Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Belgrade derby was full of nice not nasty surprises

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I attended my first Belgrade derby on Saturday and all the preconceptions I might have had were happily blown away in the brisk Serbian wind.

The fixture is widely regarded as the most fiery and dangerous derby in world football but despite the game almost being a title decider, the sting was taken out of the occasion by Red Star ultras refusing to turn up at Partizan’s stadium.

Religious convictions had told them the game should not be played on Easter Saturday so they boycotted.

So there was no violence whatsoever, but that didn’t stop a huge number of riot police being there.

Soccer Break Friday

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SOCCER-EURO/SPAINIt’s gone quiet on the football news front though the sun’s still out in Europe as we await another weekend of unrelenting on-pitch drama in the Euro 2012 qualifiers.

Anyone out there lucky enough to be attending the Serbia v Northern Ireland match? 240 fans got the nod.

Soccer Break Wednesday

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SOCCER-EURO/Happy middle of the week to you all, and if like me you are in London where the sun is out and there is very little football to write about, you are forgiven for thinking the season is over and the grasscourt tennis season is about to kick in.

Don’t look so worried, David (right). While the weather will probably change before I’ve finished writing this blog, the good news is it’s only March and there is plenty more football left. It’s just this week it’s the international break.

Serb violence shows soccer still struggling to stop flares

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SOCCER-EURO/Italian police and stewards knew Tuesday’s Euro qualifier with Serbia could be a tense affair given the two countries’ problems with hooliganism and the high-profile nature of the match.

Why then were so many Serbian fans able to smuggle in flares and cause an abandonment?

Prandelli breaks the mould by naming his teams a day early

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SOCCER-EURO/In rugby, teams are often named several days before matches — a habit I’ve never really understood.

If there is any doubt about what lineup you will field, surely it makes sense to keep the opposition coach guessing until the final moment? The advantage may be slight, but it’s there and it might make the other coach mess up his preparations if he guesses wrongly.

You can still watch Ukraine v England on TV … you just have to come to Croatia

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A quick look around the blogosphere suggests that for many England fans the idea of watching the World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in front of a computer screen at the mercy of an ISP, or at a crammed cinema, sounds about as appealing as making the long trip to Dnipropetrovsk.

But do not despair, England fans, because there is an option for those of you determined to watch it on telly.

Tosic back with a bang for Serbia, can he break through at United?

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Serbia winger Zoran Tosic has boosted his chances of playing more first team football for club and country after scoring his first two international goals in a 3-1 friendly win over South Africa in Pretoria.

The 22-year old has made only a couple of competitive first team appearances for Manchester United since his move from Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade in January and was consequently dropped by Serbia coach Radomir Antic for their 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

Can the Balkans do a World Cup quadruple?

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Soccer leagues in the Balkans are suffering from an uncontrolled outflow of talent to wealthier and more competitive environments in Europe and it’s a trend that’s benefiting some of the region’s national teams.

At least three countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia stand a good chance of reaching next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

Tosic and Ljajic not yet United class

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Speculation that Manchester United are after Serbia winger Zoran Tosic has gained momentum after reports that Sir Alex Ferguson had gone to some length to obtain a work permit for the 21-year old Partizan Belgrade player.

Tosic, who has made 12 international appearances but is yet to score for his country, is a decent player with a sweet left foot from set pieces but he appeared to be as stunned as many of my colleagues here in Belgrade after being told that Ferguson sees him as an ideal long-term replacement for Ryan Giggs.

Role model Milosevic hangs up international boots

When Savo Milosevic joined Partizan Belgrade from little known Bosnian outfit Radnik Bijeljina as a 19-year old in 1992, few people imagined he would become the most capped Yugoslav player with 101 international appearances to his name.

Later this month, Milosevic will draw a curtain on his international career when Serbia entertain neighbours Bulgaria in a friendly in Belgrade. Ironically, it will be his only appearance for Serbia as he has not played for his country since it became an independent nation after the 2006 World Cup.

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