Portugal’s reaction to Group G draw: Cautious optimism remains despite Germany draw

Leave a comment

As the United States prepares to take on Germany, Portugal, and Ghana in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup, we take a look around the globe at others’ reactions to what transpired today in Brazil.

The Portugese are an intriguing selection into the USMNT group.  Their biggest weapon is obviously Ballon d’Or frontrunner Cristiano Ronaldo, but it’s not all they’ve got.

As a country that no doubt underachieved in European qualifying, squeaking past Sweden in the knockout stage, they’re a bit of an unknown come next summer.

Looking across the country’s reactions to the Group G draw, one thing is clear – they know what they got in opening round opponents Germany, and they’re not exactly excited about it.

Former FIFA Player of the Year winner and Portugese international Luis Figo was wary of Germany’s stature but remained cautiously optimistic.

“The strongest teams in the world are in this competition and it is always difficult to choose opponents,” Figo told the Portugese media. “We already knew we would probably end up with a theoretically stronger team, and we got Germany, but it is good to start against them. Everybody knows the quality of the German team, but have been happy in recent clashes and hopefully we can have another positive result.”

Figo did not consider Portugal’s loss to the United States in the 2002 World Cup to be a sign of things to come for his country against the US. “The moment is different and there are all conditions to be get a good result (against the United States),” he maintained.

Portugese manager Paulo Bento, however, kept his cards close to his chest and played confidence, telling BBC1 that, “We have the same ambition as we would in any group – to make it to the knockout round.”

He recalled a slim 1-0 loss to Germany in the most recent European Championships, using that as a positive to show Portugal can compete with the Germans.

Bento also called both the United States and Ghana “well organized teams” that the country should not take lightly.

Speaking before the draw, Cristiano Ronaldo told Spanish paper Brand he hoped they did not pull Germany. “Favorites win the World Cup are Spain, Brazil and Germany. Therefore would be best to avoid them at an early stage.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
Leave a comment

Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
Leave a comment

A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.

USMNT veteran Geoff Cameron extended by Stoke City

Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forget a return Stateside, as Geoff Cameron is sticking around the Potteries.

The versatile American midfielder and defender, 31, has extended his stay at Stoke City by two years, the Premier League club announced Friday.

Cameron has played 165 times for Stoke since arriving from the Houston Dynamo in 2012. He’s been capped 50 times by the USMNT.

Turning 32 next in mid-July, Cameron missed three-and-a-half months with a knee injury this season. That span saw Stoke go 6-5-5.

Advanced stats site WhoScored rated Cameron as Stoke’s best player — by far — this season. He was a bright spot along with loan man Bruno Martins Indi, and his extension is good news for both U.S. and Stoke fans.

Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland is preparing for more banter: