Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Does striptease count as unsporting behaviour?

Catania’s Gianvito Plasmati engaged in an unusual bit of distraction when he pulled down his shorts before team mate Giuseppe Mascara curled in a freekick during a 3-2 Serie A win over Torino.

According to Italy’s referees’ chief and former top official Pierluigi Collina, showing off your underpants to a rival goalkeeper counts as unsporting behaviour and deserved a yellow card.

“It was a student joke,” Plasmati said. “It certainly wasn’t a lack of respect for opponents and the public.”

At first no one noticed Plasmati’s stunt because pundits were more concerned with Catania’s controversial tactic of building their own wall, five metres behind the Torino wall, and then charging forward in time to avoid being offside when Mascara took the kick.

Imprisonment – a good way to motivate a struggling team?

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On the whole, the lot of a Serie A player is sweet – the pay and the food are good while there are plenty of pretty monuments to see on your day off.

A downside, however, is that if your team are doing badly, you risk living in conditions of near imprisonment for several weeks.

Del Piero…34 years young

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Italy coach Marcello Lippi doesn’t want him, his predecessor Roberto Donadoni wasn’t keen, but Juventus striker Alessandro Del Piero just keeps on coming up with the goods.

Few visiting players get standing ovations at the Bernabeu, but Il Capitano deserved it after two sublime strikes in Juve’s shock 2-0 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday which sent the in-form Turin club to the Champions League last 16.

We need a Hull or a Hoffenheim in the Champions League

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It’s been a great season so far for people living above Germany’s white sausage equator, as fearless Hoffenheim and classy Bayer Leverkusen continue to make Bayern Munich look very ordinary, and very worried, indeed.

Bayern have won their last four games in the Bundesliga but that run has merely been enough to prevent them falling any further behind Hoffenheim, who have won five in a row, scoring 17 goals in the process, and Leverkusen, who have racked up four successive 2-0 victories.

Milan are finally top but can they stay there?

Believe it of not but the mighty AC Milan are clear at the top of Serie A for the first time since May 2004, when they last won the scudetto.

For a team which won the European Cup in 2007, that is an awful long time to go without leading the table on your own, not even for a week in September.

Could Beckham be the new Pirlo?

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If David Beckham’s loan move to AC Milan goes through, one of the options coach Carlo Ancelotti has in mind is to use him as an alternative to Andrea Pirlo as a deep midfield playmaker.

It’s an interesting possibility which could help Beckham edge towards Peter Shilton’s record of 125 England caps as a protagonist rather than the bit player he is at the moment.

Gilardino handball goal ban sets interesting precedent

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Imagine the scenario. FIFA decides to use post-match video evidence at the 1986 World Cup. After Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the quarter-final, the Argentinian is banned for two matches and the course of football history changes.

Belgium beat West Germany in the final in Mexico City.

A two-game ban is exactly what Alberto Gilardino has received for deliberately scoring the opener with his arm in Fiorentina’s 3-1 win at Palermo on Sunday.

Ronaldinho thrives…with a little help from his friends

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Ronaldinho

“So we didn’t make a mistake after all,” quipped AC Milan owner and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after Ronaldinho scored twice in the 3-0 win over Sampdoria on Sunday.

The Brazilian, who went badly off the boil in his final two seasons at Barcelona, has also had an inconsistent start to his San Siro career after a 21 million euro move.

Benitez to Juventus? Not likely

The press in both Italy and Britain are speculating that Juventus want Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez to replace Claudio Ranieri.

On face value the rumour looks plausible.

Juve have not won in four games and there is talk of dressing room unrest while Benitez has obviously had his run-ins with the bosses at Anfield, which is looking no nearer to demolition and a nearby stadium built.

What would a great goal be worth on the art market?

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Inter’s Ibrahimovic

Having seen replays of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s remarkable backheel goal for Inter Milan on Saturday, I reckon it’s one of those rare moments when football reaches the realm of art.

I realise you risk sounding like a wally by comparing something frivolous like football to such a serious business. (more…)

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