Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Beckham takes Serie A switch in his stride

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David Beckham was in a chirpy mood after making his Serie A debut as a surprise starter in AC Milan’s 2-2 draw at AS Roma on Sunday.

“I thought it was great, I enjoyed it immensely,” the grinning England midfielder told the reporters stretching and scrambling to get their Dictaphones near him in the Stadio Olimpico’s Mixed Zone.

He had reason to be satisfied.

OK it was not spectacular – he did not score or set up any goals.

But, with the Brazilian trio of Kaka, Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato in front of him, he was under orders from coach Carlo Ancelotti to hold a deep position and dutifully obeyed, competently carrying out his defensive chores.

He still managed to get forward enough to whip in some of his trademark crosses and have one decent shot on goal. The 33-year-old also lasted almost all of his first competitive game since October.

Can anything now stop United?

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It’s been a great week for Alex Ferguson (as long as you ignore the League Cup).

You couldn’t pick up a British newspaper over the weekend without reading the dreaded phrase “mind games”, after Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez made his carefully prepared “outburst” about his opposite number at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo unhurt after car crash

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Cristiano Ronaldo escaped unhurt on Thursday after his Ferrari hit a roadside barrier in a tunnel near Manchester airport.

“No one was injured in the collision,” Greater Manchester Police said in a statement, while reports say the Ballon d’Or winner was at training as usual after the crash.

Here’s a simple way to stop fixture fuming

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Somebody must have bought Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger a calculator each for Christmas because both managers have done their sums and criticised the Premier League’s fixture programme.

After the United boss wondered aloud if the league was handicapping his club through their fixture list, his Arsenal counterpart crunched the numbers over the weekend

Champions League draw – your views

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Jose Mourinho will clash with old foe Alex Ferguson in the Champions League last 16 with holders Manchester United playing Inter Milan.

It is England v Italy twice more with Juventus coach Claudio Ranieri facing former club Chelsea while Arsenal and Roma, two teams who love to play the beautiful game, also meet.

Will predictable Champions League have new winner?

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The 16 teams that reached the Champions League first knockout round were again the usual suspects expected to go through. The group stage of Europe’s premier club competition unfolded rather predictably after a few early shocks.

Ten of the teams qualified for the same stage last season while the other six include twice winners Juventus, who returned with a roar after a two-year absence, as well as former finalists Panathinaikos and Atletico Madrid.

Tosic and Ljajic not yet United class

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Speculation that Manchester United are after Serbia winger Zoran Tosic has gained momentum after reports that Sir Alex Ferguson had gone to some length to obtain a work permit for the 21-year old Partizan Belgrade player.

Tosic, who has made 12 international appearances but is yet to score for his country, is a decent player with a sweet left foot from set pieces but he appeared to be as stunned as many of my colleagues here in Belgrade after being told that Ferguson sees him as an ideal long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs.

Ronaldo was the only choice for Ballon d’Or

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Such is his extraordinary talent, Cristiano Ronaldo takes his place among the greatest players to have graced European football despite the less savoury aspects of his game.

The Portugal winger was runner-up to Kaka in the Ballon D’or last year and, after scoring an extraordinary 42 goals to help propel Manchester United to the Champions League and Premier League double, was untouchable in the race for this year’s award.

Mourinho poised for City as geese attack Ronaldo

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In quiet weeks there always used to be transfer news to mull over but now with the advent of ‘the window’, we have been deprived of major gossip until January.

Silly season, when the media make the most of the slightest hint of a story to fill pages and airwaves, is traditionally during the lazy summer months yet it is currently in full flow in November.

Premier League best in the world? Don’t believe the hype

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The British press are purring after Arsenal’s clash with Manchester United was decided by French winger Samir Nasri’s two strikes.

“Onlookers across the world were reminded that this sport, in its modern form, can cause excitement and awe in equal measure,” wrote the Guardian’s Kevin McCarra of Arsenal’s breathless 2-1 win over the champions.

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