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.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

[ MORE: Under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.

Sydney FC clinches first place in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.

Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.

The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.

In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.

Walking Dead? Star fittingly sees Exeter’s implausible comeback (video)

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As Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln regularly battles the undead on his show “The Walking Dead”.

As a friend of Exeter City manager Paul Tisdale, Lincoln was probably pretty happy to watch a team that would not die.

Exeter went down 3-0 when Yeovil Town broke a scoreless drought with a trio of tallies between the 62nd and 78th minutes.

[ MORE: An under-the-radar Premier League XI ]

But Exeter’s David Wheeler scored in the 88th minute, and Troy Brown and Reuben Reid scored a minute apart at the beginning of stoppage time to earn a point for the League Two playoff hopeful.

Couple things on this video, too:

— Check out the shove on the goalkeeper when trying to collect the ball after the first goal of the fight back.

— Watch the man with his baby behind the net after the third goal. Did Mom know how safe her little one was?