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World Cup, Group F preview: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

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Mexico: El Tri heads into Russia on a very bleak note after underwhelming performances in their tune-up matches. Juan Carlos Osorio’s side has the talent, but can they live up to their potential? READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Sweden: This was arguably the most shocking team to reach the World Cup when you consider how they got here. Italy folded under pressure in qualifying, but make no mistake, Sweden stays compact and has a squad that has bought into the “no person is bigger than the team” mentality. That explains why Zlatan has been left home. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

South Korea: There isn’t a lot of star power outside of Son Heung-min, and that’s why this team will fly under the radar. READ FULL TEAM PREVIEW

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


Who’s going through: Germany and Mexico

 [ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

Who’s going home: Sweden and South Korea

Marquee match: Germany vs. Mexico, Moscow

Top 5 players to watch
1) Timo Werner — Germany
2) Joshua Kimmich — Germany
3) Hirving Lozano — Mexico
4) Son Heung-min — South Korea
5) Jesus Corona — Mexico

FIFA: Insufficient evidence of doping by Russia’s World Cup squad

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says there is insufficient evidence any players in Russia’s World Cup squad have previously doped.

The governing body has been assessing information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, samples recovered from the Moscow lab, and information from its former director Grigory Rodchenkov.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Russia last week named a provisional 28-man squad, plus seven reserves for the World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.

After investigating the players, FIFA says “insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA has informed the World Anti-Doping Agency of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA’s decision to close the cases.”

FIFA did not provide information on the status of investigations into players who are not in the World Cup squad.

World Cup 2030: Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay confirm joint bid

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The next two World Cups have their destinations in place, but the voting process for 2026 and 2030 are in full effect.

While the United States prepares for its fate along with its United bid partners, Mexico and Canada, for the 2026 edition of the tournament, Argentina has thrown its name into the ring for the 2030 Centennial World Cup.

On Monday, Argentina, along with South American nations Paraguay and Uruguay, announced their intentions to co-host the 2030 World Cup.

All three countries have agreed to a structure for their hosting bid, with Argentina being granted eight host cities, while Paraguay and Uruguay will each be given two apiece.

Although the United bid and Morocco will battle for the rights to 2026 this June when the voting process begins, bidding for 2030 won’t commence for another four years.

The tournament is expected to expand to 48 teams by the time 2026 comes around, thus allowing more joint bids to take place.

Uruguay hosted the first edition of the World Cup back in 1930, which the CONMEBOL nation won. It was the country’s first of two World Cup victories, while Argentina has also won twice.

A look at several of the largest international defeats in history

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Lionel Messi may not have played in Argentina’s significant defeat at the hands of Spain on Tuesday, but it got us at Pro Soccer Talk thinking about other historic results in the international game.

Again, Messi’s impact for the Albiceleste cannot be understated, but the Spanish comfortably put up six goals against the South American side, and should have had a seventh goal as well had it not been for a tame foul call on Sergio Ramos’ second-half finish.

[ MORE: Who makes England’s World Cup starting XI? ]

Here’s a look at several of the greatest (or worst) defeats in the history of international soccer.

Brazil 1-7 Germany — 2014 FIFA World Cup

Being a World Cup year, it’s hard not to bring up this historic result, which saw the eventual-World Cup winners thrash a Brazil side that was playing on home soil. Albeit with Neymar, the Brazilians were on the back foot from the opening whistle, and the Germans simply didn’t let up.

Four goals in a six-minute span capped off the performance for Jurgen Low’s side, including Toni Kroos’ quick brace.

Spain 6-1 Argentina — 2018 International Friendly

Isco’s brilliance shone through on Tuesday with a hat-trick against the South American giants, but the best goal of them all came in the 73rd minute when Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea recorded an assist on a long ball to Iago Aspas.

At one point, the television cameras focused on Messi walking away from his sky-box view of the match, and understandably so.

Australia 31-0 American Samoa — 2001 AFC World Cup qualifying

It wasn’t until 2006 that Australia snapped its drought of missing out on the World Cup, but this match currently lives on as the most significant defeat in international soccer history.

The Socceroos came, they saw, and they definitely conquered American Samoa. Unsurprisingly, this was the only meeting between the two nations in their history.

Tahiti 30-0 Cook Islands — 1971 South Pacific Games

Yes, you are reading that score line correct. In fairness to Cook Islands though, the country boasts a population of a whopping 18,000 people (roughly the equivalent of Davison County in South Dakota).

Cook Islands is currently ranked 194 in the latest FIFA World Rankings, and has never made it out of the group stage during the OFC Nations Cup.

Spain 12-1 Malta — 1984 UEFA Euro qualifying

It was one of the biggest turnarounds in history when considering what Spain needed to accomplish in order to qualify for the competition in 1984. The Spanish trailed group leaders Holland by two points in their qualifying group, and needed a victory plus an 110-goal swing in goal difference to overcome the Dutch.

Background: At the time, victories were awarded with two points instead of the modern-day three points.

In an improbable result, Spain finished level on points and aggregate goal difference with Holland, but the Spanish managed to top the Dutch based on superior number of goals scored (24).

Iran 19-0 Guam — 2002 World Cup qualifying

Iranian superstar Ali Daei still holds the record for international goals scored, but the star in this match was Charlton Athletic attacker Karim Bagheri, who netted a crazy six goals for the AFC side.

Meanwhile, the disappointing result for Guam marked the second time in less than a year that the small island nation suffered a defeat of 19-0 (against China PR).

Reports: Chicago, Vancouver pull out of World Cup 2026 bid

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Two major North American cities with World Cup-ready stadiums have pulled out of being host cities in the 2026 World Cup bid.

According to two separate reports, both Chicago and Vancouver will not be hosting any World Cup matches should the joint-bid between the U.S., Canada and Mexico win the right to hold the 2026 World Cup in North America.

In both cases, city and state leaders argued that FIFA asked for major financial guarantees without promising a huge return on investment, making the elected officials nervous about moving forward with a bid.

[READ: Chivas too much for Seattle]

“FIFA could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk,” Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “The uncertainty for taxpayers, coupled with FIFA’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”

It’s a big loss for the bid to lose these cities, though. Vancouver, who’s BC Place seats 54,000, hosted group stage and knockout round games before hosting the final of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which the U.S. won in thrilling fashion over Japan. And Chicago, which had previously pulled itself out for the U.S. World Cup bids in 2010 and 2018-2022, hosted the opening match of the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field and was assumed from the start that the third-largest city in the U.S. by population would be a host city.

As of now, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton have agreed to move forward with the United 2026 bid, which should be more than enough for the current 10 games Canada will host. Mexico has proposed games played at Estadio Azteca, as well as in Nuevo Leon and Guadalajara.

Meanwhile, the U.S. still has 21 other venues to pick from, including major NFL stadiums such as MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and the under-construction Los Angeles Stadium in Hollywood Park. FIFA has required the opening-match stadium and final stadium to seat 80,000+, while venues must seat a minimum of 40,000, which would force stadium’s like Toronto’s BMO Field to expand further.