Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Milan’s future could lie with Inzaghi clones

Photo

By Phil O’Connor

Defenders in Italy breathed a sigh of relief this week as Filippo Inzaghi hung up his boots. The bad news for them is that his new challenge is to produce the next generation of Italian goal-hanging greats as AC Milan’s youth team coach. 

Inzaghi was the simplest of goal-poachers, with a bloodhound’s instinct for sniffing out a chance and the cobra-like reflexes to exploit it. He was neither a dribbler nor a passer, and his career-long battle with the offside rule reached ridiculous proportions at times, but his finishing ability was second to none.

Indeed, it’s worth asking if Inzaghi’s greatest talent is something that can be taught – and if it can, is it still required?

 The manic ability of “Pippo” to make run after run off the last defender – and fail repeatedly, only to finally get one right and score – is seldom seen in the modern game, and requires enormous mental and physical endurance.

Sweden hope Ibrahimovic can sparkle now Milan are out

Photo

Phil O’Connor

There was one soccer coach just as happy as Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola on Tuesday when his side knocked AC Milan out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

That man is Sweden coach Erik Hamren.

With Euro 2012 approaching fast, Hamren will be quietly pleased that top striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be involved in the final in Munich on May 19 and can instead avoid injury and stay fresh.

Ibrahimovic answers critics but questions remain about Milan

Photo

Phil O’Connor

It’s taken a long time, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic has finally delivered a performance worthy of his talent against an English team in the Champions League.

Long scoffed at by British fans and journalists  for his pale imitation of a  top-class striker in Europe’s top competition, Zlatan delivered something of a virtuoso performance as Milan thrashed Arsenal 4-0 at the San Siro, rendering the last 16 return leg in London next month all but meaningless.

Barca tired? Not on this evidence

Photo

Men tuning in for lots of action in Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first leg ties would have rued the decision to stay in front of the TV on Valentines’ Night when Barcelona v Bayer Leverkusen and Olympique Lyon against APOEL Nicosia reached the 40-minute mark.

Both were 0-0. APOEL had not registered a shot on goal. Barcelona had dominated their German opposition with 78 per cent of possession, yet no opening score.

Va-va-voom. Vintage Henry scores on Arsenal return.

Photo

The clock said 68 minutes, and no one at the Emirates Stadium in north London was looking at the action on the pitch as the fourth official held aloft his lit-up board to signal the re-introduction of Thierry Henry to English football.

Ten minutes later and he’d scored the game’s eventual winner. Comebacks don’t get this good this often.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Inter v Bayern means repeat of 2010 Champions League final

Photo

SOCCER-SPAIN/Holders Inter Milan will face Bayern Munich, the team they beat to clinch the trophy last season, in the Champions League last 16 with a repeat of the 2006 final also due after Barcelona were drawn to meet Arsenal. 

Bayern might actually be favourites given Inter's struggles so far this term while Barca and Lionel Messi destroyed Arsenal in the quarter-finals second leg last season despite the two sides' similar style of play.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Where does benchwarmer Ronaldinho go from here?

Photo

AC Milan are flying high at the top of Serie A but Ronaldinho is stuck to the bench with Massimiliano Allegri-branded glue.

The struggling Brazilian has started once in the last nine games and that was in the lacklustre 2-0 home defeat by Ajax Amsterdam, Milan's only loss during the spell.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast – 4

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Martyn Herman for a look at the week's Champions League matches. Will Real Madrid be too much for AC Milan? Our panel seems to think so.

Listen!

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast, episode 3

This week the podcast panel discuss the clash of European aristocracy at the Bernabeu, where nine-times winners Real Madrid host seven-tiems champions AC Milan, plus the Wayne Rooney saga and the plight of Liverpool.

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Toby Davis

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast – 2

Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Karim Benzema and Juan Mata are among the strikers up for discussion in the latest edition of our Reuters Sports Champions League podcast. Kevin Fylan is joined by Ed Osmond, Owen Wyatt, Paul Radford and Mark Meadows.

Listen!

  •