Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Carlos Tevez has quickly gained the love of supporters wherever he has played, first at Boca Juniors, then Corinthians, now in the Premier League, with his never-say-die attitude added to considerable ball skills.
On Monday in Buenos Aires, he played as if he were facing Brazil in the World Cup finals and not Canada in a friendly. He chased and harried for 70 minutes, laid on the second goal in a 5-0 win for Maxi Rodriguez, passed to Angel Di Maria for his celestial third goal of the night and got on the scoresheet himself.
Tevez will provide Diego Maradona will a headache at the finals in South Africa fighting for a place in the starting line-up among a quintet of strikers good enough to get into any top international team in the world.
“Diego’s got to open his head. I know he has an idea for his team and (playing) system, but he has to open his head and try other options too,” Tevez said last week when the squad began their World Cup preparations.
A muted send-off and a manager wanting more perhaps told the true story of England’s 3-1 friendly victory over Mexico at Wembley on Monday in which Fabio Capello was left with more questions than answers over his World Cup squad selection.
On the plus side, goalkeepers Joe Hart and in particular Robert Green would have given the Italian confidence in a position that poses a problem for fans with first-choice stopper David James still susceptible to a clanger.
The latest will be played out on Saturday when the citadel of black South African football, the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, plays host to a Super 14 rugby match involving the Blue Bulls, the team so beloved by the white Afrikaners.
Breaking news from Spain, where Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign David Villa from Valencia for 40 million euros.
The timing is interesting, coming as it does immediately after Barcelona successfully completed the defence of their league title, and before the distractions of a presidential election.
Fabio Capello has announced his provisional 30-man squad for the World Cup and the big news is that Jamie Carragher is back, while there is no place for Bobby Zamora or Owen Hargreaves.
Meanwhile Brazil have omitted Ronaldinho as expected and Italy coach Marcello Lippi has decided to leave Francesco Totti at home. Fernando Torres and Cesc Fabregas are in Spain’s squad despite injuries.
Carragher walked out on England three years ago because he was unhappy at being in so many squads but so few teams, and when he was in he did not like being played at full-back when he wanted to play centre-back.
One of the strangest experiences I ever had in a football stadium was at the Club World championship in Brazil in 2000.
A packed house had turned up at the Maracana for a double bill featuring local side Vasco da Gama against Manchester United, followed by Australia’s South Melbourne, representing Oceania, and Necaxa, the Mexican team representing CONCACAF.
How many teams will leave the World Cup happy with the refereeing? If it’s more than one I’ll be surprised as those “crucial” decisions seem to attract criticism only when teams lose.
The dissection of officials’ performances has become the staple of post-match interviews in recent years as, with one or two honourable exceptions, managers let rip (having had the benefit of replays from half-a-dozen angles of course).
FIFA is guaranteed massive revenue from the World Cup, primarily through billions of dollars in commercial and television rights, that will fill its coffers for the next four years. But that doesn’t hide the fact that soccer’s governing body has made basic errors in the ticketing structure for the first African edition of the world’s most watched sporting event.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has steadfastly supported holding the soccer spectacle in Africa despite a flood of negative reporting from Europe that said the tournament would be a disaster and that nothing would be ready in time. Those naysayers have so far been proved very wrong–the 10 stadiums, half of them stunning new venues–are ready way ahead of kickoff on June 11.
After the century of call-ups and largely meaningless tests against mediocre opposition in friendlies, not to mention the lack of direction in the qualifiers, talent and form look set to win out in the race for places in Argentina’s World Cup squad.
Most if not all 20 of the players picked by Diego Maradona for the warm-up against Germany in Munich on March 3 would appear to have booked their ticket to Argentina’s Pretoria World Cup base in June.