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fifa world cup 2014 football international football recent

France hopes still survive after Franck Ribery injured

Franck Ribery, missing World Cup
Franck Ribery ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

France football team managed to finish their FIFA World Cup preparations, probably in a best possible way. They achieved 8-0 win over Jamaica at Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille on Sunday. After having been blown by the news Franck Ribery injured and will not be fit for the tournament, Didier Deschamps’ men went proving that they could still manage hopes for the France team in Brazil World Cup.

Karim Benzema, Blaise Matuidi and Antoine Griezmann scored two goals each. Yohan Cabaye and Olivier Giroud added the other two goals. The fear caused by Ribery’s confirmed absence earlier in the week was well and truly blown away after this preparation match.

Deschamps finally sought another way to improve Les Bleus’ potency going forward. He decided to deploy Benzema on the left of a loose three-man attacking unit. Now it becomes the familiar 4-3-3 formation. Giroud has to reprise his central role and Mathieu Valbuena once again featuring on the right side.

The evidence of this result can be considered a masterstroke from the 45-year-old coach.

Though Valbuena was unable to find the net himself, he was the star once again. He proved why he is the man whom opponents will have to fear when faced with the French. He was the key in a handful of goals, especially for the first three, he linked up superbly with Giroud and Karim Benzema.

Even Karim Benzema’s roaming role empowered Valbuena. He managed to get the best out of both creatively. Benzema also showed great accuracy in front of goal this night. His club performance was a bit disappointing this season. But now he appears to be in perfect form heading to Brazil world cup 2014. Possibly he will remain key to Deschamps’ strategies.

Karim Benzema, Madrid Star, French hero
Karim Benzema ; image credit www.telegraph.co.uk

The Real Madrid striker, Karim Benzema was another major positive on the night. He is continuing to show the confidence that has grown exponentially. The first against Australia back in October and then the second goal in 3-0 play-off win over Ukraine.

Benzema showed in his 80-minute display that he is capable of stepping up and playing one of the decisive roles. He got his two goals exceptionally well. He also linked up superbly with Giroud and particularly Valbuena.

May be these positives should also be tempered by the fact that we have seen this before.

Just before the 2012 UEFA European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, Karim Benzema looked unplayable. But at the final round he failed to score and did precious little else as Laurent Blanc’s side ended its campaign scathingly.

The France team knows what Benzema is capable of. Just he needs to produce these sorts of performances once Les Tricolores arrive in South America. Not only in meaningless friendly matches but also in real competitions.

Along with the system and the shape, France team managed to bring out the best out of the 26-year-old. He was able to roam freely which in turn freed Valbuena too, for that night.

After Franck Ribery injured, France still have four in-form attacking talents heading to Brazil. Which should definitely frighten opponents. For the first two matches it was three as Benzema missed them because of Champions League Final.

France hopes still survive after Franck Ribery injured, missing Brazil 2014
French Star Ribery ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

This kind of impressive performance will be needed to advance from Group E comfortably. Switzerland is arguably the better of their three group-stage adversaries. They managed only a 1-0 win over the same Jamaica side just over one week earlier of this practice match.

Deschamps is probably a little worried about his defense, as it was not really tested. But the forward is quite a cause for him to be happy after Franck Ribery injured. And with an improved performance he can prepare to travel to Brazil.

The French camp has proven that they can be still hopeful after Franck Ribery injured.

Though the Bayern man will be a sore miss at the tournament. Perhaps he will be missed much by those who were keen to see the player who finished third in the 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or award, in the World Cup. But Les Bleus, on this evidence probably will not miss him greatly. There are truly other talented options who now appear capable of stepping up in his absence for the Team.

Though a lot will depend on the upcoming week, but this early signs can be considered blessings for France.

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Marco Reus missing the World Cup: Replacement defender Mustafi!!

Marco Reus, Dortmund striker
Marco Reus ; image credit eurofootballweb.com

With all the injuries suffered so far, the German team may have been dealt their biggest blow on Friday. Their key player Marco Reus suffered an ankle injury that eventually ruled him out of the World Cup 2014, Brazil.

Marco Reus was diagnosed with a torn ligament on Saturday. Promptly he was ruled out on the day the team was meant to leave for Brazil. Coach Joachim Loew and his team of arguably their most in-form player heading into the tournament without this key attacker.

Two years ago at the European Championships he featured the bench only. Now Reus becomes an integral part of the team. He helped the team in qualifying and was set to break out on the international stage in the upcoming world event.

But now, as a matter of fact, he will have to wait four more years to get his chance. Joachim Loew just needs to find a way to compensate for the team’s best big-game player.

Now come to the main question!! Is there any alternatives?? Is it compensable?? How??

Finally coach Loew has answered with the idea of replacing Reus by the defender Shkodran Mustafi.

Initially Marco Reus was thought to be missing out. Kevin Volland was the suggestion to replace him. But miserably Volland just missed out after being in the provisional squad while participating in the team’s training campaign.

Anyway, Loew surprised everyone by selecting Sampdoria’s Mustafi on Saturday morning for the team. He was also in the provisional squad. But he was obviously meant to be excluded as there had already been five central defenders on the squad.

May be the first step to understanding Loew’s decision-making is to admit that there is no direct replacement for Reus as well.

The 25-year-old attacker elevated his game to another level this season with Dortmund. He started continuing his prolific scoring with 23 goals but also setting up 23 more for others.

Marco Reus missing the World Cup, German attacker, Dortmund Reus
Reus missing the World Cup ; image credit blogs.independent.co.uk

Many Germany supporters were hoping to see that versatility and output from Reus this summer. As there is no real striker available and also Mesut Ozil struggling to rediscover his form, Marco Reus was the only hope in this circumstances.

It was Marco Reus who tried to make Germany’s system work without a traditional striker. With his combination, Andre Schurrle and Thomas Mueller constantly were interchanging inside and around the box. This was extremely promising and productive against Armenia last night.

Definitely the coach was not looking for direct replacement but to reinforce the defense.

“It was not about finding a like-for-like replacement for Marco. We have a great deal of quality in that position behind the forwards.”

Loew admitted via ESPN FC

The only thing that Germany have been able to count on with so many injuries is their considerable depth in the attack. Probably that is another reason why Loew was able to afford bringing only one out-and-out forward in Miroslav Klose.

It is true that they have enough alternatives like Andre Schurrle, Thomas Muller, Julian Draxler, Lukas Podolski, Toni Kroos , Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil. So another attacking player is not that much necessary for the team with this situation.

“That is why we have chosen an extra option for defense. We know we can rely on Shkodran [Mustafi] 100 percent,”

Loew remarked.

Loew’s first choice up top with Mueller is Schurrle. And Klose can be deemed only an option off the bench. Meanwhile Goetze has been the attacking midfielder used most frequently in that false-nine role. He offers a similar combination of mobility and a nose for goal.

Marco Reus has been Germany’s most complete attacking player. Others bring something else for the table. Loew will have to choose wisely.

Losing Marco Reus is a bitter blow for sure. But for now it can be considered as Germany’s golden generation. And with these countless attacking players we will find out what they can result in Brazil.

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Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti refused further interest for Luis Suarez

Real Madrid manager, Madrid coach, Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti ; image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has refused to be drawn on the club’s reported interest for Luis Suarez. He has recently confirmed that the rising star Alvaro Morata is set to leave the European champions.

Madrid rejected the offer from Arsenal to take academy product Morata on loan last January. Ancelotti has explained that the striker is keen to find another club in pursuit of first team football as he had an excellent league start last season.

“The player has decided to leave in search of more minutes and the club has agreed it”

Carlo Ancelotti said at the presentation of his new website.

Italian champions Juventus and Bundesliga side Wolfsburg are believed to be chasing for Morata. Hopefully Real Madrid must be looking for a buy-back clause in any potential deal with them.

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that he would be searching for a young striker like Morata. But he is not anymore interested about the great star of BPL (Luis Suarez).

“Suarez is a fantastic player but it would be a lack of respect to talk about signings at this stage”

Said Carlo Ancelotti.

He believes that it would be good for him to play having those opportunities, especially if he gets the chance. Anyway he gave away few hints about Madrid’s interest in Liverpool striker Suarez.</

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Oscar or Willian : Whom do you prefer for Brazil?

Oscar or Willian: Whom do you prefer for Brazil?, Brazil midfielder
Oscar or Willian ; image credit bleacherreport.com

It is almost time for us. After a very few moments, Brazil will open the FIFA World Cup against Croatia at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

At the beginning of May, Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari named his 23-man squad for the tournament. He did not pull any great surprises for the spectators. Like the definition, his team is as good as was proclaimed through the last 12 months.

But the thing that can’t be overlooked from the last two friendlies is the promising performances of Chelsea midfielder Willian. The 2002 World Cup winners must have thought about this great option. It is Oscar himself, who casted his Chelsea teammate into the limelight. The last two friendly matches are probably poling the position to take the central midfield role in front of Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho.

Willian Borges da Silva’s performances for Brazil have brought doubt over Oscar’s place in the team.

Under Scolari’s tenure, Oscar has never been threaten before like this. Some others like have already tried to make the Selecao playmaking role his own. Lucas Moura, Paulo Henrique Ganso and Philippe Coutinho are few of them. Now the greatest rival comes for him in the form of a player. He must also admit that the other one’s versatility has seen him make a sharp ascension to the national ranks.

Immediately after the Friday match against Serbia, Scolari said that his team is physically prepared. And he believes there is still time to prepare the side tactically before Thursday’s kick-off.

Definitely his plan will finally deploy either of the players between Oscar or Willian. But it is previously confirmed that with Oscar, it is more likely to bend towards the commonly favored 4-2-3-1 formation.

Oscar, attacking mid, number 10 Brazil
Oscar ;image credit pt.fifa.com

Oscar is far more inclined to get forward and aid Fred and Neymar in attack. And always looking for goals, more likely with double figures for the Stamford Bridge. Oscar truly has the ability to pries open defenses. Something like, with only one focused center-forward, he is definitely the key asset for the Brazilians during the World Cup 2014.

On the contrary, Willian is more defensively minded. Though his eye for a pass is also intact. Watching his displays last week, we can say that he gave all the right signals that he could be a fantastic midfielder for Brazil.

If we have to put an end to the question: Oscar or Willian, then he is likely to start in a more withdrawn role than Oscar, probably by resembling a 4-3-3 combination.

Yes Willian can pass, dribble and shoot. But the vital most thing about him, he is capable of tracking back and is willing to put in a defensive shift for the team. Paired with Paulinho in the middle of the park, they can make the opportunity to develop a potentially fruitful understanding between them.

And it is already proved that Paulinho can develop a better midfield partnership with Willian than Oscar.

As Oscar is always an advanced habitat, there is limited opportunities for Paulinho to burst forward. And if he is caught out of position, both Luiz Gustavo and the entire back line would be exposed.

Again with Willian in the centre of midfield, they can easily shuffle their position. The tactic is only feasible with Willian, not with Oscar. Obviously Oscar doesn’t have that kind of physical strength to compete in what could turn into a scrappy midfield tussle.

During Brazil’s last two friendlies, Willian’s impact was greater than that of Oscar. Oscar looked jaded after a long season and the birth of his first child. So for the circumstance, Brazil is likely more threatening prospect with Oscar had departed.

In a short competition like World Cup (with a maximum of seven games) Willian could well have the upper hand in Scolari’s mind.

Still Oscar is an established part of Scolari’s Selecao setup. As he was ever-present during the side’s run to the Confederations Cup crown. Everyone believes that he had done more than enough to merit inclusion.

May be Felipao’s philosophy admits for familiarity and confidence. And that has assured Brazil make such rapid progress under his tutorship. Back when he named this World Cup squad, Oscar was named with especial praise. Scolari has always described him as one of the best of the world. So, probably Scolari would have to be in a ruthless mood to decide, Oscar or Willian as he has to decide just one!!

But like every Brazilian fans, we believe that this team has grown together. Now they can win together.

Oscar or Willian: Whom do you prefer for Brazil?, Selecao setup
Brazil team ;image credit en.africatopsports.com
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Brazil vs Croatia: Neymar and Oscar turns the World Cup Opener on their favor

On Thursday evening The World Cup 2014 was kicked off with a bang. Brazil defeated their group A rivals Croatia 3-1 in an enthralling way.

The start was quite awful for the hosts. Marcelo had an own goal just at the very beginning of the match. But eventually they got themselves leveled before the half time. This was absolutely earned by Neymar’s scuffed effort. Then it was again Neymar, who converted a penalty for the Selecao to take the lead. Finally Oscar capped a magnificent display by poking a late effort into the bottom corner and take it to three.

Brazil vs Croatia: Neymar and Oscar turns the World Cup Opener on their favor, Brazil vs Croatia, world cup opener
Brazil vs Croatia ; image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Formations: Brazil vs Croatia

Brazil just started with the exact same XI that started the 2013 Confederations Cup final. For their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Luiz Gustavo was held off the challenge of Fernandinho midfield. Also another notable thing about Neymar as he started as no. 10.

Croatia also started with their regular formation, with three exceptional playmakers Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Rakitic. Dejan Lovren was kept at the first eleven and Sime Vrsalkjo played out of position at left-back.

As it happened: Brazil vs Croatia

Belying Luiz Felipe Scolari’s year-long tradition Hulk started on the left and Oscar on the right. But it was not working well. Suddenly with Croatia bagging an excellent early goal, pressure grew at immeasurable level for the Selecao team.

As Neymar was playing as a No. 10, he was swamped out by the studious Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric. It was an easy job for them to shackle him and stop receiving balls to feet. Consequently this isolated Fred in turn and stumped the attack for the Brazil team.

On the other hand, The Vatreni were flying from the first minute. Olic burst forward inside the first minute and broke a challenge. It was a real threat for the defense. But the third wide attack was a genuine score.

It was Paulinho, who put his teammates in a real hole. Though there were a plethora of errors in the buildup to the Croatia goal. As he knows Ivan Rakitic has a runner (Olic) outside and a man free (Mateo Kovacic) to pass. So, the last thing he should do is dive in and “force” the action from the ball-player. Probably this was an example of how naive defending can kill you on the flanks.

Thiago Silva was also quite slow to come out. As David Luiz allowed his man across him, Marcelo scored an own goal. But the thing started on the Croatia half.

Eventually Brazil snapped out of it. Truly speaking, it wasn’t a systematic change that sparked the recovery. It was totally individual effort and determination that allowed Brazil to get back into the game.

It always happens for two same formation teams meeting together. Midfields are matched man for man. So it becomes tough to find space. An individual needs to beat a challenge to open it up and that began happening soon.

Brazil vs Croatia, world cup 2014
two goals for Neymar ; image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Paulinho first broke into the box and split the centre-backs. Soon enough, Neymar danced around Rakitic and hit the byline for a cross. Then it was the excellent Oscar who did the damage by laying it off to Neymar and letting the 50-cap wonder do the rest for the Selecao.

Oscar looked like the man of the Brazil vs Croatia match. He tried his hardest to make things happen and change the flow.

After going down, Croatia pushed forward and opened the distance between their midfield and defensive lines. They just tried to allow more players to attack.

Scolari also matched the strategy by introducing Hernanes and Bernard.

For the final 15 minutes, with space in the midfield allowing players to travel with the ball and take each other, it was astounding. Especially when it seemed as though Croatia could sneak a late equalizer, Oscar charged down the other end and punted an 18-yard effort into the corner to seal it.

Result: Brazil vs Croatia

Brazil 3 – Croatia 1

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Spain vs Netherlands: nothing like the 2010 final

Spain vs Netherlands: nothing like the 2010 final, Spain vs Holland
Flying Persie ; image credit www.sfgate.com/Bernat Armangue

Everyone has already started talking, Manchester United have found themselves a real manager after Sir Alex Ferguson.

Coaches can find their methods rendered obsolete very quickly in football. Many greats even never see it coming. Various Champions League and domestic league titles that have long littered Louis van Gaal’s coaching CV already stood as testament to his abilities.

Yes of course, we are talking about the Spain vs Netherlands match of world cup 2014, Brazil.

Yesterday it just looked like he had organized and motivated his Netherlands side worked to perfection. And they eviscerated World Cup holders Spain 5-1 in Salvador last Friday. Probably it was a sweet revenge, four years after losing the final in Johannesburg 2010.

Spain vs Netherlands: As it happened

Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were the two architects of the match structure. But you can easily see Van Gaal’s fingerprints over the match results. Again, probably the manager’s innovative 5-2-1-2 wingback system worked too well for the team. He can also thank Van Persie’s marvelous header for the turn over.

Alongside some mistakes, it appeared to be the best defense in the competition so far. Though Wesley Sneijder was a brilliant foil to Robben and Van Persie, everything else was enough to compensate the situation.

Van Persie told NOS,

“The match has gone exactly as the coaching staff predicted. We went on, and on, and on”

Via sky sports.

Now let’s see the Spaniards for the Spain vs Netherlands match. Only six of the players on the Dutch squad were also around in 2010. Whereas 17 of Vicente Del Bosque‘s contingent were at 2010 World Cup. But there seemed to be a certain staleness about their play. Although, Diego Costa won the penalty, which put them ahead at the very first hour.

There was intricate passing as always. But we can note the lack of real incision in the final third. Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique were often in different postcodes at the back sometimes.

Yes, 5-1 may have flattered the Dutch performance. As David Silva had a great chance to effectively kill the game off at 1-0 at some hour. But it was not that much. On the next game, they are going to face Chile. This is probably another team with same attacking traits and potentials to pose problems for the opponents.

Dutch fans can be relaxed now. Only a victory over Australia will almost certainly send them on to the knockout stages for sure. But as they have just beaten the last Champions, they may now be setting sights a bit higher than that.

Bad day, Diego!!

Diego Costa won a penalty for the team at the first hour. Yes, won is the word. Pretty much an operative word. This put his team ahead. But the end was not a happy one. He had to suffer a painful evening before being substituted for Torres. It wouldn’t be a problem if they were winning. And if, this is not the end of such embarrassment, Diego Costa must be trying to forget the tournament before going to Chelsea. So definitely it can be counted a genuine bad day for the Atletico star.

Final Result: Spain vs Netherlands

Spain 1 – 5 Netherlands

(Alonso; Van Persie (2), Robben (2), De Vrij)
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Spain vs Chile: Defending Champions are the first to be eliminated!

Spain vs Chile: Defending Champions are the first to be eliminated!, defending champions, world cup 2014, Brazil 2014, group events
Spain vs Chile ; image credit o.canada.com/ David Ramos

Is there actually any explanation? The Spain manager, Vicente del Bosque couldn’t have one! Truly the defending champions are the first team to get back home from the tournament, after the unbelievable match, Spain vs Chile.

Probably now we can conclude that the era is ended, unexpectedly ended with a sigh. Two European Championships and one World Cup, good time it was. But it’s over, at least it appears like the very end.

After Brazil steamrollered Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup, Del Bosque had to face situations like this. There were quite the same puzzles around. But the last 12 months suggested that he had found some of the answers. You can off-course say that, especially when Spain won eight of their next ten fixtures in preparation for their return to the leadership. Though there was a thrilling 2-2 draw with the same opponent in September was one of only two setbacks for the defending Champions.

After the Confederations Cup final Del Bosque admitted that Brazil were better than them. At that time he also congratulated them for the victory. He said,

“They had more energy than us and they channeled that into every move they made”

And the history just repeated itself on Wednesday as Chile swarmed Spain’s midfield and pressed with rabid persistence. Defending Champions were overwhelmed. Also there was a matter to be noticed, their former conductor Xavi Hernandez was completely left unused on the side bench.

Year ago, it appeared like the Spain team probably need to search for a new striker. Del Bosque had to react that Fernando Torres’ time had undeniably passed. Again a few months later Fernando Llorente failed to take his chance against South Africa. Though he proved himself with his impressive season for Juventus. Yes and obvious, these were not the answers for Del Bosque at that time. Alvaro Negredo couldn’t also let himself to be chosen for World Cup 2014.

May be the plan was to answer the problem exposed by Brazil, by a Brazilian. Spain rushed through Diego Costa’s international transfer and then rushed the striker back to fitness following a hamstring injury. Spain hoped, Costa will provide a similarly brusque finish, like the way Fred’s two goals tore Spain apart in June 2013.

When Costa trudged off after 64 minutes at Maracana, we could easily understand that the plan didn’t actually work. The Atletico Madrid forward has failed to manage a single shot on target for the defending champions. And now the man he is expected to replace at Chelsea this summer. But Roman Abramovich may now have to think twice about another expensive striking gamble.

We know, Costa is more effective than his performance last day. But Chile simply didn’t allow him the space to be at his devastating best. Along with all their individual skills, Jorge Sampaoli’s side can now be considered genuine contenders for the trophy this time. Spain previously employed their quick and transitional tiki-taka to slice open opponents. But may be Chile were comfortably aware of the game plan and the way to hurt the defending champions back.

Sampaoli at the press briefing said,

“I’ll never forget today’s match and I feel very proud of my boys. They believe in one idea and that’s why we’re so dangerous”

He is also expecting to determine this Chile team as the best ever for them.

The Spaniard are now left to ponder their return to the pedestal. This time the future of the exaggerated tiki-taka is well well predictable. Hope for the youth ranks and the players who just missed out on the World Cup squad, will come back stronger at France 2016. There are probable chances to have changes in every prospective aspects, even for the managerial post for Del Bosque himself. As he admitted,

“It’s true that when such things happen during the World Cup there are consequences, we will have to take a decision for what is best for Spanish football and that applies to myself as well”

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Germany vs Ghana: Battle between Jerome Boateng and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Match preview

Germany vs Ghana: Battle between Jerome Boateng and Kevin-Prince Boateng, Match preview , world cup group stage, 2014 Brazil world cup
Germany vs Ghana ; image credit fr.fotopedia.com

The group stage matches are now onto the second lot. As FIFA World Cup 2014, first round of group stage matches are already completed. Quite expected and surprise events have taken place within just these few games.
For a group G match, now we are looking at the Germany vs Ghana match. Tonight Germany will face Ghana in their second group stage match. They will have to put in one hell of a performance like their last match against Portugal.

Plan for Germany in Germany vs Ghana match:

After the last glorious match, Joachim Low here faces the unenviable task of another glamorous win.

Die Mannschaft cause a destruction for the team Portugal with Thomas Mueller’s hat-trick. Mario Goetze was another greater weapon for the team. Mesut Ozil also found some space for himself, which turned the line to the victory with comfortable difficulties.

May be Germany will be planning for another 4-3-3 formation this night. This formation sends the featured four centre-backs. With players like Philipp Lahm in midfield and no Bastian Schweinsteiger, we still can hope for a few changes. And there is another question, who is the selection today as replacement.

Truly it is difficult to predict the great Low. But he must be finding some fine plans of winning this particular match as to make sure the second round.

Plan for Ghana in Germany vs Ghana match:

Last match, Ghana went for a 4-2-3-1 formation and that was turgid. Many can say it as uninspiring and full of flaws for the team.

They started their opener against the USA’s 4-4-2. Still failed to use their spare man in midfield to good use. Another reson for their failure can be considered as the poor decision making.

Kwesi Appiah tried after the U.S. left flank. But this allowed the game to bypass their best player Kwadwo Asamoah as left back.

Asamoah Gyan is probably not anymore sharp like the 2010. He is not that ready like the runner off the ball like the previous World Cup event.

Battle between two brothers: Jerome Boateng and Kevin-Prince Boateng

Yes off course, this is not a tactical clash. Probably this can be taken as a battle between two brothers at a World Cup. But definitely it’s nothing to be excited about.

Prince seriously injured Michael Ballack in the FA Cup final four years ago. He also ruled the midfield general out of the World Cup 2010. And that’s the main cause he becomes the no. 1 common enemy for the German team.

As a matter of fact, this man will now represent Ghana and come up against his own brother Jerome for the first time tonight.

Germany vs Ghana: Pressure vs Counter

In the world cup 2010 qualifiers, Ghana excelled on the counterattacks. While Jurgen Klinsmann took that prospect away from the Black Stars. Now this will be ever-present against Germany too.

Jordan Ayew, Gyan and Christian Atsu can all devastate at pace. Die Mannschaft is here guaranteed to take at least 65 percent possession of the ball. Now there Appiah can prepare his side for a more direct outline.

No, we don’t think Ghana will ever be able to break down Low’s side that much easily. Actually they don’t need to do so. But obviously Germany will try to dominate the black stars as to become the 4 times World Cup Winners.

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Italy vs Costa Rica: surprise gift for the unexpected team

Italy vs Costa Rica: surprise gift for the unexpected team, world cup 2014
Italy vs Costa Rica ; image credit espn.go.com

The opening performance by the Italians was impressive. Especially for the group D, which is considered as the group of death in this World Cup 2014, Brazil. Many, must have expected Italy to make an easier effort for the next round. Costa Rica was truly an easier opponent comparing the other two.

But this is not the first time. The Azzurri have a history of making such difficulties for themselves. With the lesser opponent they just missed the chance to manage their place for the last 16. Nothing but the poor performance, they offered, is liable for the defeat in Italy vs Costa Rica match.

Primarily we couldn’t just determine what to expect from the Cesare Prandelli’s team. As they have recently vanquished the English, less than a week ago. A number of decisions from the Italy coach only exaggerated that feeling. His tinkering with the starting XI made sense. But certainly his choices seemed erroneous with the Friday’s match moving on.

There is no opportunity to argue with the goalkeeper change. Even after the Salvatore Sirigu’s excellent display against England in Manaus. The stopper enjoyed a solid outing. May be he also would acknowledge that the return of Gigi Buffon was inevitable. As soon as the Juventus man is recovered from his ankle injury, he is meant to be with the starting eleven for Italy vs Costa Rica match.

Italy vs Costa Rica: As it happened

 Their captain was where the real issues lay. The initial decision to drop Gabriel Paletta again seemed a wise move. He just struggled too much for the opening match. Parma defender looked woeful. English attacking players were constantly getting the better of him, though failed for his unsteady showing.

So the withdrawal made serious implications across the Italy back line. With Matteo Darmian swapping flanks to left-back, Giorgio Chiellini shifted back into the centre. And Ignazio Abate was drafted in on the right. But the Milan full-back was offered a torrid time in Italy vs Costa Rica match. He was constantly out of position and just allowed Junior Dias far too much space, which led the only goal of this match.

world cup 2014, group stage, Italy vs Costa Rica
the only goal ; image credit o.canada.com/Jamie McDonald

Andrea Barzagli retained his position within the back five. Their defensive mix-ups were really no surprise. But Joel Campbell was unlucky not to add to that Bryan Ruiz opener. The Azzurri woes at one end of the field were only compounded further forward. And swapping Marco Verratti for Thiago Motta robbed Italy of some much needed creativity for that particular match.

Against England on Saturday night, the 21-year-old midfielder was constantly probing the defence. He completed 97 percent of his passes right. He also assisted for Claudio Marchisio’s opening goal. Another time he managed a clever corner routine involving Andrea Pirlo making room for his raking shot from distance, outside the d box.

This time, there were far fewer opportunities against a well-organized team. Prandelli made three attacking changes and sought an equalizer. But no effects. He introduced, Antonio Cassano, Lorenzo Insigne and Alessio Cerci. Still failed to provide a cutting edge in Italy vs Costa Rica match. His tri managed to provide only one shot on target.

Mario Balotelli can be considered as an increasingly isolated and frustrated figure. The Milan striker managed just 24 touches over the 90 minutes game. For all his 12 pass attempts, he never really came close to his match-winning heroics like the one against England. And at the second half he got the deserved yellow card, as had loosen his temperament.

Just one shot on target!! This kind of performance by the striker was indicative of the uncertainty and unfamiliarity for the team. May be Prandelli’s changes were not that much helping the side, rather hindered the spirit. Now this will bring down a great payment for the Azzurri as to progress to the next round. They will be needing at least one point against Uruguay to last for the final 16. But honestly speaking, it will definitely be a difficult prospect if Luiz Suarez performs as he did in his own victory against England yesterday.

Italy vs Costa Rica: surprise gift for the unexpected team, Costa Rica 2nd round, last 16 for Costa Rica, defeated Italy
Costa Rica wins against Italy ; image credit www.aol.com

And yet, for a very few occasions, even the returning Buffon looked shaky. Though, after the full time he can be proclaimed as the iconic one who summed up the situation a little better.

The Italy skipper told to Sky Italia,

“You get back on your feet by looking on the bright side”

And he believes that Azzurri must be just doing that now.

So, to qualify to the next round is on their hand. Prandelli must get things right on Tuesday against Uruguay. Team Italy (4 times World Cup winner ) needs more creativity, at least more than the Italy vs Costa Rica match. And again, changes should also needs to be well planned as not to harm the team combination but to fuel the victory. A great match awaits I believe!!

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Chelsea seeking More Than Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic for Next Season

Chelsea seeking More Than Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic for Next Season, transfer to Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Diego Costa
Diego Costa ; image credit en.wikipedia.org

Many saw his return to Stamford Bridge as being a major indicator the Blues would lift the Premier League trophy again. But their deficiencies eventually restricted them to a third-place finish. Champions League semi-final is also no surprise for them.

May be Chelsea is lacking a true world class striker. They have plenty of talent in defense and midfield. So their downfall is probably the cause of striker.

Chelsea mustn’t be planning for being undefeated against the top four in the league. It can be a better prospect for the teams like Aston Villa, Sunderland or Crystal Palace. As these are the present struggling teams. They soaked up pressure before striking. They could have liked a shock victory against their opponents.

This season ended for Chelsea a little bitter way. In some cases they progressed but they had to put an end without being able to punish their opponent squads.

Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic:

Mourinho has already been quick to act for the remedy. He is waiting for Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid to arrive imminently. There is also another possibility. The Brazilian cum Spaniard could be joined in attack by another striker. This one is from Bayern Munich, Mario Mandzukic.

The World Cup event may be taking all the focus for the present month and half of the next. But these rumors prove that Chelsea have plenty of fans to be excited about even in this World Cup event.

Definitely, the potential of two big names (Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic) arriving at Stamford Bridge will whet the appetite. Still, there are confusions about the other front men from the Blues.

The English media is expecting that Chelsea will be finding an entirely new front line for them, next season.

Everyone is expecting, Fernando Torres as the biggest casualty. Even Chelsea star Demba Ba’s future is questioned. Many suggesting him to join the Turkish club Besiktas.

Another thing, Samuel Eto’o’s one-year contract will expire shortly. He hasn’t been offered a renewal. Romelu Lukaku is also in doubt. Will he be trading places with Diego Costa at Aletico Madrid??

Regardless of the talent he acquired, Mourinho could well be placing himself in a weaker position if he offloads all four players as suggested.

Chelsea seeking More Than Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic for Next Season, Mario Mandzukic, Croatia star
Mario Mandzukic ; image credit commons.wikimedia.org

Both the players Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic have proven their undoubted qualities in recent seasons. But it’s very difficult to rely that much on just two front men to carry the Blues’ hopes. Even it’ll be risky for Mourinho himself.

Chelsea would become incredibly weak, if one of these players get suspensions, injury or even loss of form. Their rivals will not allow them such weakness endured.

Manchester city have already big stars like Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko, Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo. They just need to choose from. While Liverpool also added Rickie Lambert to their ranks.

This is not a rare story. Similarly each of the clubs in this continent is trying to boost up their front line with enviable forwards. May be Mourinho needs to do the same. Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic can easily be the preference.

There is not many more options of clearing out the players who failed to prove themselves last season. The manager must find something more to flourish them. And this can be a greater solution for him.

Various times in the last stages of 2013 and 2014, Ba came to rescue Chelsea. He scored some the vital goals, especially against Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool. Fernando Torres also proved in Europe. He scored five goals in ten Champions League matches.

When given an opportunity, Lukaku also scores for the team. Though he was much more successful in Everton. But he tries his best to find some space for the Chelsea team.

Now that, in a situation like this Mourinho must take a decision. A decision about the former strikers and the upcoming twos. The World Cup 2014 have already seen, Diego Costa failed to prove for the Spaniards. Mandzukic still going on with pace and beauty. He can become a great addition for the Blues.

Yes of course, again after 12 months, we will be here discussing the transitions at Stamford Bridge. But Mourinho must be needing some urge to accomplish as to reside with the Blues for some more. Then the statistics will also be with us about Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic at Chelsea.

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Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to start against United States

Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to start against United States, Portugal hope, World Cup 2014, ready against US
Cristiano Ronaldo ; image credit pt.wikipedia.org

The United States football team is pretty much hopeful against Portugal. Especially after the Germany vs Portugal match. Pepe saw red card before the half time because of head butting Thomas Muller. And after that Muller just went on to a hat-trick. Germany won the match 4-0.

But one thing USMNT must be worried about. Portugal’s star player, Cristiano Ronaldo was not at his best that day. He is not even fit right now. But may be ready for the game. Portugal is hoping for the Real Madrid star to Start against US.

The World NO. 1 player of the year, Cristiano Ronaldo scored 31 goals in 31 La Liga games for Real Madrid this season. During the final weeks of this season he was attacked with a knee injury. And finally he carried it out to the World Cup 2014, Brazil.

Cristiano Ronaldo is ready against US:

Most obviously, this kind of injury is hampering the player’s performance. He is struggling against it and before that he is quite ineffective for the team, which in turn making the whole eleven weak.

Plenty of news (mostly rumors) are swirling about regarding the superstar’s present condition. Team Portugal is even denying to reports on him. Some say, Ronaldo’s doctor advised him to drop out of the World Cup. He needs more time to recover. Otherwise it can harm his total career. even if everybody feels, Cristiano Ronaldo is ready.

Still the team has yet to release anything official on Ronaldo’s status. They are hopeful for the good second start. Though Cristiano Ronaldo himself is confident about the game. Some say, he is inspired even with risking his future career for the World Cup event. As he mustn’t be wanting to watch the dream World Cup sitting. His teammates are also hopeful. Probably Cristiano Ronaldo is ready truly.

Miguel Veloso, one of his teammate tries to sum things up optimistic,

“I’m not a doctor but, from what I see, Ronaldo is fine. He is training, he is jumping and he is shooting. There is not much else to say”

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann remains wary of Ronaldo’s threat. He can only hope, nothing more. As they need to survive this match to continue the journey for the lucrative Cup.

The USMNT coach said,

“Now they will come into Manaus pretty angry and I don’t know how Ronaldo is going to perform when he is angry”

He expects from his team, they will show their opponent that how good they are.

These words sounds more like they are preparing for a fully fit Ronaldo. That means Klinsmann is unlikely to show signs of complacency. Fans of USMNT would be happy learning this. They are in fact with advantage, as they will be through to the knockout stage just winning this particular match. Especially after Germany had a draw against Ghana Saturday night. Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to overcome the disadvantages.

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Portugal vs US: Reasons for US optimism, match preview

Portugal vs US: Reasons for US optimism, match preview, USMNT
Portugal vs US ; image credit u90soccer.com

As always, it’s really easy to put too much pressure on any US football team during international competitions. This particular team at this particular time in the history of the sport in this country is pretty different. Especially with this particular coach at the helm of the entire program. Practically they are having as much pressure as any U.S. soccer team ever had in history.

After the World Cup draw, many thought the team had been placed in the Group of Death. As two of the top five teams were with them. And Ghana was the United States’ personal World Cup executioner in each of the last two.

But after the first nine days, things are a little bit changed. Life and death in a World Cup are proving to be different from reality. Fans can now just start proving their own group as the group of death. For England and Spain, they are all the same.

There have been much more surprises around the tournament so far. Many of which could have the United States feeling rather optimistic about its own chances to create.

No matter what the group is, even death is often diagnosed wrong at the World Cup.

Getting three points from a match against Ghana, will make the USMNT confident before the Portugal vs US match. They outplayed their opponents for 80 of the 90 minutes. So why worry about the death, rather they can easily enjoy the rest games.

The US team should be hopeful for the upcoming games. They will be assured the knockout stage with only a win from the Portugal vs US match on Sunday.

Portugal vs US match preview:

United States team must be thinking of their loss of Jozy Altidore. On the other hand Portugal team is not so happy either. They are also losing Pepe to a horrible suspension after head butting Germany’s Thomas Mueller. Fabio Coentrao and Hugo Almeida are out of the tournament because of injury. Even Cristiano can be a matter of disappointment for the Portugal team.

From the Portugal team perspectives, they will be needing two of their last games win. As they can easily figure out that it would be tough to get out of the goal difference disadvantage, already created. So they will be desperate to bring three points from the Portugal vs US match.

US fans must be hoping for something more too. Just look at Chile, Costa Rica and even Mexico. Expectations can change during a tournament. No one ever had expected US team to take down Portugal or Germany. But now, it’s time for at least to provide the challenge.
May be don’t lose, would be the perfect thinking over the top ranked teams for USMNT. Just maintaining this strategy twice, they are guaranteed the next round of the tournament.

Despite the heat and humidity in Manaus, they have to hope multiple non-contact injuries won’t hit. As a one more match to come up.

This week, speaking with the media Bradley said via US Soccer,

“We talked five minutes after the Ghana game ended about being excited and proud of the way we started off but also realizing that one game doesn’t mean anything”

He knew very well, that night was not the sharpest of him. But he emphasized on keeping importance of following up on those three points with a positive result against Portugal. They need to follow up the first game with a good result. They are focused for the game three needing a result or looking at the other game.

If there is a call for optimism heading into the match against Portugal, surely it starts with Bradley. USMNT must make this player understand that he needs to play better. There is no telling, how much better the USMNT will be, when Bradley plays his best. What do you think? Will it be enough for the Portugal team? Probably the Portugal vs US match will reply in a more optimistic way.

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Switzerland vs France: Didier Deschamps shaping the France World Cup Team

Switzerland vs France: Didier Deschamps shaping the France World Cup Team, France vitory, qualifying 2nd round,world cup 2014
Benzema’s another attack ; image credit o.canada.com/Elsa

Former French teammate Eric Cantona once described him as the water carrier. After lifting the trophy at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Didier Deschamps is now coaching his country at this summer’s Brazil World Cup.

The 45-year old has always been Solid and reliable for the Les Blues’. He has been the most trusted players and one of the most important members of those two tournament-winning sides for France. Now, he has been charged with the task of restoring France to greatness. For the last eleven years he has been coaching at club level.

The French have been anything but unspectacular in South America so far. On their last match against Switzerland, they got the unbelievable 5-2 victory. The Friday match is a clear is a clear indication that Deschamps is finally starting to stamp his mark on this french youngsters.

 The team is going to be modeled in their coach’s own image. Also the benefits are starting to become apparent for them.

Switzerland vs France: As it happened

After the 2-0 defeat in Ukraine in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying, it appeared as if the challenge of coaching his country was becoming too much for the former captain. But certainly he has responded well to adversity.

Didier Deschamps has changed his team in terms of both personnel and formation. He tried to find out the boys he could trust better. That’s the way like a 103 times capped former player.

He has already been awarded for his bold decisions. The 3-0 win at Stade de France secured France’s berth in Brazil.

On the Friday match, France tried routing Switzerland 5-2, at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador.

By only half time, France stormed to a 3-0 lead in a magnificent attacking performance. If Karim Benzema had not missed a penalty, there were possibilities for more. On the 17th minute, Olivier Giroud opened the scoring. Blaise Matuidi doubled Les Bleus’ lead only a minute later. In the 40th minute, Mathieu Valbuena then finished off a blistering counter to make it 3-0 at the break.

After the half time, Pogba unlocked Switzerland’s defense with a brilliant pass into the box toward Benzema. And Benzema finished this time to make it 4-0.

Still, they were not done yet. Just after two minutes, at 71st instant, Sissoko made it five at the other end. Watching deeply, you can easily figure out that Benzema was the catalyst again. He unlocked the Swiss defense. he helped the Switzerland vs France match end with +3 gd victory.

With time running down, the Switzerland side attempted to make an improbable comeback. Dzemaili and Xhaka added their two goals at the very last moments of the game.

Switzerland vs France: Aftermath

Les Bleus also benefited from an early injury. Von Bergen left the match in the ninth minute after having his face bloodied by Giroud’s boot. He was replaced by Philippe Senderos. France quickly gave Switzerland’s makeshift defense look ordinary.

 France went on top of the group E. They have six points already and undoubtedly qualifying for the next round.

On the other hand, Switzerland must regroup before facing Honduras on Wednesday. Goal difference can be the ultimate problem for them to qualify.

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Argentina vs Iran: finally Lionel Messi becomes the ultimate hope for Argentina

Argentina vs Iran: finally Lionel Messi becomes the ultimate hope for Argentina, against Iran, world cup 2014, Brazil
Lionel Messi ; image credit www.telegraph.co.uk

Probably most of the people, especially Argentine fans all around the World, became a slight confused watching the Argentina vs Iran match, Saturday night. Unbelievably people saw Argentina’s desperately tight clash with Iran moved into injury time deadlocked with the score line 0-0. Suddenly the screen showed Lionel Messi slowly advancing on the implacable red defense. And once again, finally he had to be the ultimate hope for Argentina and frustrate his opponents.

The Iran supporters were already exploding in screams of delight. But at the end of the day they had to admit the inevitable, brilliant curling shot eluded Alireza Haghighi’s desperate dive. This was Lio’s second goal in 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil.

For once again, Lionel Messi’s individual brilliance had pulled Argentina out of their footballing anguish. A lot more thousands of supporters decked in the Albiceleste and refused to leave the spot. It seemed like, they just don’t want to miss a little moment from Mineirao stadium.

Mostly Argentina vs Iran match was quite a mediocre one for Alejandro Sabella‘s men. But the conclusion was more like a dream, especially after the starkly disappointing 90 minutes (without injury time).

It was clearly an ecstasy strike from the captain. The coach told the reporters from TYC sports,

“Having Messi, anything is possible”

But he also had to admit that the team performance did not really make him happy, as being desperate for glory from the Brazil world Cup.

Argentina vs Iran: As it happened

Mostly, Argentina’s starting tactics depend on two key factors. Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain, Segio Aguero and Angel Di Maria combine to fire a 4-3-3 setup that leans heavily on the counter attack. And the other one is to let the opponent to push forward, which leaves their holes exploited for the Argentines.

May be the resolute coach was not prepared enough for the upset. From the very beginning of the game, Iran set out to defend with up to eight or nine men in and around the box. They always picked their illustrious rival to come and get the win.

For a moment, it appeared like Argentina did not desire the victory. Each of their steps started to become labored and clumsy approaches. Although, Higuain looked the most likely to damage. But he must be unhappy seeing a one-on-one saved in the first half. And for most of the time Messi was starved of space. Which was enough for the Argentines to break down themselves.

Meanwhile, Aguero and Di Maria will have every reason to be disappointed with their performance in Argentina vs Iran match. None of their touches were creative or inventive to break open the opponent solid defense. Probably all of their possible passes went astray and the crosses flew over the heads all the time.

After a few more minutes in the Second half, Messi intervened with another majestic goal. But no result. Then it came for a situation, when Iran almost was taking on a victory, if not saved by Sergio Romero. Yes, of course, this kind of save can easily prove his critics wrong.

Think for moment!! Such a defeat could have precipitated a real crisis for the pre-World Cup favorites.

Now, two goals in two opening matches. Perhaps, Lio is trying to prove that he will not wilt under the pressure of a nation this time. But it is unfair to expect the spark in every games from one player, even from the Barcelona genius (Lionel Messi). They have to be cautious, as results cannot always revolve around the magic left foot of their captain. So it’s high time to find for plan B.

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Germany’s World Cup history against Argentina

Argentina booked their place in the final of the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, by defeating the Netherlands in the penalty shootout after 120 scoreless minutes on Wednesday. In Sunday’s historic clash Argentina’s will face the Giant Germany, who hammered the host Brazil in 7-1 victory.

Argentina vs Germany, THE HISTORY:

Argentina and Germany both have an extensive history in the World Cups. They have met 20 times in the past, but among them most notable are 1986 and 1990 World Cup finals meeting. Both of the finals are remembered as epic clashes in the World cup history.

The head-to-head:

With head-to-head nine wins and five draws, Argentina dominate the list, while Germany have won only six times. Despite of this there is an even goals balance (28 scored, 28 conceded) between these two giants.

The scenario is entirely different considering only competitive matches. In 2005 confederation cup the two sides drew scoring the result 2-2. The World Cup arena, they have fought six times. In that Germany won three times and twice they made the match draw. The Germans are commanding a record 11-5 goal difference with Argentina in the World Cup. In 1986 World Cup final, Argentina achieved their only World Cup win over Germany.

1986 World Cup Final:

In the final on 23th minutes Argentina was ahead with the goal from Jose Luis Brown. Jorge Valdano made the score 2-0 on 56 minutes. Then the ferocious Germany equalized the score when Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Rudi Voller netted 2 goals within seven minutes. On 81th minutes the score was 2-2.

argentina's world cup win, argentina vs germany,1986 world cup final
jorge burruchaga scoring the winning goal—–image via: futbol.about.com

It was a showdown between the Argentine Diego Maradona and the German Lother Matthaus. It was an epic battle for them while Matthaus seemed to have Maradona’s number throughout the match. With six minutes left on the watch, Jorge Burruchaga found Maradona’s assist to find the net and made the history for Argentina.

1990 World Cup Final:

Four years after the historic win in Maxico City, Argentina and West Germany met again in the World Cup final in Rome.

Argentine struggled throughout the tournament to reach the final. The luck was with them as they beat Yugoslavia in the quarterfinal and Italy in the semi on penalties. They entered the final with four players suspended.

It was a close game from the beginning. Then the drama started when the sub Pedro Monzon was sent off for Argentina on 65 minutes.

Then on 85 minutes the German striker Rudi Voller adjucted to have drawn a foul by Roberto Sensini in the penalty box. Andreas Brehme stepped to shot a penalty kick and he netted the ball from the bottom-left corner. It decided the fate of the final. The drama didn’t end there. Shortly thereafter, argentina’s Gustavo Dezotti got himself sent off the ground.

germany vs argentina, 1990 world cup final
Andreas Brehme’s penalty—–image via: randomnonsenseaboutthings.blogspot.com

The last meeting, 2010 World Cup, quarterfinal:

Germany and Argentina met again in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal, with the coach Maradona and magician Lionel Messi. Young German Muller’s goal was only the beginning of a rout by the Germans, who were 4-0 winners on the day after Klose scored a brace and Arne Friedrich slotted the only goal of his international career. The great Maradona was later dismissed from his position.

Nevertheless, it was 1990 finals when the either team won the world cup. So it will be a great motivation for both team. Hopefully the final will be hugely entertaining for the football world.