Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Ibrahimovic volley gives Barcelona bragging rights

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A Barcelona-Real Madrid game that veered from the brilliant to the banal, as is pretty much always the case in these contests, was settled 1-0 in favour of the Catalans by a great finish from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, following an even better pass from Dani Alves.

Real will go back to the capital content with their performance in all areas … apart from in front of goal. They will rue missing six or seven good chances to get something from a game that was pretty even, although that was partly to do with the sending-off of Busquets for a daft handball.

The result took Barcelona back top of La Liga but it obviously didn’t settle anything. What it did confirm is that Real have become a much tougher team to play against with all that new talent and that coach Pellegrini is on the right track. So they couldn’t get the ball off the Barcelona midfield at times? I can’t think of a single team that wouldn’t have had problems at Camp Nou against Iniesta, Xavi, Messi and the rest.

The Ballon d’Or will be announced on Tuesday and you can bet it will go to Messi, but after watching that match I was reminded that Iker Casillas and Carles Puyol deserve to be up there as well.

Should Rooney seek his fortune abroad?

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Manchester United fans will doubtless be pleased by Wayne Rooney’s latest comments pouring cold, or at least lukewarm water on the idea that he might move to Barcelona, or anywhere else for that matter.

Good news for United it may be, but I’m not so sure it’s in England’s interests for so few of the country’s leading players to try their luck abroad.

Pellegrini under fire after embarrassing Cup exit

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Real Madrid and coach Manuel Pellegrini were on the business end of some damning newspaper headlines on Wednesday after their humiliating exit from the King’s Cup at the hands of third-tier Alcorcon.

In the build-up to the match, Kaka suggested pride and the club’s history would inspire the players to a dramatic comeback from the 4-0 away defeat in the first leg.

Higuain keeps Real’s Galacticos on their toes

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Gonzalo Higuain reminded Manuel Pellegrini of his worth at the weekend, scoring both goals for 10-man Real Madrid in their 2-0 victory over Getafe.

The Argentine youngster was Real’s top scorer with 22 league goals last season, but was making only his third start in nine league games on Saturday.

Would Bayern have been better off selling Ribery?

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Franck Ribery’s knee injury has flared up again and the problem could not have come at a worse time for Bayern Munich.

Ribery picked up the injury in pre-season training at the height of Real Madrid’s efforts to sign him.

Where’s the new Gary McAllister when Liverpool need him?

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Liverpool’s run of four straight defeats has generated a lot of discussion about what has gone wrong, but precious little about how to put it right, aside from the suggestion that it might be nice to see Kenny Dalglish back in the dugout.

So let’s leave aside for a moment Rafa’s handling of big players and whether he should have kept hold of Sami Hyypia and Xabi Alonso, and consider what the club’s next moves should be.

Milan avoid another Didaster but are they reborn after Real win?

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A memorable 3-2 victory for AC Milan at Real Madrid on Wednesday as much for the goalkeeping howlers as great play.

When Milan keeper Dida produced an all too frequent error to give Raul the chance to equal Gerd Mueller’s record of 66 goals in the three main European club competitions, it looked like a familiar story for a struggling Milan this season under new coach Leonardo.

Real look CR9 dependent as Sevilla heed cry for challengers

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One swallow does not make a summer, but Sevilla’s bristling 2-1 victory over Real Madrid on Sunday offers hope that the answer to the question posed in Thursday’s blog is ‘no’.

Three teams can challenge for the La Liga title this year.

Manolo Jimenez’s side inflicted a first defeat on Real with a vibrant, attacking display that was reminiscent of their performances under Juande Ramos when they won back-to-back UEFA Cups.

La Liga: The most boring competition in Europe?

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A few days ago, Real Zaragoza president Eduardo Bandres said: “The Spanish league will be a matter totally and absolutely between two teams, among other things because the system for distributing television rights determines that it will be this way. It is unique in Europe and because of this the Spanish league is one of the most boring in Europe.”

The television channels would beg to differ, as they regularly run adverts or open their coverage of matches from La Liga claiming it is the ‘best league in the world’ with clips of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi running in the background.

Real and Ronaldo under threat from Spanish wizard?

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An unusual headline in Spain’s El Mundo newspaper caught my eye this morning: “Real Madrid threatened by wizard.”

According to the respected conservative daily, the La Liga club has received a letter from the magician, whom it did not identify by name, warning that he has been contracted to cast a spell that would inflict injury on their Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo.

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