2014 World Cup Team Preview: Germany

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Getting to know… Germany: Three times the champions of World Cup, three times the champions of the European Championships and simply a deadly side, Germany is one of the favorites to win World Cup 2014. The biggest question is how their game will translate to the humid climate of Brazil, as their three WC wins were all during Europe-based tournaments.

Record in qualifying: Streamrolled through UEFA’s Group C with a 9W-1D record, the draw a 4-4 thriller against Sweden in Oct. 2012. Scored 36 goals in those 10 games, allowing just 10 (which includes the 4 against Sweden). Boom.

What group are they in? Group G with Ghana, Portugal and the United States

Game schedule: Group G

16 June, 13:00, Salvador – Germany vs. Portugal
21 June, 16:00, Fortaleza – Germany vs. Ghana
26 June, 13:00, Recife – United States vs. Germany

Star player: Manuel Neuer

Must I select only one? Fine, let’s take the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best in the world by many: Manuel Neuer. The Bayern Munich backstop is the latest in a long line of stellar German keepers and, at 28, isn’t going anywhere any time soon. He’s lead Germany to a Euro U-21 title, so perhaps the World Cup is coming this time around.

Manager: Joachim Löw

He looks like a German Beatle and coaches like the equivalent of the Fab Four. Sure, Joachim Low has a wealth of talent from which to form a team, but the former Fenerbahce and Austria Wien boss has done good things since taking over Germany in 2006 (after two years as an assistant). An assistant in 2006, Low was considered just as responsible as Jurgen Klinsmann for Germany’s semifinal run in the ’06 World Cup run, and has followed it up with a loss in the finals of Euro 2008, the third place prize for World Cup 2010 and a semi-final loss to Italy at Euro 2012. All that’s left is the major title.

Secret weapon: Depth

It’s really unfair to claim that there’s a secret weapon for Germany considering that every time they sub, the opposition fans will groan as they realize another known commodity is coming onto the pitch. There are only four players on the roster with less than 10 caps, and not one should see significant time. The one with 11 caps is Julian %^&%^&* Draxler. Their “midfielders” include Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Ozil, Schurrle, Podolski, Muller, Draxler, Kroos, Gotze, Reus. That’s nine guys.

EDIT: Reus is injured and out of the tournament.

Prediction: Germany wins the group, and has only itself to blame for a run anywhere short of the semifinal. US fans should hope that the Germans beat up Portugal in the opener and get three points from Ghana in the second, allowing them to consider resting some main faces for the knockout round. The Germans do have an American fitness coach: Shad Forsythe.

Watch Live: Everton vs. Arsenal

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Arsene Wenger celebrates his 68th birthday with a trip to Merseyside, as Arsenal visits Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday (Watch live at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both start underneath Alexandre Lacazette for Wenger.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin starts up top for Everton and under fire manager Ronald Koeman, while Jonjoe Kenny starts at right back.

LINEUPS

Everton: Pickford, Kenny, Baines, Williams, Jagielka (c), Keane, Gana Gueye, Vlasic, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Calvert-Lewin. SubsJoel, Mirallas, Martina, Niasse, Klaassen, Davies, Lookman.

Arsenal: Cech, Monreal, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Bellerin, Sanchez, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Macey, Holding, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Walcott, Giroud.

Klopp: Liverpool “not 500 miles away” from Man City’s standard

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Jurgen Klopp remains bullish on his Liverpool’s credentials as one of the Premier League’s top-four sides title challengers this season.

[ MORE: Saturday’s PL roundup | Sunday preview — Spurs vs. Liverpool ]

While everyone else might be writing off the Reds due to their propensity for defensive disasters on an every-game basis, Klopp refuses to concede that a gap of “500 miles” exists between his side and Manchester City, the early-days runaway leaders of the 2017-18 season — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t compare City with us, but I think everyone can see we are not 500 miles away. But they fly. It was a very decisive day when we lost 5-0. Dealing with a 5-0 defeat is not the easiest thing. We didn’t lose confidence but we were not that fluent afterwards and it was not like we could close our eyes and finish [thinking about it]. They did exactly the opposite. I saw the Stoke goals, you see the shot from Fernandinho and you think, ‘If it works, it works even like this.’ They are a fantastic team and we don’t have to compare, but it starts so early again with us having to apologize for the season so far because one team is flying.”

“Their way of football I would say is not something we are too far away from but to be as clinical as they have been so far? We weren’t.

“That’s the thing. We are still in the race, not with City in the moment because they have I don’t how many points, and I don’t say already that we should only fight for a top-four place. Performance-wise we are a team that should be there but now we have to get the results.”

[ TACTICS SESSION: Inside the brilliant mind of Kevin De Bruyne ]

All due respect to Klopp and Liverpool, the league table says City currently have 25 points (having played one game more), while Liverpool have 13. That’s not a difference of 500 points, but taking into account not only results but performances, it might as well be.

Ligue 1: Falcao, Balde score to keep Monaco close to PSG

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PARIS (AP) French champion Monaco got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home win against Caen on Saturday.

Monaco lost three and drew one of its previous four games in all competitions. But coach Leonardo Jardim’s side was largely in control against a Caen side that started brightly and faded after Keita Balde’s opening goal and first for Monaco.

“It was important to win, to get a bit of confidence back,” Jardim said. “We’ve been working hard and the players were very serious today.”

Captain Radamel Falcao scored his league-leading 13th from the penalty spot in the 59th, confidently sending goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way.

The win moved second-place Monaco within three points of Paris Saint-Germain, having played one game more. Unbeaten PSG is away at bitter rival Marseille on Sunday.

Falcao’s partnership with teen star Kylian Mbappe was crucial to Monaco’s charge to the league title and the Champions League semifinals last season. Mbappe left to join PSG in a high-profile move — as did several other key players — but Falcao’s new partnership with the unselfish Balde looks a promising one.

“We’ve lost a few players and we need a bit of time, it’s been a bit difficult for us,” Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said. “I hope we can stay at the top of the table and that the young players can shine. We have a lot of quality here.”

Balde has been sharp in his handful of appearances since joining from Lazio in the offseason, but mainly as a link player and a provider.

This time, the Senegal forward finished off the move as he ran onto Thomas Lemar’s perfectly weighted pass into his path, cut across a defender on the edge of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner.

Lemar almost created another goal when his corner was headed against the crossbar by Brazilian defender Jemerson late in the first half.

Falcao put the game beyond doubt from the spot after Slovenian midfielder Jan Repas fouled attacking midfielder Rony Lopes.


After a tricky start to his tenure at Nantes, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has turned things around.

Nantes beat Guingamp 2-1 at home to move up to third place, extending Ranieri’s unbeaten run to eight matches after losing the first two.

Nantes, which scored through defender Chidozie Awaziem and midfielder Abdoulaye Toure, is just two points behind Monaco.

The 2 Robbies: Terriers Triumph And Chelsea Leave It Late

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe start today’s show off by discussing Huddersfield Town’s surprising win against Manchester United (00:20), Jose Mourinho’s measured post-match interview (03:50), praise Manchester City again (10:30), discuss Sean Dyche’s next move (16:10), analyze that exciting match between Chelsea and Watford (18:30) and finally, weigh in on Slaven Bilic’s future at West Ham United (27:30).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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