World Cup chit chat: Italy's Montolivo ruled out after injury
Italy suffered a serious blow ahead of next month's World Cup when midfielder Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg during a warm-up game against Ireland at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
"It's what we feared, a fractured tibia. It will probably need some months, Riccardo is out of the World Cup. He didn't deserve this," team doctor Enrico Castellacci told Rai TV.
The elegant AC Milan midfielder was accidentally caught in a challenge by defender Alex Pearce after 10 minutes and, having stood up to test his leg, went to ground and was carried off on a stretcher after five minutes of treatment on the field.
The 29-year-old Montolivo was taken to hospital for an X-ray where it was confirmed he had suffered a fractured tibia.
Italy also had to substitute Montolivo's replacement Alberto Aquilani, who only played for 23 minutes before he went off after taking a knock to the head in a match that finished 0-0.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said the entire squad were shocked and devastated by the injury to Montolivo.
Prandelli said Montolivo, who was winning his 58th cap and took the field as captain on the night, would not travel back with the squad to Florence but would be taken on a special flight straight to Milan where he will undergo surgery.
Image: Riccardo Montolivo of Italy #18 injured during the International Friendly match between Italy and Ireland at Craven Cottage on Saturday
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Van Persie scores winner against Ghana
Prandelli, whose side kick off their World Cup campaign against England on June 14, has yet to prune his provisional 30-man squad down to a final group of 23 and he will now have to decide who will replace Montolivo.
In Rotterdam, Holland scored a 1-0 win over fellow Brazil-bound Ghana, with Manchester United striker Robin van Persie scoring in the fifth minute.
Van Persie's goal came after a neat build-up between Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.
The 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana were unable to produce any real chances against a stout Dutch defence but looked in good physical shape ahead of their opening World Cup game against the United States on June 14.
Image: Robin Van Persie of Netherlands and Jerry Akaminko of Ghana battle for the header during the International Friendly match at De Kuip in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Saturday
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Portugal-Greece play out goalless draw
In Lisbon, Portugal, without injured star striker Cristiano Ronaldo (thigh), Pepe and Raul Meireles, played out a goalless draw with Greece.
The fixture was a rematch of the Euro 2004 final in the Portuguese capital which the hosts under then coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, now boss of Brazil, lost 1-0.
Portugal open in Brazil against Germany, before the USA and then Ghana in Group G.
Croatia tuned up for their clash with hosts Brazil in the World Cup curtain-raiser with a 2-1 win over Mali, while in Oslo Fabio Capello's Russia were held 1-1 by Norway.
Elsewhere, Algeria saw off Armenia 3-1 and Bosnia Herzegovina beat Ivory Coast 2-1 with ManchesterCity striker Edin Dzeko responsible for both of Bosnia's goals.
Image: Nani of Portugal battles with Jose Holebas and Giorgos Samaras of Greece during the International Friendly at the National Stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday
Photographs: Gualter Fatia/Getty Images
Uruguay include recovering Suarez in squad
Uruguay striker Luis Suarez will be going to the World Cup finals after a scare less than two weeks ago when he aggravated an injury and needed knee cartilage surgery.
Coach Oscar Tabarez named the Liverpool player, who was top scorer with 31 goals in the Premier League last season, in his 23-man squad on Saturday for the tournament starting on June 12.
Suarez, England’s Footballer of the Year, had suffered a knock during Liverpool’s last league match and Uruguay team doctors found he needed keyhole surgery.
He missed Friday night’s 1-0 win over Northern Ireland in a World Cup warm-up game at the Centenario and will also sit out Wednesday’s last friendly against Slovenia at the same stadium.
Uruguay kick off their Group D campaign against Costa Rica on June 14 before facing fellow former world champions England and Italy. It is unclear how soon Suarez will be available.
There were no surprises in the squad issued by the Uruguayan FA (AUF) with Tabarez keeping faith with 15 veterans who helped Uruguay finish fourth at the South Africa finals in 2010.
Suarez’s Liverpool teammate Sebastian Coates managed to play his way into the squad in recent weeks after recovering from damaged knee ligaments in August and missing most of the season.
The tall centre back, one of eight World Cup newcomers in the squad, returned to his first club Nacional of Montevideo on loan and played in the final weeks of the Uruguayan Clausura championship.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco da Gama), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad)
Defenders: Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica), Diego Lugano (West Bromwich Albion), Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Jorge Fucile (Porto)
Midfielders: Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Paulo), Walter Gargano (Parma), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Morelia), Diego Perez (Bologna), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo)
Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Paris St Germain), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Diego Forlan (Cerezo Osaka), Christian Stuani (Espanyol)
Image: Luis Suarez
Photographs: Winnie Pessentheiner/Getty Images
France hope Ribery will be fit in time
France winger Franck Ribery, who has been suffering from back pains, is expected to be fit a week before Les Bleus's opening World Cup match, coach Didier Deschamps said on Saturday.
Ribery missed last weekend's warm-up game against Norway, which France won 4-0, and will also sit out Sunday's friendly against Paraguay.
"He's been having back problems for several months," Deschamps told a news conference.
"Our goal is that he feels better than the previous weeks and that he is available for the Jamaica game (on June 8)."
France play their last warm-up game against Jamaica in Lille on June 8. They open their World Cup campaign with a Group E match against Honduras on June 15, before taking on Ecuador and Switzerland.
Asked if the Bayern Munich winger could miss the World Cup finals, Deschamps replied: "I don't want to think about it today.
"We are doing everything so that he can come back. He is confident. If there is a problem, we will have time to find a solution."
Deschamps has already named his 23-man squad for the World Cup finals and has six players on stand-by, who left the training camp last weekend.
Image: Franck Ribery of France
Photographs: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Mocinic surprise inclusion in Croatia squad
Uncapped defensive midfielder Ivan Mocinic was surprisingly included in Croatia’s 23-man World Cup squad after Saturday’s 2-1 friendly win over Mali in their final home warm-up.
Having been forced to cut off injured midfielder Milan Badelj, who joined long-term casualties Ivan Strinic and Ivo Ilicevic on the sidelines with a ruptured groin, coach Niko Kovac gave the 21-year-old Mocinic the nod ahead of Udinese defender Igor Bubnjic.
“We kind of hoped Badelj would be able to make the squad but muscle injuries are always complex and hence we decided to take Mocinic with us because Ognjen Vukojevic is the only other defensive midfielder we have,” Kovac told a news conference.
“Badelj took it well, he’s been with us for a long time and understands that we must have 23 fully fit players at the World Cup.
“Some of the younger players were obviously disappointed but they are here for the future, while Mocinic earned his spot after a great season with his club and hard work in the build-up training.
“He is young, aggressive and will be an asset.”
Mocinic has scored four goals in 60 league appearances for Rijeka, who finished second in the Croatian first division this season behind champions Dinamo Zagreb.
Blending youth with experience personified by Champions League winner Luka Modric, Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic and 34-year-old forward Ivica Olic, Kovac called up several other talents including Mateo Kovacic, Sime Vrsaljko and Marcelo Brozovic.
The Croatians open their Group A campaign against World Cup hosts Brazil in Sao Paulo on June 12, a match Mandzukic will miss through suspension after he was sent off in the return leg of a 2-0 aggregate playoff win over Iceland in November.
Croatia then take on Cameroon in Manaus on June 18 and clash with Mexico in Recife five days later.
Winger Ivan Perisic stood out against Mali, scoring a goal in each half to boost his hopes of keeping a starting place in Croatia’s fiercely competitive midfield boasting Modric, the talented Kovacic and versatile Ivan Rakitic.
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Dinamo Zagreb)
Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Perisic (VfL Wolfsburg), Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Sammir (Getafe), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka)
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Ivica Olic (VfL Wolfsburg), Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina).
Image: Croatian midfielder Ivan Mocinic
Photographs: Getty Images