World Cup chit chat: US beat Turkey, Germany held to a draw
The United States continued their solid build-up to the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Turkey on Sunday, raising expectations of a good showing in Brazil.
Defender Fabian Johnson combined with Michael Bradley to score a superbly executed goal in the first half before Clint Dempsey added a second after the re-start.
Turkey, who failed to qualify for the World Cup, got a consolation goal in the last minute of normal time when Selcuk Inan converted a penalty after Geoff Cameron was ruled to have handled the ball in the box.
"Overall, I thought it was good, open game," said US head coach Juergen Klinsmann. "I think, defensively, especially in the first half, we needed to make some corrections at halftime, we need to close the gaps a bit better and we still have some work ahead of us. "But overall, it was a good game to watch ... and you can tell that everybody is getting more and more excited about the World Cup."
Turkey were unlucky not to score earlier when their captain Nuri Sahin hit the post in the first half but had difficulty containing the Americans as the match went on.
Playing in front of a full house at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, the U.S. had anxious moments in defence, allowing the European side to breach their last line on a handful of occasions, but held firm and looked sharp in attack despite having just finished a gruelling training period.
"This is all normal, it's all part of the process," Klinsmann said.
"We are comfortable with every position, that we have top quality players to get the job done.
"The fine-tuning element is coming along, it's getting better, it's not there where we want it, but we're working on it."
US forward Jozy Altidore had an early goal disallowed for making contact with the Turkish goalkeeper Onur Recep Kivrak before Johnson gave the home team the lead with a spectacular goal in the 26th minute.
Bradley, the heartbeat of the American team, deftly flicked the ball over the Turkish defence into the path of Johnson who hit a perfect left-foot volley into the net for his first international goal.
Dempsey gave the Americans a 2-0 lead in the 52nd minute with a typical poacher's goal, poking the ball in after Kivrak fumbled Timmy Chandler's cross from the left.
Turkey got on the scoreboard in the dying moments after a mix-up in the American defence. Cameron lost the ball to Mustafa Pektemek and failed to get his arm out of the way when the Turkish substitute rifled his shot at the goal to concede a penalty.
The US beat Azerbaijan 2-0 in San Francisco last week and have one more warm-up, against Nigeria in Florida on Saturday, before heading to Brazil.
Image: Julian Green (right) of the US gets the ball past Turkey's Gokhan Gonul (left) and Hakan Kadir Balta
Photographs: Mike Segar/Reuters
Germany show rustiness in draw with feisty Cameroon
World Cup contenders Germany came from a goal down to draw 2-2 with hard-working Cameroon on Sunday in their penultimate game before this month's tournament in Brazil, showing they still have work to do to fine-tune their title challenge.
The Germans, who play Armenia on June 6 in their final warm-up, looked some way off top form as they seek to end an 18-year trophy drought, missing several key players including captain Philipp Lahm and first-choice keeper Manuel.
Loew's side almost got off to a perfect start when Mesut Ozil, completely unmarked in front of goal, somehow managed to shoot wide seconds after the kickoff.
The Germans, drawn with Ghana, the United States and Portugal in Group G, came close again as attacking midfielder Mario Goetze, playing as a lone striker, sent in a low drive which was turned on to the post by Cameroon keeper Charles Itandje.
Cameroon, playing hosts Brazil, Croatia and Mexico in Group A, had trouble containing their opponents' pace down the wings and needed to wait around 20 minutes before Samuel Eto'o got a shot on target.
A series of tough tackles from the Africans threw the hosts off balance and gave the visitors the initiative.
German keeper Roman Weidenfeller was called into action late in the first half, making a superb save in the 39th minute when Eto'o sent Benjamin Moukandjo clear and he also blocked a close-range Joel Matip effort.
Cameroon stunned the Germans in the 62nd minute when Eto'o's shot was saved by Weidenfeller but the forward was in the right place to tap in a subsequent cross.
Their joy was short-lived, however, with Thomas Mueller charging into the box to head in a Jerome Boateng cross four minutes later and Andre Schuerrle tapping in after a surging run by substitute Lukas Podolski.
But Cameroon refused to lie down and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting confirmed his outstanding form this season with Mainz 05, picking up the ball outside the box and drilling an unstoppable left-foot shot past Weidenfeller in the 78th minute.
Image: Germany's Lukas Podolski (left) challenges Cameroon's Alexandre Song
Photographs: Ralph Orlowski/Reuters
Work to be done at Corinthians stadium, says FIFA
FIFA oversaw the final World Cup test event at the Corinthians arena on Sunday and officials said there is “a week and a half of hard work” ahead to get the stadium ready for the opening match of the tournament on June 12.
Just 37,000 fans saw Corinthians draw 1-1 with Botafogo, far below the 68,000 capacity expected for the Brazil v Croatia game which will start the World Cup. Some parts of the ground have still not been tested with fans inside and others will undergo adjustments in the coming days, said Tiago Paes, the local organising committee’s operations manager.
“A lot will be done to change the look of the stadium,” Paes told reporters.
“It is adjustments, adjustments to the temporary structures, the setting up of the internet, the finishing up of the executive boxes, putting in sofas, fridges, plants.
“Everything will improve, I have no doubt about that,” Paes added.
“Traffic, metro, military police, everyone is getting better. By the semi-final for the World Cup they’ll be able to do it with their eyes closed as by then they’ll all know the stadium.”
The stadium was due to be ready in December but is one of several still undergoing last–minute preparations.
Nevertheless, Sunday’s Brazilian league game passed without any major incidents.
Slow policing outside the ground meant hundreds of fans missed the start of the game and the internet signal was erratic. Transport to the ground was quick and stress-free.
Although some areas were still empty, fans and officials appeared happy.
“The stadium is very pretty, it needs a few more adjustments, but it is more ready than it was in the first game,” said Mano Menezes, the former Brazil coach who now manages home side Corinthians.
“I think it will be a very nice opening game at the Arena Corinthians.”
In addition to the Brazil-Croatia opener, five other World Cup matches will be played at the ground, including a semi-final.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950.
Image: The Corinthians arena, one of the venues for the 2014 World Cup, in Sao Paulo
Photographs: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters
Team morale crucial for Spain success, says Del Bosque
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque believes that building strong team morale is far more important than concentrating on tactics as his team aim to retain their World Cup crown in Brazil.
Spain, who have also won the last two European Championships, have a friendly against El Salvador before they embark on the defence of the trophy they won in South Africa in their opening Group B match against the Netherlands on June 13.
“A healthy, positive dressing room is worth more than 100 hours of tactics," Del Bosque told Spanish newspaper El Pais on Sunday.
"It is good in any business for the employees to be happy and in football if the boys are happy then we will win,” Del Bosque said.
“The more they get on with each other the more success that will come. It is best to have a down to earth group, remind them of their roots and where they come from.”
Spain is a fractious country with regions seeking more power and limited national pride has been blamed in the past for a lack of success.
A great strength of former coach Luis Aragones was in unifying the players and it was under his leadership that Spain’s recent golden period began with victory at Euro 2008.
Del Bosque admitted that players from different clubs still remained in their own groups.
“They are a good bunch. Those from Barca may sit together to eat and also those from (Real) Madrid but this happened in my era as well and it doesn’t mean anything,” he said.
The former Real Madrid coach is known for his calm approach and he feels it is important to have a reassuring manner.
“An argument in public is not a good thing. A leader who has lost his temper is not in control and this is of no use. He has to be convincing,” said Del Bosque.
“I cannot be wound up because I need to take quick decisions with little time to consider. On the bench and on the pitch you have to step back from being full of your own importance.”
Image: Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque
Photographs: Jon Nazca/Reuters
Team morale crucial for Spain success, says Del Bosque
Giuseppe Rossi has been left out of the Italy squad setting off for the World Cup in Brazil on Thursday, with Parma’s Antonio Cassano preferred to the injury-plagued Fiorentina frontman.
Rossi played 71 minutes of Saturday’s goalless draw against Ireland but did not do enough to convince Cesare Prandelli that he was match fit and the Italy coach has opted for Cassano.
American-born Rossi scored 16 league goals last season despite only starting two games in 2014 due to a long-term knee injury layoff.
Cassano shone as Parma finished sixth in Serie A and he will go to Brazil along with flamboyant Torino forwards Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile, who scored 35 league goals between them in Giampiero Ventura’s exciting side.
Immobile is set to sign for Borussia Dortmund in the close season.
Italy lost midfielder Riccardo Montolivo to a broken leg following an accidental collision with Ireland defender Alex Pearce on Saturday. Alberto Aquilani takes his place in the squad.
Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti played his way into the squad following a good display against the Irish and Napoli’s Lorenzo creative attacker Lorenzo Insigne was preferred to AS Roma youngster Mattia Destro.
There were few surprises in goal or at the back with captain and keeper Gianliugi Buffon set to extend his record of 139 Italy appearances.
Inter Milan’s Andrea Rannochia will remain in reserve given the injury niggles affecting a number of defenders.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain)
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma)
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain), Marco Parolo (Parma), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Marco Verratti (Paris St Germain)
Forwards: Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).
Image: Giuseppe Rossi
Photographs: Giampiero Sposito/Reuters