Coach Joachim Low of Germany sings the National Anthem of Germany before their friendly soccer match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam

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?

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.