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.


 

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET