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.


 

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.