GAME ON: Lineups are in as Brazil, Germany fight for a spot in the final

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Brazil has come to a standstill.

The hosts nation is 90 minutes away from reaching the World Cup final on home soil, but their toughest test of the World Cup awaits them as they face Germany in the semifinal.

Star attacker Neymar had his World Cup ended by Juan Zungia’s knee into his back during Brazil’s quarterfinal, so the players and fans are motivated to win the whole damn thing for their injured bright spark and top scorer. As if being cheered on by the home supporters wasn’t enough…

As for Germany, they are in their fourth-straight World Cup semifinal and have breezed into the final four. Joachim Low’s men have failed to get out of second gear and somehow they are within one game of the final. Germany don’t believe Brazil possess the flair they once did. They could well be true.

However the passion, spirit and belief of a nation is driving the Brazilian players on. This semifinal promises to be a nerve-jangling classic.

[ MORE: Brazil edge out Colombia in QF | Germany scrape by France ]

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Lineups 

Brazil: Julio Cesar, Maicon, David Luiz, Dante, Marcelo; Bernard, Fernandinho, Luis Gustavo, Oscar, Hulk, Fred

Germany: Neuer, Lahm, Boateng, Hummels, Hoewedes; Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Kross; Ozil, Klose, Muller

Talking points

How will Brazil cope without Neymar? 

The inclusion of Bernard into the lineup means that Scolario has gone for a creative genius instead of the speed of Willian in Neymar’s place. If Bernard, Oscar and Hulk can link up and create chances for Fred then they can give Germany’s defense plenty of problems. Brazil will be hoping the baby-faced man they call Bernard can come up with the goods.

Expectation

With Brazil’s lineup, it seems as if they will try to possess the ball and keep this game very tight. Germany will also do the same, with a 4-3-3 formation often becoming a 4-5-1. Let’s see how this one plays out, but this could go all the way to extra time and penalties, folks. We need an early goal to make this a barnstormer.

One blogger’s prediction

I think Brazil will just nick this one, I really think so. With the passion of the home fans, the spirit and belief of the team to ‘win it for Neymar’ and the fact that Germany just haven’t quite got going and have ground out results. Brazil haven’t been world beaters thus far, far from it. However when it comes down to it, I fancy Fred, Oscar or Hulk to come up with the goods on the biggest stage of all. 2-1 to Brazil.


 

CONCACAF: USMNT, Trinidad & Tobago seek first points of Hexagonal

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Through two rounds of play in the Hexagonal, everything has gone according to plan for Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not so much though for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT hosts Honduras as WCQ resumes ]

While Los Ticos and El Tri currently sit in the top two positions of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, the U.S. is left at the bottom and faces a difficult match against Honduras when play resumes on Friday night.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras match ]

Mexico and Costa Rica will face off at the Estadio Azteca in the second of Friday’s three slated qualifiers, and while both nations surely expect to reach the World Cup in Russia, both CONCACAF heavyweights have the opportunity to put their stamp on the group.

For Costa Rica, a victory could potentially open up a five-point gap over El Tri, while a win for Mexico would bring Juan Carlos Osorio’s side the opportunity leap over their Central American foes.

Friday’s action will kick off at 7 p.m. though when third place Panama travels to Trinidad & Tobago, who seeks its first points of the Hex. Trinidad will be led by captain Kenwyne Jones of Atlanta United as well as Minnesota United midfielder Kevin Molino, with the duo scoring a combined 39 international goals for the Soca Warriors.

Below is the schedule and current table ahead of Friday’s CONCACAF matches as the region turns its attention to Matchday 3 of the Hexagonal.


Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama — 7 p.m. ET

Mexico vs. Costa Rica — 9:50 p.m. ET

USMNT vs. Honduras — 10:30 p.m. ET (PREVIEW)


1. Costa Rica — 2-0-0 — 6 pts.
2. Mexico — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
3. Panama — 1-1-0 — 4 pts.
4. Honduras — 1-0-1 — 3 pts.
5. Trinidad & Tobago — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.
6. USMNT — 0-0-2 — 0 pts.

Spurs allowed to play all home matches at Wembley next season

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Tottenham was granted the right to play all of its home matches at Wembley Stadium for the 2017/18 season, but the club must now make a decision whether or not to remain at White Hart Lane for another year.

[ MORE: Man City weighing massive offer for Milan’s Donnarumma ]

The club’s application was granted on Thursday by Brent Council’s planning committee, giving Spurs the option to move into Wembley next season for all 27 home Premier League fixtures.

Spurs must decide if it will go ahead with that move though by March 31.

Tottenham continues to play at White Hart Lane while its new stadium, located next door to its current venue, is being constructed. The current plan is that the new venue will be open ahead of the 2019/2020 campaign, but the club is said to be weighing all of its options in the event that it could be ready for the 2018/19 season.

Prosecutors question Beckenbauer in World Cup fraud case

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BERN, Switzerland (AP) Swiss authorities say prosecutors have questioned Germany soccer great Franz Beckenbauer in their ongoing World Cup fraud case.

[ MORE: Shorthanded USMNT looks to build momentum vs. Honduras ]

Criminal proceedings against Beckenbauer and three other German members of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee were opened in 2015. The four are suspected of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement, and misappropriation relating to a payment of 6.7 million euros ($7 million) to FIFA in 2005.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ahead of Honduras WCQ ]

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday that federal prosecutors questioned Beckenbauer earlier in the day in Bern, adding that “Beckenbauer was cooperative.”

Beckenbauer’s home in Austria was raided last year for evidence on behalf of Swiss federal prosecutors investigating corruption linked to FIFA.

Report: Man City launching massive bid for AC Milan’s Donnarumma

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Gianluigi Donnarumma has quickly established himself as the best young goalkeeper in European soccer, and AC Milan won’t be letting the 18-year-old go without a pretty penny in return.

[ MORE: Schedule, preview for UEFA World Cup qualifying ]

According to Sky Sport Italia, Manchester City is preparing a massive bid in the range of $130 to $160 million to acquire the AC Milan shot-stopper as the English side’s goalkeeping situation is still unsettled.

The Citizens have failed to hunker down at the goalkeeper position this season despite spending big to bring in Barcelona’s Claudio Bravo, who has underperformed. Willy Caballero has also been shaky at times for the English giants, while on-loan keeper Joe Hart will almost certainly move on from the club over the summer.

Donnarumma is currently second in Serie A in saves (110), trailing only Crotone’s Alex Cordaz, who has stopped two more shots.

Since turning professional in 2015, Donnarumma has quickly enjoyed his rise through Italian football for both AC Milan and with the national team. After previously featuring for the Under-15, U-17 and U-21 sides, Donnarumma has established himself as the surefire replacement for Gianluigi Buffon once he retires from the international game.