirmed that coach Rafael Benitez has left the club.

Disagreements with the owners and a poor season for the Reds have led to the decision to part company by mutual consent. Do you think it was inevitable?

Should Europa League winners qualify for the Champions League?

Photo

RTR2DT1A[1]ATLETI SMALL

Rules and competition formats which apply to other sports can rarely be implemented in soccer but UEFA may want to have a look at the benefits of a European club basketball formula if it is to further improve the Europa League.

The winners of Eurocup, the continent’s second-tier club basketball competition, win a berth in the Euroleague — the equivalent of
football’s Champions League — and the move has had only a
positive effect in attendances and the overall quality of teams.

Should Capello bring Carragher out of England retirement?

Photo

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Is Fabio Capello so short of defenders that he has to beg Jamie “I’d rather miss a penalty for England than Liverpool” Carragher to come out of retirement and represent his country at the World Cup?

Carragher walked out on England three years ago because he was unhappy at being in so many squads but so few teams, and when he was in he did not like being played at full-back when he wanted to play centre-back.

  •