FIFA threatens to strip Brazilian city Curitiba of 2014 World Cup host duty

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Talk of stripping the World Cup from Brazil has long since moved to backburners, never mind the fears of behemoth traffic jams, ugly unrest borne of economic disparity, the overarching stadium construction snags and so on. Details, details.

But could the games be stripped from one of the venues? A top FIFA official has threatened so as southern Brazilian city’s stadium has become a serious laggard in its get-ready efforts.

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, who certainly has been making quite a bit of news lately, said work is so far behind at the Arena da Baixada stadium (the photo at right was taken Tuesday) that its standing as a World Cup host was in serious jeopardy. A decision on whether Curitiba’s lucrative host duties will be stripped away will happen during a series of World Cup workshops beginning Feb. 18 in Brazil.

The workshops include teams, media and FIFA staff. “Important information” will be given to teams, according to world soccer’s governing body.

As FIFA promoted through its website that Curitiba is pepping up the pace of construction, here is what Valcke had to say. You be the judge as to whether this is serious business, or just a slight escalation of the usual pre-tournament bluster we get when individual venues or entire countries fall predictably behind on the stadiums, infrastructure, etc.

To be very honest, the situation as it stands is not ideal. The stadium is very delayed and well outside the delivery schedule to ensure best use by FIFA and the FIFA World Cup. But we have to be positive and that’s why we have come together, as the main driving forces involved, to find solutions. By 18 February … we have to decide between us – the city of Curitiba, the state of Parana, Clube Atletico Paranaense football team, the LOC and FIFA – whether the stadium is in a position on that date to give us the confidence to hold World Cup matches there, without risking the organisation of the event. We will have people from FIFA and the LOC monitoring the stadium’s progress on a daily basis and we will work together to guarantee that Curitiba will host FIFA World Cup games.”

Heroic Southampton stun Man City

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Southampton beat Manchester City 1-0 thanks to a heroic defensive display and a Che Adams wondergoal at St Mary’s Stadium on Sunday.

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Adams lobbed home from over 40 yards out in the first half to score his first Premier League and Southampton goal in style and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side dug deep and held off wave after wave of Man City attack, as Pep Guardiola’s side followed up their 4-0 demolition of Liverpool by losing in disappointing fashion.

With the win Southampton move up to 13th in the table and have 43 points as they are three points off ninth, while Man City stay in second on 66 points.


Three things we learned

1. Saints can defend: They had a few slices of luck but Saints’ defensive unit stood tall and they deserved this marquee win. Center backs Jan Bednarek and Jack Stephens were particularly brilliant, throwing themselves in the way of everything and leading by example. Full backs Kyle Walker-Peters and Ryan Bertrand covered so much ground, Alex McCarthy made a string of fine saves and Oriol Romeu in front of them shielded the back four superbly. What a result for Hasenhuttl as his project at Saints is kicking on very nicely since the restart. It take a lot to come back from the start they had this season but the spirit is good and the spine of this team is solid. With Ings, Redmond and others in attack, Saints could be a top 10 team next season.

2. Man City leggy: You can forgive City for this win. They were bright and went close on several occasions but let’s not forget, they tore Liverpool apart on Thursday and had just over 48 hours rest before this game. Southampton had a week of rest and a week to prepare. It showed. Man City had an off day and just kind of ran out of ideas. That dominate the game but they lost and that has happened to them a few times this season (Norwich away, Chelsea away) and that is why they are so far behind Liverpool.

3. Priority is FA Cup, Champions League: Pep Guardiola clearly wants to focus on winning the FA Cup and the Champions League and that is fine. People will point to Guardiola losing three consecutive league games away from home for the first time in his career as a sign that Man City are in decline, but they lost at Man United and Chelsea and luck wasn’t on their side at Southampton. Let’s get some perspective here. Man City proved their point by hammering Liverpool 4-0 on Thursday and they will be back better next season. The changes Pep made for this game underlines that Man City’s head is elsewhere. They are going to finish second in the Premier League so why not focus on winning more trophies.

Man of the Match

Jan Bednarek – Basically every Saints player deserved this but I’m going for Bednarek, closely followed by Stephens, McCarthy and Ings. The spine of this Saints team worked so hard to preserve their early lead and they actually looked dangerous on their rare forays forward. What a win and win a defender Bednarek has become, as the ‘Polish Maldini’ continues to improve from a positional point of view.


The first real chance of the game arrived for Southampton and they took it in some style.

Oleksandr Zinchenko gave the ball away and Adams lobbed Ederson from 40 yards out to score his first Premier League goal in style as his teammates mobbed him.

Gabriel Jesus then almost finished at the back post as Man City kicked on after falling behind.

Raheem Sterling then sent in a wonderful cross to the center of the goal which almost found Jesus but Ings cleared away from danger. Sterling was then denied by Alex McCarthy, then Fernandinho hit the post and McCarthy denied David Silva as Man City came roaring back.

McCarthy then denied Mahrez at the near post as Man City continued to press for an equalizer, while Nathan Redmond had a shot which Ederson saved. Before the break Southampton settled themselves and Ings volleyed over after a great ball from Kyle Walker-Peters.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

At the start of the second half Jesus flicked a header from a corner just wide as Man City continued to create chances.

McCarthy then denied Jesus’ header and Stephens hacked away as Southampton were under severe pressure with McCarthy then denying David Silva.

Kevin de Bruyne and Phil Foden came on for the final 30 minutes as Man City cranked through the gears with James Ward-Prowse blocking a goalbound Bernardo Silva shot. Jesus had another header saved by McCarthy as Saints had a brief break which saw Adams close down Ederson who cleared.

Substitute Shane Long ran in on goal and that led to Stuart Armstrong having a shot on goal which Ederson saved brilliantly down low.

Late on Man City chucked everything at Southampton but some heroic defending sealed a huge win for Hasenhuttl’s side.

Klopp update on Thiago; praises Keita, cooling breaks

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Jurgen Klopp has provided an update on the reported pursuit of Thiago Alcantara following Liverpool’s 2-0 win against Aston Villa at Anfield on Sunday.

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Klopp was pleased his Premier League champion ground out a win to keep their record-breaking season on track and speaking to reporters via Zoom after the game he said it was tough going inside a windy Anfield as he rotated his squad.

Asked about consistent reports linking them with Bayern Munich and Spain midfielder Thiago, here’s what Klopp had to say.

“Would you be surprised if I don’t give an answer on that because I never answer these kind of questions. Thiago Alcantara is a really good player, like a lot of other players out there I like a lot but that’s all I have to say about that,” Klopp said.

Okay, so pretty not committal from Klopp there.

When it comes to his central midfield options, he left out Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum and started Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and there was a step up in intensity when Henderson and Wijnaldum came on for the final 30 minutes.

Keita did provide the assists for Sadio Mane’s goal and Klopp is hopeful the Guinea midfielder can stay fit and be a big player for the rest of this season and beyond.

“Naby is a top player. A top player. It was a difficult game today and he was really good,” Klopp told ProSoccerTalk. “He helped us a lot. Not only with the goal. You could always play the pass to him, he always offers, he was in smart positions. I liked his game a lot today. It is a good example of how good he can be and this was by far not his best game but it was good. I am just happy when a player is in a shape like this and can perform like this because we play in three days again which is tough, and in three days later we play again. It is tough for everyone. You need to find solutions for the different moments and today Naby was a super solution.”

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

ProSoccerTalk also took the time to ask Klopp about timeouts, and if he is a fan of the new cooling breaks which take place midway through each half due to the Premier League being played in the summer months.

Safe to say Klopp is a fan of getting to talk to his players a little more during games.

“It is like a timeout and I’ve wished for it for 20 years, pretty much, but nobody listened, obviously,” Klopp laughed. “Now we have a drinks break and I like it a lot. If people think you only need a drinks break when it is like 40 degrees outside, then of course England it is not a country where you need a drinks break very often. Especially in the north west and north east. It is important to just have that because it was a strange period for the players and we didn’t know exactly how the boys would react, nobody could know that. I really like the opportunity to talk. In the moment the refs whistle it starts and the players, it takes about 30 seconds and the players are around. You don’t have a lot of time to talk to the players as they really go there for a drink but you can give information, we all have the same chance in the same moments, all of the different coaches, so that is good and fair. I like it.”

VIDEO: Che Adams scores amazing long-range goal

Che Adams
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Che Adams has waited all season long for his first Premier League goal and when it arrived, it did so in some style.

Adams, 23, arrived from Birmingham City last summer for $18.7 million and in his first Premier League season he’s worked so hard but hit the woodwork and come close on several occasions.

I’m sure this goal was worth the wait for Adams who scored a few in preseason and was a started ahead of Danny Ings at the beginning of the season but has been out of the lineup and this was his first league start since Dec. 28.

SOUTHAMPTON – MAN CITY STREAM LIVE

Early on at St Mary’s Adams lobbed Ederson from 40 yards out as Southampton’s players mobbed him and they celebrated his sublime strike in style.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has huge faith in Che Adams and it is now easy to understand why as Ings, Shane Long and Michael Obafemi have been given plenty of chances and now Adams has taken his with both hands. His partnership with Ings will be intriguing to watch in the final weeks of the 2019-20 season as Southampton try and push for a top 10 finish.

Check out this special Che Adams goal in the video below.

Sleepy Liverpool edge past Aston Villa

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Liverpool – Aston Villa wasn’t a classic, but the Reds won for the first time since they were crowned champions to keep their chase for plenty of Premier League records on track.

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Sadio Mane and Curtis Jones scored the goals to give Liverpool a 2-0 win as they have now won 24 consecutive wins at home, with the new Premier League champions winning all 17 of their home games so far this season.

LIVERPOOL – ASTON VILLA: FULL REPLAY

With the win they now have 89 points for the season and with five games to go they can still beat Man City’s record for most wins, points and the biggest winning-margin in Premier League history. Aston Villa remain in deep relegation trouble and are one point from safety with five games left.


Three things we learned

1. Late subs make the difference: Henderson, Wijnaldum and Firmino arrived for the final 30 minutes and made a huge difference as Liverpool struck twice in the final 20 minutes to seal a win. Jurgen Klopp’s side looked a bit disjointed but did what they had to do as they put their defeat at Man City behind them.

2. Solid Villa need more cutting edge: David Luiz, Tyrone Mings and Jack Grealish looked really good and Villa were solid up until Liverpool scored. Defensively they’ve looked better since the restart but they have to find more cutting edge. They face Man United, Crystal Palace, Everton, Arsenal and West Ham in their final five games and it will likely come down to the finale to see if they stay in the Premier League. Villa have to be more attacking in their final games of the season to try and keep themselves up.

3. Records still in sight: Liverpool can get records for the most points, wins and the biggest winning margin in Premier League history and that has to be their aim. This superb season could peter out but Klopp and his side will want to show everybody that the record suggests that are better than Man City in 2017-18 and are the best team we’ve ever seen in the PL. These tight wins all season long have pushed them towards greatness.

Man of the Match

Douglas Luiz – Was everywhere in midfield for Aston Villa and his bite in the tackle set the tone for a dogged display from every single Villa player. They will need more of that from Luiz in the final games of the season to drag themselves out of the bottom three.


A slow start to the match saw Liverpool create a few chances with both Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane eager to get on the ball.

Douglas Luiz had a volley on goal which was straight at Alisson as the game struggled to come to life in the first half with Salah’s weak effort denied by Pepe Reina at the near post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the second half the intensity failed to increase as Grealish had a shot saved by Alisson but the flagged was raised for offside.

Anwar El Ghazi then forced Alisson into a save at his near post as Grealish led a counter attack with Liverpool caught napping.

Liverpool made a triple substitution for the final 30 minutes as Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum came on to try and spark the champions into life.

Virgil van Dijk blocked a shot from Grealish as Villa looked more dangerous but then succumbed to a moment of quality.

Naby Keita picked out Mane at the back post and his finish came off the underside of the bar and in.

Substitute Jones then jumped off the bench and finished off Robertson’s cross after Salah nodded it down into his path. It was Jones’ first Premier League goal and sealed a 24th consecutive home win in the league for the champions.

Grealish went close late on but Alisson saved as Villa really missed a chance to pick up a bonus point in their relegation battle and Liverpool made them pay.