Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
from Left field:
Click on the link below to join Reuters for the three-week European soccer party.
Our live blog will be running constantly and will bring you all the latest news, goals, photos and video.
It is easy to comment with no registration needed. Whether you are a fan of England or France, Denmark or Spain, Russia or Netherlands, our live blog is the place to follow all 16 teams in Ukraine and Poland. Our roving reporters will be at all the training camps and matches.
Shakhtar Donetsk’s impressive 3-2 win at AS Roma in their Champions League last 16, first leg match was perhaps overshadowed by Arsenal’s unlikely comeback against Barcelona on the same night, but it will have nonetheless reverberated around Europe.
It would be audacious to expect Shakhtar to appear in the final at Wembley in May, but the Ukrainian champions appear to have one foot in the last eight after a textbook display of counter-attacking football at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The Euro 2012 qualifying draw in Warsaw got off to a mixed start with a less than tuneful performance from a Polish boyband.
However, when we finally reached the main event, those famous coloured balls did not disappoint with Andriy Shevchenko (who surely should have been voting in Ukraine’s election) helping dish out some fabulous encounters like England v Wales. Germany, Turkey and Austria are in the same group while Denmark, Norway and Iceland will also all meet.
France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.
There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of “The Hand of God II” and “The Hand of Henry” in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.
Depending on the results of the second legs of the UEFA World Cup playoffs on Wednesday, next year’s tournament in South Africa could contain rather too many of football’s lesser lights for some fans out there.
Portugal, France and Russia, could all perish and the tournament, which is supposed to be the pinnacle of the game, could have a cast list including Honduras, New Zealand, North Korea, Slovakia, Bosnia and Slovenia.
So now we know which European teams are in the World Cup playoffs and we have a pretty good idea of the seedings, though FIFA’s updated rankings out at the end of the week will provide confirmation ahead of Monday’s draw.
It looks like Russia, France, Greece and Portugal will be the seeded teams with Ukraine, Ireland, Bosnia and Slovenia playing them. After Argentina’s qualification in the final match against Uruguay, it looks increasingly likely that all the big teams will be there in South Africa.
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.
Yet again I find myself asking the question: why did UEFA award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine?
Questions marks have again been raised over the decision by European soccer’s governing body after it was yet again forced to set another deadline for Ukraine to meet is criteria for a number of its venues.