Spain struggling to pick team
Madrid - The pressure of guiding European champion Spain to the World Cup may be equal to the headache of actually picking a team to play at the tournament in South Africa.
Vicente del Bosque (AFP)
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has plenty of injury worries ahead of a May 11 deadline for his preliminary 30-man squad. The final list of 23 players is due by June 1.
"We know we're going through a difficult moment because the competitions are nearing their close," Del Bosque said. "We're up day and night thinking about the national team."
Striker Fernando Torres is on crutches and recovering from knee surgery, while Cesc Fabregas is out with a fracture in his right leg. Midfielder Marcos Senna is also injured and Andres Iniesta has been hampered by leg muscle problems lately.
"We just hope that when the date arrives and we have to give the list, they're all ready to go," Del Bosque said.
The debate in Spain is just who to call up if any of those players do not recover in time.
Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente, who played at last year's Confederations Cup in South Africa, appears to have the edge on out-of-favor Sevilla striker Alvaro Negredo. Sevilla teammate Jesus Navas also looks likely to make the team.
NOT SO FUNNY
Brazil coach Dunga was forced to call the police to get rid of some local comedians who went to his house wanting him to pick young sensation Neymar for the national team.
Dunga contacted authorities after the comedians parked in front of his house to participate in a live TV show Saturday night.
Carrying a cardboard with Neymar wearing Brazil's jersey, they rang the bell at the coach's house but got no answer.
Police officer Joao Braga told the G1 website that the comedians were allowed to remain in front of the coach's house in the southern city of Porto Alegre as long as they didn't bother him or his family.
The 18-year-old Neymar is the hottest player in Brazilian football and fans and local media want him at the World Cup in South Africa.
Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler will be ready to resume training this week after cracking a rib.
The team's No. 1 goalkeeper has been given the green light by doctors to return after initial fears that he might not recover in time for the World Cup in South Africa.
The Bayer Leverkusen player was given the starting job by Germany coach Joachim Loew ahead of Manuel Neuer of Schalke and Tim Wiese of Werder Bremen.
GO GHANA GO
Ghana's government has spent at least $208 000 on World Cup tickets for the country's fans to watch matches in South Africa.
Deputy sports minister Nii Nortey Dua said that the government had secured 2,600 tickets for the tournament, which opens on June 11. He would not disclose the cost, but the cheapest World Cup tickets available to fans outside of South Africa are $80 each.
The Ghana Football Association said the tickets would be shared among various football supporters' groups.
Ghana, which reached this year's African Cup of Nations final, is in Group D alongside Germany, Serbia and Australia.
AS Roma forward Jeremy Menez is hoping his late-season form in Italy will lead France coach Raymond Domenech to call him up.
The 22-year-old Menez has excelled under coach Claudio Ranieri after a difficult start to his Roma career.
"I totally believe in it. I would be lying if I said otherwise," Menez said in France Football magazine. "I am feeling so good that I can play on the right, through the middle or down the left." With doubts lingering over whether Domenech will call up Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema after alleged sexual relations with an underage prostitute, Menez may get his chance after all.
Menez is the youngest player to score a hat trick in the French league, doing so as a 17-year-old player with Sochaux in 2004. But he has never played for the national team.
Chile striker Humberto Suazo could miss the rest of the Spanish league with a shoulder injury.
The 29-year-old Suazo is likely to be out for one month after injuring his left shoulder in Zaragoza's 2-1 loss to Real Madrid on Saturday. Chile's first game in South Africa is against Honduras in Nelspruit on June 16.
Slovenia will use Inter Milan's preseason training camp at altitude ahead of the World Cup, and then play a friendly against fellow qualifier New Zealand back home. The camp in Brunico has hotels and fields, and the S
erie A club uses it to get fit before moving to its regular training camp at Appiano Gentile, northwest of Milan.
With many of the World Cup games in South Africa being played at altitude, Slovenia captain Robert Koren said the team wants to use the facility, which is not far from the border with Slovenia, to prepare for the conditions.
"We need to go away from our country and prepare ourselves in peace," Koren said.
Brunico has hotels up to 1 400m above sea level and its ski slopes go up to 2 275m.
Australia coach Pim Verbeek chose one of his own players, Mark Schwarzer, as the goalkeeper for his "world team." "I'm going to be accused of favoritism ... but can anyone point out a goalkeeper who has been more consistent or effective in the past three years?" Verbeek wrote in The Daily Telegraph. "He has actually improved in that time, has saved us on countless occasions, and his form for Fulham is a key reason why the Cottagers are in the Europa League semifinals." Choosing the rest of the team was more difficult.
"It took me a day to choose a squad, let alone a starting XI," Verbeek said. "I restricted myself to players from the upcoming World Cup - or at least those who are eligible because I'm prepared to bend the rules for Alessandro Nesta."
Verbeek's team also includes Maicon, John Terry, Eric Abidal, Steven Gerrard, Xavi Hernandez, Lionel Messi, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Didier Drogba.
"On the right wing, Lionel Messi picks himself," Verbeek wrote.
"The Argentine is a freak, so talented it's almost unfair."