There’s no two ways about it, Brazil’s strikers have been misfiring during the 2014 World Cup.
Now, as their World Cup quarterfinal clash with red-hot Colombia has arrived, manager Luis Felipe Scolari could make a drastic switch and dump the Selecao’s forwards in favor of more midfielders.
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With Fred and Jo failing to deliver in the central role so far, just one goal between them in four games, it seems as though right-winger Hulk may be moved into the middle to play as a “false nine” and help quell the threat of Colombia’s James Rodriguez.
Scolari is thought to be mulling over the idea of packing the midfield to thwart Colombia’s talented attacker, with Chelsea wingers Ramires or Willian expected to come in out wide as Hulk pushes inside.
Rodriguez has drifted into the box from deep with ease to torment plenty of teams at the World Cup so far, scoring five goals in four games to lead the tournament in scoring. That alone suggests this special treatment from Brazil is worthwhile.
As for Brazil’s own attack, Neymar has bagged four goals at the World Cup and has at times looked like a one-man band as Brazil’s solid defensive displays have outshone their Samba flair. I wrote about Brazil’s over-reliance on Neymar almost costing them in their penalty kick win over Chile in the last 16, as Scolari’s struggles to find a top-class forward to help ease the burden on Neymar continues.
The expectancy of a nation will be on the shoulders of Brazil’s players on Friday.
As the country comes to a standstill, will Big Phil’s gamble to leave out his recognized strikers pay off?
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
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No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
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Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
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Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
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And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday