Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Shamrock prepare for Real visit

Click the video above for a look at how Shamrock Rovers are preparing for the visit of Real Madrid -- a match the entire soccer word will be keeping an eye on, with Cristiano Ronaldo set to make his debut for the Spanish club.

Interesting line about Real's continued interest in Franck Ribery. Do they really need him still. Raul seems to suggest they'd still like him...

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Benzema to join Real, when will the spending end?

France striker Karim Benzema is joining Real Madrid from Olympique Lyon, the Ligue 1 club said on Wednesday on their website.

The 21-year-old Benzema will become Real's third major signing under returning president Florentino Perez after Brazil's Kaka and Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.

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

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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.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

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

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:

Now it’s official — Kaka signs for Real Madrid

They took their time getting there but Kaka is now officially a Real Madrid player.

The Spanish club and AC Milan issued statements at 0030 local time with the player due to hold a news conference in Brazil, where he is on international duty.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What price Barca retaining the trophy in the Bernabeu?

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:

Wenger makes his point with customary elegance

"Highly intelligent" and "Arsene Wenger" sit neatly together in countless newspaper columns outlining the exploits, achievements and travails of the cerebral Arsenal manager.

Consequently there was no elaborate deconstruction required following an interview with a French television channel at the club's training ground this week.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

The Real Madrid Presidential Candidacy ‘Promisometer’

The campaign to be the next president of Real Madrid Football Club has finally kicked into gear with the claim from the little known Eduardo Garcia that, if elected on June 14, he will bring with him the Chelsea striker Didier Drogba.

Promising big-name signings has long been an easy way for candidates to drum up support for the presidency at Real and Barcelona, the two member-owned Spanish clubs, but ever since Florentino Perez came from nowhere to take the 2000 election what was once an entertaining sideshow has become the key battleground.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

I won’t forgot my first ‘Clasico’ for a while

Pep Guardiola’s superb Barca side four clear at the top with five games left to play. Champions Real in second on a run of 17 wins and a draw in 18 matches since a 2-0 loss at the Nou Camp in December and refusing to capitulate. The nation’s arch soccer rivals locking horns. Spain versus Catalunya.The stage was set for my first “Clasico” at the Bernabeu.I had read about the great matches of the past and seen the headlines: “The match of the century!”, “The greatest show on earth!”.It was time to experience it for myself.I hopped off the bus near the stadium and fought my way through the throng of Real faithful, already in good voice and enjoying the evening sunshine more than an hour-and-a-half before kickoff.A policeman waved me through the barriers holding back the crowds and I collected my accreditation and took the lift up to the press tribune on the fifth floor.It was oddly quiet inside the mammoth arena, a few photographers and officials milling about by the pitch, and the muted sound of the boisterous supporters outside punctuated by the occasional firecracker and police siren.Fabio Cannavaro, Arjen Robben and a few other Real players strolled out on to the pitch for a few minutes and Royston Drenthe posed for some photographs as I leafed through the media notes.Biggest home defeat for Real in “El Clasico” 5-0 way back in February 1974, four days before I was born. Probably won’t be needing that particular stat.When the spectators were finally allowed in, the atmosphere quickly warmed up and any attempt at singing by the small knot of Barca fans high to my right was met with a chorus of whistles and hoots.The volume of noise was rising all the time and reached a crescendo as the two teams marched on to the pitch and the spectators held up pieces of card that turned the stands white. Game on.“You don’t want to do that,” I thought as Sergio Ramos gave the ball away to Lionel Messi in a dangerous position in the first minute, perhaps a sign of things to come.The Real faithful went nuts when Gonzalo Higuain grabbed the lead but it wasn’t long before Barca asserted themselves and Real’s chances of defending their league title were fast receding.As the goals rolled in, a colleague in the press box, a lifelong Real fan, was growing increasingly despondent and the invective issuing from the mouth of the Spanish journalist behind us, mostly directed at the referee, was increasingly extreme.When Messi scored to make it 5-2 with around 15 minutes left, waves of shell-shocked Real fans started heading for the exits.The referee did not prolong the agony, ending the match on 90 minutes, and I quickly filed my first take and a rapid update before dashing down to the press conferences with a beaming Guardiola and a glum Juande Ramos.Eight goals scored by some of the most exciting players around, tons of chances, plenty of controversy, passionate fans in a stunning soccer arena and a famous result in one of the most intensely contested fixtures in world sport.The kind of match you don’t forget in a hurry.PHOTO: Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) celebrates his goal against Real Madrid during their match at the Bernabeu, May 2, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Medina

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.

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