Joachim Low ahead of World Cup semifinal: Brazil lack flair

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With soccer powerhouses Brazil and Germany set to square off on Tuesday, German head coach Joachim Low isn’t messing around.

After Brazil lost both attacker Neymar and captain Thiago Silva for the clash, many have Germany as the favorites to advance and break the host nations’ heart.

Speaking to reporters after guiding Germany to a record fourth-straight World Cup semi, Low talked about the Samba flair evaporating from Brazil’s game and their tough-tackling displays being handled correctly by officials.

“They’re playing more robustly than any other team here,” Low said. “There’s little left of that traditional Brazilian style of football. At the end of the day, it’s up to the referee to come up with the correct punishment.”

Low has a point. Brazil’s attacking unit have failed to click into place. Apart from Neymar’s four goals, the Selecao’s other six attackers have two goals between them through five games.

Luis Felipe Scolari’s side have also picked up 10 yellows cards and committed 96 fouls, as their aggressive displays are far from what you’d expect from the five-time World champions.

It has been a case of Industry over ingenuity for Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.

Saying that, Germany’s industry (as always) has been their main strength as they’ve ground out three tight one-goal wins and battled to a tie after their opening game demolition of Portugal. Low’s own offense has failed to fire recently and although certain flashes of magic in and round the box returned in their quarterfinal win over France, it still wasn’t as fluid as we expect from Das Mannschaft.

With flair missing for both Germany and Brazil, expect a rambunctious and scrappy game in Belo Horizonte on Tuesday. That said, most World Cup semifinals aren’t classics. Given the fact that a place in the final is on the line, nerves often take over. Being robust and solid as a rock should be the order of the day for these giants of world soccer. Who can hold their nerve best?

Mexico star Marquez back at Atlas after US drug sanctions

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Mexican soccer star Rafael Marquez is back with his club more than a month after the U.S. Treasury Department named him on a sanctions list for alleged drug trafficking ties.

Atlas said Monday that the 38-year-old defender is practicing with the team again.

In August, Marquez was among 22 people sanctioned by the department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was accused of acting as a frontman for the Raul Flores Hernandez drug trafficking organization.

Marquez has denied any wrongdoing and said he will work to clear his name. He is not known to face any criminal charges in the United States or Mexico.

Atlas says Marquez will continue his legal fight while at the team.

Marquez has played internationally with AS Monaco, Barcelona and the New York Red Bulls.

Wolfsburg hires Martin Schmidt after firing Andries Jonker

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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg has hired Martin Schmidt to coach the Bundesliga side as a swift replacement for Andries Jonker.

[ MORE: PL Playback — Koeman, Everton facing significant pressure ]

Jonker was fired on Monday after less than seven months in charge, with Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Stuttgart leaving Wolfsburg with four points from its opening four league games of the new campaign.

The 50-year-old Schmidt has signed a contract through 2019 and he will take charge of Tuesday’s game against Werder Bremen.

The Swiss coach left Mainz by mutual consent in May after almost three years in charge. Mainz finished last season in 15th place in the Bundesliga, above Wolfsburg on goal difference. Wolfsburg only survived in the Bundesliga last season by a winning a playoff.

More AP German soccer coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

Swapping cleats for gloves: Rio Ferdinand to become a boxer

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It wouldn’t be the first time a professional athlete has tried his hand at another sport, but this one is a bit surprising.

[ MORE: Leicester-Liverpool highlights Tuesday’s Carabao Cup action ]

The Telegraph is reporting that ex-Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is poised to become a professional boxer and is expected to announce his decision on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old has been a pundit for BBC and BT Sport since retiring from soccer 2015, but the six-time Premier League winner appears ready to tackle a new venture.

Ferdinand will attempt to follow in the footsteps of former Sheffield United striker Curtis Woodhouse — who went on to become British light-welterweight champion.

Below is a video Ferdinand posted to his Instagram account on Monday which appears to show him practice dodging with a personal trainer.

Dodging Rain Drops…. Reaction Drill… Keep Moving!! 💧🎾 @chrisvarnavas

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Cavani, Neymar feud presents questions about PSG chemistry

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Paris Saint-Germain picked up its sixth consecutive win to start the Ligue 1 season on Sunday, but something else happened during the team’s 2-0 victory over Lyon that should be a show for concern.

[ MORE: Bayern keeper Neuer injuries foot, could miss months ]

In fact, two notable sequences occurred during the match that proved money cannot buy chemistry — or how the saying goes.

The issues on both occasions were between summer signing Neymar and Edinson Cavani — who has been with PSG since 2013.

First, a free kick situation arose where Cavani had appeared that he was going to take the set piece, until Brazilian defender Dani Alves stepped in and took the ball and proceeded to give it to his national and club teammate, Neymar.

The second occurence was even more embarrassing though, as Neymar and Cavani argued over who would take a penalty kick, which Cavani ultimately got his way before having his shot saved by goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.

Below is a video containing a piece of both instances.