Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
So England coach Fabio Capello has been pretty true to his word about only wanting in-form players in his World Cup squad.
Theo Walcott will not be going to South Africa after two patchy friendly performances where he did a lot of running but the end product again just was not there. That hat-trick in qualification in Croatia in the end did nothing for his cause.
Darren Bent, Tom Huddlestone, Adam Johnson, Leighton Baines, Scott Parker and Michael Dawson are the other names to miss out.
Emile Heskey keeps his place, and fans may mutter that Capello has broken his in-form rule for the Aston Villa striker, but his decision to select Stephen Warnock as spare left back instead of a nervous Baines sticks to his principles.
When Germany captain Michael Ballack was ruled out of the World Cup following a scan on his ankle last week there was no doubt this was a major setback for the three-times champions. By far the most experienced player, Ballack was the team’s leader having taken Germany to World Cup and Euro finals. The loss of midfielder Christian Traesch, only days after Ballack’s injury, could prove an even heavier blow.
Traesch injured his ankle in a friendly match against South Tirol this week and will be out for six weeks. Traesch was seen as someone who could take over the bulk of Ballack’s midfield duties. But with both of them out coach Joachim Loew has got to seriously reshuffle his squad to strike the right balance in defence and midfield without compromising either.
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.
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).