World Cup Today: France, Germany clash plus Brazil vs. Colombia in quarters

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WORLD CUP TODAY: FRIDAY, JULY 4

After the longest break of the tournament so far (how did we survive with no game for two days?) we are back underway for the World Cup quarterfinals.

On Friday, first up France and Germany square off at the Maracana with the Germans incredibly confident of making the WC semifinal.

Then the hosts are back in action as Brazil play red-hot Colombia in an all-South American clash in Fortaleza. Luis Felipe Scolari is contemplating switching his lineup to quell the threat of James Rodriguez.

Here is all the news you need to know, as the quarterfinals begin in Brazil.

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MATCH 57: FRANCE VS. GERMANY

Location: Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Time: Noon ET
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Cheater’s Guide

France have kept three clean sheets in four games and are looking dynamic, dangerous and full of life under Didier Deschamps. As for Germany, they have labored through their last two matches against the U.S. and Algeria and have seven players struggling with ‘flu-like symptoms’ ahead of this one. Smart move could be on France to upset the Germans, as Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema and Matheiu Valbuena continue to shine.

What they’re saying

German midfielder Toni Kroos is very confident of success, as the Bayern Munich man believes his side will power past the French. ““France have a very strong midfield but if all of us deliver our best performance, then I believe we are the better team,” Kroos said. “But we have to show that. It’s going to be very important for us to have possession and to win the duels. Then, I believe we will really have a good opportunity to win.”

History

This will be the 26th meeting between the sides. France have won 11, Germany eight and there have been six draws.

Premier League Players

France: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Moussa Sissokho (Newcastle), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy (QPR).

Germany: Per Mertesacker, Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski (Arsenal); André Schürrle (Chelsea)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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MATCH 58: BRAZIL VS. COLOMBIA

Location: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Time: 4pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s Guide

The Brazilian public let out a collective sigh of relief following their penalty kick victory over Chile in the last 16. After underwhelming and over-relying on Neymar, Brazil’s run almost came to an end last-time out. Colombia will prove an even stiffer test than Chile as James Rodriguez has scored five so far, two against Uruguay in the last 16, and is the figurehead of a fired-up and talented Cafateros side that are at the quarterfinal stage for the first time in history.

What they’re saying

Brazilian boss Luis Felipe Scolari is in confident mood as the pressure builds. “Does Brazil continue to have one hand on the trophy? Yes. We are going on to the fifth step and there are seven steps.”

History

Brazil last lost at home in 2002 and are unbeaten in 41 matches on Brazilian soil. They have only lost twice to Colombia in 25 games and have never lost at home.

Premier League players

Brazil: Oscar, Willian, Ramires (Chelsea), Paulinho (Tottenham), Fernandinho (Mmanchester City)

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

WATCH: Miami United midfield unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

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The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”