Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Is Benitez at fault for Inter implosion?

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SOCCER-ITALY/A lack of fit players, lack of effective training, lack of buys, lack of hunger, lack of Jose Mourinho.

The possible reasons for Inter Milan’s troubles, which leave coach Rafael Benitez clinging to his job, are widespread and not all his fault but the treble winners have to do something to reverse their steady decline.

Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Chievo, which put Inter nine points off top spot, followed the derby defeat by AC Milan and media reports reckon Benitez could be axed if the holders slip up at home to Twente Enschede in Wednesday’s Champions League clash. Samuel Eto’o's crazy Zidane-like headbutt against Chievo, which is set to lead to a lengthy Serie A ban, comes at the worst possible time for the Spaniard.

A glance at the factors behind their poor form shows Benitez is only half to blame.

Italian referee leads the way in battling racist chants

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SOCCER-ITALY/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.

Ibra needs more than jeers to prove his worth

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Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ignored the predictable boos on his first return to Inter Milan without answering the sceptics who still doubt his ability to finally make a mark in Europe.

Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in the Champions League Group F opener prompted more questions than answers for both sides, even if Barca shaded the contest in terms of chances and technical ability.

Who will win the battle between Ibra and Eto’o?

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Boy, the Champions League is back with a bang. How much juicier can you get than holders Barcelona at Inter Milan in their first game?  

If the Spanish champions against their Italian counterparts wasn’t enough, we’ve got the added spice of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o playing against their former clubs at the first possible opportunity following their extraordinary close-season swap deal.

Eto’o's arrival could change Inter’s entire approach

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It is a bit early to be making judgements on the new Inter Milan (especially after a lacklustre first league game) but the 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan at the weekend suggests the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic swap could completely change their way of playing.

Ibrahimovic, who scored on his Barcelona debut in Monday’s 3-0 win over Sporting Gijon, was everything to Inter. He was the target man, the talisman, the go-to man when a flash of inspiration or a goal was needed.

Unimaginative Inter could have taken punt on Cassano

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Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho has again lamented the lack of a playmaker* following Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Bari in their Serie A opener.

Creativity was already a problem for the champions last season and now talented striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has left for Barcelona, it is difficult to see where inspiration is going to come from judging by their Super Cup defeat to Lazio and the Bari draw.

Can Ibrahimovic fit in at Barca after Super Cup showing?

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Barcelona’s new signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given a glowing report by Pep Guardiola after their Spanish Super Cup victory over Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

But the doubts remain as to whether his qualities will be enough to replace or improve upon those the side have lost with the swap deal which sent former number nine Samuel Eto’o to Inter Milan.

Why are Barcelona paying so much for Ibrahimovic?

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If your first reaction on hearing about the Samuel Eto’o-Zlatan Ibrahimovic deal was “How much?” then I can assure you you weren’t the only one.

To land Ibrahimovic, who is due to be presented this evening at the Nou Camp, Barcelona will not only hand over the Cameroon international striker but will also give Inter Milan a reported 45 million euros and the loan, for one season, of Aleksandr Hleb.

Will Ibra-Eto’o swap actually happen?

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It would be among the biggest swap deals ever in soccer but there is a long way to go before it becomes reality.

Inter Milan and Barcelona may have agreed to the transfers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto’o (plus a bit of cash for the Italians on top) but the players have yet to agree terms and that looks trickier than might be expected.

Should Barcelona let Eto’o go?

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While Real Madrid were tying up their deal to sign Kaka from AC Milan, Barcelona seemed curiously ambivalent about the possibility of losing one of their big-name players, the  Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o .

The 28-year-old has a contract until 2010 when he will be able to leave free of cost, unless an extension can be agreed or the club decide to cash in on him now.

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