Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Champions League final approaches with so many distractions

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Saturday’s Champions League final should be the only show in town but the build-up to the game in Madrid is offering a host of distractions.

The beautiful Spanish weather could easily lull a Bayern Munich or Inter Milan fan into thinking they had just popped over for a holiday…that is until they look at the news stands.

All anyone wants to talk about is whether Inter coach Jose Mourinho will quit for Real Madrid after the match, where incidentally both sides are gunning for trebles.

The fact the game is being played in the Bernabeu and Mourinho’s squad are practising at Real’s training ground just adds to the drama that seems to follow the Portuguese wherever he goes.

Barcelona land Villa, Cesc to follow?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/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.

Tears of goodbye from Inter’s Mourinho?

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The Special One finally allowed emotion to get the better of him on Sunday when tears were clearly visible in his eyes after Inter Milan wrapped up a fifth straight Serie A title and the second part of a potential treble.

Jose Mourinho is normally so clinical, so self-confident. Were they just tears of joy after retaining the scudetto or did he cry because he knows he will leave Italy after Saturday’s Champions League final with Bayern Munich?

Guardiola needs to show mettle after Mourinho mugging

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Failure and Pep Guardiola are words that haven’t appeared together in the same sentence for some time, but the Barcelona coach has a big task on his hands if he is to prevent them being applied to his side’s end of the season.

He was right to argue after Wednesday’s Champions League exit to Inter Milan that it was hardly a case of his team being a victim of their own success.

Quarrymen give Barca the edge over Real

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SOCCER-SPAIN/A Spanish soccer club’s youth programme is known as the “cantera”, or quarry, and Barcelona’s current dominance of Real Madrid highlights how the Catalans have mined theirs much more efficiently than their arch rivals.

Seven of the Barca players who started in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Real at the Bernabeu, a record fourth straight win for coach and former quarryman Pep Guardiola in “El Clasico”, came through the club’s youth system, including Argentine maestro Lionel Messi, Spain midfielder Xavi and goalkeeper Victor Valdes.

Not a classic “Clasico” but a fascinating experience

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SOCCER-SPAIN/Saturday’s game between Real Madrid and Barcelona had been dubbed “the match of the millennium” by sports daily Marca and for anyone living in Spain it was impossible to ignore “El Clasico” in the days leading up to the clash at Real’s Bernabeu stadium.

There was certainly plenty at stake for the protagonists, not least the chance to take a big step toward winning La Liga, but the country seemed in the grip of a fever at least as intense as anything I have seen during a major international tournament.

Should fans have the right to buy into their clubs?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/BARCELONA-PRESIDENTInteresting story in the Guardian this morning, saying Britain’s Labour government, if re-elected, are ready to unleash plans to give fans the right to buy their clubs when they come up for sale, and to insist that current club owners give up a stake as high as 25 percent to their supporters.

If we can leave the politics aside (there is an election on the way, and the opposition Conservatives have said acting now, after 13 years in power, makes it a pre-vote gimmick) do you think this is a good idea?

Sevilla training ground highlights disparity in La Liga resources

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Seeing Sevilla’s rather dilapidated training ground for the first time in the beautiful Andalusian sunshine on Monday morning really brought home the gulf in resources compared with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Currently fourth in the domestic league, a whopping 21 points behind leaders Real and second-placed Barca, Sevilla are the only other Spanish side still alive in this season’s Champions League but their Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios is a world away from both the Madrid club’s enormous, state-of-the-art Ciudad Real Madrid out near Barajas airport and Barca’s gleaming Ciutat esportiva Joan Gamper.

Real Madrid need stability — not another new coach

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SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/REALReal Madrid president Florentino Perez will have two conflicting voices whispering in his ear as he contemplates Wednesday’s devastating Champions League exit against Olympique Lyon.

His better angel will be telling him to stay calm, remember that the Primera Liga title is still very much in play, that the team has actually looked pretty good lately and that a bit of stability is long overdue.

A quarter of a billion euros doesn’t get you much these days…

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SOCCER/Uncomfortable questions are being asked about Real Madrid’s policy of forking out a quarter of a billion euros on players following their shock elimination from the Champions League at the hands of Olympique Lyon on Wednesday.

Florentino Perez returned for a second term as president pledging to end Real’s five-year run of failure in Europe’s elite club competition but the nine-times European champions’ dream of a 10th triumph in May’s final at their Bernabeu stadium was shattered by the French side.

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