PRESSURE BUILDS

The pressure is building upon the managers who have to select their list of 23 players which will represent their respective countries for the 2014 World Cup but there is no nation that has more pressure and expectations than Brazil.

Brazil will be surrounded by their home fans and home turf but the factor that has elevated expectations for the team of Scolari is due to the results of their previous tournament as the Brazilians claimed victories against Japan, Mexico, Italy, Uruguay and Spain which allowed them on sealing the Confederations Cup trophy.

The Brazilians have lifted the World Cup trophy on 5 occasions which is more than any other nation and the young generation of players which have been emerging and performing in major European clubs have increased even further the hopes of Brazil winning the upcoming World Cup.

Earlier in March Brazil played a friendly match against South Africa and blasted 5 goals past their opposition with Barcelona’s Neymar being the main engine behind Brazil as he scored 3 goals for his nation but this performance will be worth nothing if they are unable to get positive results in the 2014 World Cup when the eyes of the world will be watching.

Neymar is not the only young sensation player that is expected to push Brazil not only to the finals of the World Cup but also be claimed as the champions for the 6th time.  Oscar, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo, Hulk, are all of the other players which are performing sublimely well with their European clubs and they have already showcased the world class abilities at their disposal which will be crucial for not only for Neymar but for Brazil as they will need all the help available in order to lift the World Cup trophy once more.

BRAZIL AIM TO WIN IT

Chelsea defender David Luiz, who is a first-team regular with Brazil, says that it is important for the national team to lift the World Cup when it is hosted in the summer by his country. The tournament will return to Brazil for the first time since 1950. Even though there are several problems surrounding the infrastructure and stadium development, Brazil are expected to host a successful World Cup. Being a football crazy nation, pressure is always high on the players to deliver results. It will be even more when it is a home tournament.

It is for this reason that Luiz says there can be no excuses. The 26-year-old comes into the tournament as one of the first choice defenders for Luiz Felipe Scolari. He has competition from Bayern Munich’s Dante, but Luiz has formed a great partnership with Thiago Silva in the centre of defence. After numerous troubles in the last few years, Scolari managed to get Brazil a trophy last year, as the nation lifted the confederations cup. Luiz was in full price of the former Chelsea boss, who has already guided Brazil to World Cup success in his previous spell.

Luiz says that the positive attitude of Scolari has managed to rub onto the players.

“We need to win the World Cup. I’m very excited. I think it will be a great World Cup for everyone, but for Brazilian people even more. They have been waiting for this for more than 50 years, so I’m very excited for my generation. There is a lot of pressure on us, we’re working very hard and we have a great opportunity because we’re playing at home. There will be more pressure on us than the other countries,” said Luiz. Brazil open the tournament with a match against Croatia on 13 June.

GERMANY CAN WIN

Former German international Lothar Matthaus says that his nation has a great chance of winning the World Cup 2014 because he does not think Spain are the best possible shape right now. Spain come into the tournament as the outright favourites according to the bookmakers, but they are not stable or perfect as they have been in the last few years according to the former Inter Milan midfielder. This is due to the changes made to Spain’s style of play in order to accommodate new players. Some of the influential players over the last five years like Xavi and Carlos Puyol are also slowing down due to age.

This has put Germany and Brazil in a great position to win the tournament according to Matthaus. Spain’s victory at the 2010 World Cup was their third consecutive major title. This follows years of underachievement during which time they went without a trophy for more than four decades. Vicente del Bosque still has a lot of confusion about players for the World Cup. Even though Spain are rich in midfield, they do not have the best options up front. Germany have disappointed in recent major tournaments, but they finally have the experience and maturity to win the World Cup again.

Germany, though, have a tough group to negotiate in order to get to the latter stages of the tournament.

“Spain have won the last three major titles but they’re not as overwhelming or as stable now. That’s why I think Germany have a better chance of success than Spain. I believe Brazil and Germany are the two strongest teams, closely followed by Spain. At the 2013 Confederations Cup, Brazil showed they can handle the pressure of winning important games at home, while Germany have been consistent for several years now,” said Matthaus.

ENGLAND CHANCE?

England are not one of the favourites to win the World Cup 2014, but they do have a chance to cause an upset due to the presence of star names like Jack Wilshere. Arsenal’s Wilshere is regarded as the future England captain, but the 21-year-old has revealed that he needs to work hard in every match to be sure of a place in the England team. Wilshere is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet for the plane to Brazil, but he has stated that competition for places remains more intense than ever.

Wilshere has been playing for the national team for a few years, but this could be his first major tournament as a first-team regular. Even though England ultimately qualified for the tournament by finishing top of the group, they have suffered defeats against Chile and Germany friendly matches. These two opponents may come up against England in Brazil, which has started doubts about their ability to even get past the group stages. Wilshere has stated that the players like Ravel Morrison are continuing to improve every match. Since they play in a similar position, he cannot take his place for granted.

“That is where you are going to get into the England World Cup squad – by playing well for your club, then you are going to get picked for your country. You have seen over the last couple of months that the talent there is, even in the Under-21s, with Ravel Morrison and all these players coming through. You are never guaranteed and cannot rest on your laurels. You are only as good as your last game,” said Wilshere. After returning from a long-term injury, the midfielder has been starting games regularly for Arsenal this season. He recently scored his first goal of the season against West Brom.

CARRICK IS KEY

Michael Carrick will be one of the senior members of the squad when England play at the 2014 World Cup, as they are extremely close to sealing qualification to this major tournament. This World Cup will also be the final tournament for the likes of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, which could make Carrick as the senior most midfielder amongst the ranks. Many expect the former Tottenham midfielder also to call upon his retirement after the end of this tournament, but he thinks otherwise. Even though he has not been one of the talked about players among the Golden generation, Carrick sees himself continuing for the national team after the World Cup.

Prior to the national team return under Roy Hodgson, Carrick made just one international appearance in the previous management of Fabio Capello. This led to many rumours that he would eventually retire in order to concentrate on his Manchester United career. Now back in the England fold, he is expected to utilise his years of experience to guide the team. Despite being one of the most successful English midfielders having lifted the Champions league amongst many other titles, Carrick has featured only 29 times for the England national team.

This is less than the appearances made by some of the young players in the team.

“I haven’t given any thought to the World Cup being my last major international tournament. You never know what’s around the corner. It’s the next big opportunity, a massive opportunity, but in terms of it being my last one, I wouldn’t say so, no. There’s no reason why I’d look to pack up anytime soon. For me personally, I don’t think last season was any different to the two or three years before that. I felt my form was good,” said Carrick ahead of the match with Moldova.

FIFA will increase monitoring

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup less than a year away from kicking off, the governing body of world football has promised greater monitoring of the stadiums in Brazil as they look to push through the construction process to end as early as possible.

According to a statement from FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, FIFA wants all 12 stadiums for next summer’s showpiece event which kicks off in June 2014 as early as possible and will maintain dialogue with the Brazilian authorities to ensure the construction process as early as possible.

Brazil recently hosted the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and there were several delays in the construction process of the stadiums for those events and according to Valcke, FIFA will definitely not tolerate any delays in the construction process for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Valcke admitted that although the FIFA Confederations Cup was a success in terms of its infrastructure, there were still some deficiencies as well as few challenges that still need to be resolved ahead of the world football governing body’s flagship event next summer.

Valcke went on to add that the organizers need to focus on the construction process on the 12 stadia and it is natural that there will be strict monitoring of the six stadia that are still under construction. Valcke mentioned that it would be best if the authorities managed to set up the complimentary infrastructure as early as possible and make sure everything is place much earlier than the situation was during the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Valcke is also scheduled to visit the South American country between the 19th and 22nd August and inspect the work going on at the stadia in Sao Paulo, Manaus and Curitiba and assess the progress that have been made on these stadia since the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Football game review

In recent years more sports betting fans than ever have started trying out online casino, tempted by slots games based around different sports. Unsurprisingly, given the immense popularity of football around much of the world, many of these games are based around this – including Soccer Safari.

This particular video slot, which has five reels and thirty pay lines was originally created to mark the World Cup a few years ago, and has proved a lasting hit with football and slots fans. So just what exactly makes this game so appealing to these fans?

Well to start with, it’s funny. There are lots of soccer slots, but few have the amusement value of this one, with its animated animals rampaging around a jungle football ground, and the high quality video graphics squeeze every ounce of comedy value out of this setup. Amongst the highlights in this respect are the celebratory meerkats, the ‘wizard of dribble’ lion, the overly-physical buffalo and the elephant commentator who looks more than a little like one Gary Lineker. Read more »

ENGLAND CAN WIN

England manager Roy Hodgson has said that he is extremely confident that England will be able to win the 2014 FIFA World Cup despite not winning many matches under his regime. Since taking over from Fabio Capello just before the Euro 2012, Hodgson has overseen a regime that has been filled with draws against mediocre teams. This has led to the England national team struggling to qualify for the World Cup as the group winners. They are currently second in the group – five points behind leaders Montenegro. This would result in them having to qualify for the World Cup through a play-off against a top team.

However, Hodgson is confident that his players will be able to come back to form at just the right time. It remains to be seen if England will be able to finish as the group winners even if they win all the matches in hand. England could only recently manage a draw against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, which is seen as a great preparation for the team. After the two friendly matches against Republic of Ireland and Brazil, the World Cup qualifying matches will be starting in September.

Hodgson recently requested the Premier league not to have important matches just before the international break, but it has been not heeded. “One of the areas where we’ve been, to say the least, unfortunate, is in the choice of front players and the availability of front players. I’m looking forward to coming back here again next year. I’m enjoying the job every bit as much [as before]. I’m perfectly happy for anyone who wants to to come up with criticism,” said Hodgson.

The former West Brom, Liverpool, and Fulham manager is held in high regard by the English FA after achieving a lot in the game with several clubs across several countries.

WHERE WILL FALCAO GO?

Colombian striker Radamel Falcao Garcia has become one of the most coveted strikers in recent years with several clubs like Barcelona and Chelsea chasing his signature. The 27-year-old is widely expected to leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season. However, there have been no indication from the Spanish club towards the same until now. Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone, who has played a huge role in the revival of the club, has said that the Colombian is not irreplaceable, and has conceded that he may leave in the summer.

Chelsea are widely thought to be the heavily interested parties in his signature with many suggesting that Falcao may eventually replace Fernando Torres. This statement by the Atletico Madrid manager has intensified rumours that Falcao may be brought to Stamford Bridge in a swap deal involving the Spaniard. The 27-year-old has scored a spectacular 21 goals in just 25 league matches this season. Torres, meanwhile, is yet to hit double figures in the league this season. Simeone has pointed out to the fact that the club has had several great strikers in the past like Torres and Aguero, but they have been able to replace every one of them after they left.

He reckons that it may be the case with Falcao as well. “It is complicated, but it would be fabulous if he stayed. I am not his agent. I am not Falcao. Falcao has given me a lot and is a player with commitment, and I respect him a lot for that. The fans do not have to judge him after all he has given. [Fernando] Torres went and [Sergio] Aguero came, which was a risky bet. [Diego] Forlan went and Falcao came. If he does end up leaving, another competitive player will surely arrive,” said the manager.

Who will get into Europe?

Getting into Europe can be a complicated matter. There are two European competitions: the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. The top four Premier League clubs qualify for the UEFA Champions League. The top three go straight through to the Group Stage and the fourth has to first go into a play-off. If a team wins the Champions League but is not one of the top four in the Premier league, then it still goes through to the Group Stage replacing the fourth team which then drops down to the Europa League. Read more »

  Cheer Rooney and the boys on with your own England Flag!