Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday

SOCCER-WORLDThe first day of the fourth month means April fools day, so we would really love to hear from you if there are any dubious stories doing the rounds.

Here are some. Frank Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ at the World Cup is to be finally given. Ronaldo will start playing for Spain. And here is a list of five other classics from the past.

How about Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho for Manchester United? Or do you agree that West Ham United would have been in the hunt for Europe bar refereeing decisions?

Back to this weekend, and the title races in Spain and Italy are really hotting up as our previews will tell you. In Germany, Borussia Dortmund are still well clear but need to steady the ship.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

4-2-3-1…4-5-1…4-4-2…that’ll be four midfielders and two forwards then?

So Fabio Capello's masterstroke in revitalising Wayne Rooney and turning England from World Cup no-hopers to instant Euro 2012 favourites was....to tell the Manchester United striker to hang back a bit.

That sage advice, if most of the English press is to be believed, transformed England's formation from a prehistoric 4-4-2 to the liquid 4-5-1 that all the modern young bucks were using in South Africa.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Did the punishment fit the Suarez crime?

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When Uruguay's Luis Suarez handled the ball in the final seconds of extra-time in the World Cup quarter-final against Ghana, the ball was heading across the line for a dramatic winning goal.

The officials did well to spot the offence in a crowded area at the end of what must have been a tiring encounter to be in charge of. But did the punishment of a penalty and a red card for Suarez really fit the crime?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

England defence crumble in German masterclass

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England coach Fabio Capello would do well to take a transcript copy of Germany coach Joachim Loew’s post-match press conference – because in it he would find all the simple reasons why his side were trounced 4-1 and sent packing from the World Cup on Sunday.

In it, Loew rather clinically explained to the international press sat before him that his side were instructed to target John Terry, pull him out of position and pretty much walk into the huge gaps created in England’s snail-paced central rearguard.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup podcast – day 14

Listen!

Kevin Fylan, Paul Radford, Andy Cawthorne and Felix Bate discuss a few of the forthcoming second round matches at the World Cup, including the classic Germany v England.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Don’t blame the referees, blame the players

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I watched the Brazil v Ivory Coast match in the bar of a Cape Town media hotel on Sunday and, not that it was really needed, was given another reminder of what an impossible job referees have in modern football.

When Luis Fabiano broke through to score Brazil's second goal, the reaction of around 60 watching journalists ranged from joy to disappointment - but nobody was crying "handball."

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Swiss breathe much-needed life into World Cup

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Who would have thought it would fall to Switzerland to rescue the World Cup from drowning in a sea of tedium?

Until the nation that voted against giving itself an extra day's public holiday stunned European champions Spain 1-0 in Durban on Wednesday, the first week of the World Cup had been desperately disappointing.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The U.S. and soccer – that joke isn’t funny anymore

SOCCER-USA/Even though the results of the United States team in international competition indicate the country has become a respectable force in the game, in the past 12 months beating European champions Spain and drawing with presumed World Cup contenders England for example, there remain many who doubt whether soccer can ever capture the imagination of the sporting public in the United States.

The main problem Europeans, in particular English fans, appear to have with the status of soccer in the U.S. is that it is not the number one sport in the country. Not even number two or three in fact. And the fact is that there is no-one in the soccer business in the U.S. who would pretend they are in a position to overtake, on a day-to-day basis, the NFL, the NBA or Major League Baseball.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

A South Africa rugby match is a whole other world

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The contrast between the highly-controlled environs of the soccer World Cup venues and the likes of Cape Town's Newlands stadium, home to a South Africa v France rugby test on Saturday, was marked.

At Newlands, the supporter is king. For decades fans have turned up early with their own food and lit hundreds of barbeques, or brais as they are known in South Africa.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Italy finally get to concentrate on World Cup

It's been a funny build-up to the World Cup for holders Italy.

The words "South Africa" have barely been mentioned in the last week despite the Azzurri being huddled up in an Alpine ski resort trying to get used to altitude conditions.

Hardly anyone has talked about the World Cup with the focus instead being on a new coach after the tournament and which clubs players will be at next season.

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