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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: 'Argentina can forget about winning in Brazil'

World Cup chit-chat: 'Argentina can forget about winning in Brazil'

May 13, 2014 11:49 IST

World Cup chit-chat: 'Argentina can forget about winning in Brazil'

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Barcelona forward Neymar has almost recovered from a foot injury and hopes to play in Saturday’s Spanish league decider against Atletico Madrid, the Brazilian said in an internet chat with fans on Monday.

The 22-year-old will have a late fitness test before the game, one that Barcelona have to win to take the La Liga title for the fifth time in six seasons.

Argentina can forget about winning in Brazil, NeymarNeymar also said he would be back to full fitness for Brazil's World Cup campaign, which begins next month.

“I am in the home straight in terms of recovery and I’ll see if I am able to play (Saturday),” Neymar told fans. “I am back training.”

Having lost in the Champions League to Atletico and the Copa del Rey to Real Madrid, La Liga is Barcelona’s last chance for silverware this season and Neymar said they would give it their all.

However, he said the worst was over and promised to be 100 per cent fit for the World Cup, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950.

“I was a bit anxious over the call-up but after it happened I was really happy,” he said of last week’s squad announcement.

Neymar, who is thinking about getting a new hairstyle for the World Cup and plans to rehearse goal celebrations with his team mates, said he had told Barca team mate Lionel Messi that Argentina can forget about winning the World Cup in Brazil.

“I told him: ‘There’s no way you’re going to do that in Brazil,’” Neymar said. “Our fans alone make it 1-0 to us.”

Brazil play the opening game of the tournament on June 12 against Croatia in Sao Paulo. Rio hosts the final on July 13.

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Image: A Brazil fan enjoys the pre-match atmosphere; Neymar
Photographs: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images and David Ramos/Getty Images

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England call-up for Saints trio momentous, says Lambert

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The England World Cup call-up for three Southampton players marks a momentous occasion in the history of the English Premier League club, Brazil-bound striker Rickie Lambert said on Monday.

The forward, who along with Southampton team mates Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw was named in Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for the finals, said it was an occasion to be treasured.

"There have been a lot of proud moments over the last five years, but I think today has topped it all off," the 32-year-old told the south coast club's website.

"To finally get the call is more than I could have ever dreamed of because I could never have expected this two years ago, let alone 10 years ago. This is more than a dream.

"There's elation, pride, joy – everything."

Turning his focus on his club team mates Lallana and Shaw, Lambert added: "I was more than confident that Adz (Lallana) was going to get in because he fully, fully deserved to.

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Image: Rickie Lambert of Southampton walks on the pitch
Photographs: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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Jedinak says will be fit to lead Australia

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Mile Jedinak's groin injury will keep him sidelined for up to three weeks but the abrasive Crystal Palace midfielder says he will be fit for Australia's World Cup campaign.

Jedinak, widely tipped to captain Australia at the June 12 to July 13 tournament in Brazil, limped off in Palace's season-ending 2-2 draw with Fulham on Sunday, sending a shudder through the Socceroos camp.

The 29-year-old had a scan and though he was feeling sore, the results were "as good as (he) could have hoped for," Jedinak said in comments published by News Ltd media on Tuesday.

"The doctors say I’m looking at two to three weeks, so I have to concentrate now on doing everything in my power to be ready in that timeframe," he added.

“It came on all of a sudden in the game, just as I went to take off for a header I knew something was wrong. It was more precautionary than anything, there was no point in carrying on, and I’m seriously glad I did come off now.

“I’m definitely coming back to Australia at some point in the next couple of weeks, the club and the national team staff are just working out the details now of exactly what the rehab will be.”

Until the injury, Jedinak had played every minute of Palace's successful promotion to the Premier League, helping the club stave off relegation with room to spare and earning plaudits from coach Tony Pulis and British soccer pundits.

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Image: Mile Jedinak of Crystal Palace leaves the field during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Crystal Palace
Photographs: Christopher Lee/Getty Images

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Johnson surprise omission from US Squad

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Striker Eddie Johnson, whose goals helped the United States to qualify for the World Cup, was surprisingly left out of coach Juergen Klinsmann’s 30-man provisional squad, announced on Monday.

Johnson scored against Panama and Mexico in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying and played a major role in the earlier rounds.

But the 30-year-old missed out on a place as Rapid Vienna striker Terrence Boyd earned a surprise inclusion even though he is yet to score for the national team.

Teenage midfielder Julian Green, who is on Bayern Munich’s books but mostly plays for their lower league second team, was named along with several other dual-nationals, including AZ Alkmaar forward Aron Johannsson, who represented Iceland at youth level.

The United States, who finished top of qualifying in CONCACAF, will face Ghana, Portugal and Germany in Group G at the tournament in Brazil.

Klinsmann will have to cut another seven players from the squad when he names his final 23-man lineup on June 2 and said it had already been a tough task leaving out players who had served during the qualifying campaign.

The squad will gather in California on Wednesday for a training camp before playing friendlies against Azerbaijan, Turkey and Nigeria in preparation for Brazil.


Image: Eddie Johnson of the USA warms
Photographs: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

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