Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
How can the upcoming domestic matches beat this week’s European action for goals? 19 were scored in Thursday’s four Europa League quarter-finals, with a further 18 coming in the four Champions League last eight ties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
What the top leagues around Europe do have however is drama, with most leagues set to go down to the wire, whereas only two out of eight of next week’s quarter-final second legs are in the balance.
Got your breath back yet? Perfected the Dejan Stankovic volley in your mirror ready to take out on the pitch? Well Tuesday’s first installment of four Champions League quarter-final evenings was spectacular and there is more to come on Wednesday.
First, a recap of last night. The Real Madrid backlash did kick in, though against the 10 men of Tottenham Hotspur and two extremely well-taken goals that on another night may have gone wide of the post.
Administrators, managers, players, pundits and journalists should all hang their heads in shame at the news that Mark Clattenburg, one of the best referees in the English game, has felt the need to take a month off in the wake of the relentless criticism of his performances
Last month Clattenburg was in the spotlight after failing to book or send off Wayne Rooney when the Manchester United striker elbowed Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy in an off-the-ball incident in a Premier League match that eventually led to FIFA and the FA arguing about whether video evidence could be used to penalise a player after a referee had seen and taken action on an incident
Juventus winger Milos Krasic dived to win a penalty in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Bologna. We know this because his team mates have admitted it, even if the replay evidence was pretty clear anyway. No contact at all and no slip.
Justice was done for Bologna when Vincenzo Iaquinta fluffed the spotkick but if he had scored, the goal would have stood and there is nothing in soccer’s rules to reverse it.
Italian soccer has long struggled with racist chanting, a horror which has largely been stamped out in countries like England and Germany.
The problem persists in Italy but finally the tide is turning and ignorant fans are being beaten.
If Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk had slapped down Nigel de Jong after the World Cup final, Hatem Ben Arfa might now not be facing six months out with a broken leg.
Instead, only after a second “robust” challenge has De Jong been punished by being dropped for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers with Moldova and Sweden.
I watched the Brazil v Ivory Coast match in the bar of a Cape Town media hotel on Sunday and, not that it was really needed, was given another reminder of what an impossible job referees have in modern football.
When Luis Fabiano broke through to score Brazil’s second goal, the reaction of around 60 watching journalists ranged from joy to disappointment – but nobody was crying “handball.”
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).
Sunday’s Milan derby had just about everything.
Red cards, controversies, a missed penalty, great play, Jose Mourinho his usual outlandish self and a another stunning Inter Milan performance (plus unused Inter substitute Marco Materazzi bizarrely walking around at full-time wearing a face mask of Silvio Berlusconi.)
For the leaders to beat their main title rivals 2-0 with nine men is just another example of the remarkable grit of Mourinho’s side.
Around the world referees are forever criticised by fans, players, managers and the media but an Uzbekistan official has managed to buck the trend, receiving an unusually warm welcome after being named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) referee of the year.
Fans at Tashkent airport blew horns and trumpets to celebrate the return of Ravshan Irmatov, a candidate to referee at next year’s World Cup, after he won the award for a second successive year.