World Cup Today: Who will join Germany, Brazil?

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WORLD CUP TODAY: SATURDAY, JULY 5

Let’s hope that today’s World Cup quarterfinals don’t cause quite as much heartbreak as Friday’s.

In the first match, Mats Hummels scored early, but France could never quite get themselves back into the game. In the end, it was rather easy for Germany to run out 1-0 winners.

As for the second match, well…the referee lost control of the game early on, refusing to pull out his cards despite numerous fouls. A frustrated Colombia eventually snapped. Juan Zúñiga put his boot in Neymar’s back, breaking the Brazilian’s vertebrae, and ruling him out of the rest of the tournament.

Brazil advanced with a 2-1 win, and with rather heavy hearts.


MATCH 59: ARGENTINA VS. BELGIUM

Location: Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília
Time: 12 noon ET
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Cheater’s guide
Argentina may have won three of their first four matches, but really, they’ve yet to truly impress at this World Cup. Lionel Messi is still able to dazzle, of course, but most of the time, the albiceleste appear unconvincing. It took 118 minutes for them to score against Switzerland, but Ángel di María’s goal was enough to put them through.

Belgium, too, have disappointed. They squeaked out wins in each of their group stage games, but never really looked dominant until coming up against the United States. An impressive performance from Tim Howard tempered the Red Devils, but they eventually advanced from added extra time with a 2-1 win.

What they’re saying
Argentina might be the favorites, but Alejandro Sabella is still wary of Belgium’s threat: They’re a powerful team. We’ll have to be careful when we don’t have the ball and try to make things happen when we do. They’re a team made up of great individuals who work very well as a team.

History
Argentina have won three times, Belgium once in their four meetings. Will the dark horses be able to cause an upset once more?

Premier League players
Argentina: Manchester City love an Argentine, with Sergio Agüero, Martín Demichelis, and Pablo Zabaleta all on their payroll.
Belgium: Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal); Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea); Kevin Mirallas (Everton); Simon Mignolet (Liverpool); Vincent Kompany (Manchester City); Marouane Fellaini, Adnan Januzaj (Manchester United); Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembélé, and Nacer Chadli (Tottenham)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 60: NETHERLANDS VS. COSTA RICA
Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Time: 4 p.m. ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide
Netherlands remain perfect: they won each of their group stage games to come out on top, setting up a meeting with Mexico. Thanks to a last-minute, rather contentious penalty awarded to Arjen Robben, the oranje even managed to avoid the fate of extra time suffered by so many in the Round of 16. 2-1 win, and they were on to the quarterfinals.

Costa Rica are the last minnow remaining in the tournament. They found their way to the quarterfinals for the first time by beating both Uruguay and Italy, then drawing with England in a rather pointless match. The group winners then faced off against Greece, who cheekily got another last-minute goal to force extra time – and penalties. The ticos won the shootout 5-4.

What they’re saying
Jorge Luis Pinto is wants the referees to closely monitor Robben: I think he is one of the three or four best players in the world. He is a great player but on the other hand we have to say there have been refereeing mistakes. We’re really worried about Robben’s diving. And he admitted it. I hope the referee watches him very closely tomorrow.
(READ MORE HERE)

History
Watch closely. They’re about to write it.

Premier League Players
Netherlands:
 Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa); Robin van Persie (Manchester United); Tim Krul (Newcastle); Jonathan de Guzmán, Michel Vorm (Swansea)
Costa Rica: Joel Cambell (Arsenal)

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

 

Report: Arsenal interested in Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel

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According to a report by The Sun, Arsenal is monitoring the progress of Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.

The rumor does make sense. With Petr Cech at 34 years old and having a poor season in front of net and backup David Ospina failing to challenge him for the starting job, the Gunners are looking elsewhere to bring in a potential future starter.

Schmeichel has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League the past two seasons. Last season he led the Foxes to the Premier League title, organizing a stunningly good defensive line of patchwork players. This season, the defense has largely regressed and let Schmeichel down, but he has still performed well and has the metrics to remain one of the league’s top shot-stoppers.

The Danish keeper is 30 years old himself, but that puts him in his prime for a goalkeeper. He has been with Leicester City since 2011, and he will tick 250 appearances for the club with his next match. Schmeichel was rumored to be a member of the secret player delegation that worked hard to see Claudio Ranieri pushed out of the club, a sentiment which he and the other players have strongly denied.

Still, with an improbable Premier League title in hand and an appearance in the Champions League quarterfinals now on the cards, there probably isn’t much else for him at Leicester City. It’s possible Schmeichel could look to bank on his past performances and secure a move to a bigger club this summer.

Should Arsene Wenger stay with Arsenal past this season, a possibility that looks more and more likely, he could look to move on from Cech despite signing the former Chelsea goalkeeper just two summers ago.

Diego Costa injured, but will stay with Spain squad for friendly

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Chelsea striker Diego Costa pulled up in Spain training on Sunday, and with the Blues in first in the Premier League and Costa in great form, there were obvious concerns.

With Costa struggling with leg and ankle injuries, the RFEF informed Chelsea that there was an issue, and Costa was pulled from training and sent for tests. X-Rays at the local hospital in Madrid were negative, and he’s rejoined the squad.

According to the RFEF, doctors will continue to monitor the 28-year-old and he will continue with the national team for the rest of the international break. With a World Cup qualification win over Israel already in the books and just a friendly against France to go on Tuesday, it’s odd that Spain would risk Costa moving forward, but they will continue to keep him around.

Costa has scored 18 goals this season to lead the Blues, and he scored in the win over Israel. Spain takes on France in Saint-Denis on Tuesday, with both teams leading their World Cup qualification groups. Spain has a goal-differential lead on Italy with both teams miles above the rest of the Group G, and France is ahead of Sweden by three points in Group A, with the Netherlands back in fourth.

Foul or flop? Player “headbutts” referee, is sent off

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Well, there must be something in the water down in Brasilia, because things got a little weird this evening.

Flamengo drew with Vasco da Gama 2-2, but that was just the start.

In the 54th minute, with Vasco da Gama leading 1-0 at Estadio Nacional Mané Garrincha, 36-year-old Luis Fabiano was sent off for “headbutting” the referee. Headbutting is in quotes because looking at the video, it certainly appears there was little to no contact, and the referee flops.

Yes, the referee flopped. Take a look:

To be fair, Fabiano was already on a yellow, so getting in the referee’s face even without the headbutt/pelvic thrust would likely still have seen him sent to an early shower.

So the former Porto and Sevilla man was sent off, and Vasco da Gama was down to 10 men. Immediately after the red card, Flamengo took advantage, powering in a pair of goals via Willian Arao and Orlando Berrio to take the lead 2-1. But Vasco wouldn’t quit, and they earned a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, which Nene buried for the 2-2 draw.

To top things off, a player named Yago Pikachu scored the opener for Vasco da Gama, which was followed by a delay in the game seven minutes later after a power surge in the stadium. Go figure.

Lletget diagnosed with foot sprain, escaping further damage

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Word has arrived from the LA Galaxy camp that will see USMNT fans feel relieved as Sebastian Lletget has escaped the news many feared.

The young attacker was impressive in the first 18 minutes of the United States’ 6-0 win over Honduras, but was injured minutes after scoring the opening goal and could not continue. Replays showed that Lletget got his foot caught underneath a defender in the process of a hard challenge on the right wing.

There was concern that Lletget would be out for a significant amount of time, but the Galaxy announced that after testing over the weekend, Lletget did not suffer any structural damage and was diagnosed with a left foot sprain.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Paul Arreola to roster, drops Lletget, Brooks, Morris ]

Lletget will visit a specialist on Monday to determine a plan for recovery, and it’s possible that he will still have to miss some time in the near future. The Galaxy visit Vancouver on Saturday, and his status for that match has to be considered up in the air. They then host Montreal on April 7.

While Lletget obviously misses out on the next USMNT game at Panama on Tuesday having already been dumped from the roster, he will most definitely be available for the June games against Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico, and will likely be an option for Bruce Arena given the manager’s history with Lletget at Los Angeles.

The United States have been struck with a collection of injuries that all occurred just before the international break, hampering the squad significantly. Bobby Wood, Jordan Morris, and Fabian Johnson all went down in the days before reporting for international duty, and the team lost Lletget and John Brooks in the Honduras win. Lletget’s departure could see Alejandro Bedoya into the starting lineup on Tuesday, with the Union midfielder having replaced Lletget in the Honduras match. Also in contention is Jermaine Jones, who could come in after his suspension and push Darlington Nagbe onto the wing.