World Cup Insider: Costa Rica suffer striker blow

FIFA have expressed concerns about the readiness of three stadiums just 13 days before the World Cup kick-off in Brazil.

After his final inspections, the association’s general secretary Jerome Valcke sent warnings to the organisers of Natal, Porto Alegre and Sao Paulo, which will host the World Cup's opening match in two weeks.

He said it was a "race against the clock" in Natal and there was a lot "yet to be done" in Porto Alegre. In Sao Paulo, FIFA requested a second test event at the delayed Itaquerao Stadium that will host the Brazil - Croatia opener on June 12.

Valcke's final stop was in Salvador, where he said there was "no time to waste" but praised the commitment.

CRISTIANO Ronaldo and Real Madrid teammate Pepe will both miss Portugal’s friendly against Greece in Lisbon.

Ronaldo, who was still feeling the effects of a thigh injury sustained late in the season, and Pepe, who is making his comeback after a calf injury, had just joined the rest of their national squad.

The two along with Fabio Coentrao went to the training camp in Obidos, bringing the squad up to its full contingent of 23 players.

The trio were granted a few extra days to recover before linking up with the national team following Saturday's Champions League final when Real defeated city rivals Atletico to grab the title.

ENGLAND’S World Cup opponents Costa Rica suffered a major blow as striker Alvaro Saborio was ruled out of next month's finals with a dreaded metatarsal injury.

Saborio had fractured the metatarsal on his right foot, in a closed-door training session on Thursday morning and coach Jorge Luis Pinto later told a news conference his first-choice forward can therefore play no part in Brazil.

The 32-year-old Real Salt Lake player will need three to four months to recover from the break, according to the Major League Soccer club.

MARIO BALOTELLI feels that group D rivals England will be no match for Italy in the upcoming World Cup.

The Italy’s forward doesn’t expect Roy Hodgson’s side to be a serious contender and are not “real rivals”, while the Azzurri can cause a shock in Brazil.

In what will be Balotelli's first outing at the tournament, the 23-year-old dismissed any chances for English triumph saying that the team lacks “the mentality and experience”.

Balotelli could lead the line for Cesare Prandelli's side when the nations meet in Manaus on June 14 for their opening game of the tournament in Brazil.

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