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World Cup Daily: Casillas cash-strapped and Croatia crisis

| 11.06.2014

The World Cup is nearly upon us, with Brazil kicking things off against Croatia but in the meantime here’s a mildly diverting round-up of all the news that matters from Brazil.

In the headlines

Rent-a-quote Brazil legend Pele has warned Selecao fans to stop putting pressure on Neymar, a player he once described as being “better than Messi”.

Spain’s preparations for Friday’s game against Holland have been hindered by the news Iker Casillas has had to pay €1.6 million in taxes – an eye-watering figure for the Roja captain, who may still be having nightmares over his Champions League final howler.

England’s opponents Italy received a boost, with Mario Balotelli announcing his engagement while the marriage of Andrea Pirlo and Juventus is to continue after he signed a new contract.

Here’s a reminder of why Roy Hodgson may have called him a ‘d*ckhead’ – that Panenka penalty against England.


The England Camp

Danny Welbeck is a doubt for the opener against Italy after picking up a thigh injury in training – something that could pave the way for Raheem Sterling to start.

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Roy Hodgson is facing a double-whammy of World Cup headaches, amid concerns over the quality of the playing surface at the Amazonia Arena ahead of their showdown with the Azzurri and the potential side effects of the anti-Malaria tablets.

One in 10 users of Malarone – the drug being used by England – have been known to suffer vomiting and diarrhoea. It could result in scenes reminiscent of Tottenham’s infamous lasagne-gate incident when mass illness cost Spurs Champions League football back in 2006.

Injury List

Welbeck’s woes have already been documented but one team facing a real injury crisis are Croatia.

Croatias midfielder Ivan Mocinic (L) and his teammates take part in a training session in Praia do Forte, on June 8, 2014, prior to the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.   AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF        (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Midfielder Ivan Mocinic has been forced to pull out of the squad, with manager Niko Kovac moving to bring in Milan Badelj, even though the latter was previously ruled out of the squad…through injury. The switch is subject to approval from FIFA.

Diego Costa, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are all set to be fit following injury layoffs, while Luis Suarez is looking likely to be ready in time for Uruguay’s meeting with England. Great news.

Fan Watch

With England seemingly obsessed with how good/bad Wayne Rooney is, the Three Lions squad must wish they had the backing of the Brazilian public.

A study from The New York Times, who surveyed fans from 19 countries competing in Brazil, found just four per cent of England fans think they can win the World Cup – the lowest second only to Costa Rica – while 64% of Selecao followers backing their team.

So here’s to the hosts!

People wearing Brazilian flags arrive at the Santa Cruz Stadium in Ribeirao Prato to attend a France's national football team training session on June 10, 2014, a few days prior to the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.     AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

And in other news

John Barnes has been doing the rounds, with video footage of the former England favourite singing his legendary World In Motion rap in a pub in Bristol.

Keep up the good work John.

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Google are also getting involved in the World Cup fun, with a new edition of street view showcasing the many painted streets of Brazil. Check it out here.

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Author

Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.