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The World Cup Countdown: Klinsmann stays behind
by Paul Kennedy, June 9th, 2014 5:35PM
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TAGS:  brazil, italy, men's national team, world cup 2014


[BRAZIL 2014] The USA arrived in Sao Paulo Monday morning from Miami and was off in the afternoon to its first practice at the Sao Paulo FC's training facility, its base camp for the World Cup. Not with the team was Coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who stayed in Miami to watch Monday's Ghana-South Korea friendly (live at 6:50 p.m. ET in BeIN Sports).

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Klinsmann and fellow Germans Berti Vogts and Matthias Hamann are at Sun Life Stadium to scout the Black Stars. Because Group G doesn't start for another week, Ghana and Portugal are still in the United States. (The Portuguese face Ireland Tuesday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.)

The USA will face Belgium Thursday in Sao Paulo in a closed-door scrimmage. The game was supposed to be a secret, but the Belgian federation announced the game on its web site several weeks ago. (The Red Devils, the top seeds in Group H, don't open tournament play until June 17 against Algeria.)

On the Ground ...

TRANSIT UPDATE. The biggest concern about Thursday's Brazil-Croatia up until now has been the readiness of Sao Paulo's Arena Corinthians,  but now the worry whether fans will be able to get to the match. Despite a court order, subway workers continued their strike and clashed with police on Monday.

The problem is that the subway is the main means of transportation to the stadium in the Itaquera area of Sao Paulo, about 10 miles from downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city.

Portuguese word for the day: "Probleminha," as in Marco Polo Del Nero, the Brazilian on the FIFA executive committee, downplayed the threat, terming the strike threat "probleminha" ("small problem") and pointing out that fans could take cars or buses. At least one colleague on the FIFA executive committee might not agree with that suggestion. Michael Platini was trapped in Sao Paulo traffic for two and a half hours after arriving at the airport least week.

SA World Cup Previews:
Mike Woitalla: Group A
Ridge Mahoney: Group B
Mike Woitalla: Group C
Ridge Mahoney: Group D
Paul Kennedy: Group E
Mike Woitalla: Group F

Camp Updates ...

BALOTELLI OR IMMOBILE? One of the biggest decisions any coach has to make before his team's first game is Italy coach Cesare Prandelli's choice to start at center forward.

Mario Balotelli
would seem the obvious choice to start, but the Italian sports press is suggesting the temperamental Balotelli might be dropped for Ciro Immobile, who led Serie A with 22 goals for Torino. It would be hard to believe that Prandelli would drop Super Mario for the Azzurri's opener against England on Sunday in Manaus, but it's a storyline the Italians are running with.

''Anything is possible but having two center forwards with so many quality midfielders would be forcing things a bit,'' Prandelli said. ''Anyhow, I'm going to choose on the basis of how we want to face the [opponent] and how the players are physically and psychologically.''

Immobile's current form? He combined with Lorenzo Insigne for all five goals in Italy's friendly win over Brazilian club Fluminense on Sunday.

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