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teams: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria


15- june: Argentina v Bosnia and Herzegovina (Rio de Janeiro)

16- june: Iran v Nigeria (Curitiba)

21- june: Argentina v Iran (Belo Horizonte)

21- june: Nigeria v Bosnia and Herzegovina (Cuiaba)

25- june: Nigeria v Argentina (Porto Alegre)

25- june: Bosnia and Herzegovina v Iran (Salvador)


Argentina announce 30-man provisional squad for FIFA World Cup 2014

After delaying for some 10 hours, Alejandro Sabella has finally disclosed a 30-man provisional squad for the FIFA World Cup 2014.

As expected, Carlos Tevez has been dropped by Sabella even after protests in the country.

Franco Di Santo, Gabriel Mercado and Fabian Rinaudo are the surprise inclusions, but they are not expected to make the final cut when Sabella reduces his team to 23-man on June 2 .

Lionel Messi leads the world class attack of the Albiceste along with Sergio Aguero, Higuan and Ezequiel Lavezzi. However Tottenham winger Erik Lamela has been excluded after a disappointing season in England.

Both Javier Mascherano and Angel Di Maria will be a key figures in Argentina’s midfield while Javier Pastore has been omitted from the squad.

Another upsetting exclusion has to be the in-form Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero. Sabella has yet again ignored him and has preferred Sergio Romero in front of goal.

Argentina have been placed in a relatively easier group alongside Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia and Herzegovina. They begin their World Cup campaign against Bosnia on June 15.

Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andújar, Agustín Orion.

Defenders: Ezequiel Garay, Federico Fernández, Pablo Zabaleta, Marcos Rojo, José María Basanta, Hugo Campagaro, Nicolás Otamendi, Martín Demichelis, Gabriel Mercado, Lisandro López.

Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Lucas Biglia, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega, Angel Di María, Maximiliano Rodríguez, Ricardo Alvarez, Augusto Fernández, Enzo Pérez, José Sosa, Fabian Rinaudo.

Forwards: Sergio Agüero, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Rodrigo Palacio, Di Santo.


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Lionel Messi Reaches $50 Million-A-Year Deal With Barcelona

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have gone head-to-head across a broad range of categories in soccer over the past half dozen years. They’ve won the past six Fifa/Balloon d’Or awards given to the world’s best footballer with Messi nabbing four of them. They have the two biggest social media followings in the world among athletes with a combined 138 million Facebook fans. Their clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are the two most valuable franchises in sports. The teams are fierce rivals on the pitch competing for the La Liga title and European soccer supremacy. Their matchups are dubbed El Clasico and watched by hundreds of millions of people (an estimated 400 million watched in March or three times the global Super Bowl audience).


The Barcelona star has a blockbuster new contract awaiting his signature.

Messi and Ronaldo also compete when it comes to money. They are the two highest earning footballers in the world with Ronaldo banking an estimated $73 million, including endorsements, in 2013. Messi’s haul: $65 million. Now Barcelona plans to close the gap between their on-pitch salaries with a new deal for Messi that is expected to match or slightly exceed Ronaldo’s $50 million annual salary with Real. Barcelona posted the following statement on its website Friday: “FC Barcelona has reached an agreement to adjust the terms in the contract binding Leo Messi to the club as a professional first team player. The revised and updated contract will be signed over the next few days.”

Messi, who turns 27 next month, can thank Ronaldo for the bump in salary. Ronaldo signed a new five-year contract in September with Real Madrid worth a gross annual value of $50 million. After taxes, Ronaldo nets roughly $24 million a year. The salaries for Messi and Ronaldo dwarf any other athletes in team sports. For comparisons sake, the top pre-tax salary in MLB this year is $25 million (Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee) and $30.5 million in the NBA (Kobe Bryant).

Messi’s deal is expected to keep him with Barca through at least 2018. It is the seventh contract in Messi’s 11 years with Barcelona. The club reportedly got a significant concession from Messi in the new pact with an agreement for Messi and Barcelona to share Messi’s image rights globally. Messi previously controlled these rights and they could mean millions of Euros for Barcelona, which turned an operating profit of $154 million on $627 million of revenue last season.

Messi is Barcelona’s all-time leading goal scorer with 354 goals, and he helped the club win 21 titles since he joined Barcelona in 2004. These include six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns. Messi earns more than $20 million a year from sponsors including Adidas, PepsiCo, Gillette and Electronic Arts. Messi is Adidas’ biggest marketing star in its competition with Nike for global bragging rights (both companies have total soccer revenue around $2 billion). Adidas released a limited edition commemorative Messi shoe after Messi broke Barcelona’s all-time scoring record in March. It sold out within an hour in the U.S.


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Banega, Sosa, Otamendi cut from final Argentina World Cup squad

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has decided on the 23 men who will represent the nation in the 2014 World Cup, with José Sosa, Nicolás Otamendi and Ever Banega missing out on a place in the final squad.

Sabella finalised his list today, cutting down the 'Albiceleste's' 26-player group ahead of a friendly clash on Wednesday against Trinidad and Tobago. The squad was subsequently announced in a press conference by Argentina Football Association spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo.

Atlético Madrid midfielder Sosa and Newell's Old Boys' Banega were the biggest surprises amongst the absences, as Sabella placed his faith in the likes of Benfica's Enzo Pérez and Celta Vigo winger Augusto Fernández in the squad. The expected return of Martín Demichelis, of Manchester City, was also confirmed after the defender deputised for Ezequiel Garay in training.


Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero, Mariano Andújar, Agustín Orion

Defenders: Pablo Zabaleta, Ezequiel Garay, Marcos Rojo, Martín Demichelis, Hugo Campagnaro, Federico Fernández, José María Basanta

Midfielders: Fernando Gago, Javier Mascherano, Ángel Di María, Maxi Rodríguez, Lucas Biglia, Enzo Pérez, Augusto Fernández, Ricky Álvarez

Forwards: Lionel Messi, Sergio Agüero, Gonzalo Higuaín, Rodrigo Palacio, Ezequiel Lavezzi


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FIFA deny claims Diego Maradona was refused access to Argentina's World Cup opener against Bosnia and Herzegovina

FIFA has denied claims by Diego Maradona that officials preventing him attending Argentina's opening match of the World Cup in the Maracana.

The former Argentina player and manager, who is a fierce critic of FIFA, said he was forced to watch the match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on television in his hotel room.

But FIFA's head of media Delia Fischer said there had been no report to them of any incident involving Maradona, who is accredited to cover the tournament for Venezuelan TV.

She said: 'He is accredited as a journalist but we have not received any report on this. As long as he is going into the correct media area there should not be an issue.

'Maybe he tried to go somewhere where he didn't have the necessary access but we have no record of that happening.'

Maradona has previously called FIFA's hold over World Cup host countries as 'ugly'.

He told the Argentinian channel TyC Sports: 'I was not allowed to go in to the game. So I had to return to the hotel to see the second half.

'I did everything I could but they would not let us in.

'Someone just said no, it could not happen, so I had to watch it on TV. Hopefully we will get this resolved because I want to go and see Argentina in several more games.

'It is one thing to not be able to go to a game, and another to not be allowed to go.

'When there is goodwill, you're allowed in but when there is ill will, it's better to forget it and head back to the hotel, which is what we did.'

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He's a super legend of the game, and a god in his homeland...but sadly, a very tarnished one.

I gotta feeling his presence would've really riled up the passionate Argentine fans up to riot level...I kid you not.

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Nigeria's Babatunde undergoing surgery

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Nigeria's coach says striker Michael Babatunde is undergoing surgery for a broken arm after being hit by a ball struck by a teammate in their World Cup match against Argentina on Wednesday.

Babatunde was stretchered off the pitch in a 3-2 defeat which did not prevent Nigeria from advancing to the second round from Group F.

Asked whether Babatunde might play again in Brazil, coach Stephen Keshi said: "We will see how it goes, but it's not good."



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