Dutch in, Brazil out
Netherlands’ Arjen Robben (L), Van Bommel and Wesley Sneijder celebrate after beating Brazil on Friday. — AFP
Time to fight fire with fire
Spain eye first quarters win
Nadal, Berdych in final
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Manchester City sign Barcelona’s Toure
Modi’s future may be decided today
Dutch in, Brazil out
Port Elizabeth, July 2
Brazil, the five-times champions, took a 10th minute lead through Robinho and dominated the first half against a Dutch team which initially looked outclassed. But the Dutch levelled out of the blue in the 53rd minute after a rare mistake from Brazil's usually impenetrable defence, as Felipe Melo headed Sneijder's cross into his own goal.
Then Sneijder headed a winner as the Dutch, battling to their 13th successive World Cup win to maintain a perfect record in the qualifiers and finals, avenged a quarterfinal defeat in 1994 and a semifinal defeat four years later.
"In the changing room at half-time, everyone said to each other 'let's give everything' and that's what we did. We fought for each other," Sneijder told a television reporter after the match.
"In the second half, we put a lot of pressure on their defence and to score twice was fantastic." He added: "We're in the last four of the world. To beat Brazil 2-1 in the quarterfinal, you have to be pleased with that. But in the next days, we will have to get our heads in focus again."
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk said the comeback showed how mentally strong his team were. "In the first 20 minutes, I was happy that the score was only 1-0, and I told Frank (assistant Frank de Boer) that we still have a chance. In the second half, we showed how good we are," he said. "Tonight we're going to party and then start and fight again."
Brazil had started brightly with Felipe Melo, returning from an ankle injury which kept him out of the second round match against Chile, setting up the first goal after 10 minutes of the clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. He threaded a 30-metre pass through the Dutch midfield and Robinho timed his run perfectly to score . — Reuters
Time to fight fire with fire
Cape Town, July 2
Yet memory shows tomorrow's game also has all the trappings of an ugly clash. And for an added twist, the world's greatest player, Lionel Messi, was said to be suffering from a touch of a cold, less than 48 hours before kickoff.
The game however, already reached fever pitch without any potential illness. For all the sweet moves of Messi and Germany's Mesut Oezil, the wild push-kich-and-shove melee at the end of Germany's penalty shootout quarterfinal victory over Argentina four years ago is still fresh in the mind. And plenty of mind games are being played, as if the clash of talent is not enough.
Surprisingly, Germany started off with mudslinging, and did so with their renowned thoroughness. "They are impulsive, temperamental and they don't know how to lose," said captain Philipp Lahm of the Argentineans. And midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said the Argentine players had not changed. "They have no respect. It's their mentality and character and we'll have to adjust." Coach Maradona took much of it in jest. "What's happening Schweinsteiger, are you nervous?," he said, laughing in interview with Fox Sports Argentina.
"The boys are thinking about getting out on the pitch and getting revenge for 2006," he said. "I don't worry about what he says about the penalties, about the kicking, that we don't know how to lose. That doesn't bother us," he said.
The point that could well bother them is that playmaker Oezil and strikers like Thomas Mueller and Miroslav Klose could put defenders like Martin Demichelis in trouble like they have never seen at this World Cup. The Germans know Demichelis all too well since he is a linchpin in the defense of Bayern Munich which reached the Champions League final two months ago.
And Demichelis said he knows the Germans well enough to know it betrays nerves. "Maybe because we beat them on March 3 they respect us a little more," Demichelis said, referring to a 1-0 win in a preparation game. "The important thing is that we answer on the pitch. The best answer is during the game." And Argentina hopes Messi will be there to lead them. — AP
Mesut Ozil - The Werder Bremen player has brought a touch of finesse and improvisation to the German midfield and was a key part of their crushing 4-1 victory over England in the last round. The youngster was a constant thorn in the side of the English defence, with his off-the-ball movement pulling players out of position and his clever passing opening avenues for the other attacking players. Ozil assisted the fourth and final goal in the 4-1 win, and also created four other goalscoring chances for his team-mates.
Key battle: Thomas Muller (L) v Gabriel Heinze
Prediction: Both teams have issues at the back so it is unlikely that the match will be a defensive affair. Argentina have more ammunition going forward and are likely to edge a high-scoring quarter-final.
Maradona has never seen Argentina draw a match under his 23-game tenure as manager of the side.
Lionel Messi has attempted the most shots (17) without scoring in the World Cup so far.
Gonzalo Higuain - Overshadowed by Messi, Higuain is the joint highest scorer at this year’s finals. His finishing means there is no stopping the Real Madrid striker.
Johannesburg, July 2
Surprisingly, Spain has never advanced to a semifinal match at a World Cup in four opportunities between 1934 and 2002.
Standing in its way at Johannesburg's Ellis Park on Saturday is a resolute Paraguay team that is the most successful ever sent to a World Cup from the South American nation. "We know we're in good shape," del Bosque said yesterday.
Spain has once reached the last four at a World Cup, at the quirky 1950 tournament when just 13 teams showed up in Brazil and the four group winners advanced to a round-robin pool to decide the honours.
When the World Cup format has used a knockout bracket, Spain has always been stopped at the quarterfinals stage.
Spain lost to South Korea on penalties after a goalless draw in a 2002 match up remembered for disputed referee calls, and Roberto Baggio lifted Italy to a 2-1 victory in 1994.
In 1986, Belgium prevailed in a shootout after a 1-1 draw, and 1934 host Italy ousted the Spanish 1-0 in a replay.
Del Bosque would not be drawn to suggest the European champion has a golden chance to break the streak, and earn a final four tie.
"If you had to choose one of the other seven who reached the quarterfinals, I don't know which one would be the easiest," he said.
"Paraguay, like all of the South American teams, show so much character, with players who exercise great pressure. They are players who know their trade, with the ball or without and they have a similar style to Chile, who we already know about." Spain won that match 2-1 to top Group H despite losing its opener 1-0 against a Switzerland side that frustrated by defending in depth just like the Paraguayans shape to do Saturday.
"We'd all like to play nicely, scoring five goals a game and sometimes that happens," midfielder Andres Iniesta said.
"There are good moments and difficult moments but what's important is that we're in the quarterfinals." Paraguay arrives at this stage on the back of three straight shutouts by its defence, and a perfect five-for-five record in the penalty shootout against Japan when the teams' second-round game was goalless after extra time.
Llorente impressed when he came off the bench minutes before David Villa scored the only goal, his fourth, to share the tournament lead, in Spain's second-round victory over Portugal on Tuesday.
However, Del Bosque is expected to keep the same starting lineup with Liverpool's Fernando Torres partnering new Barcelona signing Villa. — AP
Stuck in last 8
London, July 2
The second seed, who won the title in 2008 but missed the tournament last year through injury, will face Czech Tomas Berdych in Sunday’s final after the 12th seed overcame Serbia’s Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.
Nadal took the first set with a single break when Murray sent a crosscourt forehand wide leaving the Scot banging his fist against his side in frustration.
In an enthralling second set, Murray had set point on his serve at 6-5 in the tiebreak but Nadal saved it with a fantastic drop volley before extending his match lead.
Murray started brightly in the third set breaking Nadal to love to the delight of the partisan Centre Court crowd but their joy did not last long as Nadal broke back in the eighth game and broke again to seal victory when Murray lashed a volley long.
Earlier, big-hitting Tomas Berdych saw off a frustrated Novak Djokovic 6-3 7-6 6-3 on Friday to become the first Czech to reach the men's final at Wimbledon since Ivan Lendl in 1987.
The 12th seed reached his first grand slam final with a murderous display of hitting from the back of the court against the third seed, who showed his frustrations with a codeviolation during a defeat marked by two costly double faults.
Paes-Black win semis
In the mixed doubles semifinal, Leander Paes of India and Cara Black of Zimbabwe beat Lukas Dlouhy and Iveta Benesova of Czechslovakia 6-3, 6-3 today.
King-Shvedova in title clash
In the women’s doubles semifinals, Vania King of the USA and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan beat Liezel Huber and Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA 6-4, 6-4 while Elena Vesnina and Vera Zvonareva of Russia beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina and Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-3, 6-1. — Reuters
New Delhi, July 2
In a letter to the Sports Minister yesterday, Kalmadi requested Gill to talk to the BCCI officials and convince them to re-adjust the dates of the Test matches, which coincide with the October 3-14 Games.
As per the the itinerary released by the BCCI last month, Ricky Ponting's men will play two Tests and three one-day internationals in India between October 2 and 24, which clashes with the Commonwealth Games.
"I seek to write to your good offices to try and convince BCCI to reschedule the two Test matches between India and Australia, now slated to start on October 2 in Mohali and October 10 in Bangalore so that cricket matches do not clash with the Commonwealth Games," Kalmadi wrote in his letter to Gill.
Kalmadi also said that a year ago, he had requested the then BCCI president Sharad Pawar not to schedule any cricket series on Indian soil during the Games.
Australia will begin the month-long tour with a three-day practice match in Mohali from September 27-29.
The two Tests between India and Australia are scheduled to be hosted by Mohali (Oct 2-6) and Bangalore (Oct 10-14), while the three one-dayers will be held in Kochi (Oct 19), Goa (Oct 22) and Visakhapatnam (Oct 24). — PTI
London, July 2
No financial details were disclosed of the 27-year-old's move, which comes two days after the capture of Valencia winger David Silva by City.
"This is another fantastic signing for Manchester City and I am very pleased Yaya has joined us; he is a very good player," manager Roberto Mancini told the club's website.
"Everyone knows Yaya is a player that we have admired for a long time and we would like to welcome him to Manchester City. He has played at the top level with Barcelona and I am sure his experience and ability will be very important for us." — Reuters
Mumbai, July 2
Though BCCI secretary N Srinivasan has said that the Special General Meeting has been convened to rubber stamp his decision of referring the charges against Modi to the Disciplinary Committee, it is the third item on the agenda of the SGM and that has raised some questions.
The three-point agenda of the meeting to be held at 3 pm at the Board headquarters here will “ratify the action of Srinivasan in referring the charges against Modi issued in the three show cause notices served to him to the Disciplinary Committee for further proceedings.”
As per the BCCI’s constitution, a 3/4th majority is needed at its SGM, whenever it’s specifically convened, to expel an administrator.
Indications are that Modi will have very few backers at the meeting following the decision of some of his known supporters not to attend it.
Former BCCI President IS Bindra, considered to be a big Modi backer, would not attend it on behalf of the Punjab Cricket Association.
Modi also cannot expect support from Vijay Mallya as the liquor baron will not attend the meeting.
Mumbai Cricket Association will not be represented by president Sharad Pawar, who was perceived as one of Modi’s backers earlier. — PTI
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