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

Mexico captain Guardado suffers hamstring injury

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With the World Cup still half a year away, there’s plenty of time to heal from injuries and get the body right after tweaking things during the club season.

And yet, there will still be some concern among Mexico fans.

Team captain Andres Guardado suffered a hamstring tear, his club Real Betis confirmed on Monday, and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. That’s nothing to write home about when it comes to preparing for the big tournament, but with Guardado 31 years old and struggling with injuries in recent years, Mexico fans will be keenly aware that hamstring injuries can return with a vengeance if not given the right time to heal.

Guardado has shown his age in recent times, not necessarily with his play on the field, which has been critical to his country, but with his fitness. Guardado has just four full 90 minute performances for Mexico dating back to October of 2016, missing time with ankle, leg, and now hamstring injuries in that span.

The 31-year-old has had a fine season so far for Real Betis, scoring one goal and assisting six while appearing in all 15 La Liga matches for the club thus far. The club sits 12th in the La Liga table with 18 points.

Guardado will be fine with plenty of time to spare, but if not fully healed properly, there’s always the risk that muscle injuries can flare back up, and Mexico fans will hope that their captain’s club gives him plenty of rest to recover.

Mark Hughes wants Stoke City to “suck it up”

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Mark Hughes is under fire at Stoke City with the Potters firmly entrenched in the relegation battle, and with that he’s charging his players, staff, and himself to gut the rest of the season out.

With Stoke heading to Turf Moor to take on Burnley, they sit just three points above the drop. The players were faced with jeers from angry fans at the train station following this past weekend’s 5-1 disaster against Tottenham. The fiery Hughes is hoping to use this jarring moment to jolt his squad.

[ PREVIEW: Tuesday’s Premier League action ]

“That is still resonating. It’s good we have a game because it is still fresh in their ears probably, and they can use it as a motivating factor,” said Hughes during his pre-match press conference.

“You either suck it up and do ­something about it or you go under, and we can’t accept players like that. I don’t feel we have players like that.”

With managers nowadays often reaching into the excuses barrel as they hope to save their own skins, Hughes refuses to do just that, instead placing the decision firmly on the players shoulders, telling them they are the only ones who can save the club.

“Maybe some hadn’t ­confronted that before – but sometimes you need a reality check, and understand how our results and ­performances affect people,” Hughes said. “When people criticize you, you have to grow a thick skin in this industry. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong place.”

Louis van Gaal calls Mourinho’s United “far more boring”

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Louis Van Gaal has picked just the right time to pipe up.

The former Manchester United manager, who took flak while in charge for his side being hideous to watch, has now taken shots of his own at his successor Jose Mourinho, kicking Manchester United while they’re down after a 2-1 derby defeat at home.

The Dutchman told Fox Sports Netherlands, “If you ask me how did I do at United, I will say it was my best year ever, given the circumstances I was working under. We played football that was quite alright. But it’s not football that is appreciated in England. And yet, right now, looking at United, I have to conclude Mourinho is not being criticized while it’s far more boring football.”

[ PREVIEW: Premier League Tuesday matches, including Chelsea vs. Huddersfield ]

Van Gaal was blasted consistently for playing a boring style, especially in front of the home crowd, and now Mourinho is being criticized for the same concept. Mourinho was denounced for similar reasons while in charge of Chelsea, but with the club winning multiple titles under his leadership, the noise was always less while the team was winning. With Manchester United still unable to crack the top 4, Mourinho is feeling the heat.

“What United produce now is defensive football,” van Gaal said. “I always played attacking football. The proof is that the opposition were always parking the bus. They don’t do that now because Jose Mourinho plays so defensive.”

To van Gaal’s point, Manchester United is seventh in the Premier League in possession, holding 51% possession this season. They were out-possessed by Manchester City 65-35 at Old Trafford over the weekend. Meanwhile, van Gaal’s last full season with Manchester United, the 2015/16 season, saw the Red Devils hold 54%, which ranked third in the Premier League, just a percentage point behind leaders Arsenal. However, van Gaal’s United ranked 15th in the Premier League in total shots, while Mourinho’s United this season ranks sixth at this point.

Van Gaal made sure to point out he prefers their cross-town rivals.

“I would rather watch City play than United. You need quality in a squad and it’s clear City have a better squad.”

Conte blames fatigue for dip in Chelsea form

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Antonio Conte has figured out what is plaguing his Chelsea side as they sit 14 points back of Premier League leaders Manchester City.

“I think when you play every three days, it is impossible to have a training session and to work on the physical aspects,” Conte said in his pre-match press conference as the Blues get set to play Huddersfield Town on Tuesday. “It’s impossible. It’s impossible because you have to prepare with the players for a game every three days.”

Chelsea has yet to find itself eliminated from a single competition, drawn against Barcelona in the Champions League while navigating fixtures across all four competitions.

And yet, this is nothing new for Conte. The Blues boss is more than familiar with fixture congestion, having taken charge of Juventus and regularly competing at a high level on multiple fronts. In 2012/13, he won the Serie A title, won the Supercoppa Italia, and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

However, this is new for Conte at Chelsea. Last season, the Blues did not take part in a European competition thanks to their disastrous season the previous year. While they reached the FA Cup final, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the 4th round.

“We have to try to do our best,” Conte said. “For sure, some players can be tired, that’s normal because some players are playing from this summer and our tours in China and Singapore. It’s normal. But I repeat we have to find the best solution. We have to find more rotations. I’m doing this, we will try and do our best with hunger and desire. We will fight.”

As an example, Conte said Alvaro Morata will miss the match on Tuesday against Huddersfield Town due to fatigue, with the Spaniard battling a slight back injury. “Morata is out. He is a bit tired and he has a problem in his back.