Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Florentino Perez is back on the scene and if the Madrid sports press are right the first ‘Galactico’ of his second era at Real Madrid will be Brazil’s Kaka, assuming he wins next month’s election to the presidency.
“Kaka signed” Marca said on a special wrap-around front cover for Saturday’s edition, while AS led with “Kaka, the details of the agreement.”
There was little evidence given to substantiate the stories, which spoke of a five-year deal agreed with the player and a transfer fee of around 60 million euros agreed with Milan, all linked to a Florentino victory.
On Thursday, Florentino formally declared he would enter the race for the presidency and spoke of plans for a “spectacular sporting project”. He said details would be forthcoming in the near future but his answers to questions were carefully designed to tip the wink.
The campaign to be the next president of Real Madrid Football Club has finally kicked into gear with the claim from the little known Eduardo Garcia that, if elected on June 14, he will bring with him the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.
Promising big-name signings has long been an easy way for candidates to drum up support for the presidency at Real and Barcelona, the two member-owned Spanish clubs, but ever since Florentino Perez came from nowhere to take the 2000 election what was once an entertaining sideshow has become the key battleground.
It says more about the value of the pound than it does the value of Franck Ribery that the sum United are supposed to be prepared to pay for him is so high — 63 million pounds, if there’s anything to the story in this morning’s Guardian.
That sum is a shade over 70 million euros, which is a slightly less ridiculous amount than the 100 million euros it would have been a year or two ago but is still, of course, vastly overinflated.
Pep Guardiola’s superb Barca side four clear at the top with five games left to play. Champions Real in second on a run of 17 wins and a draw in 18 matches since a 2-0 loss at the Nou Camp in December and refusing to capitulate. The nation’s arch soccer rivals locking horns. Spain versus Catalunya.The stage was set for my first “Clasico” at the Bernabeu.I had read about the great matches of the past and seen the headlines: “The match of the century!”, “The greatest show on earth!”.It was time to experience it for myself.I hopped off the bus near the stadium and fought my way through the throng of Real faithful, already in good voice and enjoying the evening sunshine more than an hour-and-a-half before kickoff.A policeman waved me through the barriers holding back the crowds and I collected my accreditation and took the lift up to the press tribune on the fifth floor.It was oddly quiet inside the mammoth arena, a few photographers and officials milling about by the pitch, and the muted sound of the boisterous supporters outside punctuated by the occasional firecracker and police siren.Fabio Cannavaro, Arjen Robben and a few other Real players strolled out on to the pitch for a few minutes and Royston Drenthe posed for some photographs as I leafed through the media notes.Biggest home defeat for Real in “El Clasico” 5-0 way back in February 1974, four days before I was born. Probably won’t be needing that particular stat.When the spectators were finally allowed in, the atmosphere quickly warmed up and any attempt at singing by the small knot of Barca fans high to my right was met with a chorus of whistles and hoots.The volume of noise was rising all the time and reached a crescendo as the two teams marched on to the pitch and the spectators held up pieces of card that turned the stands white. Game on.“You don’t want to do that,” I thought as Sergio Ramos gave the ball away to Lionel Messi in a dangerous position in the first minute, perhaps a sign of things to come.The Real faithful went nuts when Gonzalo Higuain grabbed the lead but it wasn’t long before Barca asserted themselves and Real’s chances of defending their league title were fast receding.As the goals rolled in, a colleague in the press box, a lifelong Real fan, was growing increasingly despondent and the invective issuing from the mouth of the Spanish journalist behind us, mostly directed at the referee, was increasingly extreme.When Messi scored to make it 5-2 with around 15 minutes left, waves of shell-shocked Real fans started heading for the exits.The referee did not prolong the agony, ending the match on 90 minutes, and I quickly filed my first take and a rapid update before dashing down to the press conferences with a beaming Guardiola and a glum Juande Ramos.Eight goals scored by some of the most exciting players around, tons of chances, plenty of controversy, passionate fans in a stunning soccer arena and a famous result in one of the most intensely contested fixtures in world sport.The kind of match you don’t forget in a hurry.PHOTO: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (L) celebrates his goal against Real Madrid during their match at the Bernabeu, May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina
Spain’s sports journalists will be doing their best to outdo one another in superlatives after a performance that ranks right up there with the 5-0 Barça managed at the Bernabeu with Johan Cruyff in their team in 1974.
I nearly fell out of my chair on Sunday night when I realised the identity of the Real Madrid player who had surged into the box and sent across a perfectly-weighted centre for Raul to score the equaliser against Sevilla.
Christoph Metzelder? What on earth is he doing up there?
The 28-year-old defender is trying to win back his place in the German national side but has only played in eight of the Spanish champions’ 33 league matches this season and has said he is considering moving on if he doesn’t get more time on the pitch.
Real Madrid’s Portuguese defender Pepe faces a lengthy ban that could extend to the end of the season after he had an astonishing Zinedine Zidane moment against Getafe on Tuesday.
I had the evening off and watched the match in a Madrid bar and the looks of disbelief on the faces of the punters around me reminded me of the reaction to the Frenchman’s headbutt in the World Cup final in Berlin in 2006.
Quite how far Michael Owen’s career has nosedived was underlined at the weekend when the Newcastle United striker was again overlooked for his country despite the lack of attacking options for coach Fabio Capello.
Capello watched three of his squad strikers hobble off at Wembley on Saturday during the 4-0 friendly victory over Slovakia with Emile Heskey and Carlton Cole both ruled out of Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine.
Quite a few sceptical eyebrows were raised when Real Madrid gave Bernd Schuster the boot back in December and brought in Juande Ramos.
After an impressive spell at Sevilla, Ramos had faltered badly at Tottenham and it seemed the Real board were taking a big gamble in bringing him back to Spain with a contract until the end of the season.
Barcelona were so proud of the slick passing move that led to Bojan Krkic’s second goal during the 2-0 win at Almeria on Sunday that they have published all the statistics surrounding the strike.
In the 53rd minute, Xavi won the ball and gave it to Lionel Messi which was the first step in an uninterrupted 37 pass move that lasted one minute 49 seconds, the league leaders said on their website.