Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
from Left field:
For many football fans, the post-Christmas blues will be banished by the prospect of their club buying big when the transfer window opens in January.
But the out-of-contract players taking part in the FIFPro Winter Tournament in Oslo are hoping to get their futures sorted out before the window opens again.
On a full-size indoor pitch, players affiliated to Norwegians, Swedish, Finnish and Irish unions got together to play a tournament in front of invited scouts and club representatives from across the region.
All the players are out of contract, and many are desperate for a chance to stay in the game.
Sweden’s 3-2 victory over the Netherlands to qualify for Euro 2012 may have surprised many observers, but Swedish footballers have a long history of success against Dutch opposition.
The home of “Total Football” has for many years been something of a finishing school for Swedish footballers, and five of the players in the victorious Sweden squad play their club football in the Netherlands.
Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the ultimate soccer enigma.
He scores goals for fun when playing Bologna, Chievo and Palermo but often goes missing against AC Milan, Manchester United or Liverpool (which is why he is never in the running for the top awards despite the incredulity of Inter fans).
The tall-yet-skilful attacker has been racking up Serie A titles but the Champions League seems a distant prospect and with all due respect to Sweden, he is not likely to win any honours in international football.
from Left field:
Eight years ago, Mexico lost 3-1 away to Honduras in a World Cup qualifier, sunk by a Carlos Pavon hat-trick, and the defeat cost Enrique Meza his job.
Already under enormous pressure, Meza quit in the dressing room afterwards and has gone on to become a highly successful coach with Pachuca, a friendly club founded by Cornish miners whose modern-day facilities would put many of their European counterparts to shame.
During a typical football discussion at a Milan pub recently, a friend made a comment which really stayed with me.
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest there is to Van Basten.”
After thinking about it, I realised he was probably right. Ibrahimovic’s touch for a big man and his ability to score wonderful goals really do mark him out as special. It is right to talk of him in the same breath as one of Holland’s finest.
When the Spain squad for Euro 2008 was announced all the talk in the Madrid media was about the absence of “El siete de España” — Raul. Luis Aragones, they said, would regret leaving out the former national team captain and all-time top scorer.
But David Villa has made light of the supposed burden of inheriting the number seven shirt and laid the debate to rest in the space of four days with his hat-trick against Russia and superb stoppage time winner against Sweden.