Costa Rica

World Cup Today: Swiss, French set to thrill; CRC looks to upset Italy

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England’s World Cup hopes are on the thinnest of threads after losing to Uruguay on Thursday, while Japan couldn’t break down 10-man Greece and Colombia looked like world beaters in a 2-1 win over the Ivory Coast.

So what’s on tap for today? Plenty.


Location: Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Time: Noon ET

What they’re saying:
Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto on hearing that Jose Mourinho thinks a second upset is unlikely: “I am really surprised that José Mourinho said something like that. He plays Sundays and Wednesdays and he is not able to repeat what he did the match before? Of course he is. We know that Italy is a very difficult opponent but we are confident that we will be able to repeat our performance.

“At the beginning, some people said that we were the worst and that we wouldn’t even get one point,” he said. “But we think about what we are able to do. Other people said that Spain would play the final against Brazil. That will not happen now.”

Italy won 2-0 in 1985, the only meeting.

MLS Players:
Costa Rica: Giancarlo González, Waylon Francis (Colombus Crew), Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly



Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Time: 3pm ET

Cheater’s guide: The Swiss know they have to attack France in order to balance out the French club’s desire to push its offense forward. Frankly, this one could be one of the matches of the tournament as the nations battle for the top spot in Group E.

What they’re saying:
Switzerland assistant coach Michel Pont: “Us, favourites? Absolutely not. Frankly, the current French team impresses me, they have found harmony… It’s extremely difficult to find their weak points, it is the first time I have experienced this in 13 years.”

France leads with 15 wins, nine draws and 12 losses and, though the nations have drawn their last three meetings, Switzerland hasn’t won a match-up since May of 1992.

Premier League players:
Switzerland – Philippe Senderos (Aston Villa)
France – Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Moussa Sissokho (Newcastle), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy(QPR).


source: Getty ImagesMATCH 26: HONDURAS VS. ECUADOR

Location: Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Time: 6pm ET

Cheater’s guide: Two Colombian managers (and friends) square off in an elimination game. Honduras will be without star Wilson Palacios on a red-card suspension.

What they’re saying:
Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez on a 3-0 loss to France: “”We ran away from football in the last match. It seems to me we were missing something … we needed more confidence with the ball.”

Ecuador has a slight edge in an even series, with three wins, eight draws and two losses.

Premier League players:
Honduras – Maynor Figueroa (Hull City), Wilson Palacios (Stoke City)
Ecuador – Antonio Valencia (Manchester United)

MLS players:
Honduras – Victor Bernardez (San Jose), Boenik Garcia (Houston), Marvin Chavez (Chivas USA), Jerry Bengtson (New England).
Ecuador – Oswaldo Minda (Chivas USA)

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.