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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil – There’s no denying it, the thought of sudden World Cup elimination is on the minds of Luiz Felipe Scolari and his Brazil squad. The veteran coach wants to assure the people of the host nation, though, that nerves are nothing to be worried about.
One of the first things Miguel Herrera did when he became Mexico’s fourth coach in a year was call Rafael Marquez and ask the 35-year-old defender known as “the boss” to return to the national side as captain. On Monday, the world saw why.
Rafael Marquez’s pivotal goal from a header in the 72nd minute ignited a scoring burst, and Mexico surged into the World Cup’s knockout stage for a sixth straight time with a 3-1 triumph over Croatia.
AGUAS CLARAS, Brazil – A family is counting on the fingers of a single hand its hopes for Brazil to win a sixth World Cup championship. All the members of the Silva family living in Aguas Claras, a town on the outskirts of the capital of Brasilia, were born with an extra digit on each hand as a result of a genetic condition known as polydactyly.
He was called a hero and a savior by his Mexican teammates. His Brazilian opponents said he produced miracles. There is no doubt that Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was the one responsible for spoiling Brazil’s hopes of another World Cup victory at its home tournament.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Police fired stun grenades and tear gas to block a march by about 200 protesters toward Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium ahead of Sunday’s World Cup match between Argentina and Bosnia. A standoff ensued, with banner-brandishing demonstrators massing near a police line guarding the route to Maracana.
The heat and humidity of the jungle made its mark on the first World Cup match to be played in the Amazon rainforest, and so did Mario Balotelli. With players from both sides slowing as the game wore on, it was the man with the mohawk that headed in the deciding goal early in the second half to give Italy a 2-1 win in Manaus, Brazil over England and a decided advantage in Group D.
SAO PAULO – Neymar showed why he is carrying Brazil’s hopes at the World Cup, scoring twice on Thursday to help the underwhelming hosts escape a disappointing start to the tournament. With Brazil struggling and down a goal against a spirited Croatian team, Neymar came through to lead his team to a 3-1 win in the opening match, scoring once in each half. The killer goal to make the score 2-1 was a hotly contested penalty awarded by Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.
Neymar gave Brazil a winning start to its home World Cup, scoring twice to lead the host nation to an unconvincing 3-1 victory over Croatia in the opening game on Thursday.
The U.S. headed to Brazil with boosted faith Sunday after going undefeated in its sendoff series for the first time.
The Olympics, the World Cup and commemorations of World War I, D-Day and the fall of the Berlin Wall are some of the events that will spotlight destinations like Sochi, Brazil, Sarajevo, Normandy and Berlin in 2014. Elsewhere abroad, a potentially game-changing high-speed rail service has just launched linking Paris and Barcelona. Some travelers may now prefer the train over a plane, with the train ride cut in half to just over six hours between the two cities.
SAO PAULO – Go to a sporting event in Brazil and you will be mesmerized by fanatic crowds, nonstop chanting and an incessant party atmosphere. Go to a sporting event in Brazil and you will also be shocked by outdated venues, widespread disorder and endless violence. There’s nothing like being a sports fan in Brazil.
The United States drew a daunting task for next year’s FIFA World Cup: difficult opponents, tropical venues and a wearying 9,000-mile zigzag journey across Brazil. The Americans and coach Jurgen Klinsmann (pictured) wound up with the potentially punishing group they feared and will play Ghana, Portugal and Germany next June as they try to achieve a U.S. first: reaching the knockout phase twice in a row. While Ghana eliminated the Americans in 2006 and 2010, the Black Stars won’t do it again. The U.S. opens its seventh straight World Cup appearance against Ghana on June 16 at Natal. The U.S. meets Portugal and favorite for 2013 FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo six days later in the Amazon rain forest city Manaus. The Americans have just three off days to recover before closing Group G on June 26 in Recife against three-time champion Germany. – AP
Brazil was made a 3-1 favorite to win the 2014 World Cup it will be hosting. The Brazilians remained at the same odds after Friday’s draw as they held going into it. Argentina was next at 9-2, followed by Germany at 5-1 and defending champion Spain at 7-1 according to professional oddsmakers. The odds for the United States, placed with Germany, Portugal (30-1) and Ghana (175-1) for the first round, rose from 60-1 to 150-1. “We’re excited,” U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard said. “We’re looking forward to the challenge and we think we’re a good team.” Midfielder Clint Dempsey added, “I don’t look at it like we’re the underdog … we can get out of the group.” – AP
Thirty-two teams, a world of possibilities. The 31 countries that qualified for the 2014 World Cup and host nation Brazil will be hoping for the luck of the draw today ( 8:30 a.m., ESPN2). That’s when their names are plucked from bowls in a globally televised extravaganza to determine where, when and, most important, who they will play in Brazil in June at soccer’s showcase tournament. The 90-minute ceremony will be televised live to more than 190 countries. Even in the 177 soccer-playing nations and territories that didn’t qualify for the monthlong tournament, fans will be hoping for encounters worthy of this showpiece. – Associated Press
PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Flames raced through a crowded nightclub in southern Brazil early Sunday, killing more than 230 people as panicked partygoers gasped for breath in the smoke-filled air, stampeding toward a single exit partially blocked by those already dead. It appeared to be the world’s deadliest nightclub fire in more than a decade.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Like most Brazilians, Evandro dos Santos’ devotion to soccer borders on the religious. Even when he wasn’t watching a game, he loved hearing the roar of the crowd in nearby Maracana stadium – this nation’s temple to the sport. But Santos said he’ll never set foot in the place again.