Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Soccer Break Monday

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SOCCER-SPAIN/CLASICOReal Madrid 1 Barcelona 1. Pictures of the teams suggest they were both pleased with the result but you would imagine Barcelona came away the happier side. Though Real were down to ten men for almost the entire second half so must be relieved not to have lost.

Who gained the upper hand then from the first of four clasicos between last Saturday and May 3? Wednesday will be an interesting affair in the King’s Cup final, a one off match as opposed to the two-legged Champions League semi-final.

Another fierce rivalry that was played out over the weekend was the Manchester derby, where the blue half of the city emerged victorious to ease the pressure on Roberto Mancini who must surely fancy his chances of beating Stoke City in the FA Cup final to hand City their first piece of silverware since 1976.

Ugly scenes marred the end of the match in which Rio Ferdinand and Mario Balotelli clashed but the United captain was quick to play down the spat. Balotelli in the news again though, will he stay at City?

Does anybody actually care who captains England?

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/Last week, when Chelsea held a news conference to preview their Champions League match against FC Copenhagen, manager Carlo Ancelotti spent the first 20 minutes fielding questions about John Terry’s re-instatement as England captain.

The Chelsea press officer finally stepped in in an attempt to steer the subject back to club football by asking if there were any questions about the forthcoming match or for fellow guest, defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Soccer Break Tuesday

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPThe pain for Arsenal fans just rolls on it would seem, as a trip to my office’s kitchen confirmed on Monday when I heard two voices grumbling about “Van Persie” and “not enough shots”.

The North London club’s woes of the last two weeks or so have been much publicised, but perhaps at last there is some news to cheer Gunners fans up in the return of former keeper Jens Lehmann? Who would you prefer in goal? Lehmann, or Arsenal’s only currently available goalie Manuel Almunia, in good form in the last two matches against Barcelona and Manchester United?

Drogba, Ferdinand…who next for the World Cup curse?

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A top player seems to get injured on the eve of every major tournament and this year it looks like Didier Drogba and Rio Ferdinand have suffered the World Cup curse.

Ivory Coast captain Drogba is seriously doubtful for the extravaganza after injuring his elbow in a friendly against Japan on Friday.

UPDATE: Predicting the scores — round 12

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TUESDAY UPDATE: Whatever you think about the penalty which gave Liverpool a 2-2 draw with Birmingham, it certainly made a difference to our prediction league.

Miles Evans got a full five points for correctly predicting that score while he was even more pleased that John Terry ignored some newspaper headlines and secured a 1-0 win for Chelsea over Manchester United.

Is Ferdinand past his peak?

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Manchester United’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool has again exposed the chinks in the Premier League champions’ armour, notably their defensive frailties against top level opposition.

While United overcame Rio Ferdinand’s howler in a 4-3 win over City in the Manchester derby, the England centre back’s lack of pace and cutting edge cost Alex Ferguson’s side dearly against Liverpool.

Does the captaincy really matter in football?

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Here’s a question for you: Who is Manchester United’s official club captain?

The hullabaloo surrounding the England cricket skipper has shown how different the role is in the two sports.

A little humility goes a long way for England

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Wayne Rooney

England have made their best start to a World Cup qualifying campaign and Wayne Rooney thinks he’s playing at his best, so why haven’t Fabio Capello’s men been bragging about how they’re going to bring home the trophy in 2010?

What has been striking about the Capello era is a new sense of humility and realism that England players had long lacked.

Should fans be criticised for booing their own team?

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Fabio CapelloSupporters are in the firing line after incidents at this weekend’s World Cup qualifiers.

England fans were criticised by coach Fabio Capello and stand-in captain Rio Ferdinand for booing Ashley Cole after his mistake led to a goal in the 5-1 win over Kazakhstan. 

Vlog on the Pitch — who’d be your England captain?

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Fabio Capello has named John Terry as captain for England’s friendly against the United States on Wednesday, which may be some slim consolation for that penalty miss in the Champions League final.

Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard have previously held the captaincy under Capello. who will presumably make a decision on who gets the job on a long-term basis before England start their qualifying campaign for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010.

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