Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 12th 2014 Contents A70
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 12, 2014
RIO DE JANEIRO---Tearful Brazil
star Neymar says he is prepared
to set aside the historical rivalry
between South America s two
footballing heavyweights as he
wants four-time world footballer
of the year Lionel Messi to win
the World Cup when Argentina
meets Germany in tomorrow s
At an emotional press confer-
ence Neymar, who missed Brazil s
7-1 humiliation against Germany
in the semifinals because of a bro-
ken vertebrae, said his Barcelona
clubmate Messi deserved to add
World Cup winner to his honours.
"Messi s history in the sport is
so important, he has won a lot of
trophies and I will be cheering for
him," said Neymar.
"He is a friend, he is my team-
mate and I wish him luck."
His own misfortune prompted
Neymar to wipe away tears as he
described his fears, immediately
after the knee in the back from
Colombian Juan Camil Zuniga in
the quarterfinal, that he would be
"I was blessed in that situation
because it wasn t more serious.
Two more centimetres up and,
well, I could be in a wheelchair.
So it is really difficult.
"It happened at such an impor-
tant point in my career," he said.
"It was something I cannot
accept. That challenge and what
happened was unacceptable,"
added the 22-year-old.
Neymar s support of Messi, and
by extension Argentina, is unlikely
to be shared by many of his com-
Brazilians are dreading the
prospect of Argentina claiming
their third world title in the Mara-
cana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The South American nations are
sworn footballing enemies, and
Argentina s advance to the final
rubbed salt into Brazilian wounds
still fresh from Tuesday s record
defeat to Germany.
"The nightmare continues," O
Dia newspaper commented glumly
after Argentina booked their place
in the final by beating the Nether-
lands on Wednesday.
As many as 100,000 Argentine
fans are expected to descend on
Rio for the final, the climax of a
month-long footballing fiesta.
Germany meanwhile said they
had quickly wiped away the
euphoria felt from their thrashing
Germany s veteran striker
Miroslav Klose, who became the
World Cup s all-time leading scorer
with the second goal against Brazil,
said his team had quickly forgotten
the momentous win.
"We enjoyed the game against
Brazil, but we ticked it off after 24
hours," Klose said. "In the next
game, we have to again play to the
best of our abilities."
Argentina s players began plot-
ting Germany s downfall as they
returned to Belo Horizonte.
Striker Sergio Aguero said his
teammates were comfortable in
the marginal underdog role, insist-
ing all the pressure would be on
"Germany were always the
favourites, along with Brazil, to
win the World Cup," the Man-
chester City man said.
"They continue to be so now.
We need to play our own game
and it suits us that all the pressure
is on them."
BRASILIA---Dutch coach Louis
Van Gaal is trying to motivate his
players for the third-place match
against Brazil by giving them the
mission of becoming the only
Dutch squad to finish a World Cup
unbeaten in regular play.
After being eliminated by
Argentina on penalties, the Nether-
lands has the chance of ending the
tournament without a loss in seven
matches. The Dutch won their first
four games, then drew Costa Rica
0-0 in the quarters and Argentina
0-0 in the semis.
Van Gaal had been saying the
third-place game was pointless and
that he would rather not play it,
but yesterday he changed the tone
a bit, saying that going out without
a loss would be a good reason to
"We are realising that there is
something else we need to defend
and we have to go for it," Van Gaal
said through a translator. "Never a
Dutch team returned home unbeat-
en, and that has to be the next tar-
It is the second time the Nether-
lands are playing in the third-match
game at a World Cup. They fell to
Croatia 2-1 in 1998 after being beat-
en by Brazil in the semifinals.
"Losing hurts a lot, the pain
doesn t go away so fast, but it s part
of sports," striker Dirk Kuyt said.
"There s always the next match.
We want to win here and return
unbeaten. It will be easier to get on
the plane with a good feeling. It
would be wonderful to close this
World Cup by winning. We are still
not satisfied, but third place gives
you a much better feeling than
Van Gaal recalled that even the
great teams of 1974 and 1978 were
not able to finish the World Cup
without losses. The 1978 squad had
two losses in the tournament in
"There s still something for us
to do, we haven t lost a match and
we are working to keep it that way,"
Van Gaal said. "I ve been focusing
on Brazil and I hope that I can pre-
pare my players so we can play a
good match and defeat Brazil for
third place. That way we will be
writing history, we will say that we
played seven consecutive matches
and never lost."
The coach had said he didn t
think it made sense to play the
third-place match with two teams
coming off extremely disappointing
losses. Brazil fell 7-1 to Germany
in the semifinals, its worst defeat
"I m disappointed, we came here
we only one objective and we had
the confidence and faith that we
could achieve this objective," Gaal
said. "We are not the best team in
terms of quality, I always said that,
but we are the team that is most
difficult to defeat."
SAO PAULO---FIFA has announced
the nominees for the World Cup s
individual player awards and while
all of them are deserving of the recog-
nition, one name was noticeably
US goalkeeper Tim Howard was left
off the three-man goalkeeping award
shortlist despite his record setting per-
formance against Belgium in the round
Here are the nominees for the Golden
Ball award, which goes to the tourna-
ment s best overall player:
Angel Di Maria, midfielder, Argenti-
na---Robin to Messi s Batman. Scored
Argentina s round of 16 winner before
suffering a thigh injury in the quar-
terfinals that ended his tournament.
Mats Hummels, defender, Ger-
many---One of the best defenders in
this World Cup and he s also con-
tributed two goals.
James Rodriguez, midfielder,
Colombia---The tournament s breakout
star and leading scorer with six goals.
Toni Kroos, midfielder, Germany---
A vital cog in the German machine.
He s scored two goals and set up four
Philipp Lahm, midfielder/defender,
Germany---Germany s captain and
most important player. Whether in
midfield or at his natural position of
right back, he s powered the team to
Javier Mascherano, midfielder,
Argentina---Has literally done Argenti-
na s dirty work. The man tore his anus
while preventing Arjen Robben from
scoring late in the semifinal.
Lionel Messi, deity, Argentina---
Despite massive pressure, he s scored
half of Argentina s eight goals and set
up Di Maria s in the round of 16.
Thomas Muller, striker, Germany
---Five goals, three assists and five
stitches. Wherever he is, goals appear
like scarves out of a magician s sleeve.
Arjen Robben, genius and tumbling
expert, Netherlands---His diving got
lots of attention, but he led the Nether-
lands to an unexpected semifinal
appearance with three goals, one assist
and all of Mexico cursing his name.
Neymar, hope of a nation, Brazil---
Before suffering a back injury late in
Brazil s quarterfinal win over Colombia,
Neymar carried the host nation with
four goals. Without him in the semi-
final, his teammates seemed more con-
cerned with paying tribute to their No
10 than not losing by six goals.
The Best Young Player Award nom-
inees are midfielder Paul Pogba and
defender Raphael Varane from France
and Memphis Depay from the Nether-
lands. And the three Golden Glove (best
goalkeeper) nominees are shootout
heroes Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and
Sergio Romero of Argentina, plus the
tournament s undeniable top keeper,
Manuel Neuer of Germany.
The tournament s other individual
award, the Golden Boot, will, of course,
go to whoever scores the most goals.
The Guardian Sports Desk has
been particularly vibrant since the
start of the Fifa World Cup last
month. In reality, biased opinions
have paved way for many inaccurate
predictions, but one thing is for cer-
tain, no reporter or editor called Ger-
many s emphatic and historic 7-1
win over hosts Brazil in last week s
semifinal. A similar scoreline is
unlikely to re-occur before the World
Cup ends tomorrow.
Each member of The Sports Desk
was asked to give his or her prediction
for today s third-place playoff clash
between the Netherlands (losers to
Argentina in the semifinal) and Brazil,
who may have preferred to exit the
tournament outright rather than play
for third place.
Rachael King, an avid supporter of
Argentina, anticipated a third place
finish for the Dutch. "I pick Nether-
lands to win the game. Clearly they
have been the more consistent
between the two having only narrowly
lost on penalties to my team. To me,
Brazil lost it mentally following Ney-
mar s injury and Thiago Silva s sus-
Nigel Simon put it bluntly: "Third
place is for losers, but I prefer any
team that Luis Van Gaal coches," while
the youngest and newest member on
the desk Adrian Lazar said, "I don t
like either Brazil or Netherlands, I m
for Brazil in this case, only because
my favourite player Willian plays for
A fan of the Italian national team,
Andrew Gioannetti was undecided.
"Netherlands are probably more moti-
vated. Brazil may not be motivated,
but third place is the very least that
could save face. I think it would go
down to penalty kicks after hopefully
a goal-scoring spree."
The senior members on the desk,
Valentino Singh and Keith Clement
shared unanimous support for the
host country. Caring little about the
hosts demoralising defeat, Clement
was quick to comment: "I m a Brazil-
ian to heart so I ll support them any-
Singh, meanwhile, seated in front
of a poster bearing a Brazilian national
flag and the five stars representing
its past World Cup successes said,
"I ll support Van Gaal after the World
Cup when he takes over the best foot-
ball club in the world. For the
moment, I m still in the corner of the
greatest football nation in the world,
even without Neymar."
Brazil's Neymar wipes a tear during a press conference at the Granja
Comary training centre in Teresopolis, Brazil, Thursday. The Brazilian
soccer star is back on his feet after suffering a broken vertebrae during
a World Cup soccer match against Colombia. Brazil will be disputing a
third place finish, without its star today. AP PHOTO
Sports Desk deadlocked
on third place winner
Lionel frontrunner in race
for Golden Ball award
Netherlands looking to finish unbeaten
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