World Cup chit-chat: France jolted as Ribery is ruled out
France's World Cup chances suffered a severe blow when influential winger Franck Ribery was ruled out with lower back problems on Friday.
Coach Didier Deschamps also said that attacking midfielder Clement Grenier was out of the finals in Brazil with a groin problem as Les Bleus suffered their third injury since the 23-man squad was unveiled. Second-choice goalkeeper Steve Mandanda also pulled out.
"This morning before the collective training session ... he had to stop, the pain was too strong," Deschamps told a news conference.
"We have made checks in the beginning of the afternoon, checks that confirmed the situation has aggravated and he is today not capable of training for a few weeks, let alone play a game."
Ribery and Grenier will be replaced in the squad by Morgan Schneiderlin and Remy Cabella.
The replacements have to be validated by world governing body FIFA as they are made after the 23-man squad submission deadline, which was on June 2.
"We will hand over those two files and they will take the time they need to reply," said Deschamps.
"They are the first, Franck or Clement, to be very sad. Franck had problems but everything was going in the right direction until his situation suddenly aggravated."
France start their World Cup campaign on June 15 against Honduras in Group E, where they will also meet Ecuador and Switzerland.
Ribery was instrumental in France's qualifying campaign, scoring five goals and creating several chances for his teammates.
He has been suffering from lower back pains for weeks, playing his last game in the German Cup final on May 17 when he came as a substitute for Bayern Munich but could not finish the match.
Without him, Les Bleus beat Norway 4-0 and drew 1-1 against Paraguay in their two World Cup warm-up games.
Ribery's spot on the left wing was taken by Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann and Newcastle United forward Loic Remy alternatively.
Both put in solid displays with Griezmann scoring the goal against Paraguay.
Deschamps probably wanted to avoid the mistakes his predecessors made when they took major players to tournaments with injuries hoping they would return to fitness during the competition.
In 2002, France coach Roger Lemerre took Zinedine Zidane to the World Cup after the playmaker had injured his thigh in their last warm-up game against South Korea. Zidane could only play in the final group game against Denmark and made no impact as Les Bleus crashed out in the first round.
At the 2008 European Championship, coach Raymond Domenech included the injured Patrick Vieira in his squad but he never played as France were also eliminated in the group stage.
With Ribery out, Deschamps could have called up ManchesterCity's Samir Nasri but having made clear he had not picked him in the first place because of his behaviour off the pitch, he overlooked him again.
France take on Jamaica in Lille on Sunday in their last warm-up game before the World Cup.
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Image: Franck Ribery
Photographs: David Rogers/Getty Images
Ronaldo to miss Mexico friendly
Cristiano Ronaldo, suffering from tendinosis and a thigh injury, will miss Portugal's friendly against Mexico on Friday and coach Paulo Bento gave no clues as to when the World Player of the Year would be fully fit.
"I don't know when we will be able to use him. That's what I said last Friday. When there is something different to what I said before, we will say so," Bento told reporters.
Ronaldo has yet to take part in a full training session with his team mates since joining the Portugal camp one week ago and also missed last Saturday's friendly with Greece.
What appeared to be a mere case of fatigue following the Champions League final has gradually taken on more serious overtones, with the media now wondering whether he will face the opening World Cup match against Germany.
"When they are ready to compete, we'll announce it straight away," he said. "Until then, rather than just feeling sorry about their absence or wondering about when they will be 100 percent, we have to find solutions that allow us to compete as best as possible."
"Ronaldo is not the only one who is injured. We have other players with physical problems and my expectations and opinion have not changed in relation to last week.
"Every absence limits our work. We want to have everyone available but it hasn't been possible and we have to find solutions to try and get around these difficulties and look to the strengths of the players who are available."
Ronaldo is suffering from an injury to his left thigh as well as patellar tendinosis, Meireles has an injury to his left thigh and Pepe a muscle injury in his right leg.
Ronaldo, 29, struggled with minor injuries during the closing weeks of Real Madrid's season before playing 120 minutes in the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid and scoring the final goal in their 4-1 win with a penalty.
Portugal's opening World Cup match is against Germany in Salvador on June 16 and they also face United States and Ghana in their group.
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Image: Cristiano Ronaldo controls the ball
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
I-League star Beto backs Brazil and Neymar
The biggest carnival of the ‘beautiful game’ is set for kick-off in the party capital.
And, Dempo Football Club’s Brazilian player Roberto Mendes Silva cannot help beaming.
Popularly known as Beto, this 34-year-old has been plying his trade in the I-League for around a decade.
He first popularised the Brazilian style of football in India when he, along with compatriot Jose Ramirez Barretto, started the Brasil Futebol Academia (BFA) in Goa in 2009.
Since then he has gained respect from Indian football lovers having opened similar soccer schools in Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.
With the World Cup around the corner, Rediff.com’s Laxmi Negi sought Beto views on the tournament.
Favourite Team: Brazil
Favourite Player: Neymar
Best place to visit: Definitely, Rio de Janeiro
Must eat: Barbeque meat called Churrasco
Shopping hub: There are many malls and streets, but Sao Paulo is the place to be.
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Image: Beto (left) in action during an I-League match
England confirm Oxlade-Chamberlain knee injury
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's place in England's World Cup squad looked in jeopardy on Thursday after it was confirmed the Arsenal winger had injured medial knee ligaments in the friendly against Ecuador the previous day.
With the World Cup kicking off next Thursday and England up against Italy in Manaus two days later Oxlade-Chamberlain faces a race to recover in time.
"The England medical team are continuing to monitor and treat the injury," the English FA said in a statement on its website.
British media reported that Oxlade-Chamberlain could be out for between 10 days and three weeks, raising question marks over whether he can be kept in the squad, with manager Roy Hodgson able to call up a replacement if necessary.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looked dangerous in Wednesday's 2-2 draw before hobbling off, remains hopeful he can recover in time to play a part in England's World Cup campaign.
"Gutted to have picked up an injury yesterday. I'm staying positive and getting to work with the medical team on recovery. Fingers crossed!," the 20-year-old tweeted on Thursday.
The midfielder, playing his first game since April 20 after a groin injury, will almost certainly miss England's opening Group D clash with Italy but could be fit for the second match against Uruguay five days later.
If he is out for three weeks, though, his World Cup dream is likely to be over with Hodgson able to call on Michael Carrick or Manchester United team mate Tom Cleverley from the standby list.
Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of England's best players before an awkward tangle with Carlos Gruezo after 63 minutes forced him to limp off at the Sun Life Stadium where 21,534 fans, mostly wearing the colours of fellow World Cup combatants Ecuador, had turned out on a muggy afternoon in Florida.
Hodgson was also encouraged by the performance of another young midfielder, Ross Barkley, who displayed some silky skills and set up Rickie Lambert's goal that put England 2-1 ahead before Ecuador substitute Michael Arroyo's cracking equaliser.
Image: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in action
Photographs: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images