Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
How can the upcoming domestic matches beat this week’s European action for goals? 19 were scored in Thursday’s four Europa League quarter-finals, with a further 18 coming in the four Champions League last eight ties on Tuesday and Wednesday.
What the top leagues around Europe do have however is drama, with most leagues set to go down to the wire, whereas only two out of eight of next week’s quarter-final second legs are in the balance.
Strong belief in emulating the 1999 treble must surely be gripping Old Trafford after Manchester United’s somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win at Chelsea in their Champions League quarter-final first leg, but Alex Ferguson and his troops will also be aware they are still a long way from crossing the finish line first in any competition.
With Wayne Rooney losing his appeal to have a two-game ban reduced and the ever-present threat of injuries crippling a squad well short of the talent of the 1999 crop, United will once again have to dig deep into their resources as the strength-sapping season reaches its climax.
Where to start after four brilliant Champions League quarter-finals, even if the intrigue for next week’s second legs has all but gone from three of the ties with Barcelona leading Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1, Real Madrid 4-0 up against Tottenham Hotspur and Schalke 04 in total charge against holders Inter Milan after the 5-2 triumph at the San Siro.
However, the appetite has most certainly been whet for the very probable ‘Clasico’ semi-final between Real and Barcelona, a meeting of the world’s two best players Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. April 26 or 27 and May 3 or 4. Do not miss these dates. Not that Spain’s two leading clubs are thinking that far ahead.
Got your breath back yet? Perfected the Dejan Stankovic volley in your mirror ready to take out on the pitch? Well Tuesday’s first installment of four Champions League quarter-final evenings was spectacular and there is more to come on Wednesday.
First, a recap of last night. The Real Madrid backlash did kick in, though against the 10 men of Tottenham Hotspur and two extremely well-taken goals that on another night may have gone wide of the post.
Enjoy. That we will. Cristiano Ronaldo is back for Real Madrid and Gareth Bale for Tottenham Hotspur as four teams prepare for their biggest games this season in the Champions League quarter-final first legs on Tuesday.
Spurs forward Rafael van der Vaart is returning to the Bernabeu and would clearly love to make an impact on his old side.
With all the hype surrounding this week’s Champions League quarter-finals, the events of the weekend seem like a distant memory. Here’s a recap of a fascinating set of results around Europe the past few days.
Administrators, managers, players, pundits and journalists should all hang their heads in shame at the news that Mark Clattenburg, one of the best referees in the English game, has felt the need to take a month off in the wake of the relentless criticism of his performances
Last month Clattenburg was in the spotlight after failing to book or send off Wayne Rooney when the Manchester United striker elbowed Wigan Athletic’s James McCarthy in an off-the-ball incident in a Premier League match that eventually led to FIFA and the FA arguing about whether video evidence could be used to penalise a player after a referee had seen and taken action on an incident
Wayne Rooney’s overhead scissors kick goal to win the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Saturday has sparked a tidal wave of hyperbole in the British media, with “wonder goal” the most popular tag used to describe it.
The general consensus was not that it was just the nailed-on winner for “goal of the season” but was also the best of Rooney’s career and even the best ever seen at Old Trafford.
Wayne Rooney said it was his greatest goal and Alex Ferguson said he had never seen anything like it. Even opposition manager Roberto Mancini had to applaud.
So many times you see players fall flat on their faces as they attempt an overhead wonder goal but any smirks that might have been rising as Rooney embarked on what looked like mission impossible were quickly replaced by utter disbelief at Old Trafford on Sunday.
So Wayne Rooney says he would only have left Manchester United to go abroad. Could the fact that foreign suitors seemed shy to express any interest have anything to do with his sudden U-turn to stay at the Premier League club?
Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho was right in his prediction that Rooney would stay after all. He told United to ”give me call” if the striker’s departure was on the cards but never went further than that.