Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Round one to Liverpool, but don’t believe Benitez rumours

Rafa Benitez celebrated a famous victory over his hometown club when Liverpool beat Real Madrid 1-0 in their Champions League last 16, first leg on Wednesday.He outfoxed his counterpart Juande Ramos with an astute tactical display, but anyone linking the Spaniard with a move to the Bernabeu in the near future would be mistaken.

Real Madrid are in limbo. Former president Ramon Calderon sacked Bernd Schuster in December and installed Ramos on a contract to the end of the campaign, and then was forced to resign in disgrace after a vote-rigging scandal at a club general assembly was exposed.

The current president Vicente Boluda, like Ramos, is only in the post temporarily until a new presidential election is held, which is likely to be in June or July.

Until then, decisions over the coach and the buying and selling of players are on hold. Sports director Predrag Mijatovic, a close ally of Calderon's, is widely considered a lame duck and likely to be dropped quickly when a new president arrives.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Real Madrid v Liverpool — what a difference two months make

Back in December, when the draw for the first knock-out round of the Champions League was made, Liverpool could be forgiven for feeling pretty pleased with the prospect of renewing their acquaintance with Real Madrid. How different things look now.

Back then, Liverpool were top of the Premier League, six points ahead of a Manchester United side facing a fixture pile-up and struggling for form. Real Madrid, in apparent disarray after sacking coach Bernd Schuster, were 12 points behind Barcelona, having just lost 2-0 to their arch-rivals.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Stat anoraks in a frenzy over Van der Sar

The anoraks have had to dig deeper and deeper into their stat books to deny Manchester United's Edwin van der Sar another goalkeeping record.

His side's 3-0 win over a toothless Fulham at Old Trafford on Wednesday took the 38-year-old Dutchman's unbeaten league run to 14 successive games and an astonishing 1,302 minutes.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Is Ferguson being generous saying it’s a two horse race?

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has dismissed Chelsea's Premier League title hopes, but given his side's run of form he is perhaps being generous to Liverpool by saying they still have a chance.

"The title race now is going to be between ourselves and Liverpool," Ferguson wrote in the programme for the 3-0 home win over Fulham that sent the champions five points clear of Liverpool and 10 ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Scolari sacked by Chelsea – your views

Chelsea have sacked manager Luiz Felipe Scolari after just over half a season in charge.

"Luiz Felipe Scolari has been dismissed as manager of Chelsea Football Club with immediate effect," a statement said on www.chelseafc.com.