Friday, May 30, 2014




Today’s top stories:

Liverpool have agreed to a deal with Southampton that will bring 32 year old striker Rickie Lambert to Anfield for a fee of £4 million. Scored 16 goals with 12 assists last season. Sister took to Twitter to express her joy. He is undergoing medical today.

Arsene Wenger has agreed to a three year contract extension with Arsenal that will keep him there through 2017. The deal will likely be announced tomorrow.

In other Arsenal news, Atletico Madrid have rejected Arsenal’s £9 million bid for their right back Juanfran. We’ll keep an eye on this and see if another offer is made.

In Tottenham rumors today, Roberto Soldado is expected to leave the club for Atletico Madrid, while they will keep the services of Erik Lamela. Atletico Madrid meanwhile have continued their transfer saga with Diego Costa moving to Chelsea.

Bild is reporting that Dortmund and Roma have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ciro Immobile for a rumored fee of €18.5 million. The four year deal is expected to be finalized soon.

In other Roma transfer news, the club has apparently set an asking price of €35 million for dissatisfied central defender Mehdi Benatia.

Cristiano Ronaldo took to Facebook to say that he never gave the interview with the Sun that they had published. Comes in the wake of rumors of an arrangement where his brother would stop drinking if he won the Champions League, which has also been found to be untrue. In short, the Sun needs to get its shit together.

In news from La Liga, Eibar will celebrate their promotion to La Liga next Saturday with their fans using confetti that they purchased from Barcelona, after the club did not earn a home victory against Atleti on the final match day. Good bit of thrifty business.

Barcelona has announced that they expect both Cesc Fabregas and Javier Mascherano to stay at the club through next season.

The Norwegian and Russian Football Associations have come to an agreement to eject fans that wave rainbow flags in support of LGBT rights.

CONMEBOL has announced that Jamaica and Mexico have been invited to participate in the 2015 Copa America in Chile.

Betting has been suspended for the Celtic manager job and it is expected that Roy Keane will take the helm for them.

World Cup News:

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly still struggling with the thigh injury that caused him to miss time towards the end of the La Liga campaign. Went the full 90 in only 2 of Madrid’s final 10 matches.

Vicente Del Bosque has revealed that he is confident Diego Costa has the fitness to make the final 23 for Spain. Has previously delayed announcing the squad because of Costa’s ongoing fitness concerns.

Coast Rican striker Alvaro Saborio has been ruled out of the World Cup after fracturing a metatarsal.

Japan’s official mascot for the World Cup this summer is none other than my favorite Pokemon, Pikachu. They released a national team jersey with Pikachu on the front. Check it out here.

FIFA has ordered Spain to wear white in their Group Stage match against the Netherlands. Claims Spain’s traditional red uniforms did not offer enough of a clash against the Netherland’s blue. Sounds like a quick way to grab a few million in kit licenses.

Yesterday’s notable matches:

Campeonato Braziliero Serie A

Flamengo and Figueirense played to a 1-1 draw. Alecsandro opened the scoring 20 minutes in before Everaldo Stum equalized two minutes later.

Santos managed a 2-0 win against Bahia. Alan and Lucas Lima both getting on the score sheet in that one.

International Friendlies:

Lithuania defeated Finland 1-0 thanks to a goal from Arvydas Novikovas

Cameroon fell 2-1 to Paraguay in their warmup match. Oscar Romero and Roque Santa Cruz scoring for Paraguay and Maxim Choupo-Moting for Cameroon. The indomitable lions haven’t looked great in their tune up matches, we’ll see if they can get it together for the tournament.

Latvia and Estonia ended in a scoreless draw. So the teams went to penalties where Latvia won 4-2.

Georgia defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0. Goals from Tornike Okriashvilli and Vladimir Dvalishvili

Turkey took down Honduras 2-0 thanks to goals from Mevlut Erding and Caner Erkin

Upcoming matches for today:

Full slates of matches for the League of Ireland and Serie B in Italy.

International Friendlies will put:
Qatar against Macedonia
Iran will take on Angola
Austria will face Iceland
Switzerland faces off against Jamaica
England take on Peru in their tune up match
Spain will flex their muscles against Bolivia
Uruguay warm up against Northern Ireland
Boznia-Herzegovina face C’ote D’Ivoire
...And finally Chile will see Egypt.

Posted on Friday, May 30, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Thursday, May 29, 2014



Today’s top stories:
Gus Poyet has signed a two year extension with Sunderland after keeping the club safe from relegation in the recent campaign. Poyet’s team had a fantastic finish to the season.

Lukasz Fabianski is set to join Swansea City after signing a pre-contract agreement with the club. Leaves Arsenal after 78 appearances and 25 clean sheets.

Liverpool have made a £16 million bid for Sevilla left back Alberto Moreno.

Owner of Manchester United and the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Malcolm Glazer has passed away at the age of 85. Instrumental in bringing success and stability to both clubs.



A Guardian report has linked Chelsea to Atletico Madrid left back Felipe Luis, could serve to replace Ashley Cole whose contract has expired with the club.

Atletico Madrid captain Gabi revealed that he had played the last month of the season with a cracked rib. 
He only told manager Diego Simeone and club medical staff, who kept the ailment a secret from the media until the season was over.

Juventus are on the verge of completing a move for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata. The deal is expected to be completed by June 2 at the latest.

Fiorentina are reportedly in advanced talks with PSG’s midfielder Jeremy Menez.

The Italian Football Association has confirmed that Lazio youth player Joseph Minala is indeed 17 and not 42 as had been suggested by an African football website earlier this year.

Rumor going around that New York City FC’s mystery signing will be Atletico Madrid’s David Villa. Marca has claimed that the team has made an agreement for a 3 year deal.

Antonio Di Natale has delayed his retirement by a year, meaning the 36 year old midfielder will again feature for Udinese next season.

Sevilla playmaker Ivan Rakitic has been linked with a move to several clubs including Real Madrid, but more recently Barcelona.

Paolo Sousa has been named the manager of FC Basel. Joins the Swiss club after successful stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won the title last season.


World Cup News:
Australia are the first foreign team to arrive in Brazil.

Mirandinha, the first Brazilian player to play in England, has come out and claimed that England’s players will struggle to breathe in Manaus.

Head of FIFA Security and former Interpol executive Ralf Mutschke has declared that he cannot give the World Cup a clean bill of health for match fixing.

Edwin Valencia has been cut from the Columbian preliminary squad after failing to regain fitness after injury.

The Republic of Korea announced that 21 year old left back Kim Jin-su will miss the World Cup with an ankle injury. Park Joo-ho will take his place.

Nigerian manager, Stephen Keshi has dismissed allegations of match fixing in yesterday’s match against Scotland. More on that in a few minutes.

Notable scores from yesterday:

MLS:
Portland Timbers take down Chivas USA 2-0 thanks to two goals from Fanendo Adi. The striker on loan from FC Copenhagen looked great during this match with instinctive finishing. Now unbeaten in their last six matches.

NWSL Women’s League:
A hat trick from Jasmine Reeves and a fourth goal from Ezurike Nkemjika earned the Boston Breakers only their second win on the season with a 4-1 victory over the Portland Thorns. Portland’s goal came from Christine Sinclair after the team was already down 4-0, giving them a bit of redemption there.

Goals from Lori Chalupney and Adriana Leon gave the Chicago Red Stars a 2-0 win over Sky Blue FC. The victory keeps them in second place in the league table.

Brazilian Campeonato Serie A:
Criciuma runs out 1-0 winners against Coritiba thanks to a goal from Fabio Da Silva.

Palmeiras fall 2-0 to Botafogo. Goals from Mario Bolatti and Pablo Zeballos

Sport Recife and Gremio played to a goalless draw as did Goais and Vitoria

Wellington Paulista’s brace gives Internacional a 2-0 win against Chapecoense

Atletico Mineiro won 2-0 against Fluminense thanks to goals from Diego Tardelli and Jesus Datolo

Atletico Paranense and Sao Paolo played to a 2-2 draw. Bady opened the scoring in the first half. Rogerio 
Ceni equalized from the penalty spot in the 76th. Cleo then gave Atletico the lead in the 90th minute, but Luis Fabiano equalized in stoppage time to earn Sao Paolo the draw.

A goal from Jose Paolo Guerrero gave Corinthians the 1-0 win against Cruziero

International friendlies:

Denmark earned a 1-0 win against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden thanks to a 92nd minute penalty conversion from Daniel Agger.

Nigeria faced Scotland yesterday in a controversial match that went forward despite a formal inquisition into match fixing allegations. The match finished in a 2-2 draw, with a bizarre own goal from Nigerian keeper 
Austin Ejide who was clattered into by an attacker and threw the ball into his own goal. Uchebo and Uche both getting on the score sheet for Nigeria while Charlie Mulgrew scored the other goal for Scotland.

Cuatemoc Blanco played 39 minutes in his final match for El Tri and Mexico ran out 3-0 winners against Israel. Miguel Layun scored the first two goals with laser shots from distance, before Marco Fabian added the third.

Upcoming matches today:
Campeonato Braziliero Serie A
Flamengo faces Figueirense

Bahia meets Santos

International Friendlies:
Lithuania takes on Finland

Cameroon will face Paraguay

Latvia faces Estonia

Saudi Arabia will see Georgia


and finally Honduras takes on Turkey

Posted on Thursday, May 29, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World Cup Team Preview: Belgium
Wilmots shows he's still got some skills.

Their Manager: Marc Wilmots

Their Captain: Vincent Kompany

Their Squad:

Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Atletico Madrid), Sammy Bossut (Zulte Waregem), Thomas Kaminski (Anderlecht), Simon Mingolet and Koen Casteels injured.

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Van Buyten (Bayern Munich), Nicolas Lombaerts (Zenit St. Petersburg), Anthony Vanden Borre (Anderlecht), Laurent Ciman (Standard Liege)

Midfielders: Axel Witsel (Zenit St. Petersburg), Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Steven Defour (Porto), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Nacer Chadli (Tottennham Hotspur)

Forwards: Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Kevin Mirallas (Everton), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Lille), Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United)


Projected Formation: 4-3-3 
Why they will win the World Cup:
The Belgian Golden Generation will live up to the expectations that have been placed on them. Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku lead a lethal attack force in front of one of the most formidable back four in the world. Their midfielders can dominate play with their physicality and passing skills.  This team has depth, talent, and has a wealth of talented players coming from nearly every top competition in Europe.

Why they will not win:
Injuries have already been a problem for the Belgian National team who have called up their 7th keeper to the squad in the wake of injuries to Koen Casteels and Simon Mingolet. If they picked up an injury to a goalkeeper or other key player it could spell doom for the Belgians. The demands of travel, and the pressures of playing three matches in 10 days could end up being too much for the squad that has just finished their club campaigns.

Three players to watch:
Eden Hazard:
Eden Hazard is fresh off his PFA Team of the Year nomination and is ready to show the world what his magical feet can do. An expert dribbler that squeezes through almost nonexistent gaps in the defense. He can score goals, but is equally happy setting up his teammates. Hazard prefers featuring on the left side of the attack so he can cut inside and unleash his ferocious right footed shot. He is one of the elite attacking weapons in the world and will show the world what he can do in Brazil. 

Thibaut Courtois:
Thibaut Courtois just had an incredible season for a 22 year old goalkeeper. He lifted the La Liga title and was one minute from UEFA Champion’s League glory before his team capitulated. As the only top quality keeper for Belgium, he will be the last line of defense playing behind an experienced back four. He possesses tremendous shot stopping abilities and has demonstrated aerial dominance as well during his career. A few great performances this summer could make him a household name around the globe.

Romelu Lukaku:
Much has been expected of Lukaku in his short career and he has delivered at virtually every turn. He has scored an incredible 65 league goals by his 21st birthday, eight more than Lionel Messi. In this week’s tune up match against Luxembourg, Lukaku netted a hat trick, a signal that he is raring to go for this tournament. He is capable of out jumping almost any defender and will shove aside smaller defenders with ease. What he lacks in experience, he makes up for in size, speed, and determination. Romelu will have to fill the void left by the injured Christian Benteke and will do so with the determination to prove he can play anywhere in the world.


Predictions:
I predict a very successful campaign for Belgium. I see them winning Group H and progressing through the quarterfinal to the semis. 

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Top Stories:

As expected, Mauricio Pochettino has been named the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. He has signed a five year contract and brings his considerable skills set to White Hart Lane. Team desires sexy attacking football, which he will provide, but defense remains a question for the team.

The Italian Football Association has banned partial ownership of players. A system used by mid/lower table clubs who share joint ownership with big clubs, allowing young talents to develop and economically benefit small clubs.

In other Serie A news, Parma have been declared ineligible for the Europa League due to their debt and will be replaced by Torino.

Atletico Madrid has agreed to a deal with San Lorenzo’s Angel Correa. The Argentinian young talent scored eight goals last season and is signed to a five year contract.

Bacary Sagna has notified Arsenal that he is leaving this summer.

Billy Jones has signed a four year deal with Sunderland after spending the last three years with West Brom.

Mauro Zarate has passed his medical exam ahead of his move to West Ham.



World Cup News:

Two members of the German Provisional squad, Julian Draxler and Benedikt Hoewedes were involved in a car accident that sent two people to the hospital with injuries. Draxler and Hoewedes. They were passengers doing laps in Southern Tyrol (Northern Italy) when the accident occurred.

Incredible anti-FIFA graffiti collection is making its way around Reddit to the rest of the internet. Really beautiful and poignant pieces of street art that express the dissatisfaction of the Brazilian people.

Rafael Van Der Vaart will miss the World Cup with the Dutch National Team after suffering a calf injury

In yesterday’s Macedonia vs. Cameroon tune up match, the wrong national anthem was played for Macedonia. Also in that match, Pierre Webo scored a fantastic overhead kick, but injured his shoulder in the process. His status for the World Cup is now in question.

Manuel Neuer will not appear in the upcoming friendly match against Cameroon. Still recovering from his shoulder injury.

It has been revealed that FIFA now has cash reserves in excess of $1.4 billion. Disgraceful for the governing body to be hoarding cash in this fashion while football associations around the globe struggle to operate.


Phil Jagielka has declared that he will be fit for the England squad in Brazil.

Posted on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

World Cup Team Preview: United States

Their Manager: Jurgen Klinsmann 


Their Squad:

Goalkeepers: Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Demarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nurnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)


Projected Formation: 4-2-3-1


Match Schedule:
·         United States vs. Ghana, June 16, Natal, 6 p.m. EST
·         United States vs. Portugal, June 22, Manaus, 6 p.m. EST
·         United States vs. Germany, June 26, Recife, 12 p.m. EST
Why they will win the World Cup:
Destiny. According to Men in Blazers, the United States are destined to win the tournament and lift the World Cup trophy. The American Outlaws will be making themselves heard at every occasion, and could give the USMNT the boost that they require against opposition that do not have as many fans in attendance. Should the “Von Trapps” earn a victory against Ghana in the qualifying match, they have a very realistic of qualifying if they can gain a result against Portugal. Once they reach the knockout stages, anything can happen, however it will require the absolute highest level of commitment to produce the results they seek.

Why they will not win:
The Group of Death. Should the USMNT not earn a win against rivals Ghana, it makes qualifying out of the group nearly impossible. It would require results in consecutive matches against Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo and the absolutely stacked German national team. Both would be tall orders for any team, let alone a squad that just cast off one of their most experienced players, Landon Donovan.

Three players to watch:

Clint Dempsey:
When Jurgen Klinsmann named Deuce the captain of the squad in the run up to the World Cup, he hoped to inspire the type of performances and mentality that the US will need to succeed in Brazil. Dempsey is known to have a selfish streak as a player, but he has been on fire recently scoring 7 goals in April with the Seattle Sounders. The USMNT needs him to continue that form and keep a cool head on his shoulders if he is going to be the backbone and leader of the team as expected. 

Michael Bradley: 
Bradley is one of the most accomplished midfield players in the history of American soccer. He has played in the top leagues in five countries and has been a mainstay in the squad since his father brought him to train with the World Cup team ahead of the 2006 tournament in Germany. This spring he returned to North America on a $10 million transfer from Roma to play with Toronto FC. He looks like Lex Luther and is equally as menacing, capable of scoring spectacular goals and delivering decimating tackles. Partnering with Kyle Beckerman or Jermaine Jones allows Bradley to make runs forward where he can deliver the attacking edge that the USMNT needs.

Tim Howard: 
If the United States hope to gain anything from this World Cup, Tim Howard will have to be in the form of his life. Undoubtedly, Howard will be called upon in the matches against Portugal and Germany where he will face some of the most potent attacking forces in the world. Howard is a top quality keeper accustomed to facing dynamic attacking forces with Everton, however the USMNT does not have a similar quality defense in front of him. Howard will be playing with the hopes and dreams of an entire country in his hands and we will see whether he can produce another miracle

Prediction:
It will take a run of special performances just to get the US out of the Group of Death, but it is certainly no impossible task. I think a second place finish is a very realistic possibility and see them reaching the quarterfinals before being eliminated.

Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Headlines:

Real Madrid defeated Atletico Madrid 4-1 in extra time to win their tenth European Cup.
-   
In the world’s most expensive match, QPR defeated Derby County 1-0 to return to the Premier League
-          
Derby will return to the Championship

Tottenham is looking to replace Tim Sherwood with Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino.

Ashley Williams has deleted his twitter after it appeared he received threats from free agent striker Michael Chopra.

Rio Ferdinand is considering joining Harry Redknapp at newly promoted QPR.

Chelsea have been linked with Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Thiago Mendez. The midfielder is out of contract.

Liverpool has announced they have agreed to a long term contract extension with manager Brendan Rodgers.

Cardiff City has agreed to a fee with Reading for Adam Le Fondre, who scored 15 goals last season.

AC Milan have announced that manager Clarence Seedorf has been fired and Gazetto dello Sport is reporting Pippo Inzaghi will replace him.

Tom Ince is on the verge of completing a move to Inter Milan.

Aaron Hunt has signed a deal with Wolfsburg that will keep him there through 2017.

Claudio Pizarro has signed a one year extension with Bayern Munich.

Borussia Dortmund have been linked to Chelsea owned striker Romelu Lukaku.

Gibraltar managed a 1-1 draw against Estonia in their first ever away match. Jake Gosling scored for Gibraltar.

Cuatemoc Blanco will play his final match for Mexico in a friendly Wednesday afternoon against Israel
Landon Donovan became the MLS’ all time leading goal scorer after netting two against the Philadelphia Union.

Venezuelan player Johnny Perozo was shot dead with a friend at the sports center in Lagunillas Sunday morning following an argument with an unknown gunman. The former Zulia player was only 29 years old.

World Cup News:

Marca reported that Diego Costa is estimated to be out for 15 days following his injury in the Champion’s League final. Will likely still feature for Spain in Brazil although Vicente del Bosque is still undecided.

Gerard Deulofeu has been called up to the Spanish National Team. Will play in Friday’s warmup fixture against Bolivia.

Phil Jones has been spotted in training for the English National Team. Still recovering from shoulder injury.

Uruguay remain positive that Luis Suarez will be ready for the tournament after he underwent successful surgery to repair a damaged meniscus.

Mamadou Sakho will captain France in their Friday friendly match against Norway. Labeled as a natural leader by manager Didier Deschamps.

Adam Sarota, Chris Good, and Josh Brillante have been cut from Australia’s provisional squad.


Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar will miss the World Cup after suffering a hamstring injury in the Saturday Championship playoff match for QPR. 

Posted on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Friday, May 23, 2014




Headlines:
Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have agreed to a £40 million transfer fee that would make David Luiz the most expensive defender in the world

Eric Cantona has continued his fight against the FIFA bureaucracy by declaring the two man race for FIFA president between Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini is like making a choice between the plague and cholera.

Tony Kroos has played down rumors linking him to Manchester United and says he will be a Munich player next season. Thomas Muller has also been linked to United, but is expected to reject the Red Devils.

United have been linked with moves for Everton’s James McCarthy and Dnipro’s winger Yevhen Konoplyanka

Arsenal and Liverpool have expressed interest in QPR striker Loic Remy

Leicester have agreed to a deals with 35 year old defender Matthew Upson from Brighton and Matt Barmby from Manchester United.

Craig Bellamy has announced his retirement from football. The tenacious Welsh striker ends a great career in which he scored a total of 135 goals for teams like Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester City, and most recently Cardiff City.

In other Cardiff City news, they have announced their signing of Rapid Wien’s Guido Burgstallar for an undisclosed fee.

Neil Adams has been named manager of Norwich City, signed on a 3 year contract.
Feyenoord has agreed to an €8 million fee with Roma for Stefan de Vrij

Vincent Tan owner of FK Sarajevo and Cardiff City has donated €115,000 to help flood relief victims

Helena Costa has officially taken charge of French Ligue 2 side Claremont Foot. In her first press conference she declared “If I didn’t think I was capable, I wouldn’t be here.” Best of luck to her as she becomes only the second woman to manage a European club.

World Cup News:

Landon Donovan has been left off of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23 man roster for Brazil

Also left off the USMNT roster was Brad Evans who took the opportunity to tweet at Cristiano Ronaldo to let him know he got off easy.

Lars Bender will miss the World Cup for Germany with a thigh injury, This could mean that Philipp Lahm may have to feature at defensive midfielder if Sami Khedira does not return from fitness. In that situation, Kevin Groskreutz would feature at right back.

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Brazil:

Their manager: Luis Felipe Scolari 


Their squad:
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Dante (Bayern Munich), Maxwell (Paris Saint-Germain), Henrique (Napoli)

Midfielders: Willian (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea), Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Hernanes (Internazionale), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Forwards: Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St. Petersburg), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro)

Projected Formation: 4-2-1-3


Match Schedule:
·         Brazil vs. Croatia, June 12, Sao Paulo, 4 p.m. EST
·         Brazil vs. Mexico, June 17, Fortaleza, 3 p.m. EST
·         Cameroon vs. Brazil, June 23, Brasilia, 4 p.m. EST
Why they will win the World Cup:
If everything ends the way it is supposed to, on July 13, Brazil will be lifting the World Cup trophy at the Marcana. A host country has not won the World Cup since France did so in 1998, and it is due to happen again. No European country has won a World Cup hosted in North or South America. Brazil are five time champions and adding a sixth would signal the arrival of their new “Golden Generation” following their triumph last summer in the Confederation’s Cup. With home crowds and the entire country cheering them on, they will enjoy one of the greatest home field advantages in the tournament’s history.

Why they will not win:
Pressure. There will be an immense burden on the shoulders of the Brazilian players and manager Luiz Felipe Scolari. Some pundits are suggesting that home crowds will be uneasy if Brazil don’t score in the opening minutes of every match. Will their fans be happy with a squad that grinds out the results required to progress or will they demand the attacking flair and beauty that their country is traditionally known for? The club also has a noticeable lack of depth at the striker position, with only domestics Fred and Jo featuring for the squad.

Three players to watch:


Neymar: No player has attracted as much attention heading into the tournament as Neymar. He is the all action man for Brazil and will feature on their left wing. Blessed with breathtaking speed and technical brilliance, Neymar is capable of producing spectacular goals and providing equally brilliant assists. After what many considered to be a disappointing first season with Barcelona, Neymar is eager to show the world that he is capable of living up to all his hype.


Hulk: Fresh off a successful club season with Zenit St. Petersburg, where Hulk captured the competition’s MVP award and fell just one goal short of the competition’s top scorer with 17. Hulk will likely feature on the right side of the Brazilian formation, away from the traditional striker position which he can also play. Hulk enjoys cutting in from the right side and firing laser shots on goal with his left foot. With a game to live up to his superhero moniker, Hulk will make a lot of heads turn in Brazil.



Thiago Silva: Widely considered to be the best central defender in the world, there is no player that more aptly fits the label of complete defender. As captain of the Selecao, he will shoulder the weight of an entire nation as he leads a defense that is capable of contributing on both ends of the field. Fresh off a Ligue 1 title with PSG, Silva should be in good shape after getting lots of rest going into the tournament. Silva’s biggest challenge may be developing defensive cohesion among maverick defenders Dani Alves, Marcelo, and David Luis.

Projected Finish:
Brazil should easily win Group A outright and I would be very surprised to see them eliminated before the semi-final. They are my pick to win it all. 

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Headlines:

Neil Lennon is expected to step down as the manager of Celtic. A statement will follow later tonight.
-         
Bayern Munich will not offer a new contract for Tony Kroos.
-          
Manchester United is expected to bid £20 million for the talented German’s signature.

Wolfsburg has signed Sebastien Jung from Eintracht Frankfurt.
-          
German Football Association has approved match day blood testing to combat doping violations.

Bacary Sagna is expected to sign a £120,000 per week contract with Manchester City.
-          
Ciro Immobile ready to move from Torino to Borussia Dortmund to replace Robert Lewandowski
-          
L’Equipe has suggested that Didier Drogba could be on the move to Juventus this offseason.

QPR and Derby have reached a deal that allows the Wembley gate receipts, an estimated team share of £1.5 million, to go to the loser of their Championship playoff decider.
-          
Finally, Chelsea owned keeper Thibaut Courtois has suggested he may not return to Chelsea next season.
-          Suggests having himself and Petr Cech in the same squad would not be ideal.

World Cup Headlines:

A Telegraph headline read that Luis Suarez’ World Cup was in doubt, however a tweet from Martin Charquero revealed that Suarez is undergoing surgery to repair a meniscus. He is expected to return to fitness for the World Cup.

The Mexico National team has been told to not eat beef and to abstain from sex.
-          Juan Carlos Medina will miss the World Cup, will need to undergo surgery for ankle injury.

FIFA delayed the last test match in Sao Paolo in preparation for the World Cup.
-      

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014




Headlines:

Diego Costa has traveled to Belgrade, Serbia to see “miracle doctor” Marijana Kovacevic to receive an injection of horse placenta in order to play in Saturday’s Champion’s League final.

Barcelona has set a £45 million asking price for Cesc Fabregas.

Sunderland and Jozy Altidore have announced that the American striker will stay the club through next season.

Julio Cesar’s stint as Toronto FC keeper is likely over. QPR has recalled the Brazilian keeper after the World Cup.

New Valencia owner, Singapore billionaire Peter Lim to finalize singing of Rodrigo and Andre Gomes for a total of €45 from Benfica.

Thomas Schaaf has been named manager of Eintracht Frankfurt

Bayern Munich has filed a petition to allow goal line technology in the Bundesliga.

Kosovo will play just their second ever friendly match against Turkey today.

World Cup News:

Mario Balotelli was racially abused at the Italian training facility, Coverciano, as Italy prepared for the World Cup.

Radamel Falcao will be joining his Colombia teammates in Buenos Aires next week for their two friendlies in preparation for the World Cup.

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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5. Darijo Srna

Only the most diehard football fans will remember the name Darijo Srna. Going into the World Cup in Brazil, he captains Croatia, one of the dark horse squads looking to find glory. Since 2003, Srna has played his club  soccer with Ukrainian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk. This past season, he helped Shakhtar lift the United Supercup, while leading the competition in assists and joint top goal scorer. Srna is beloved by Shakhtar fans for his loyalty and reputation for buying match tickets and travel for orphans wishing to attend Shakhtar matches.

Srna is the most capped player in Croation national team history and has represented his country at the last four major tournaments. Srna’s lethal free kick taking abilities will be on display next month in Brazil as they are virtually every year in the Champion’s League. With eight Ukrainian Premier League titles, 5 Ukrainian Cups, 5 Ukrainian Super Cups, and a UEFA Cup already on his list of honors, Srna one of the most decorated on this list.

4. Branislav Ivanovic

Branislav Ivanovic has been an integral part of Chelsea’s success for the past six seasons. He scored the Europa League winner against Benfica, giving Chelsea the honor of being the first club to hold simultaneous European titles. During the most recent campaign, he featured in 50 matches for the club, the most of any players. Ivanovic also scored the lone goal in Chelsea’s win over Manchester City, one of three he scored in the Premier League this season.

Ivanovic has improved significantly in the attacking aspects of the game, however some of his crosses still manage to find their way into the stands. Ivanovic excels in the defensive aspects of the game as one of the most solid defenders in world football. Ivanovic also possesses spectacular aerial ability along with a penchant for the dark arts, which earned him eight yellow cards in Chelsea’s latest campaign. Unfortunately, many football fans will forever remember Ivanovic for being on the receiving end of a bite from Luis Suarez.

3. Pablo Zabaleta

As Manchester City’s campaign entered the final stages, many questioned whether their defense could remain strong enough to earn them the title. Zabaleta along with captain Vincent Kompany rallied the defense to hold clean sheets in three of City’s four final matches. Zabaleta put on a fantastic display that earned him man of the match honors against Aston Villa, a victory that put Manchester City into the commanding position atop the Premier League table.

Like Ivanovic, Zabaleta is a player accustomed with entering the referee’s book, doing so on 11 occasions this past season. Despite being a player known to commit a lot of fouls, he has not been dismissed from a Premier League match in the last three seasons. Zabaleta has also improved in the attacking phases of the game, earning six assists on the season. The Argentinian defender will feature alongside Lionel Messi next month in Brazil, determined to bring a World Cup trophy to his home nation.

2. Dani Alves

In last Saturday’s match against Atletico Madrid, Dani Alves worked tirelessly providing crosses and build up play to give Barcelona the La Liga crown. Despite falling short in his efforts, Alves’ crosses provided several prime scoring opportunities and he was arguably the best player on the pitch for Barca. Dani Alves had attracted international headlines earlier in the season, when confronted with a disgusting act of racism in which a banana was thrown at him. Alves picked up the banana, as planned, took a bite and then sent a corner kick into the penalty area. In a single moment he dismissed the racism and then went on lead an international campaign against racism in which he declared “we are all monkeys”.

Alves aside from possessing a calm head on his shoulders, he is also an expert dribbler, passer, and free kick taker. This year he scored four goals from his right back position and was involved in the buildup of many others. This summer Dani Alves will play a major role for the Brazilian national team as they host the World Cup. He was a member of the squads that captured the last two Confederations Cups and would love to add a World Cup to his considerable list of honors.

1. Phillipp Lahm

Phillipp Lahm is not only regarded as the best full back in the world, he is considered by many to be one of the all-time greats. When Pep Guardiola asked Lahm to play out of position as a defensive midfielder, Lahm expertly rose to the occasion. The adjustment allowed his team to capture the German double of the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal this season. This earned Lahm one of the highest compliments his legendary manager could give when Guardiola said “He is perhaps the most intelligent player I have ever trained in my career. He is at another level.”


Lahm has now captured six Bundesliga titles to match six DFB Pokal trophies and Champion’s League winner’s medal. He has been in the UEFA Team of the Year four times and in 2013 earned his first selection to the FIFPro World XI. Despite being named to the last two World Cup All-Star Team, his German squad has fallen short. Lahm will be a crucial figure for Germany as they look to become the first European squad to lift the World Cup trophy on South American soil. 

Posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5. Felipe Luis

Felipe Luis arrived at Atletico Madrid as a well-traveled left back. After spending four seasons with Deportivo La Coruna, Luis arrived in Madrid on a five year contract that cost the club €12 million. He has since proven to be one of the most valuable transfers in the club’s history, by leading them to the La Liga title last week. The Brazilian left back is often described as tireless, which undersells the attacking threat Luis has going forward.

Defensively, Felipe Luis is as solid as they come. In La Liga he averaged over 4 tackles per match in his 32 appearances for Atletico this season. He also earned six yellow cards during the season, demonstrating to opponents that he was accustomed in the dark arts.

4. David Alaba

In David Alaba’s first match for Austria, he went down in the history books as Austria’s youngest capped player at the age of 17. Since then he has set the Bayern Munich record youngest capped player in a competitive match, the record for fastest goal scored in a Champion’s League match, and lifted the Champion’s League trophy with Bayern Munich last season. That is quite a list of accomplishments for any player, let alone a player who at 21 years of age still has over a decade remaining in his career.

In this past season, Alaba featured in 48 matches from Bayern Munich, contributing four goals and seven assists. Although he struggles in aerial challenges, Alaba offers a dangerous attacking threat thanks to his expert crossing and ball movement. Alaba will not be participating in the upcoming World Cup, giving him a chance to rest after a successful domestic campaign that saw Bayern lift the Bundesliga crown and win the DFB Pokal.  

3. Marcelo

When the legendary Brazilian left back Roberto Carlos retired, many wondered how Brazil would replace him. Marcelo has masterfully risen to the occasion and earned the respect of Roberto Carlos himself, who claims Marcelo has surpassed him technically. Marcelo is one of the most lethal attacking left backs in the world, possessing a deadly shot, world class crossing ability, and possesses a bag of tricks that gives defenders nightmares.

This past season he contributed six assists to Real Madrid and could capture his first Champion’s League winner’s medal on Saturday. Following Brazil’s success in the Confederation’s Cup, the 26 year old left back will hope to lift the World Cup trophy on home soil in July. Marcelo will be an important figure to watch in Brazil.

2. Jordi Alba

In 2012, Vicente del Bosque included Jordi Alba in Spain’s squad for the Euros. Jordi Alba thanked him by performing spectacularly. In the quarterfinal against France, he sent in the cross that Xabi Alonso scored off of to open the scoring in a 2-0 victory. In the final against Italy, Alba pounced on a through ball from Xavi and could not be caught before slotting home the finish which blew the game open at 2-0. He followed up that performance by helping Barcelona capture the La Liga title the next season.

Alba has taken over as the regular Spain left back for Joan Capdevila and performed well for Barcelona last season despite suffering a hamstring injury that kept him out of the closing stages of the season. Alba looks set to regain fitness for Brazil and will join Spain as they attempt to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive major tournament.

1. Leighton Baines

No player has been more important to Everton over the past few seasons as Leighton Baines. Following the departure of Marouane Fellaini and manager David Moyes to Manchester United, many wondered if Baines would follow shortly. Baines ultimately stayed with Everton and lifted them to a fifth place finish in the Premier League, securing their qualification in the Europa League. Baines has earned PFA Team of the Season honors in two of the last three seasons.



Baines possesses great dribbling ability, strong crossing, and a knack for playing the crucial pass in buildup play. However, Baines possesses a left foot that can hit free kicks with the power and accuracy of, which no other player on this list can compare to. In the last four Premier League seasons, Baines has contributed 19 goals, an impressive figure for a defender. His performances have been good enough that England manager Roy Hodgson has chosen to leave out Ashley Cole from the World Cup squad. 

Posted on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 by Alex Schaffer

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