World Cup briefs - Ronaldo v Kaka looms large
Published: 04 May 2010 - 06:55:14
Two things to note after the latest release of the sometimes laughable FIFA World Rankings - Brazil have risen to the summit ahead of European Champions Spain, and Carlos Quieroz's Portugal have climbed to third - their highest-ever position.
Bad news for Sven-Goran Eriksson and his Ivory Coast squad, who face both sides in Group G.
However, it also means that should the Africans do well against one of those sides, who they play in their first two games, the meeting of Real Madrid's Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo in Durban on June 25 could be a straight shoot-out between, what we are told, are two of the best three teams in the world.
Deco Talks Down Portugal
For those of you shocked to see Portugal, a team that stumbled and stuttered their way to South Africa via a play-off v Bosnia-Herzegovina, ranked third best in the world you'll be pleased to know that one of their seasoned stars Deco questions their ability to triumph this summer.
"The favourites are those national teams with a World Cup pedigree, something that Portugal, who have never won the trophy, don't have.
"It's not easy to win the World Cup and we don't have the same level of experience we had in 2006."
Portugal reached the semi-finals in 2006 but were knocked out courtesy of a Zinedine Zidane penalty in a 1-0 defeat in Munich.
More Pain for Spain
After the injury news concerning Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres - who all face a race against the clock to be fit in time for Spain's Group opener v Switzerland in Durban on June 16, Vicente del Bosque was dealt a further blow this weekend when Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola admitted that a Xavi, who had just served a midfielder masterclass in his side's 4-1 win at Villarreal's El Madrigal on Saturday night, is currently playing with a 3cm tear in a calf injury and may miss the World Cup.
All of a sudden, a summer that promised so much for Spain, if their luck doesn't change could be telling a family story.
New Zealander Andy Barron, who plays his club football for Team Wellington has just been granted leave by his employers Westpac Bank to join New Zealand's pre-World Cup training camp in Auckland seeking to be one of the few amateurs (outside of North Korea) to be part of this summer's global spectacle.
"To be on that plane would be fantastic," Barron said. "Obviously the next two weeks are pretty crucial.
"I want to be there, getting on the park and playing some of the best teams in the world so I'll be pushing for that as much as I can."
Barron has already represented the All Whites at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa - the dress rehearsal for the World Cup and also played his part in the play-off win v Bahrain that saw Nrew Zealand reach the World Cup for the first time since 1982.
Barron may have his chance to make a name for himself when his country takes on defending Champions Italy in Nelspruit on June 20. They will also come up against Paraguay and Slovakia in Group F.
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