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.

France veteran Malouda loses appeal in Gold Cup case

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Former France winger Florent Malouda has lost his appeal against being ruled ineligible to play for French Guiana at the 2017 Gold Cup.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport says its judges dismissed Malouda’s appeal against North American soccer body CONCACAF.

French Guiana fielded Malouda in a 0-0 draw against Honduras last July despite being told he was not eligible. CONCACAF awarded a 3-0 win to Honduras and suspended Malouda.

The Gold Cup uses FIFA eligibility rules which bar players from transferring allegiance after playing a competitive game for one country.

Malouda played 80 times for France including a 2006 World Cup final loss against Italy.

The French Guiana soccer federation hoped Malouda, now aged 37, could play in the Gold Cup because it is not a FIFA member.

Report: Bobby Wood unlikely to come to MLS this summer

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A U.S. Men’s National Team forward will probably have to wait a bit longer to come to Major League Soccer if that is the path that he chooses.

Reports have recently surfaced linking Bobby Wood to MLS at the conclusion of the Bundesliga season, however, MLSSoccer.com is reporting that a move for the American likely won’t come in 2018.

Wood, who remains under contract for three more seasons at Hamburg, is currently fighting relegation in Germany with his club side.

Hamburg currently sits 17th in the German top flight, eight points buried in the relegation zone with four matches remaining.

The MLSSoccer.com report suggests that MLS clubs aren’t willing to compensate Wood at the current rate of his contract in Germany.

Currently, Wood is making “several million dollars” per season, and even if Hamburg is relegated in 2017/18 Wood’s contract wouldn’t decrease to a number that clubs are comfortable paying.

If Wood was to join MLS, he would be considered a Discovery signing as he is not currently on the MLS player allocation list. The Washington Post previously reported that an MLS club has Wood included on their Discovery list, although the team’s identity isn’t known.

Report: Fellaini eyes MLS, China after shooting down Man United terms

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Marouane Fellaini‘s time in Manchester looks to be numbered, and a move abroad could have the Belgian in line for one last payday during his career.

The Manchester United midfielder has rejected multiple offers to stay on at Old Trafford ahead of his contract expiring this summer, which would allow Fellaini to pursue other opportunities come June.

Fellaini is being linked to moves to Major League Soccer and the Chinese Super League, as the veteran aims to secure a sizable contract upon leaving the Red Devils after over five-and-a-half years with the club.

The Daily Mail is also reporting that Fellaini would be open to hearing options that could keep him in the Premier League, although it is unclear if there is any serious interest from English sides at this time.

Since the arrivals of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, Fellaini has struggled to find playing time under manager Jose Mourinho.

This season, the Belgium international has appeared in just 14 PL matches and 19 in all competitions. Fellaini has scored four goals in that span.

Chicago Fire venue to be renamed SeatGeek Stadium

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The Chicago Fire won’t be moving into a new stadium 2019, however, their venue will have a new name donned on the side of it.

For years, the Eastern Conference side has played its home matches at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, but starting next season the Fire’s home turf will be called SeatGeek Stadium as part of a rebrand.

SeatGeek is one of the largest online after-market ticket distributors, and was created back in 2009.

Toyota Park will undergo its transformation at the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season.

The venue is also home to the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars.