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.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET