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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

Video: Schmeichel opens up about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester

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Leicester’s downward spiral this season has certainly been one of the most intriguing storylines in the Premier League, and that story came to a head when manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked by the club.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten runs in Saturday’s PL action ]

After leading his side to an improbable PL title during the 2015/16 season, the Foxes are now in the midst of a difficult relegation battle as the season hits its most crucial juncture.

[ MORE: Brighton extends lead in Championship, Newcastle held by Bristol ]

Still, the Foxes must turn their attention towards survival despite losing a manager that was amongst the most well liked in England and really all throughout European football.

“Claudio [Ranieri] leaving is obviously very, very sad. We achieved the impossible together and I have nothing but the upmost respect for him for everything that he achieved at this club,” said Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

“Everybody knows he’s a classy guy. He came in and said his piece to the players, thanked us for our efforts and for last season and said goodbye. It’s a shame it has come to this.”

Schmeichel reiterated that he didn’t believe Ranieri was the issue and that the players are at fault for not taking care of the results on the pitch.

“You can look at our performances on the pitch,” Schmeichel said. “We haven’t been quite good enough this season. It’s quite clear. The league doesn’t lie. We’re in the position we are in because we haven’t been good enough.”

The keeper stated that he especially is taking Ranieri’s sacking to heart and that he wishes the club could have strung together some better performances in order to save his former manager’s job.

“I don’t think anyone has had more sleepless nights over our form than I have,” Schmeichel said. “Our form affects me deeply. Every person can clearly see that we haven’t performed on the pitch and we deserve the criticism that we get and that we are getting because of our performances. But anything above that is out of our hands. On the pitch, we definitely deserve the criticism that we are getting.”

In the interim, Craig Shakespeare will be tasked with replacing Ranieri and hoping to keep his club afloat next season in the PL.

While Shakespeare does have caretaker experience back in 2006 with West Bromwich Albion, the 53-year-old is in a much more difficult position this time around given the magnitude of Leicester’s fall from grace.

“Craig is someone I’ve known for a very long time,” Schmeichel said. “He’s a very bright character. he’s a very serious football man, what you’d call a real football man. he’s very enthusiastic about training. I have absolutely no doubt that he’s capable of becoming a manager whether it’s now or at some point. I think that he does have ambitions of that but he’s been a magnificent manager in his time here.”

La Liga & Serie A: Sevilla moves second, Caldara guides Atalanta

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 29:  Stevan Jovetic (L) of Sevilla FC celebrates with his team mates after scoring his team's first goal during the La Liga match between RCD Espanyol and Sevilla FC at Cornella-El Prat stadium on January 29, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Betis 1-2 Sevilla

Sevilla has moved into second in La Liga thanks to a pair of second half goals on Saturday. Riza Durmisi gave the hosts the advantage heading into the halftime break but Sevilla fought back in the second stanza with finishes from Gabriel Mercado and Vicente Iborra to pull into a tie on points with league leaders Real Madrid.

Leganes 4-0 Deportivo La Coruna

Raúl Albentosa’s red card was the least of Deportivo’s worries on the day as the 17th place side took a hammering from Leganes. The victory for the hosts moves Leganes two points clear of Deportivo in the table and five points above the drop zone. Alexander Szymanowski and Martín Mantovani helped Leganes jump out to a 2-0 lead inside of the opening half hour before late finishes from Unai Lopez and Alberto Bueno put the finishing touches on the encounter.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 2-1 Valencia
Eibar 3-0 Malaga

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Espanyol vs. Osasuna (6 a.m. ET)
Atletico Madrid vs. Barcelona (10:15 a.m. ET)
Athletic Bilbao vs. Granada (12:30 p.m. ET)
Sporting Gijon vs. Celta Vigo (12:30 p.m. ET)
Villareal vs. Real Madrid (2:45 p.m. ET)


Napoli 0-2 Atalanta

Mattia Caldara netted a brace on Saturday and helped guide his Atalanta side to within three points of Napoli in the Serie A table. Atalanta currently sits fourth in Italy’s top flight, but the race for the second place is heating up as Roma, Napoli and Atalanta all sit within five points of one another. Meanwhile, Inter Milan will have a chance to draw level on points with Atalanta on Sunday when they take on Roma.

Juventus 2-0 Empoli

It took a bit for the league leaders to get going but Juventus remains in firm control of Serie A after another victory. An own goal from Lukasz Skorupski gave the hosts the lead after the halftime break before Alex Sandro doubled the advantage 12 minutes later after finishing off a Dani Alves cross. The Bianconeri now hold a 10-point advantage over second place Roma.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Palermo vs. Sampdoria (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Pescara (9 a.m. ET)
Crotone vs. Cagliari (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Bologna (9 a.m. ET)
Lazio vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Sassuolo vs. AC Milan (9 a.m. ET)
Inter Milan vs. Roma (2:45 p.m. ET)

Championship Focus: Brighton continues to roll, Newcastle tripped up

BARNSLEY, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Sam Baldlock (R) of Brighton & Hove Albion celebrates scoring with teamates during the Sky Bet Championship match between Barnsley and Brighton & Hove Albion at Oakwell Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Barnsley, England.  (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
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With most clubs having just 10 matches remaining before the promotion playoffs, both ends of the Championship table boast plenty of storylines.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

Brighton & Hove Albion 3-0 Reading

Brighton is on a warpath towards promotion and it looks like the club won’t be stopped in its attempts to reach the Premier League next season. With just four blemishes on its record this season, the Championship leaders picked up another convincing win on Saturday against fifth place Reading. Sam Baldock continued his brilliant scoring streak this season in the first half, before Jamie Murphy and Anthony Knockaert each found the back of the net on the other side of the break.

Newcastle 2-2 Bristol City

Bristol won’t be winning a title this season but the club did manage a vital point against one of the Championship’s top sides on Saturday to keep its hopes of avoiding relegation alive. The visitors got off to a stunning start against the Magpies with a pair of first-half finishes giving Bristol a halftime lead of 2-0. Then, Newcastle picked up their pressure and pulled one back after a Korey Smith own goal before Ciaran Clark leveled the match with under 10 minutes to play for the second-place team.

Leeds United 1-0 Sheffield Wednesday

Chris Wood helped move his side up to fourth in England’s second flight, however, Leeds still remains nine points out of second position. Meanwhile, keeper Robert Green was forced into a brilliant save from the penalty spot to deny Wednesday a share of the points. Wednesday are currently sixth in the table and hold the final promotion playoff position.

Elsewhere in the Championship

Aston Villa 1-0 Derby County
Barnsley 1-1 Huddersfield
Brentford 4-2 Rotherham
Cardiff 2-2 Fulham
Preston North End 2-1 QPR
Wigan 0-0 Nottingham Forest

Bundesliga wrap: Top three win as Lewandowski bags trio

Munich's Robert Lewandowski, right, celebrates with Douglas Costa after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)
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The top teams keep winning as the Bundesliga closes in on its final third of the season, as the top three sides all scooped up multi-goal wins on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Bayern Munich 8-0 Hamburg

One to forget for USMNT man Bobby Wood, as Bayern again spun the collective heads of Hamburg. Robert Lewandowski scored a hat trick and Kingsley Coman added a brace as the leaders battered 16th place Hamburg.

Lewandowski’s 19 goals are good for a tie atop the leaderboard, as he joins Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (More on him after this wild Tweet).

Freiburg 0-3 Borussia Dortmund

Aubameyang struck twice stay atop the Bundesliga leaderboard with 19 goals, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos also scored for third-place BVB. USMNT winger Christian Pulisic made an 8-minute cameo when he came on for Marco Reus late in the match.

RB Leipzig 3-1 Koln

Emil Forsberg scored in the first five minutes and an own goal gave the new boys a 2-0 halftime lead. Timo Werner than restored the two-goal cushion after Yuya Osako had scored Koln’s only goal.

Elsewhere

Wolfsburg 1-2 Werder Bremen — RECAP
Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Mainz
Darmstadt 1-2 Augsburg
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Ingolstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — 9:30 a.m. EDT Sunday
Schalke vs. Hoffenheim — 11:30 a.m. EDT Sunday

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 22 16 5 1 54 13 41 8-3-0 8-2-1 53
 RB Leipzig 22 15 3 4 41 22 19 9-1-1 6-2-3 48
 Borussia Dortmund 22 11 7 4 46 23 23 7-3-0 4-4-4 40
 1899 Hoffenheim 21 9 10 2 38 21 17 6-5-0 3-5-2 37
 Hertha BSC Berlin 22 11 4 7 30 24 6 9-1-1 2-3-6 37
 Eintracht Frankfurt 22 10 5 7 25 22 3 6-3-1 4-2-6 35
 1. FC Köln 22 8 9 5 31 22 9 5-5-0 3-4-5 33
 Bayer Leverkusen 22 9 3 10 34 32 2 5-2-5 4-1-5 30
 SC Freiburg 22 9 3 10 28 39 -11 7-0-4 2-3-6 30
 FSV Mainz 05 22 8 4 10 31 37 -6 5-3-3 3-1-7 28
 FC Augsburg 22 7 6 9 21 28 -7 3-3-5 4-3-4 27
 FC Schalke 04 21 7 5 9 25 22 3 6-1-4 1-4-5 26
 Mönchengladbach 21 7 5 9 23 29 -6 5-3-3 2-2-6 26
 VfL Wolfsburg 22 6 4 12 20 33 -13 3-2-7 3-2-5 22
 Werder Bremen 22 6 4 12 28 43 -15 3-1-7 3-3-5 22
 Hamburger SV 22 5 5 12 21 45 -24 3-3-4 2-2-8 20
 FC Ingolstadt 04 21 5 3 13 19 32 -13 2-2-6 3-1-7 18
 Darmstadt 22 3 3 16 15 43 -28 3-3-6 0-0-10 12