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

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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.”

Messi could face CONMEBOL suspension for verbal abusing official

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Already facing some uncertainty with a depleted roster, Argentina could face a significantly greater challenge.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina starting XI vs. Bolivia ]

Barcelona star Lionel Messi could face suspension after reportedly verbally abusing linesman Marcelo Van Gasse during the second half of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Chile.

Messi was reported to CONMEBOL for yelling, “F*** off, your mother’s c***” at Van Gasse and refused to shake the official’s hand at the end of the match.

The officiating crew from the match didn’t initially include Messi’s rant in the post-match report, however, it was added on Monday and submitted to CONMEBOL.

The South American federation must now decide if and when it will punish Messi for his reported actions, and there is the potential that the world-class attacker could be suspended for Tuesday’s clash against Bolivia if the federation acts quickly.

There are several other scenarios though for CONMEBOL to action, including disregarding Messi’s verbal assault.

La Albiceleste currently sit third in World Cup qualifying on 22 points.

Arena speaks about USMNT turnaround, says “no secret formulas”

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It’s only been one competitive match since Bruce Arena regained control of the U.S. Men’s National Team and there’s already been a noticeable difference in form.

[ MORE: Three keys for the USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

The former LA Galaxy manager wouldn’t have you believe that though following Friday night’s convincing 6-0 victory over Honduras in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

“It’s nothing I can write a book on,” Arena said about his team’s turnaround in form against Honduras. “You have a sense of your group, and you go about doing your business. There’s no secret formulas to this stuff. Work together, take ownership in what you’re doing, treat them like responsible professional athletes, and you get on with your business.

He added, “They want to be successful. They want to play in a World Cup. Is that a recipe for success? I don’t know. I’m sure Honduras wants to play in a World Cup too.”

Arena, who took over for Jurgen Klinsmann following the U.S.’ collapse during the first two matches of the Hexagonal, is unbeaten in his first three games in charge since getting his job back with the Stars and Stripes.

Although there has been a considerable turnaround in the way the USMNT has performed in the first three matches of 2017, Arena wouldn’t stoop to comparing his style to that of Klinsmann.

“I’m not doing anything differently,” he said. “I’m not taking a survey [of the players]. I know it’s different. We lose tomorrow, there will be articles written that, ‘This a—— is letting these guys run loose.'”

“I have spent no time on the past. There’s nothing I can do about it. I kind of have a sense about things, but there’s no point in me spending time investigating what went on in the past. The idea was to get it going the right way from the start.”

Arena’s next test with the U.S. will be on Tuesday when the Yanks travel to Panama City to take on Panama.

Report: American teenager linked with Manchester United

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The U.S. Men’s National Team is always looking for more Christian Pulisic-like players, and another star-in-the-making could be on his way to Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Three keys for USMNT ahead of Panama clash ]

American teenager Will Vint is reportedly being pursued by Premier League giants Manchester United after previously having trialed with Fulham and Everton.

Vint, the 15-year-old son Everton academy director Peter Vint, has reportedly impressed the Red Devils while on trial as of late. Additionally, the teen’s Instagram page describes him as a “Footballer at Manchester United.”

The number of Americans in England’s top flight have dwindled down over recent years, however, USMNT mainstays like Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan (moving to Atlanta United) still reside in the PL.

Chapecoense announces match against Colombia’s Nacional

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SAO PAULO (AP) Brazilian club Chapecoense will play Colombia’s Atletico Nacional on April 4 in what will be an emotional home match.

[ MORE: Aguero left out of Argentina XI to face Bolivia ]

In November, 19 members of the Brazilian team died in an air crash outside Medellin as they travelled to play Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. Out of 77 passengers, 71 died in the incident, including players, journalists, and club officials.

Chapecoense says they will play at 22,000-seat Arena Conda in southern Brazil in the first leg of the Recopa Sudamericana.

The tragedy made Atletico Nacional pronounce Chapecoense as champions, and the South American confederation agreed.

The Recopa Sudamericana is between the champions of the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa Libertadores.