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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday – Champions League recap

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/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.

There is of course more top European action on Thursday in the Europa League, which has a distinctly Portuguese feel this year. Not that Spain's Villarreal agree mind you.

In 2003, who can forget the young Jose Mourinho leading Porto to UEFA Cup glory and the way he would rise to the top of the managerial tree in years to come. This time round there could be a similar story. Porto's current coach is Andre Villas-Boas, who used to work under his compatriot. Could he be the new Mourinho? Watch this space...

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday

SOCCER-CHAMPIONSGareth Bale. The dashing Welsh winger primed to scare the living daylights out of England on Saturday. Injured. Did anyone else hear that collective sigh of relief from England fans today?

But what about Tottenham Hotspur fans. Are you worried your star man’s recent struggles with injury could hamper your club’s Champions League quarter-final chances against Real Madrid?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Wednesday

SOCCER-EURO/Happy middle of the week to you all, and if like me you are in London where the sun is out and there is very little football to write about, you are forgiven for thinking the season is over and the grasscourt tennis season is about to kick in.

Don't look so worried, David (right). While the weather will probably change before I’ve finished writing this blog, the good news is it’s only March and there is plenty more football left. It's just this week it’s the international break.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Friday – Champions League draw special

SOCCER-EUROPA/Well well well. Now the Champions League really is wide open..

So here's that quarter-final draw again:

Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea v Manchester United

Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk

Inter Milan v Schalke 04

As Gary Lineker put it, there will be an English team in the semi-finals, but could Tottenham make it two sides? Real are certainly not invincible.

Now, before taking a look at all the domestic leagues over the weekend, a recap of Thursday's highlights from the Europa League. Quite a night of upsets.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Inter v Bayern means repeat of 2010 Champions League final

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:

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!

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Reuters Champions League podcast

Join us for a look at the first round of matches in the 2010-11 Champions League. Paul Radford, Neil Maidment, Owen Wyatt and Mark Meadows chew the fat with host Kevin Fylan.

Listen!

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The strange story of Ibra and Pep

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As Barcelona close in on the signing of Javier Mascherano from Liverpool, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s future at the club seems to becoming ever more complicated.

Coach Pep Guardiola’s decision to move for the combative Mascherano is understandable after Yaya Toure’s departure to Manchester City.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Real put faith in youth to topple Barcelona

SOCCER-WORLD/Real Madrid’s signing of Germany midfielder Mesut Ozil is further proof that they have opted for youth and pace this year, after glitz and glamour failed to knock Barcelona off their perch last season.

Poster boys Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema were Real’s star signings in a 250 million euro rebuilding programme last summer, but they only managed second place as another trophyless campaign ended back in May.

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