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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday – Champions League recap

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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 Friday

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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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Transfer deadline day live blog

We're following all the deals as they happen on the final day of activity in the transfer market. Comments always welcome...

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Should fans have the right to buy into their clubs?

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SOCCER-SPAIN/BARCELONA-PRESIDENTInteresting story in the Guardian this morning, saying Britain's Labour government, if re-elected, are ready to unleash plans to give fans the right to buy their clubs when they come up for sale, and to insist that current club owners give up a stake as high as 25 percent to their supporters.

If we can leave the politics aside (there is an election on the way, and the opposition Conservatives have said acting now, after 13 years in power, makes it a pre-vote gimmick) do you think this is a good idea?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

No name calling just yet please, say Leverkusen

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So they lost their first match of the season and dropped back three points from the top.

Big deal says Bayer Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes after their 3-2 loss to Nuremberg on Sunday. He is quick to reject any of the tags that Leverkusen have had to deal with for much of the past 15 years, like "Neverkusen" and "Vizekusen".

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Even Bundesliga billionaires consider salary cap

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The credit crunch is biting into German soccer, with teams starting to consider the idea of salary caps to further reduce annual running costs.

It was Bayern Munich manager Uli Hoeness who first warned some time ago that the financial downturn would hit Bundesliga clubs, especially mid-table ones, who would not be able to balance their budgets. Now Bayer Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller and, more surprisingly, Hoffenheim billionaire backer Dietmar Hopp have come out in favour of salary caps.

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