Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Spain’s greatest ever midfielder Xavi Hernandez has announced his retirement from international football.

Xavi, 34, has won 133 international caps for Spain but lost his starting place during their disastrous FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil as Vicente del Bosque’s side exited the competition after just 2 games – and were the first to exit the FIFA World Cup 2014.

The 34 year old midfielder admits that he was due to retire after Euro 2012, but was persuaded to continue by coach Vicente del Bosque. During a Barcelona-based press conference, Xavi said,

I was going to retire after Euro 2012 but head coach Vicente del Bosque persuaded me to stay on and go to Brazil which was of course a huge disappointment for everyone and myself individually.

After Euro 2012, it was generally understood I was going to be leaving after Brazil 2014. I hope Del Bosque stays as manager as Spain because I don’t think there is a better man for the job. I want to thank everyone involved in that team for the way they treated me and the respect and I could not wish for a better time as an international.

More than any other player, the Barcelona midfielder has embodied the possession-based philosophy of Tiki-Taka, which took Spain to glory at the Euro 2008, 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Euro 2012. In each victory, Xavi played an instrumental role, monopolising possession with unrivalled pass-completion statistics and allowing Spain to win game after game in the international arena.

On his decision to leave the national team, Xavi said, “I’ve taken the decision to leave the national team. My time there has finished. I’m grateful for all those years. It has been a fantastic time. I’m not 20 any more, but I still have the motivation of a kid. I was going to retire after Euro 2012 but head coach Vicente del Bosque persuaded me to stay on and go to Brazil, which of course was a huge disappointment for everyone and myself individually.”

“After Euro 2012, it was generally understood I was going to be leaving after Brazil 2014. I hope del Bosque stays as manager of Spain because I don;t think there is a better man for the job. ”

Long time international team mate Xabi Alonso is also reported to be considering his future with Spain.

Xavi Hernandez Retires From Spain International

Although Xavi is quitting Spain, he remains with his club Barcelona. Xavi told a press conference that he had indeed made the decision to quit Barcelona but he has now reversed his decision and will stay put at the club where he has been for his entire football career.

7 time La Liga winner and 3 time Champions League winner says he was convinced to extend his career at Barcelona after discussions with new coach and former team mate Luis Enrique.

“I thank the club for being so patient and letting me think over my situation over the summer,” he said. “I’m happy that the club has faith in me and wants me to see out my contract. Having spoken to the coaches, they’ve made me feel competitive and useful.

“My contract is for two years so nothing changes. I think I made a rash decision to [consider leaving] the club and changed my mind. I wish to apologise and thank everyone.”

No one did more to establish Spain as football’s pre-eminent team and impose Tiki-Taka as the prevailing orthodoxy then Spain’s maestro Xavi Hernandez, who retires from the international side as the most influential player ever to wear the red of La Roja. Not only did he excel on the pitch, his close relationship with captain Iker Casillas also helped to heal rifts caused by the numerous El Clasicos between Barcelona and Real Madrid as Spain put aside their club rivalries to become arguably the greatest international side ever assembled, forget the FIFA World Cup 2014 folly.

Very few players quits the international duty having won 3 major tournaments, especially when the team in question had suffered so many heartbreaks before. Xavi’s style of play and quality has helped develop modern football as we know it today, a sport which should rightfully class the magician as a true icon.

A legend has departed the stage.

Xavi Hernandez World Cup

Xavi Hernandez World Cup 2010

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Steven Gerrard Retires From International Football

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Klose breaks record

Klose Breaks Record

Klose Breaks Record

Miroslav Klose scores 16th World Cup goal to break the all-time World Cup goal scoring record. Germany striker Miroslav scored in the 23rd minute in the FIFA World Cup 2014 Semi Finals as Germany trashed Brazil with a convincing 7-1 scoreline to make it to the FIFA World Cup 2014 Finals.

Klose goal led to him becoming the tournament’s all time leading goalscorer with 16 goals in 23 World Cup matches. Klose had moved level with former Brazil striker Ronaldo on 15 when he scored in Germany’s 2-2 draw against Ghana in the FIFA World Cup Group Stages.

His close strike range in Belo Horizonte after a rebound put Germany 2-0 up in the last 4 clash and was his first goal in a World Cup Semi Finals. Klose said, “We are a team and it shows on the field. It’s also important that our set pieces bring results. You saw it again today. Toni puts the ball where it has to go every time and that’s a big strength.”

However, after scoring his goal against Brazil, in his 23rd World Cup Match, Miroslav Klose refrained from doing his trademark back flip. He explained, “I got hit in my left foor while attempting a shot and I was not able to do the flip.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has much praises for the veteran and the only true striker on the team. He said, “It really means a lot to all of us. This is a record. This is a record that could be beaten only by (Thomas) Mueller. We believe that he really deserves it. Because at his age, he is still playing at the highest possible level.”

Klose, 36, netted his first ever World Cup goal against Saudi Arabia in 2002 – a hat trick in an 8-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. He netted again in their next group game, a 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland, before scoring the second in a 2-0 victory over Cameroon. (5 Goals)

During his home World Cup 4 years later in 2006, the forward found the net 5 times again, and was awarded the Golden Boot. He scored 2 goals in their 4-2 victory over Costa Rica, and 2 more in their final group game against Ecuador. Miroslav Klose final goal in the 2006 World Cup was a vital 80th minute equaliser against Argentina in the World Cup Quarter Finals, bringing the score to 1-1,with Germany eventually winning on penalties. (5 Goals)

In the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Klose managed 4 more strikes, 1 in their opening 4-0 victory over Australia, 1 in their 4-1 win over England in the Round Of 16 and 2 in their 4-0 demolition of Argentina in the World Cup Quarter Finals.

He has since played in 4 World Cups and has now scored 71 goals in his 136 appearances for Germany. A deadly finisher, Klose is considered the best German striker of his generation, along with his tremendous sense of fair play.

Klose World Cup Goals

*Image courtesy of AFP/Getty Images

Brazil Neymar Ruled Out Of Finals

Neymar Ruled Out Of Finals

Neymar Ruled Out Of Finals

Brazil’s World Cup hopes received a crushing blow when the host nation’s team doctor announced that Neymar is out of the finals with a fractured vertebrae, adding to the bad news that Thiago Silva will be missing Brazil’s Semi Finals game against Germany.

Neymar, who has scored 4 goals in the tournament so far, will miss the FIFA World Cup 2014 Semi Finals against Germany in Belo Horizonte as well as the FIFA World Cup Finals should they progress. He is expected to be out for several week.

Brazil’s team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said, “Unfortunately, he’s not going to be able to play. It’s not serious in the sense that it doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll need to immobilise it to recover.”

Brazil’s poster boy Neymar has been driving his country’s bid for a 6th World Cup title with his goals and creative football talents. He went down in the 88th minute after a horrific challenge by Colombia’s Juan Zuniga and looked to be in considerable pain after what turned out to be a cracked vertebra. Neymar was then taken straight to the hospital as Brazilians across the country cheered their team’s success on home soil before the news of his injury dampened the celebrations.

Neymar injured

Colombia Juan Zuniga said that he did not deliberately try to hurt Brazil forward Neymar when he kneed him in the back, fracturing his vertebrae.

“We wanted to score, and it was a tough game. Brazil was marking strongly, I hope it’s nothing serious, let’s pray to God. On the pitch I’m defending my shirt, my country, but I didn’t expect him to fracture a vertebrae. He is a great talent for Brazil and for the World,” Juan Zuniga told the reporters. “It’s a normal reaction, I tried to shadow him. I was not thinking of hurting him. I was defending my country’s colour. Sadly it happened this way. I hope he gets well, God willing.”

FIFA World Cup 2014

Final Round Of Games

With the final round of games about to start in the World Cup Groups, there is a wide range of possibilities for the 32 teams competing for glory in the FIFA World Cup 2014 Brazil. Here are the various permutations in the last round of Group Stages.

Group A

Qualified: None

Eliminated: Cameroon

Brazil and Cameroon are joint top of the group on 4 points – Brazil on top with 1 goal difference. They will both qualify if they beat Cameroon and Croatia respectively.

If Brazil draw or lose to Cameroon, then Croatia, currently on 3 points could still win the group if they beat Mexico. A Croatia-Mexico draw, and Brazil defeat, would see Brazil eliminated on goal difference to Croatia.

Group B

Qualified: Netherlands, Chile

Eliminated: Australia, Spain

Having secured maximum points in their first 2 games, Netherlands and Chile face each other on Monday, looking for a victory they hope will enable them to avoid facing Brazil in the next round, assuming the hosts top Group A.

A draw would be enough to give the Dutch top spot due to a goal difference of 1 (+5 for Netherlands & +4 for Chile).

Australia and Spain, also meeting on Monday, are battling for pride alone. The 2010 champions need to win to avoid the bottom spot due to Australia’s superior goal difference.

Group C

Qualified: Colombia

Eliminated: None

Colombia are top of Group C with 6 points from 2 wins but need at least a draw against Japan on Tuesday to secure the top spot and the reward of a knock out game against the runners up of Group D.

Ivory Coast, on 3 points, would qualify with a win over Greece in their remaining game on the same day.

Greece, with 1 point from 2 games could reach the last 16 if they beat Ivory Coast to reach 4 points and Japan also with 1 point draw or lose to Colombia.

If Japan or Greece both win, then the second position would depend on goal difference, with Greece needing to catch a 2 goal deficit to Japan. If they ended level on goal difference, it would go down to goals scored over the 3 group games.

Group D

Qualified: Costa Rica

Eliminated: England

Italy will qualify for the knock out games with a win against Uruguay in their game on Tuesday or a draw given their superior goal difference. Uruguay must win to join Costa Rica.

If Costa Rica lose to England, and Italy or Uruguay win, the top 2 teams would finish on 6 points and the group winner would be decided on goal difference. Costa Rica is leading on goal difference of +3 to Italy’s 0.

England, at the bottom with 0 points, need a win to have a chance of catching up with Uruguay or Italy to avoid the humiliation of the last spot. But even that would be impossible if Uruguay and Italy draw.

Group E

Qualified: None

Eliminated: None

With a maximum of 6 points and an enviable goal difference of +6, France look assured of qualification of Group E but do not yet have mathematical certainty.

It would take a heavy Ecuador defeat of France and a big win from Switzerland over Honduras to cause that. Should France win or draw against Ecuador, they would top the Group and face the runners up of Group F in the knock out stages.

Though bottom with 0 points, Honduras could still qualify if they beat Switzerland and Ecuador lose, though goal difference would end up being the deciding factor. Honduras would have to hope the games produce a 5 goal swing between themselves and Ecuador, who are on 3 points like the Swiss.

Switzerland will be hoping France beat Ecuador, which would mean a draw or win against Honduras would promote them to second in the Group.

Group F

Qualified: Argentina

Eliminated: Bosnia

Nigeria and Iran are battling for the second qualifying spot, with Nigeria on 4 points and Iran 1. To have any chance, Iran have to beat Bosnia, who are already out on 0 points and hope that Argentina defeat Nigeria.

A 1-0 win for Iran and 1-0 defeat for Nigeria would leave them level on both points and goal difference. In that scenario, the teams must be separated by goals scored in all matches, then points between them and goals between them. But given Iran and Nigeria would have both scored one goal each in the group, and they drew 0-0 against each other, that would not separate them so there would have to be a drawing of lots.

Group G

Qualified: None

Eliminated: None

Germany and USA on 4 points, Ghana and Portugal on 1.Germany and USA play with each other on Tuesday and a draw would ensure passage for both and top spot for Germany on goal difference. A win for either would open the doors for Ghana and Portugal to slip into 2nd place.

If Germany were to win, Portugal would need to beat Ghana and hope they can overturn the a goal difference of 5 with USA. If USA wins, Portugal would have to win an close a deficit of 8 goals with Germany to pip them.

Ghana have a better goal difference than Portugal, -1 to -4, so if they beat Portugal and USA lose, then Ghana would go through provided they overcome the goal difference of 2 between them and USA.

If Ghana wins 1-0 and USA lost 1-0, both would be on 4 points with the same goal difference. In that case, USA would qualify because they beat Ghana earlier in the Group games.

Group H

Qualified: Belgium

Eliminated: None

Belgium has already qualified on a maximum of 6 points from 2 games. Algeria is in pole position for 2nd place after securing a win against South Korea.

A win for Algeria against Russia would ensure that they go through to the knock out stages. If they draw, Russia are eliminated but South Korea could sneak to 2nd place if they win heavily against Belgium.

If Algeria were to win and Belgium were to lose, Algeria would top the Group on goal difference.

If both South Korea and Russia win, they move to 4 points each from 1 now, and 2nd place to be decided on goal difference between the 2 of them. (Russia has 1 goal advantage now)

If Russia beat Algeria and South Korea draw or lose against Belgium, Russia takes 2nd place on 4 points.

For South Korea to finish second, they would need to defeat Belgium by a healthy margin and hope that Algeria and Russia draw, or Russia win Algeria by a narrow margin.

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