World Cup Insider: Brazil ready for lift-off

DESPITE more than a year of protests against hosting the World Cup, Brazil president Dilma Rousseff thinks the “the pessimists” have been defeated by the determination of the majority of people in her country.

With just hours before the official opening of the finals remaining, President Rousseff rejected the criticism of overspending yesterday by insisting the tournament would leave a lasting legacy of infrastructure.

It is hoped the expected protests from “the minority” does not come to anything more and that the World Cup is an overwhelming success after protests against bad governance and perceived excessive spending.

SOMEONE not short of a critic or two at the moment is United States boss Jurgen Klinsmann.

Klinsmann has been in the news in America for leaving out striker Landon Donovan based on his current form and he used basketball star Kobe Bryant as an example of the nation’s willingness to stand by players past their peak. The German, who included Sunderland’s out of sorts Jozy Altidore and teenage Bayern Munich front-man Julian Green instead, also suggested his team can’t win the World Cup.

Kilnsmann said: “Kobe Bryant for example – why does he get a two-year contract extension for $50m? Because of what he is going to do in the next two years for the Lakers? Of course not. He gets it because of what he has done before. Why do you pay for what has already happened?”

That has not gone down well Stateside. Michael Wilbon, a presenter on TV network ESPN, responded: “You, Mr Klinsmann, are no damn Kobe Bryant. I mean seriously, Mr Klinsmann wants to tell all of American sports how to work. Get the hell out. Get out of America.

“You’re so gutless, you went out and said ‘oh, our team can’t win, we can’t win.’ You’re supposed to be such a great coach, why are they paying you? They’re apparently paying you for something you did not only do yesterday but somewhere else 4,000 miles away. Get the hell out.”

Both make fair points somewhere in the row, although it’s safe to opine Jurgen could do with winning the World Cup never mind qualifying for it.

WITH just days until Italy kick-off their World Cup campaign against England in Manaus, the Azzurri have warmed up for the crucial opener with news of their captain’s new deal.

Andrea Pirlo, despite his 35 years, has penned a two-year extension to his contract at Juventus. He has led Juve to successive league titles and is still the biggest midfield threat facing England in Brazil.

Since leaving AC Milan in 2011 he has found a new lease of life and he memorably chipped an exquisite penalty in the shoot-out which knocked England out of Euro 2012.

LUIZ Felipe Scolari’s preparations for the World Cup were interrupted with news of his nephew’s death in a car accident earlier this week.

The Brazil coach’s 48-year-old relative, a son of one of Scolari’s sisters, drove head-on in to a truck in the opposite lane, sending the family in to mourning.

Tarisco Joao Schneider died in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul and arrived just a month after Scolari had to leave Brazil’s pre-World Cup training camp to attend the funeral of one of his brother-in-laws.

POP star Jennifer Lopez will perform at tonight’s World Cup opening ceremony.

The singer has apparently reversed an earlier decision to skip the Sao Paulo concert, resolving the unspecified "production issues" that had made her unable to appear.

“She will be there,” a spokesperson for Lopez said. “Jennifer has always wanted to participate in the World Cup opening ceremonies. We have been trying to work out scheduling and logistics. Any statements to the contrary were premature. Jennifer would not want to disappoint her fans or fans of football.”

Nine different songwriters contributed to We Are One (Ole Ola), which also features vocals by Pitbull and Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte.

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