Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Teams win against all the odds only in Hollywood movies.
Not true. Yet again real life has outstripped even the wildest fantasies of the greatest scriptwriters.
Italian football, overshadowed by England and Spain, was in the doldrums after their clubs failed to make any impact in the Champions League in the previous two seasons.
Inter Milan had not won the European Cup since 1965 and were last in a final in 1972. They always looked nervous in the Champions League, even against smaller clubs.
When Jose Mourinho arrived last season he knew European glory would be impossible in the first year. The mental block would have to be chipped away slowly.
Breaking news from Spain, where Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign David Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros.
The timing is interesting, coming as it does immediately after Barcelona successfully completed the defence of their league title, and before the distractions of a presidential election.
By winning 8-0, Chelsea made the end of the Premier League season a faily clear-cut affair but the finish to our Predictions League went right to the last kick.
Paul Radford had long since wrapped up the championship but second spot was up for grabs with Patrick Johnston and Mitch Phillips neck and neck on 301. Phillips scored a high 13 points in the finale but Johnston pulled off a 14-pointer to steal the glory.
It’s safe to say Paul Radford has been deservedly crowned our Predictions League champion 2009/10 but what about the Premier League?
Could there be a sting in the tail for leaders Chelsea in their last game at home to Wigan on Sunday?
It was a case of “now or never” for Tottenham this season as, if they had failed to snatch fourth place and a passport to the Champions League, they might never had had another shot.
Crashing the “big four” has been the target of half-a-dozen clubs in the last decade and Spurs went close with two fifth-placed finishes in 2006 and 07.
AS Roma are absolutely livid after Inter Milan regained the lead in Serie A with a 2-0 win at Lazio, where the home fans cheered the goals as much as the away supporters.
Lazio fans hate Roma so much that many of them wanted their own side to lose on Sunday as it meant their bitter city rivals were knocked off top spot. This was despite the fact Lazio are not clear of relegation yet.
Liverpool will not be keen on helping Manchester United in their title bid but a victory over Chelsea on Sunday could push the Reds closer to that fourth Champions League spot.
How many teams will leave the World Cup happy with the refereeing? If it’s more than one I’ll be surprised as those “crucial” decisions seem to attract criticism only when teams lose.
The dissection of officials’ performances has become the staple of post-match interviews in recent years as, with one or two honourable exceptions, managers let rip (having had the benefit of replays from half-a-dozen angles of course).
Anyone tempted to suggest Wayne Rooney’s minor groin injury might give him a nice rest before the World Cup would be wise to fire up their copy of the Mathematica GraphMonkey iPad app* and first try to factor in one of the great immeasurables of English football — Rooney Recovery Time.
Rooney Recovery Time is comparable in its unfathomability only to Scotty’s estimates of how long it would take to get warp engines back on line as the Enterprise hurtled towards a collapsing Lime Dyson sphere*.
Chelsea and Manchester United seem to want to make the Premier League title run-in as exciting as possible by dropping points in recent weeks. There’s just a point between them with three games left and you can’t get much tighter than that.
Sadly the same can’t be said for our predictions league where leader Paul Radford pretty much has the title wrapped up, but let’s see what this weekend brings.