Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Milan’s future could lie with Inzaghi clones

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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.

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?

Why Italy won the Fed Cup

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Italy was victorious in the Fed Cup final versus the USA this past weekend. It was not a surprise at all because the American side was missing Serena and Venus Williams. Had the Williams sisters been healthy it most likely would have been an American victory.

The Italian side is a very strong team with French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and world class player Flavia Pennetta playing at number 1 and 2 respectively. Day one was very routine for the Italians; Schiavone won easily against 18-year-old Coco Vandeweghe and Pennetta beat Mattek-Sands convincingly as well. Day two was much more interesting because Melanie Oudin of USA came in for the injured Mattek-Sands.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Prandelli breaks the mould by naming his teams a day early

SOCCER-EURO/In rugby, teams are often named several days before matches -- a habit I've never really understood.

If there is any doubt about what lineup you will field, surely it makes sense to keep the opposition coach guessing until the final moment? The advantage may be slight, but it's there and it might make the other coach mess up his preparations if he guesses wrongly.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Euro 2012 qualifiers – live

We're following all tonight's Euro 2012 qualifiers live. Join us here for updates, comments and pix ... and details of all the goals as they go in.

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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

France to host Euro 2016

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Favourites France have been chosen to host Euro 2016 after beating Italy and Turkey.

UEFA President Michel Platini, a proud Frenchman, whipped round the card in Geneva to reveal France's name.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Should Totti be allowed to make World Cup comeback?

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Italy coach Marcello Lippi says we won't know until next week whether Francesco Totti will come out of international retirement at the World Cup.

It's unclear if the wait is because Totti has not decided yet, Lippi has not made up his mind or they are just building the tension ready for the announcement of the 30-man preliminary squad on May 11.

Italy must be wary of my old school chum McLaughlin

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Italy’s marauding pack should tread carefully if they think they can pick on Ireland’s debut flanker Kevin McLaughlin in Saturday’s Six Nations opener.

Why? Because this writer has been there, done that and has the mental schoolboy scars to prove it.

What are the odds on getting the Six Nations winner right?

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Picking the winner of the Six Nations championship is always a tricky task as the vagaries of form and the fixture list ensure that no two seasons are the same.

France, who finished third last season, are rated 6/4 favourites by Ladbrokes while grand slam champions Ireland are only second-best at 9/4.

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