Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Soccer Break Friday – Clasico fever rises

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SOCCER-SPAIN/CLASICOOnly one day to go now until Real Madrid face Barcelona in La Liga for the first of four ‘clasicos’ between Saturday and May 3. Excited? You will be now…

Barcelona destroyed their fierce domestic rivals 5-0 in November, and although the gap at the top of La Liga remains difficult for Real to peg back, they looked a very difficult team to beat against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League quarter-finals.

So, Real to narrow the gap, Barcelona to cut through Jose Mourinho’s men, or an edgy draw?

A former Real player David Beckham knows all about the drama of Barcelona meetings, and the England man is in the news in the MLS. Here’s a wrap of other games. Oh and here’s another Beckham story, it appears Fulham aren’t the only ones making statues of famous people.

Patience not always a virtue in Hodgson’s case

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SOCCER-EUROPA/The Liverpool owners’ decision to use this weekend’s break for the FA Cup as a chance to sit back and ponder the club’s future under Roy Hodgson is a rare patient act in the hasty world of soccer but it might not end up doing the manager any favours.

The Anfield club, just four points clear of the Premier League relegation zone, face rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the third round of the Cup on Sunday after another week of speculation and supporter unrest surrounding Hodgson’s future.

Nervous managers lack Christmas cheer after Allardyce axe

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPThe festive season is upon us but, just like turkeys, Premier League managers will be getting a bit twitchy after two of their brotherhood fell to the axe in the past week.

The fact that both victims were ruthlessly dispatched with their sides doing reasonably well will only add to the sense of trepidation.

Comolli appointment a step into the sabermetrics unknown for Liverpool

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SOCCER-EUROPAThe appointment of Damien Comolli as Liverpool’s director of football strategy represents a step into the unknown for the Anfield club, with statistical analysis likely to replace the traditional eye for talent in the transfer market.

Comolli, like the club’s new owner John Henry, is a devotee of sabermetrics, a form of sporting number crunching used to judge the value of players.

Politics plays its part at the African Nations Cup

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Being in Cabinda for the African Nations Cup should have been fun. At first, it was not, to say the least. The Togo team bus came under fire, with the assistant coach and a press officer being shot to death by a group of separatists as they were on their way to Cabinda from Pointe Noire, Congo.

It was only after long talks and multiple changes of minds that the Sparrowhawks decided to leave the Angolan northern enclave to fly back home and mourn their dead.

Coyle’s Bolton move is another footballing mystery – or is it?

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One day perhaps we’ll understand how Wes Brown has amassed 21 England caps and maybe someone will eventually explain how Robinho is worth 35 million pounds but I don’t think I’ll ever comprehend the reason for Owen Coyle planning to ditch Burnley and go to Bolton Wanderers.

Coyle turned down the Celtic job last year because he wanted to go with Burnley into the Premier League and said only last week that he was “privileged to be building something special” at the club.

Mancini is a results man

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It may be good entertainment but new Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini will not have enjoyed watching their 4-3 win over Sunderland on Saturday.

The uncomfortable nature of his appointment, with Mark Hughes taking charge of the game knowing he was sacked, will be a minor thought to the Italian now he has seen the challenge ahead of him.

A neighbour remembers modest Bill Shankly

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It is 50 years this week since Bill Shankly first arrived at Anfield, when Liverpool were languishing in the second division, writes Martin Roberts.

The Scotsman soon turned them into a team feared across Europe, and set up a managerial system with enough momentum to carry on after his shock 1974 resignation and make the club the most successful in English footballing history.

Clough film is enjoyable but a clear piece of fiction

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Michael Sheen has successfully impersonated Tony Blair on television and in the film “The Queen” followed by a less convincing portrait of David Frost in “Frost/Nixon”.

He can now be viewed in British cinemas playing charasmatic English soccer manager Brian Clough during his 44 nightmare days at Leeds United in the film based on the 2006 novel “The Damned United”.

La Volpe opens his mouth and puts his foot in it

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Mexico’s recent tribulations — four coaches in the last three years, two defeats to Honduras in five months, an even more humiliating loss in Jamaica — have left many supporters with a certain nostalgia for former coach Ricardo La Volpe.

Gruff and outspoken, La Volpe brought almost unprecedented stability between 2002 and 2006 as he actually completed the four-year cycle between World Cups. He made Mexico one of the world’s most tactically versatile teams, boldly drafted in numerous young players and enjoyed competitive wins over both Brazil and Argentina.

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