Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Manchester United and Bayern Munich opened the defence of their respective league titles with draws, prompting worried looks among supporters.
Normally it would be silly to judge a side on the first match of the season, but in United’s case there was clearly something missing in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle…a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
United fans will be relieved that he is only absent through injury and not because of a departure to Real Madrid.
However, the lack of a cutting edge in the final third and Chelsea’s impressive 4-0 drubbing of Portsmouth has heralded renewed calls for United to up their efforts to sign Tottenham’s Dimitar Berbatov.
The Spanish sports paper devoted an editorial and a couple of articles yesterday urging Real Madrid to get on with the job and sign the Portuguese forward asap. Today, they have vox pops from fans saying much the same sort of thing and it looks like their campaign to get things moving is going to continue.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has caused controversy with his remarks about modern day players being treated like slaves.
”I think in football there is too much modern slavery, transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere,” Blatter said. “And we are trying now to intervene in such cases.”
So now we’ve seen him, the media-acclaimed superstar-elect of Euro 2008, Mr Cristiano Ronaldo.
He didn’t tear up any trees but played pretty well in Portugal’s opening 2-0 win over Turkey. He was denied a goal by a fingertip save that touched a first-half free kick on to a post, made several positive runs and had a hand in the second goal. He did not dominate the game but was a constant lively threat. There is almost certainly more to come, in bigger games, but are you a fan or a doubter?
Last week Alex Ferguson slammed Real Madrid for using Spanish sports daily Marca as a mouthpiece to further their designs on Cristiano Ronaldo. United have backed their manager’s complaints by threatening to report the Primera Liga side to FIFA for their behaviour.
Real, however, deny any wrongdoing, saying all they have done is express their admiration for one of the hottest properties in world football.
Two giants of European football, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich wrapped up their respective league titles with plenty of room to spare this weekend.
That got me thinking about what the other knock-on effects might be, and especially about whether Barcelona would feel obliged to sign another big-name player as a replacement.
It is has already been dubbed the league title no one wants to win and with its succession of mishaps, slip-ups, fall-outs and injuries, this season’s Primera Liga plot has taken more twists than even the most low-budget Spanish afternoon soap opera.
Leaders and defending champions Real Madrid appear to be caught in a dangerous downward spiral, losing five of their last eight league matches, while Barcelona are struggling to take advantage of their arch-rivals’ errors.
The grand old man of Spanish football has made it clear that he will be going at the end of June, a month before his 70th birthday, and after four turbulent years at the helm there will many who will be heaving a sigh of relief.