Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

Cristiano Ronaldo and why art, not the artist, is what matters

SOCCER-ENGLAND/RONALDOCristiano Ronaldo’s obsession with scoring an unforgettable goal in the Champions League final makes perfect sense now the world knows he always intended to leave Manchester United afterwards for Real Madrid.

Reaction in England to his departure was captured in a Guardian headline: “United fans will miss outrageous talent but not a charmless man”. Ronaldo, it was said, possessed sumptuous talent coupled with obnoxious self-regard.

What, in the end, will Ronaldo be remembered for? His artistry as a footballer or his perceived failings as a man?

John Updike, who died this year aged 76, gives a clue.

A prodigiously prolific novelist, short story writer, playwright, literary critic, art critic and poet, Updike also produced one classic piece of sports writing entitled “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu“. It is a wonderful account of Ted Williams‘s last game at Fenway Park in 1960, which turned out to be the great slugger’s last game anywhere. (more…)

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Great teams evolve … they’re never bought off the shelf

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One of the cruellest insults thrown at Florentino Perez during his first spell at Real Madrid was that the president had turned a great team into football's version of the Harlem Globetrotters.

For Curly Neal and Meadowlark Lemon read Figo and Zidane. For Wilt Chamberlain and Marques Haynes we had Ronaldo and David Beckham to bring gasps from the crowd and bamboozle the  opposition.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What price Barca retaining the trophy in the Bernabeu?

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Manchester United palpably failed to become the first team to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era but few would bet against Barcelona managing the feat next season.

And where would be the perfect place for Pep Guardiola's stylish side to achieve it? The Nou Camp? No, next year's final is in Madrid and the Barca fans I spoke to in Rome after the game could not think of a better venue to show their rivals and world football that they are undisputed kings.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Barcelona beat Manchester United — your views

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Barcelona deposed Manchester United as European champions with an outstanding 2-0 victory in the Champions League final at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

Samuel Eto'o struck the opener after 10 minutes when he cut in from the right past Nemanja Vidic with surprising ease and his low shot beat United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar at his near post. Xavi cracked a free kick against a United post at the start of the second half before Lionel Messi sealed the win after 70 minutes when he scored with a beautifully timed header from Xavi's cross.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League final: Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0

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Full-time: Barcelona 2 Manchester United 0. Samuel Eto'o 10, Lionel Messi 70 Thanks for all the comments. New thread going here. Please stop by. From Mark Meadows at the Stadio Olimpico: - - - - Not quite the dream final. United just didn't turn up after that initial burst came to nothing. Barca did what they had to do without being amazing. Did Fergie's talk of greatness in the buildup get to his men? I've never seen United look so nervy. Well done Pep Guardiola.
- - - - 2-0 to Barcelona. Messi nods in after a hanging cross for what is a rare header from the Argentine. Ferdinand was no where near him. Game over? A chant of MESSI, MESSI MESSI rings out from my right. - - - - Wayne Rooney, who has been quiet all night and is now patrolling the right wing, has just failed to put two crosses in to the dangerzone with United well-placed. Dimitar Berbatov is taking off his tracksuit... And he's on for Park.
- - - - Park is a hair's breadth from nodding in a Rooney cross, and Park's got longish floppy hair. United resorting to old fashioned English crosses to try to get a foothold back in the game. - - - - 53: Xavi strikes the post with a low freekick and Van der Sar barely moved at first. Tevez has hardly touched it since coming on. How many packs of gum does Fergie have? - - - -
50: Messi wants a penalty for a push in the box but the referee and most of the neutrals shake their heads. - - - - Tevez on for Anderson was pretty predictable given the Brazilian did nothing in the first 45. Tevez has the chance to make a name for himself on what could be his last game for United. Henry tests Van der Sar from close in. - - - - A curious first half, that. United made such a good start that I bet many of their more pessimistic fans were just waiting for Barcelona to get one against the run of play. United were very cool after going behind. They could probably do with getting in amongst the Barcelona midfield a bit more, stop Barca winning the ball back so quickly. Plenty of time before they have to panic. - - - - 45: Messi has just stormed into the box and Van der Sar fluffed the safe and the ball nearly ran free. That's got the Barca crowd really excited, especially with United's midfield all over the place at the moment. Half-time. - - - - 43: Victor Valdes, who took a bit of a knock earlier and is not taking goalkicks, has just been forced to rush out of goal to prevent Ronaldo from a clean run on goal. He'll be needing some treatment at halftime. - - - - 35: United looking a bit nervous, especially in defence with some tentative passing. Strange for the holders... The fans in Red look especially tense too. - - - - 25: Xavi curls a freekick just over. That caused a lot of ooohs from the crowd. Lionel Messi had earlier shot over but United have still had the better chances despite being behind. - - - - 16: Is former United defender Gerard Pique a lucky man? The Barca centre-back blocks a barnstorming Ronaldo run and gets a yellow, but some in the press box are howling that he was last man. Ryan Giggs shoots over with the free kick. - - - -
10: 1-0 to Barcelona: Samuel Eto'o. Completely against the run of play Eto'o beats Nemanja Vidic very easily to get into the box and his shot goes in despite Edwin van der Sar getting touch. That followed two more good chances for Ronaldo. Was Barcelona's first attack... - - - - 2: Cristian Ronaldo, who looks dashing in all white (Real Madrid might like that) tests Victor Valdes with a long range free kick first up which the keeper spills. Park Ji-sung is unable to get the rebound on target. The United fans suddenly get noisier. - - - - 1: Barcelona kick off.

Pre-match:

Now the teams are in, and there are no big surprises (see below) here's Mike Collett's view from the press seats at the Stadio Olimpico:

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Who will be the Angels and Demons in Rome?

The new Angels and Demons movie is based in Rome so it got us thinking who might end up being an angel or a demon after Wednesday's Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona.

Will one of the goalkeepers drop a clanger or will Cristiano Ronaldo belt one in again from 40 metres? It's a big pitch at the Stadio Olimpico, but I can see Lionel Messi running the length of it with the ball at his feet...

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

United happy to be wearing white…just like 1991

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New thread on this here...

Manchester United's Red Devils will be wearing angelic white in Wednesday's Champions League final, just how Alex Ferguson likes it.

Barcelona are the nominal home team for the 'dream final' in Rome and as their famous claret and blue tops clash with United's usual red and their first choice blue away kit, the holders will wander onto the pristine Stadio Olimpico pitch in white.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Manchester United seal Premier League title – your views

Manchester United have captured their 18th English league title after securing the point they needed in a 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.

It was a subdued display by United but the celebrations began when the final whistle sealed a hat-trick of titles and moved them alongside Liverpool as England's most crowned club.

Nothing to lose in Bolt’s Manchester street dash

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Commercial endorsements plus appearance and prize monies are projected to bring as much as $10 million a year to Jamaican Usain Bolt since he shattered the world 100 and 200 records in Beijing last year.

One of Bolt’s goals is to make the sort of money during a short career that will match the incomes of leading European soccer players and his peers in U.S. basketball and football.

One down, two more to come for Barcelona?

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There were nervous moments for Barcelona in the first half of the King’s Cup final but a three-goal nine-minute burst from Lionel Messi, Bojan Krkic and Xavi helped them to a 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao and the first leg of a possible treble.

The league title could be their this weekend, on Saturday if Real Madrid fail to win at Villarreal or failing that on Sunday if they can manage a point at Real Mallorca.

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