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Loo Read: Your bare-ass essentials for Thursday’s World Cup games

by Rob Dore | June 26, 2014

The final day of the group stages and it’s more finely balanced than Luis Suarez’s grip on reality. Will the best player in the world Ronaldo go crashing out without a win? How about Germany doing a favour for their old coach Jurgen Klinsman?

Belgium are the only side guaranteed a place in the knock-out stage but the seven other teams can still go through. Here’s a quick run down through today’s games as Fifa gets ready to deliver its verdict on “bite gate”.

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Portugal v Ghana | Brasilia | 5pm

  • Pepe returns from suspension after head-butting Tomas Mueller in Portugal’s defeat to Germany. You might want to check out the odds on a red card.
  • With a player boycott threatened over pay and bonuses the Ghanain authorities had to fly €3m to Brazil to ensure they’d be able to field a team against Portugal. It doesn’t exactly smack of squad unity does it?
  • Portugal will be without defenders Fabio Coentrao and maybe even Bruno Alves, meaning they’ll be rightly fooked when Pepe gets his marching orders.

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USA V Germany | Recife | 5pm

  • An incident-free draw will suit both sides nicely. Surely Joachim Low will do his former mentor a favour..
  • The USA has won three of it’s last six meetings with Germany, including a 4-3 friendly win in June of last year, albeit against a very weakened German team.

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Algeria v Russia | Curitiba | 9pm

  • Algerian coach Vahid Halilhodzic, the man who delivered their first World Cup win since 1982, doesn’t like the press much. “The fans never gave up on me, and it’s made me feel warm inside,” he began. “But the press – the press lost confidence in Vahid. This is a gift for everyone except for you.”
  • Algeria’s four goals against South Korea was more than they’d socred in seven previous tournaments, a testament to Halilhodzic’s more attacking style of play.

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South Korea v Belgium | Sao Paulo | 9pm

  • South Korea manager Hong Myung-bo captained the team to the semi-finals in 2002, so at least he’s been to one semi-final.
  • Marc Wilmots is likely to rest several players for this game including Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany.

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Other news…

  • Uruguay captain Diego Lugano has come out in defence of Luis Suarez over the biting incident. He has branded Chiellini a “snitch” for talking about it outside the dressing room and has insisted the teeth-marks on his shoulder were an old scar.
    “I’ve seen the picture of Chiellini. That scar isn’t from today’s game. You have to be very stupid to believe that scar is from now….I never believed an Italian player could be such a coward off the pitch. During the game, yes, it is all part of football, but I think the manly thing to do would be to just accept defeat. To denounce your opponents just out of bitterness is bad. There was no bite and there was no scar.”
World Cup MBS
Paul Scholes
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