Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 12th 2014 Contents CURITIBA---If there is one
player Spain is wary of before
its World Cup opener, it is
Netherlands forward Arjen
Tomorrow s Group B game
not only offers a rematch of the
2010 final won by Spain, but a
chance of redemption for the
Robben was put clean through
to face Iker Casillas at Soccer
City but saw his effort deflected
wide by the Spain goalkeeper in
the final s best scoring oppor-
tunity until Andres Iniesta netted
the extra-time winner.
Spain defender Javi Martinez
said that moment has stayed
with his Bayern Munich team-
mate, so the defending cham-
pions will be keeping a close eye
on Robben in Salvador.
"Robben shakes his defender
so well to find space, so we re
going to have keep tabs on him,"
While Martinez also pointed
to Robin van Persie and Wesley
Sneijder s ability to decide
games, Spain knows that it s
Robben who is the most eager
to make up for his famous miss.
"(Robben and I) have talked
about that moment," Martinez
said. "It was a very tough
moment for the Netherlands and
especially to him, with that
chance against Iker."
With Chile and Australia also
in Group B, both Spain and the
Netherlands know that a loss in
the group opener would leave
either team in a bind. Spain,
though, lost its opening match
against Switzerland in South
Africa four years ago but rallied
to win its first World Cup.
"If you lose the first game you
cannot afford another slip-up,"
Martinez said. "We want to start
on the right foot, especially since
it gives you even more confi-
dence starting with a victory
from your first game."
Spain coach Vicente del
Bosque has reiterated that his
team needs to be more aggres-
sive inside the area. That mes-
sage has certainly gotten through
to his players, which will go up
against a Dutch team that plans
to use five defenders to combat
its possession game.
Spain attributes its 3--0 Con-
federations Cup final loss to
Brazil last summer to lacking
that particular quality.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, June 12, 2014
Belgium's Lukaku looks
fit after ankle strain
Striker Romelu Lukaku resumed training with Bel-
gium's World Cup squad yesterday showing no appar-
ent effect from a right ankle strain he sustained last
Lukaku jogged with his team-mates to get the jet
lag from Tuesday's flight out of his system before he
performed balancing exercises which put specific
pressure on the tender ankle.
"He is 100 per cent. He has no trouble," Belgium
coach Marc Wilmots said after the first workout of
his players on Brazilian soil. "You saw the kind of
pressure he put on his ankle during the workout."
Lukaku is expected to be Belgium's centre forward
for next Tuesday's opening Group H match against
Algeria. His form has become even more important
since the team's No 1 forward Christian Benteke in-
jured his Achilles tendon and misses the World Cup.
De Guzmangives Van Gaal
The Netherlands flew from its training base in Rio
to Salvador yesterday with an apparently fully-fit
squad, giving Louis van Gaal a dilemma about who to
play in midfield.
Swansea's Jonathan de Guzman appears to have
fully recovered from a hamstring strain and to be fit
enough to play in the Netherlands' crucial Group B
opener against defending champion Spain tomorrow,
a rematch of the 2010 final the Spaniards won 1--0 in
Earlier this week at training, Van Gaal looked to
have settled on Feyenoord's Jordy Clasie as one of his
three midfielders alongside Nigel de Jong and play-
maker Wesley Sneijder.
Now the Netherlands coach has to make a choice.
The midfield berth looked to be the only undecided
position in Van Gaal's team as it flew out of Rio ahead
of a closed training session yesterday in Salvador.
Koscielny misses France session
Striker Olivier Giroud and centre half Laurent Ko-
scielny missed France's training session yesterday,
while centre half Mamadou Sakho took part after
having a scan for bruising on his right knee.
France team spokesman Philippe Tournon said Ar-
senal team-mates Giroud and Koscielny were both
"rested" and had treatment from a team physio. He
did not give any further details.
Sakho took a knock to his knee in Tuesday's train-
ing session, but tests yesterday revealed there was
nothing serious, Tournon said.
Right back Mathieu Debuchy returned to training
after injuring his thigh in last Sunday's friendly
Rakitic says he is joining Barca
A day before the World Cup opener, Croatia's mid-
fielder Ivan Rakitic says he will join Barcelona.
The 26-year-old Sevilla captain told Croatian media
that he will sign with the Spanish giants after the
World Cup, which opens Thursday with host Brazil
facing Croatia in Sao Paulo.
"It is my dream come true," Rakitic was quoted as
saying. The deal is reportedly worth around 20 million
euros ($27 million).
Rakitic was previously rumoured to be negotiating
with Barcelona rivals, Real Madrid, where another
technical Croatian midfielder, Luka Modric, is playing.
Spain wary of
Netherlands soccer team coach Louis van Gaal, right, briefs player
Arjen Robben, left, during a training session in Rio de Janeiro Brazil,
on Saturday. The Netherlands play in group B of the 2014 soccer
World Cup. AP PHOTO
fans like to consider Italy s mid-
field maestro Andrea Pirlo as
one of their own.
For a generation now, Pirlo has
displayed the kind of creativity,
vision and passing skills normally
associated with players on the
Selecao. Perhaps it s no wonder
then that Pirlo s inspiration for
one of his best skills, free kicks,
comes from a Brazilian.
When the talented midfielder
Juninho played for French club
Lyon from 2001-09, Pirlo used
to study his dead ball kicks down
to the most minimal details. And
Pirlo dedicated an entire chapter
in his recently published auto-
biography "Penso quindi
gioco"---"I think therefore I
play"---to his study of Juninho.
So it couldn t have been better
timing then when Juninho paid
a visit to Pirlo at Italy s training
base yesterday---three days
before the Azzurri face England.
Pirlo has scored from 25 free
kicks in his Serie A career, two
short of the record held by for-
mer Sampdoria and Lazio full-
back Sinisa Mihajlovic. Pirlo
should have no problem breaking
the record, considering that
Juventus announced yesterday
that it had extended his contract
for another two years, meaning
Pirlo will play until he s 37.
"I ve got two or three years
to go so hopefully I ll pass him,"
Pirlo said of Mihajlovic.
Pirlo was one the architects
of Italy s 2006 World Cup title,
helped AC Milan to two Cham-
pions League trophies and has
won the last three Serie A cham-
pionships with Juventus.
At last year s Confederations
Cup, Pirlo was a fan favorite,
earning a standing ovation when
he exited at Rio de Janeiro s
famed Maracana stadium.
"It was very emotional, the
first time I come to Brazil, to
play in Maracana and receive an
ovation like that was really spe-
cial and something I ll never for-
get," he said yesterday.
"I m also a bit Brazilian, (call
me) Pirlinho," Pirlo wrote in his
book. "When I attempt free
kicks I think in Portuguese. Then
I celebrate in Italian. ... I studied
(Juninho). I gathered CDs, DVDs,
and even old photos from his
matches and eventually I under-
stood. It wasn t an immediate
discovery. It took patience and
Pirlo recounted how he would
train for days on end at Milanel-
lo---AC Milan s training com-
plex---trying to imitate Juninho.
His first attempts sailed two
metres (yards) above the target.
But after weeks of practice,
Pirlo began to understand Jun-
inho s technique.
"Juninho didn t kick the ball
with his entire foot but rather
just three toes," Pirlo said, adding
how once he made that reali-
sation he ran onto the pitch in
moccasins to test his theory.
"The equipment manager was
preparing to gather the ball in
the forest as usual but instead
it went in right between the post
and the crossbar," Pirlo wrote.
"It was perfect geometry."
Pirlo then repeated the same
exact execution five times.
Brazil adopts Italy's maestro Pirlo
THE PLAYER'S CORNER
CURITIBA---Spain is worried that poor pitch
conditions in Brazil could hurt its playing
style as it tries to defend its World Cup title.
Spain often preaches the importance of a
well-maintained playing surface for its quick-
passing, possession-based game, which it said
let it down in an opening 1--1 draw against
Italy at Euro 2012.
The campaign to ensure that playing surfaces
are up to scratch in Brazil has already begun.
Striker Diego Costa said "the field has to
be wet and well-groomed" for tomorrow s
opener against the Netherlands at Salvador s
Arena Fonte Nova.
That is looking like a tall order at some ven-
Italy and England play tomorrow at the
Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, where the
pitch is dry with white stripes visible.
"For the moment all we know is that the
pitch is brown," Italian football federation vice
president Demetrio Albertini said.
The grass being used at World Cup venues
combines a mix of European and South Amer-
ican seeds---with the latter known for slowing
European "ray grass" grows vertically to
provide a polished surface, while South Amer-
ican seeds grow coarser grass blades that also
"In a country this big with such a variety
of climates it s difficult to maintain a certain
standard," said Carlos Botella, a groundsman
for Spanish company Royal Verd, which is
managing seven of the 12 pitches, including
"Luckily for the World Cup we have mixed
the two seeds so that the blades remain strong
to maintain resistance while also ensuring the
ball moves quickly."
Spain concerned about pitch
Links Archive June 11th 2014 June 13th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page