2014 World Cup Draw: Recapping the event

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LIVE UPDATED GROUPS:

Group A: Brazil, Cameroon, Mexico, Croatia
Group B: Spain, Chile, Australia, Netherlands
Group C: Colombia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, Italy, Costa Rica, England
Group E: Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras, France
Group F: Argentina, Nigeria, Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Group G: Germany, Ghana, United States, Portugal
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Korea Republic, Russia

UPDATES AND ANALYSIS:

12:22 p.m. Stay tuned to http://prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com/ for a bevy of posts in the coming hours on what this all means, but suffice it to say that England and the United States both saw unfavorable draws. The winners and runners-up of the US group, Group G, will face Belgium, Algeria, Russia or Korea Republic in the knockout round on June 30 or July 1.

12:21 p.m. It is complete:

source:

12:16 p.m. THE UNITED STATES 2014 WORLD CUP GROUP IS COMPLETE, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal joins Germany and Ghana in what will certainly be described as a Group of Death. Russia joins Group H.

Soccerly.com: Just how tough is Group G?

12:14 p.m. France with the break of the draw. After being relieved as the Pot 2 team, they get a winnable Group E. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s first World Cup date will be Argentina.

Soccerly.com: Is France Group E favorite?

12:14 p.m. England joins a very difficult Group D and will open against mighty, hated Italy.

Soccerly.com: Can England advance?

12:11 p.m. Croatia will face Brazil to kick-off the World Cup. Greece joins Group C, so we’ll avoid an UGGG acronym for Group G.

Soccerly.com: Group A details, analysis

12:10 p.m. USA is headed to Group G, which is looking like the front runner for Group of Death. Korea Republic “bailed out” with Algeria and Belgium.

12:07 p.m. Japan is C4 and will open with Cote D’Ivoire, while Costa Rica gets a tough tough group with Uruguay and Italy. Two bad breaks for CONCACAF, which gets a break with Honduras joining Ecuador and Switzerland in E. Still no US, and the two remaining options are vastly different.

Soccerly.com: Who is the favorite in Group C?

12:06 p.m. Money time for USMNT supporters, and Mexico is the first team chosen from Pot 3 and El Tri gets a possibility for Group of Death as A3. Australia gets a tough date with Spain and Chile as B4. Valcke drops a ball and quips that “it’s hard to be old.”

12:04 p.m. Nigeria joins Argentina in Group F as F4, Ghana continues Group G’s alliteration as G3, Algeria joins Group H as H2 in another enviable group for the US.

Soccerly.com: Argentina class of Group F

12:01 p.m. The rest of Pot 2 sees Chile named as B3, Cameroon to A4, Ecuador to E… now for a moment the United States is begging for Group E.

Noon: Double high Noon for Blatter. The team from Pot 4 to Pot 2 was… Italy, who now has a date with Uruguay as D4.

11:56 a.m. Spain is headed for B1, and the Pot 1 teams are coming out. Colombia to C1, Uruguay to D1. Switzerland to E1, Argentina to F1 (a team from Group F has never won World Cup. Gasp!), Germany gets an alliterative group and Belgium heads to Group H.

11:55 a.m. Moving from Pot 4 to Pot 2 is… a mystery ball. Of course, they couldn’t open and close a ball so we’re left in suspense as to which European nation entered a new world of trouble.

11:54 a.m. The script would like us to believe Lima is baffled by these incredibly-challenging rules, but her hero Valcke is here to assure her she’s over-dramatizing things.

11:53 a.m. Fun with Twitter:

11:50 a.m. Special guest “drawers” Sir Geoff Hurst, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane, Cafu, Mario Kempes, Fernando Hierro and Alcides Ghiggia take the stage.

11:47 a.m. FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke arrives on stage to join Lima in explaining the rules of the draw (which we’ve covered at-length in the links at the bottom of this page).

11:43 a.m. Enter Pele, who will likely not dance. He introduces a feature that makes at least one lowly American writer quite angry at his  tourism budget.

11:42 a.m.  The trophy!

11:40 a.m. And now, a scantily clad dance team gives us their take on the World Cup. Please, please, please deliver us. It’s already 10 minutes past the time we’ve long anticipated. So you think you can scorpion kick?

11:36 a.m. Brazilian women’s team superstar Marta hits the scene along with Bebeto and the World Cup’s mascot, Fuleco. Guess which one busted out a wild dance number?

11:28 a.m. Another musical number, and quite a show for those in attendance to be sure, but people are far more interested in what comes in moments: which European nation will make the move from Pot 4 to Pot 2, kicking off a chain reaction that will end with 4 teams in 8 groups and a long wait for June. Now a video showing each qualified team.

11:19 a.m. It’s a Disney-like ride through World Cup history, with old photographs and grainy highlights giving way to more familiar, modern highlights. Nice job, FIFA and/or Brazilian video types.

source: AP11:14 a.m. FIFA chief Sepp Blatter notes that it was “high Noon” for the World Cup to return to Brazil. This does not turn out to be a clever intro for Clint Eastwood’s arrival, unfortunately. He speaks of football connecting people and implores Brazilians to bring the world together.

11:00 a.m. The draw broadcast begins with a video tribute to Nelson Mandela and his history with the sport, including the moving moment when South Africa won the rights to host the 2010 World Cup, an honor for which the South African legend worked so hard.

11:03 a.m. Rodrigo Hilbert and his wife, Brazilian model Fernanda Lima, are the hosts for the event, and it’s fair to guess that those who haven’t heard of the latter are now quite impressed. The show now turns to a musical number featuring samba singer Alcione and rapper Emicada.

10:49 a.m. The day has arrived! The fate of the world’s best soccer nations will be decided by tiny pieces of paper inside of little soccer balls, and the path to the 2014 World Cup will be unveiled, beginning at 11:30am ET. Keep refreshing here for news, commentary, updated groups and reaction from around the world.

For your background info, PST has had plenty to say over the past few weeks. Read up:

2014 FIFA World Cup Draw: Everything You Need To Know

USA fear toughest ever World Cup Draw but relish chance to make history

What US Soccer wants from the World Cup Draw

EFL Cup Weds preview: East Lancashire Derby highlights slate

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Eighteen teams booked spots Tuesday in the League Cup’s third round, with Watford the lone Premier League side to take a fall.

Six more try their luck on Wednesday, the last day of tournament play before the big boys join up.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

A sleepy big affair is the East Lancashire Derby between Burnley and now League One side Blackburn Rovers, a rivalry which has been staged in three leagues or competitions since the turn of the century. This makes it four, joining the Premier League (2009-10), FA Cup (2004-05) and Championship (six times since 2012-13).

Burnley has three wins and three draws since its last loss to Blackburn, which came via David Dunn penalty at Turf Moor in a Premier League match on March 28, 2010.

Make no mistake, Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton thinks it’ll be a fantastic affair (from burnleyfootballclub.com):

“And for the players. Make no mistake, we were all delighted when the draw came in,” said Heaton. “It’s a fantastic match we are all looking forward to. It’s a fantastic night as players, fans and for the club.

“We’ll be going there geared up to win the game and give it everything we’ve got. The new lads coming in will certainly get an eye opener for the atmosphere and how good it is. They’re brilliant games to play in, I’ve enjoyed every minute of them.”

If you’re surprised by the rivalry, you have company in Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray. From Rovers.co.uk:

“I have to say living in the north east of England, Suffolk and Scotland most of my life I never would have grasped that Blackburn and Burnley and the geography of how close they were to be honest,” he said.

“It is not something that has hit me in the face before of a huge rivalry and yet I can feel it from the people around the building who have lived here all their lives how important this game is to them. … We’ll give it our very best shot and leave no stone unturned in trying to get a result.”

Elsewhere…

Southampton, fresh off adding $19 million Dutch center back Wesley Hoedt, will host Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. Mary’s, one of four 2:45 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Also kicking off at that time is Newcastle United and Nottingham Forest at St. James Park, with USMNT fullback Eric Lichaj likely to feature for the visitors, as well as Rotherham United’s visit to Huddersfield Town and Cheltenham Town’s trip to West Ham United.

A quarter-hour later, the final two second round matches kickoff when Burnley hosts Blackburn Rovers and Rochdale heads to Stoke City.

Southampton lands $19 million Dutch CB Hoedt

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Southampton’s added another defender who checks all the boxes, and used its press release to cement its status on the future of want-away center back Virgil Van Dijk.

Saints added Lazio center back Wesley Hoedt on Tuesday, with the reported fee in the neighborhood of $19 million for the 4-times capped Dutch international.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Gooch scores for Sunderland ]

The 6-foot-2 defender is 23 years old, and played 23 matches for i Biancocelesti last season.

Here’s Saints vice chairman Les Reed:

“Finding a naturally left-footed player is even more difficult. We have been tracking central defenders on our target list for the past 12 months and Wesley has always been at the top of that list, so it was important to act when the opportunity came.”

As our own Joe Prince-Wright pointed out, Saints aren’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for Van Dijk’s departure.

Saints also have Maya Yoshida — who won a penalty for Saints this weekend — Jack Stephens, Maya Yoshida, Jan Bednarek and Florin Gardos in their corps.

Will Van Dijk stay? Betting sites have him at 5:6 odds to stay at Southampton, but somehow 1:1 to join Liverpool and 7:1 to head to Chelsea (Man City gets 24:1 odds).

At this point, we’d love to see Van Dijk stay and buck the summer’s (actually much longer than that) gossip as Saints fight for a Top Six place.

UCL preview: Three keys to Liverpool-Hoffenheim

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A pair of away goals are under Liverpool’s wing as the Reds prepare for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff round second leg versus Hoffenheim at Anfield.

That’s great, but it’s Mark Uth’s late concession goal for Hoffenheim that will have Liverpool supporters wary ahead of the return match.

Three keys to the match for Liverpool? Well, let’s start with an easy one.

1) Avoid these score lines: The 2-1 score line works for the Reds, of course, who will only fail to reach the group stage of the UEFA Champions League through some unlikely scenarios:

  • A two-goals or worse loss at Anfield
  • A 2-1 loss plus failing in penalty kicks
  • A one-goal loss while conceding three or more times

2) Don’t allow gaps in the midfield: Kerem Demirbay was being a little cheeky when he said, “We play better football than Liverpool,” and the sides have one major similarity: If you give them room, they can kill you.

Demirbay is a great example of this. The Confederations Cup winner can rip teams apart in the middle of the pitch, and giving him room allows him to choose between unleashing a cannon from distance and spotting Serge Gnabry, Andrej Kramaric, Sandro Wagner, or even Uth for chances on goal. Heck, even Adam Szalai on the bench is a very good option.

Gnabry and Kramaric played less than a half hour each in Hoffenheim’s 1-0 Bundesliga win over the weekend, while Wagner didn’t play at all. Game on.

3) Embrace the occasion: Jurgen Klopp branded Wednesday’s match and the presumed entry into the UCL group stage “the next step” in the club’s evolution under his watch.

This is Liverpool’s second UCL campaign of this decade, and the first UCL night at Anfield since a 1-1 draw against Basel on Dec. 9, 2014.

That night, Brendan Rodgers trotted out this XI: Mignolet, Johnson, Lovren, Skrtel, Enrique, Gerrard (who scored), Henderson, Lucas, Allen, Sterling, Lambert. His subs used? Coutinho, Moreno, Markovic (the last name earned a red card).

In previous home group games against Real Madrid and Ludogorets Razgrad, the Reds managed two more goals. Gerrard had another and Mario Balotelli the other.

So, and this is hopefully a bit overblown but certainly a concern: A whopping six Liverpool players have played in a home UCL match for Liverpool and no one on the Reds roster has scored a goal at Anfield in the competition.

EFL Cup wrap: USMNT’s Gooch shines; Watford upset

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Six Premier League teams dodged upsets upon entering the League Cup, stylized as the EFL Cup for a second season, but a seventh was not as fortunate.

[ MORE: 426 world clubs, ranked weekly ]


Watford 2-3 Bristol City

Etienne Capoue scored just after halftime to give the Hornets a leg up, but goals from Freddie Hinds and Bobby Reid eight minutes apart gave the Robins a lead that Niclas Eliasson buttressed in stoppage time. Adrian Mariappa pulled one back, but it wasn’t enough for Marco Silva‘s men.

Crystal Palace 2-1 Ipswich Town

The unbeaten Tractor Boys were as much of a problem as advertised, but James McArthur scored in the 76th and 84th minutes to give the Eagles a spot in the next round. Man City loanee Bersant Celina nabbed Ipswich Town’s lone goal.

MK Dons 1-4 Swansea City

Leroy Fer gave Swans a pair of leads at 1-0 and 2-1 before Tammy Abraham and Jordan Ayew scored late to salt away the win at Stadium MK.

Sheffield United 1-4 Leicester City

The popular score line saw Islam Slimani bag a brace in between goals from Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa.

Carlisle United 1-2 Sunderland

USMNT youngster Lynden Gooch scored an 80th minute winner after assisting on Donald Love‘s opener, as the Black Cats scored a road win.

It’s the 21-year-old Gooch’s first senior goal for the Black Cats in his 19th appearance. It’s also his first assist and should give food for thought to boss Simon Grayson, who has been using him off the bench. Gooch played 362 Premier League minutes last season.

Tuesday’s other results
Aston Villa 4-1 Wigan Athletic
Leeds United 5-1 Newport County
Middlesbrough 3-0 Scunthorpe United
Norwich City 4-1 Charlton Athletic
QPR 1-4 Brentford
Fulham 0-1 Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City 1-2 Burton Albion
Doncaster 2-0 Hull City
Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Barnet
Accrington Stanley 1-3 West Brom
Birmingham City 1-2 Bournemouth
Reading 3-1 (aet) Millwall
Bolton 3-2 Sheffield Wednesday
Grimsby Town 0-1 Derby County (1st round match*)

*Derby will face Barnsley in a 2nd round match