Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Bojan, Canales suggest La Liga no longer a teenage wasteland

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SOCCER-SPAIN/Lionel Messi hogged most of the headlines thanks to his wonderful hat-trick at Tenerife, but it was the performances of a pair of teenagers who had pundits, coaches and team mates purring following the weekend’s La Liga action.

Barcelona’s Spanish forward Bojan Krkic has been around for a while –- he made his first-team debut in a friendly in Egypt in 2007 -– but all three of Messi’s goals came from passes supplied by the 19-year-old and coach Pep Guardiola was effusive in his praise.

“He constantly demonstrates his quality, but the problem is his coach doesn’t let him play very much,” Guardiola joked at a news conference.

“He didn’t manage to score (against Tenerife) but he has to see that the team doesn’t just survive on goals but on assists too.”

How did Argentine football get in such a state?

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Lionel Messi walks off the pitch in Asuncion his head bowed after Argentina’s 1-0 defeat to Paraguay. A few days later he scores for Barcelona and the dimpled grin is back on his face.

Diego Maradona says that on the compact Rosario central pitch Argentina will pin Brazil against their goal. They do up to a point, with masses of possession, but Dunga’s men demolish them in lethal counter-attacks with Maradona watching in glum silence and Argentina return to River Plate for next month’s key World Cup qualifier against Peru.

Barcelona beat Manchester United — your views

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Barcelona deposed Manchester United as European champions with an outstanding 2-0 victory in the Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

Samuel Eto’o struck the opener after 10 minutes when he cut in from the right past Nemanja Vidic with surprising ease and his low shot beat United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at his near post. Xavi cracked a free kick against a United post at the start of the second half before Lionel Messi sealed the win after 70 minutes when he scored with a beautifully timed header from Xavi’s cross.

Real poised for election fever

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Potential Real Madrid presidential candidates will be trying to decide whether Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi is the player most likely to deliver them the majority of votes in this summer’s election campaign.

Ramon Calderon was forced out of the presidency earlier this month, setting the wheels in motion for another six months of rumours and speculation as rival candidates manoeuvre behind the scenes to take power at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo takes World Player award, Messi waits for next year

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Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo was named FIFA World Player of the Year on Monday night, adding the award to the Ballon d’Or he picked up from France Football and the FIFPro World Player of the Year title voted for by his fellow professionals.

It was an inevitable choice after the season he had for United in 2007-08 but I’m pretty confident that next year the award will be going to the man who finished second this time. Lionel Messi is playing ridiculously well at the moment, just streets ahead of anyone else in Spain, and I don’t think too many people would disagree that on current form he is the world’s best player.

Vlog on the pitch – what do you make of Rafa’s mind games?

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Rafa Benitez was on the attack ahead of Liverpool’s game against Stoke City but then decided to leave Robbie Keane and Fernando Torres on the bench.

The game ended in a goalless draw and on Sunday Manchester United put three past Chelsea to close the gap at the top.

What Messi thinks of Ronaldo

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UEFA’s teams of the year feature is irresistible reading for lovers of footballing gossip, particularly in Spain and Argentina.

Javier Zanetti, Leo Messi and Kun Aguero have all published their best XIs of 2008 on uefa.com and there are a couple of conspicious absentees…

Mascherano is captain, but Messi must play the Maradona role

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When Carlos Bilardo began his job as Argentina coach in January 1983, the first thing he did was to visit Maradona in Spain where he was playing for Barcelona.

Bilardo told Maradona he wanted him as Argentina’s captain, that he was the only player sure of his place and that he would build a team around him to win the World Cup.

Time to revamp player awards

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This week we had the nominations for FIFA world player of the year, discovered the winner of the FIFPro world player of the year and mulled the contenders for the Ballon d’Or.

Exactly how many gongs do we need? In the recent past the situation was a bit clearer.

King Kun? Messi shows him who’s boss

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Don’t Mess-i with me!

It was the battle between the young pretender and the crown prince but there was to be no revolution, just wonderful football.

Atletico Madrid’s hot-shot striker Sergio Aguero has stolen all the headlines in recent months and has quickly been compared to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. A match-winning display in March’s 4-2 win over Barca further boosted Aguero’s profile. (more…)

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