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from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Thursday – Champions League recap

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:

Rooney strike — wonder goal or shinpad special?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Wayne Rooney's overhead scissors kick goal to win the Manchester derby at Old Trafford on Saturday has sparked a tidal wave of hyperbole in the British media, with "wonder goal" the most popular tag used to describe it.

The general consensus was not that it was just the nailed-on winner for "goal of the season" but was also the best of Rooney's career and even the best ever seen at Old Trafford.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will United fans forgive and forget?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Football fans are very forgiving types – if my football club were a person I’d have stopped speaking to it a long time ago.

Pretend for a minute you are Manchester United and Wayne Rooney is your best mate. He swears undying loyalty to you – it’s a friendship that will last forever. Then suddenly he tells you you’re basically not good enough for him and that you should get lost.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will ‘Little Pea’ make Rooney green with envy?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez’s two-goal and match-winning performance against Stoke City at the weekend for Manchester United could give manager Alex Ferguson the ideal headache.

Two thirds of United fans have yet to make up their mind on whether to forgive and forget the whole Rooney saga, Sky Sports reported from a Manchester Evening News poll, and with Hernandez and Berbatov on song is there an argument that the England man should have to wait to get his place back when his fitness is resolved?

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Breaking news: Rooney to stay at Manchester United

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Well, what an extraordinary twist this is: Wayne Rooney has agreed a new five-year deal with Manchester United and is staying at Old Trafford after all. Here's the club statement:

Wayne Rooney has agreed a new 5 year contract to stay at Manchester United until at least June 2015.

The agreement follows intensive discussions between the Club and the player’s representatives and means that by the end of his contract Wayne will have been a Manchester United player for 11 years.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Will Rooney’s departure signal United’s decline?

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Wayne Rooney's demand for a move away from Manchester United has stunned manager Alex Ferguson, especially given the striker's poor form and support the club have given him through personal problems.

After winning three successive Premier League titles with United and the 2008 Champions League, Rooney enjoyed his best personal season with the club in 2009-10 -- when his impressive tally of 34 goals in all competitions was only enough to bring  the League Cup to Old Trafford.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Breaking news: Rooney wants to leave Manchester United, Ferguson shocked

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/England striker Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United, manager Alex Ferguson said on Wednesday.

"We are as bemused as anyone can be, we can't quite understand why he would want to leave," Ferguson told a news conference.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Champions League podcast, episode 3

This week the podcast panel discuss the clash of European aristocracy at the Bernabeu, where nine-times winners Real Madrid host seven-tiems champions AC Milan, plus the Wayne Rooney saga and the plight of Liverpool.

Kevin Fylan is joined by Owen Wyatt, Mark Meadows, Jon Bramley and Toby Davis

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Rooney’s place on United periphery needs urgent resolution

SOCCER-ENGLAND/In eight months Wayne Rooney has plummeted from "the best player in the world" to a substitute against West Bromwich Albion and his current position on the Old Trafford periphery will need to be sorted out very soon.

Manchester United's fans -- and their American owners -- do not expect the England striker to be warming the bench, particularly when the player says he is fit, even if manager Alex Ferguson says otherwise.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

4-2-3-1…4-5-1…4-4-2…that’ll be four midfielders and two forwards then?

So Fabio Capello's masterstroke in revitalising Wayne Rooney and turning England from World Cup no-hopers to instant Euro 2012 favourites was....to tell the Manchester United striker to hang back a bit.

That sage advice, if most of the English press is to be believed, transformed England's formation from a prehistoric 4-4-2 to the liquid 4-5-1 that all the modern young bucks were using in South Africa.

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