World Cup chit-chat: Hamstrung Ronaldo named in Portugal's provisional squad
Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Portugal's World Cup campaign after being named in their provisional 30-man squad for the finals on Tuesday, despite currently being out with a hamstring injury.
The Portugal captain picked up the injury playing for Real Madrid against Real Valladolid last week, and missed their defeat to Celta Vigo on Sunday.
But the 29-year-old is expected to recover in plenty of time for Portugal's opening World Cup match in Group G against Germany on June 16.
Portugal coach Paulo Bento also included Porto winger Ricardo Quaresma in his provisional squad. The 30-year-old former Barcelona player rejoined Porto in January after six months out of the game following his departure from Dubai's Al-Ahli last year.
Portugal also face the US and Ghana in their World Cup group.
Goalkeepers: Anthony Lopes (Olympique Lyon), Beto (Sevilla), Eduardo (Braga), Rui Patricio (Sporting)
Defenders: Andre Almeida (Benfica), Antunes (Malaga), Bruno Alves (Fenerbahce), Fabio Coentreo (Real Madrid), Joao Pereira (Valencia), Neto (Zenit St Petersburg), Pepe (Real Madrid), Ricardo Costa (Valencia), Rolando (Inter Milan)
Midfeidlers: Andre Gomes (Benfica), Joao Mario (Vitoria Setubal), Joao Moutinho (Monaco), Miguel Veloso (Dynamo Kiev), Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce), Ruben Amorim (Benfica), William Carvalho (Sporting)
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Eder (Braga), Helder Postiga (Lazio), Hugo Almeida (Besiktas), Ivan Cavaleiro (Benfica), Nani (Manchester United), Rafa (Braga), Ricardo Quaresma (Porto), Varela (Porto), Vieirinha (VfL Wolfsburg)
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Image: Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and his son Cristiano Ronaldo Junior
Photographs: Getty Images
Nasri, Abidal left out of France squad
Samir Nasri, who was instrumental in helping Manchester City to win the Premier League title, was left out of France's World Cup squad when Didier Deschamps unveiled a 23-man list plus seven standby players on Tuesday.
Nasri, who has a reputation of being a troublemaker and was disappointing in Les Bleus's playoff first leg against Ukraine last year, was a notable absentee along with defender Eric Abidal.
Abidal, who has been used sparingly by Claudio Ranieri at Monaco during the second part of the season, has been deemed not good enough to travel to Brazil.
French radio RMC reported that Abidal, 34, is retiring from international football.
"Samir is an important player for Manchester City but he has not performed that well with France," Deschamps told French TV channel TF1.
"He is a starter at City, which is not the case with France and he has made clear that he is not happy when he is not (a starter), and I can tell you it can be felt in the squad.
"I built the best squad, I did not pick the 23 best French players."
Nasri was banned for three matches after launching a foul-mouthed rant at a reporter following France's quarter-final defeat by Spain at Euro 2012.
Also left out was City fullback Gael Clichy, who was at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 but Deschamps instead picked the talented yet inexperienced Lucas Digne of Paris St Germain.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille), Mickael Landreau (Bastia)
Defenders: Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle United), Lucas Digne (Paris St Germain) Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Eliaquim Mangala (Porto), Bacary Sagna (Arsenal), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye (Paris St Germain), Clement Grenier (Olympique Lyon), Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain), Rio Mavuba (Lille), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle United), Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille)
Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad), Loic Remy (Newcaste United), Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)
Standby players: Stephane Ruffier (Monaco), Loic Perrin (St Etienne), Maxime Gonalons (Olympique Lyon), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Benoit Tremoulinas (Dynamo Kiev), Alexandre Lacazette (Olympique Lyon), Remy Cabella (Montpellier).
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Image: France's Samir Nasri
Photographs: Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters
Van der Wiel out of Van Gaal's preliminary squad
Defender Gregory van der Wiel, who played in the 2010 World Cup final, was the major casualty on Tuesday when coach Louis van Gaal sprung a few surprises in naming the Netherlands' preliminary squad of 30 for the finals in Brazil.
The Paris St Germain right-back has struggled with form and injury this season but was still expected to be included in the squad for the tournament.
Instead, Van Gaal promoted youthful talent, naming the uncapped 20-year-old Terence Kongolo and 19-year-old Tonny Vilhena. Both are from Feyenoord Rotterdam.
Patrick van Aanholt, on loan at Vitesse Arnhem from Chelsea, was also a surprise inclusion. He won a first cap as a late substitute in a friendly last November.
Wesley Sneijder was named in the group despite making a veiled criticism earlier on Tuesday when reacting on Dutch radio to Van Gaal's announcement that he was changing the team's tactics, but not before having discussed it with senior players Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben.
Van Gaal said earlier the Netherlands would change to a 5-3-2 system in Brazil after he had discussed it with Van Persie and Robben and received their enthusiastic support.
Seven players will be cut from the final 23-man selection, to be named on June 2.
The Netherlands meet holders Spain in their opening game at the World Cup in a repeat of the 2010 final on June 13 in Salvador. They also play against Australia and Chile in Brazil.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (AjaxAmsterdam), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (SwanseaCity), Jeroen Zoet (PSV Eindhoven)
Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam), Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Terence Kongolo, Bruno Martins Indi (all Feyenoord Rotterdam), Karim Rekik (PSV Eindhoven), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse Arnhem), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Joel Veltman (Ajax Amsterdam)
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven)
Forwards: Jean-Paul Boetius (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Quincy Promes (Twente Enschede), Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
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Image: Gregory van der Wiel of Netherlands in action
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Demichelis gets surprise call from Argentina
Central defender Martin Demichelis, a Premier League winner with Manchester City in his first season in England, earned a surprise call-up on Tuesday to Argentina's provisional 30-man World Cup squad.
However, there was no last-minute surprise place for Juventus striker Carlos Tevez, who has never been in coach Alejandro Sabella's plans despite his fine form in Serie A.Demichelis, a veteran of the 2010 finals, had not been called up by Sabella since being dropped after a 1-1 draw at home to Bolivia in a South American qualifier in November 2011.
The 33-year-old, who has 37 caps, put behind him a poor Champions League last-16 performance against Barcelona in February, when he conceded a penalty and was sent off, to secure his place in the centre of the City defence in the title run-in. Sabella, whose team have often looked unbalanced with a brilliant attack and ordinary rearguard, has noted Demichelis’s recent form as he looks to improve his defence for Argentina’s tilt at a third World Cup triumph in Brazil.
Another surprise call-up is Catania midfielder Fabian Rinaudo, who won one of his four caps under Sabella in 2011, and is regarded as cover in case regular midfielders Fernando Gago or Augusto Fernandez fail to recover from injury in time to be included in the definitive squad on June 2. Right back Gabriel Mercado has earned a chance thanks to his performances for River Plate, who can lift the Argentine league title this weekend. Sabella named Gago of Boca Juniors, Fernandez of Celta Vigo and Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria who all hope to be fit in time for the tournament in Brazil starting on June 12 in which Argentina face Iran, Bosnia and Nigeria in Group F.
Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Sampdoria), Mariano Andujar (Catania), Agustin Orion (Boca Juniors)
Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Federico Fernandez (Napoli), Ezequiel Garay (Benfica), Marcos Rojo (Sporting Lisbon), Hugo Campagnaro (Inter Milan), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Jose Basanta (Monterrey), Nicolas Otamendi (Atletico Mineiro), Lisandro Lopez (Getafe), Gabriel Mercado (River Plate)
Midfielders: Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Fernando Gago (Boca Juniors), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Ever Banega (Newell’s Old Boys), Ricardo Alvarez (Inter Milan), Augusto Fernandez (Celta Vigo), Jose Sosa (Atletico Madrid), Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid), Maxi Rodriguez (Newell’s Old Boys), Fabian Rinaudo (Catania), Enzo Perez (Benfica)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Rodrigo Palacio (Inter Milan), Ezequiel Lavezzi (Paris Saint-Germain), Franco Di Santo (Werder Bremen)
Image: Martin Demichelis of Manchester City poses with the trophy and his son
Photographs: Alex Livesey/Getty Images