Scolari reveals eight players on Brazil’s World Cup roster, praises Neymar

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Ahead of the 2014 World Cup being held in his home country, Brazilian national team manager Luis Felipe Scolari has named some of the players he intends to pick for the Selecao.

Speaking on Thursday during a congress on soccer and psychology at Sao Judas University in Sao Paulo, Scolari revealed his four captains for the tournament, which include Chelsea’s Brazilian contingent.

Do we think ‘big Phil’ should be spilling the beans on who will line up for the host nation this summer?

In all honesty most of us already know which players Scolari will be taking to the Wold Cup, still, its good to have it confirmed straight from the horses mouth. Thiago Silva, Fred, Julio Cesar, David Luiz, Willian, Oscar, Ramires and Paulinho are the men Scolari has already singled out, as the 65-year-old aims to win his second World Cup as the head coach of Brazil following the Selecao’s triumph in 2002 in Japan and South Korea.

Scolari will name his final 23-man squad on May 7, then they will meet up on May 26 at their Teresopolis base outside Rio to prepare for group matches against Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.

Our friends over at Soccerly take up the story, as Scolari revealed his four captains for the tournament and spoke about Neymar’s form at Barcelona and why he’s not worried about his star striker’s inconsistency.

Two weeks before officially unveiling his final squad, Scolari said he was appointing Thiago Silva of Paris Saint Germain, Chelsea’s David Luiz, Julio Cesar of MLS side Toronto and Fluminense striker Fred as his four captains. He added he was also picking Chelsea trio Willian, Oscar and Ramires and Tottenham’s Paulinho.

“I spoke with five players in London and told them I was counting on them,” said Scolari, who recently visited players based in Europe.

Scolari, who led Brazil to their last World Cup triumph in 2002 in Japan, Thursday addressed a congress on football and psychology at Sao Judas University in Sao Paulo. Asked about Barcelona star Neymar, embroiled in controversy over the cost of his transfer last year from Santos and questioned at times over his performances for the Catalan club, Scolari defended the forward.

“Neymar is calm. His team is not doing so well but in the national team he will perform as he always does. I see him in very different form than the one some Spanish journalists judge him to be in,” said Scolari. And he insisted he had “zero concerns” with the star.

In an hour-long address, Scolari spoke of his early career as player and coach then said that he was decided “between 95 and 99 percent” on his final 23-man squad which he hopes can land a sixth World Cup crown for the Selecao.

 

Chicharito says Mexican team “always feels welcome” in the United States

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Mexico will take on Wales on Monday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA as they warm up for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Playing in the United States is nothing new for the USMNT’s southern neighbors, and it doesn’t phase them. In fact, they love it.

Star striker Chicharito told reporters that he and the rest of the squad is more than happy playing north of the border, because according to him, apart from a pair of venues, they can’t even tell they’re on the road.

“We always feel welcome here,” Chicharito said. “It’s like our second country, if we can say that, apart from Columbus [Ohio] and apart from the stadium in Miami when we played Colombia…those two stadiums, that’s the only time I’ve felt that we were the away team.”

Chicharito knows that the high population of his countrymen and women in the United States helps the Mexican team feel close to home when they play over the border. He’s all for the melting pot of the US.

“We feel at home [in the United States],” Chicharito said. “We have plenty of Mexicans here, so I don’t know what else to tell you, we feel welcome, we feel glad, happy to be in touch with those people here. They are sacrificing a lot of things, and they are all enjoying their lives that they decide to live in the USA…it’s great. It’s great when you come to another country and you feel like you are home. You see all the stadium green, shouting and screaming your names, screaming your goals, so yeah, it’s great.”

Mexico will play Wales on Monday at 9:00 p.m. ET, and will return home to take on Scotland at Azteca on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

England international Delph expecting child in middle of World Cup

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England international Fabian Delph could face quite the dilemma if England advances past the group stage of the World Cup.

Delph’s wife Natalie is expecting the couple’s third child on June 30, which is two days after their pivotal group stage match against Belgium, and two days before the squad would take the field July 1 for its Round of 16 game should they win Group G. If they finish second in the group, they would play their Round of 16 game on July 3.

When asked what his plans are, Delph joked that his wife would manage on her own. “She’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it,” Delph said with a smile.

He then coughed up the truth: they’re not quite sure what the plan is.

“We’re not 100% certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said. “[England manager] Gareth [Southgate] has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me – family always comes first and always will.”

There’s another dilemma that Southgate must navigate involving Delph. The 28-year-old is a natural winger, but played wing-back in Pep Guardiola‘s title-winning system for much of the year and saw a massive uptick in form in the new role, playing in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy. Southgate must decide where he wants to deploy Delph – if at all – and if he wishes to fit his formation and tactics to mold Delph’s season under Guardiola.

Authorities drop assault charges against Hope Solo

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KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — Prosecutors in Washington state have dropped domestic violence charges against former U.S. national team star goalkeeper Hope Solo.

Solo was charged with two counts of fourth-degree assault in 2014 after police said she assaulted two family members at a home in Kirkland, east of Seattle. The case was delayed by appeals.

KING-TV reports that city prosecutors dropped the charges Wednesday, saying the witnesses in the case wanted to move on with their lives and did not want to participate in a trial. An attorney for Kirkland, Melissa Osman, wrote in court documents that the circumstances were unlikely to be repeated.

The longtime national team goalkeeper and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently ran unsuccessfully for president of the U.S. Soccer Federation. She has called for equal pay and equal treatment for the U.S. women’s team.

Mark Hughes signs new long-term contract at Southampton

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Mark Hughes has gone from Stoke City outcast to Southampton savior in little under six months time.

The Welsh boss was let go from Stoke City with the Potters 18th in the table and headed towards eventual relegation, but he was picked up by fellow relegation candidates Southampton after the departure of Mauricio Pellegrino. He steered the club to safety, finishing three points above the drop in 17th.

With the Saints in the top flight for another season, the club has announced the signing of Hughes to a new three-year contract.

“Mark, Eddie and I are thrilled to have signed long-term contracts with the club. It was the only option we considered, having spent the last eight weeks with the club,” Hughes said of himself and his assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki. “Now it is vital that we take the unbelievable support we received from the fans during the last few games into next season. The staff and the players will work hard every day to deliver the success this club deserves, and with everyone pulling together we will achieve our goals.”

Hughes guided Stoke City to three consecutive ninth-placed finishes, the highest the club had ever finished in the English top flight, but they finished 13th last year and regressed even further this campaign. The sale of playmaker Marko Arnautovic was particularly damaging, and the club scored just 35 goals in 38 games as a result.

At Southampton, Hughes took over a club that sat in 17th with just eight matches to go. He lost three Premier League games in a row to start his tenure and only won two league matches with Saints the rest of the way, but managed to keep the club barely afloat.