2014 World Cup team preview: Brazil

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Getting to know… Brazil: The Selecao are the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup and have won five titles, more than any other country. With that success comes great expectation and Brazil haven’t won a title since 2002. Hosting the tournament in their soccer mad nation will create an incredible buzz and the players most channel the huge level of support positively. Samba, soccer and sunshine. This World Cup has the potential to be the best tournament in history and Brazil expects their team to win it al.

Record in qualifying: Qualified automatically as hosts.

What group are they in? Brazil are in Group A along with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in quite a favorable group for the hosts. If they don’t finish top of the group then serious questions will be asked. If they do make it out of the group they will likely face Spain or the Netherlands in the round of 16. That won’t be easy, even with home advantage.

Game schedule: Group A

12 June, 16:00, Sao Paulo – Brazil vs. Croatia
17 June, 15:00, Fortaleza – Brazil vs. Mexico
23 June, 16:00, Brasilia – Brazil vs. Cameroon

Star player: Neymar

Barcelona’s forward took the Confederations Cup by storm last summer and will be the leading light for Brazil. His incredible wing play bamboozle opposition defenders and his slight frame makes it seem as though the former Santos star glides across the surface. He has had an injury-hit first season at the Nou Camp which has been riddled with accusations of wrong doing surrounding his transfer to Spain. That said, he always seems to turn it on for Selecao after scoring 30 goals in 47 games for his country. Just 22, this guy could be the face of the entire tournament, let alone the Brazilian national team.

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Can Scolari lead the Brazilian national team to glory on home soil?

Manager: Luis Felipe Scolari

Scolari is in his second stint as boss of the Brazilian national team, uring his last spell in charge he led Brazil to win the ’02 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Stints at the Portuguese national manager and in charge of Chelsea didn’t go quite as he would’ve liked and it seems as though he’s at home as the manager of Brazil. Scolari is a leader, a hero and a legend in Brazil. The players respect ‘Big Phil’ and you get the sense that the national team is one big happy family right now. If things go pear shaped early on, expect that to change drastically. An advocate of attacking soccer, Scolari’s side gave a glimpse of what we can expect by winning the Confederations Cup at a canter last summer.

Secret weapon: The fans

Okay, not so much of a secret… but Brazil will have an incredible advantage over their opponents due to the magnificent support they will have. ‘The 12th man’ will play a huge role if Scolari’s side are to succeed in winning a sixth World Cup and adding another star above the crest on their jerseys.

Prediction: Brazil will make a deep run in this World Cup. Many have them winning it and it’s hard to argue with that assessment. After the group stage their toughest test could come in the last 16 when they may face Holland or Spain. If they make it through that, the confidence of Scolari’s young team which includes Neymar, Oscar and Willian will soar.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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League Cup wrap: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET