Klinsmann does not fear World Cup draw, but hopes to avoid rainforest

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Chatting with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said he fears nothing with the World Cup draw taking place tomorrow. Not Brazil, not Spain, not anybody.

Well, there is one thing.

He doesn’t want to draw a first-round game in Manaus, the 11th most populous city in Brazil also known as the Heart of the Amazon.

“Everyone wants to avoid Manaus, there’s no doubt about it,” said Klinsmann. “It’s an unlucky decision to have a location like that in a World Cup, because of the flight, because of the circumstances there. I think it shouldn’t have been a location for the World Cup.”

The Arena de Amazonia is currently under construction in Manaus, and is approximately 88% complete according to an official announcement in October.

The city is one of just two World Cup sites that will be in the Amazon Time Zone (GMT -4), along with Cuiaba.  The other eight are in Brazil Official Time (GMT -3).

Let’s remind everyone of why Manaus is such an unwanted destination.  A coordinator of the Arena de Amazonia construction told the New York Times in September that the searing rainforest sun in Manaus is hot enough to melt the paint on stadium seating.  The construction team had to drain a tributary of the Amazon River to begin building. The humidity can cause steel to buckle.

Doesn’t sound like a place anybody wants to play sports, let alone build a soccer stadium.

Aside from that one location though, Klinsmann is almost hoping for a difficult route through the event, saying at some point if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

“There won’t be an easy group,” the US head coach admitted to Wahl. “It’s just not happening. I think we’re going to hit a very difficult one, and it’s fine with me, because that’s what the World Cup is about. You have to face the big ones anyway at a certain stage if you want to do well.”

Klinsmann says he believes the upcoming month-long camp in January will be crucial for attending players to prepare for any situations that may arise in Brazil – on the pitch or off it.

“In a World Cup you have to improve every area of the game on the field, if it’s tactically, physically, the transition game, compactness defensively, spreading out right away attacking or movement off the ball…We’re going to travel extensively. Things won’t be perfect, if it’s hotels, tickets, family, whatever. Just be prepared for it. If something doesn’t work out the way it should, so be it. No problem. Forget about it and move on.”

Klinsmann will regroup with the squad January 6th in Los Angeles before leading the team to their World Cup headquarters in Brazil on the 12th of January. They will return on the 25th before preparing for a friendly with South Korea on February 1st.

The World Cup draw will take place on Friday at 11:00am ET.

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

[ MORE: Premier League player power rankings ]

Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

[ MORE: Study will look at long-term effects of playing soccer ]

At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester