Category Archives: WORLD CUP 2014

Pique: Catalunya national team could compete at a high level

Rayo Vallecano de Madrid v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The Barcelona centre-back is not sure just how far the Catalan side could go if they were to play in official international competitions but feels that they could hold their ownBarcelona defender Gerard Pique believes that the Catalannational team could compete with the best sides in the world.The Spain international, 26, has represented the region on sixoccasions and is set to feature once more when they take on CapeVerde on Monday.Catalunya are affiliated with neither Fifa nor Uefa so cannotcompete in World Cups or European Championships but Pique isinterested in how they might fare.’World-class players will be on the pitch,’ he is quoted as sayingby Marca on Monday’s match.’Yes, it is true that we could compete at a high level with otherteams but I do not know how far we could get. It’s important to seegreat football with no injuries.’Pique also gave his backing to team-mate Lionel Messi’s Ballon d’Orbid, insisting that the Argentine is the best player in theworld.’Whoever wins it deserves it but Messi is the best in the world,’the center-back remarked. ‘The team has managed without him inrecent weeks but he is the best and gives us a lot.’


Del Bosque warns against Spain complacency


The Roja boss insists his side must not rest on their past successes as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup and admits the South American nations will pose stern testsSpain coach Vicente del Bosque has admitted he is worried abouthis team’s mindset ahead of the 2014 World Cup.The reigning world and double European champions wereconvincingly beaten 3-0 by Brazil in the final of theConfederations Cup during the summer and Del Bosque has warned hisstars not to rest on the laurels of their previous tournamentsuccesses.’They are players who have won a great deal, almost everything,and they see things through different eyes compared with five orsix years ago,’ Del Bosque told AS.’That is the only fear I have. It is fundamental to be humble,sporting and good lads, nice guys. We have to forget about the pastand not revel in what we won in the years before.’We are going to another World Cup, a different one, in adifferent country and on a different continent, and we have to gothere with the same spirit as in South Africa.’That’s the most important thing.’Del Bosque reiterated his desire for his team to show’humility’, and acknowledged his side will be favourites to defendtheir crown.Spain – who will face 2010 finalists Netherlands, Chile andAustralia in Group B – will face stiff competition from severalnations in Brazil, something Del Bosque is well aware of.’Humility is not an empty word,’ he said.’When I ask for it, it is because I know it is the path tosuccess. Spain has a good national team and is not inferior toanyone but we must be cautious.’We are the team to beat and there are powerful opponents,mainly the South Americans including Brazil, Colombia, Argentinaand Chile.’Then there are the Europeans, teams like Germany, Holland orPortugal. It is not easy and we have to show respect for all ouropponents.’

Blatter urges referee action on diving


The Fifa president believes that those who try to con officials by faking contact or feigning injury are cheating the game and deserve harsher sanctions than they are receivingFifa president Sepp Blatter has called on referees to use thefull extent of their powers to punish players guilty ofsimulation.The issue has come into the spotlight in the Premier League overthe festive period, with Jose Mourinho backing Martin Atkinson’sdecision to book Oscar in Chelsea’s 3-0 victory over Southamptonjust days after accusing Luis Suarez of diving in the Blues’ winover Liverpool.The incident was the latest in a string of cases of simulation inthe top flight this season, which has seen 13 bookings being dishedout for the offence, including three for Manchester Unitedyoungster Adnan Januzaj, and Blatter feels that the guilty partiesare setting a bad example for aspiring footballers.’Cutting out this kind of cheating is a matter of respect towardsopponents and fans – and ultimately one of self-respect as aprofessional and role model,’ he wrote in his Fifa Weeklycolumn.’The longest breaks in the game nowadays are almost exclusively theresult of dives, simulation and play-acting to feign injury.’This kind of thing is treated with scorn in other sportingdisciplines but it has become a normal and accepted part offootball nowadays. Even though simulation is incredibly unfair andlooks preposterous when viewed in a replay, some people regard itas smart or, in the worst case, as a harmless misdemeanour.’I find this deeply irritating, especially when the [supposedly]half-dead player comes back to life as soon as they have left thepitch.’Blatter has placed responsibility for policing the problem in thehands of officials, whom he believes have the necessary powers tosufficiently punish players.’The ball is in the referees’ court,’ he continued. ‘Theinstructions are now clear on this matter: If a player is lying onthe floor, the opposing team are not required to put the ball intotouch.’The referee should only intervene if he believes a serious injuryhas occurred.’

Digne looking for Paris Saint-Germain action to chase World Cup ‘dream’


The uncapped 20-year-old left-back hopes that, if Laurent Blanc allows him more chances to impress at Parc des Princes, he could earn a call-up in time for the summerLucas Digne says that his ‘dream’ is to represent France atWorld Cup 2014 but knows that only by playing regularly for ParisSaint-Germain will he give himself a chance of travelling toBrazil.The 20-year-old full-back, who arrived at Parc des Princes fromLille in the summer, featured in Thursday’s friendly against RealMadrid and hopes that he has further advanced his internationalprospects by impressing in Doha.’It was a fun game to play,’ he told L’Equipe after PSG’s 1-0 loss.’There was no victory for us at the end but we will be able to drawon what we did well here during the second half of theseason.’Everything was good. It’s been a nice trip and [the match] was agreat test against one of the best teams in the world.’I am very happy to be playing and I hope it will continue. Thecoach has me given my chance. I, of course, think about the WorldCup. It is a dream but I’m going to have to continue playinggames.’Digne has yet to be capped by the senior France side but did play akey role in last summer’s Under-20s World Cup triumph inTurkey.

Badstuber refuses to give up on World Cup ‘dream’

Bayern Muenchen v Borussia Dortmund - Bundesliga

The 24-year-old has undergone four operations on his right knee over the past 13 months but is confident that he can force his way back into Joachim Low’s squad by the summerBayern Munich and Germany defender Holger Badstuber isoptimistic about his chances of being fit for the World Cup,claiming that his ‘Brazil dream’ is still alive.The 24-year-old has been out of action for 13 months with kneeligament damage and it is not yet known when he will be fit toreturn to action.However, Badstuber, who has undergone four operations, believesthat he can win back his place in the Germany squad in time forBrazil 2014.’If the rehab goes positively, I progress quickly when I’m fitagain and I get back into a rhythm, why should I write off my WorldCup chances?’ the centre-back stated to Bild.’The World Cup was always my desire and my Brazil dream liveson.’

Maradona: Do not blame Messi if Argentina do not win World Cup


The former tournament winner has insisted that the prolific attacker is not solely responsible for what the South Americans achieve in Brazil next summerArgentina legend Diego Maradona has stressed that it would beunfair to blame Barcelona star Lionel Messi if the Albiceleste donot win the 2014 World Cup.The 26-year-old has received his fair share of criticism for hisinability to replicate his club form for the national team in thepast – though he put in a number of impressive performances forArgentina in 2012 and 2013 – and failed to guide his country beyondthe quarter-finals in 2010.Nevertheless, Maradona has insisted that Messi cannot be heldresponsible for Argentina’s results and is confident that the Barcaforward will do well in Brazil later this year.’The one thing that I can say is that if we do not win the WorldCup, we should not blame Messi for it,’ Maradona said on Argentinetelevision.’I am convinced that Leo will play well at this summer’stournament.’Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986 when Maradona captainedthem to a 3-2 win over West Germany in the final.

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