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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Argentina's Di Maria trains in hope of making final

World Cup chit-chat: Argentina's Di Maria trains in hope of making final

July 11, 2014 11:11 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Argentina's Di Maria trains in hope of making final

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Argentina winger Angel Di Maria trained lightly on Thursday in the hope of being able to play a part in the World Cup final against Germany on Sunday despite suffering a thigh injury just days ago.

World Cup: Take a look at Argentina's journey to the final

Di Maria, the South Americans' most creative player after Lionel Messi, hurt a muscle when shooting at goal during the quarter-final win over Belgium.

Argentina face Germany on Sunday at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium for football's greatest prize.

The speedy Real Madrid player, who links well with Messi in Argentina's attack, jogged lightly in his first training since the injury at Argentina's camp in Belo Horizonte.

Di Maria is racing against the clock to be ready for Sunday, though, and sources close to the Argentine squad said the best he could hope for would be a place on the substitutes' bench with an outside chance of coming on.

At least forward Sergio Aguero's full recovery from a muscle strain has given Argentina a boost in their bid to win a third World Cup, and on the soil of their greatest rivals Brazil.

Complete coverage of the football World Cup

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Image: Angel di Maria of Argentina warms up during a training session
Photographs: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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Loew buries head in the sand to get another top tip

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Germany coach Joachim Loew is leaving no stone unturned as he prepares for Sunday's World Cup final against Argentina and he was still hard at work while strolling along the beach on Thursday.

World Cup: Take a look at Germany's journey to the final

Loew was walking at the squad's training base with scout Urs Siegenthaler who suddenly stopped, bent down and started drawing lines in the sand.

Siegenthaler, who has been gathering intelligence on Germany's opponents for a decade, spent a minute sketching out a diagram which Loew studied intently before it was washed away by a wave.

Loew and Siegenthaler, both barefoot and in shorts, had earlier been engaged in an animated discussion while walking on the beach a few dozen metres away from photographers, autograph seekers, Germany fans and beachgoers.

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Image: Germany's coach Joachim Loew listens to head match analyst Urs Siegenthaler, left, as they walk on the beach in front of their base camp Campo Bahia, in the village of Santo Andre north of Porto Seguro
Photographs: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

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Brazil police chasing ticket executive in probe

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Police in Rio de Janeiro were searching on Thursday for the chief executive of a Swiss hospitality company implicated by a World Cup ticket scalping investigation.

After a court ordered the arrest of the executive and the continued detention of 10 other suspects already held in the probe, police were unable to find Ray Whelan, of MATCH Services, a company contracted by tournament organisers to arrange ticketing and hospitality packages.

Whelan, who was briefly arrested earlier in the week and released pending a court order, was not present when police arrived at the Copacabana Palace, the luxurious beachside hotel where he had been staying in Rio along with many tournament organisers.

Prosecutors said in a statement that Whelan was seen leaving through a back door before they arrived.

Earlier on Thursday, a Rio court had approved the detention of Whelan and the other suspects, who are believed to have run a scalping ring for World Cup tickets originally allocated to soccer federations and other VIPs.

The probe comes as pressure mounts on FIFA, soccer's governing body, over accusations of corruption and a perceived lack of transparency of its business practices.

The organisation is also under fire over alleged bribes paid by Qatar in exchange for the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

Brazilian police said the ring aimed to earn up to 200 million reais ($90 million) by illegally re-selling tickets. FIFA has said it is co-operating with Brazilian authorities in the investigation.

While the ticketing investigation has gained steam over the past week, Brazil's antitrust authority is also probing MATCH hotel packages to see whether the company illegally inflated hotel rates through some of its hospitality packages.

MATCH has denied any wrongdoing in either probe.

MATCH is the main provider of hospitality packages for the World Cup and paid $240 million for the exclusive rights to sell corporate hospitality at the 2010 World Cup and this one.


Image: Ray Whelan, left, of Switzerland-based Match Services, arrives at a police station after being arrested in Rio de Janeiro
Photographs: Reuters

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