BRAZIL BEAT: Algeria, Belgium already competing in Belo Horizonte, this time at singing

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BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Under towering palm trees in Belo Horizonte’s main square, about 100 Algeria and Belgium fans engaged in a friendly but very boisterous sing-off.


They chanted back and forth at each other in Praca da Liberdade on Monday, to the bemusement of residents who use the square for taking a stroll or running. Algeria fans were the loudest, blowing air horns and even vuvuzelas. One group of Algerians even got up on the plaza’s bandstand to shout down at the Belgians.


But it was all in good humor. The Algerians made their way down from the bandstand to join the Belgians, and they danced and sang in a circle. The square is one of Belo Horizonte’s iconic images, surrounded by landmarks including the Minas Gerais state government headquarters and an Oscar Niemeyer-designed building.


Algeria and Belgium will play in the Group H opener at Mineriao Stadium on Tuesday.


— By Frank Griffiths —





SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — At least this time, Sepp Blatter wasn’t booed.


The FIFA president tweeted out a photo of himself shaking hands with NBA star Kobe Bryant during Monday’s World Cup match between Germany and Portugal.


The Los Angeles Lakers guard grew up in Italy and is a big soccer fan.


Blatter, routinely jeered when he’s shown on stadium video boards, watched the game with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.





NATAL, Brazil (AP) — So how do you really feel, Landon?


U.S. star Landon Donovan, cut from the World Cup team, tweaks coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision in a video released Monday, the day of the Americans’ opener in Brazil. The promo for EA Sports’ 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil video game depicts Donovan’s supposed life without soccer — and not-so-subtly hints that his passion for the game would be the difference in lifting the U.S. to glory.


After sleeping in, Donovan slips on a USA robe and slippers. The camera cuts to images of soccer gear, then a newspaper with the headline: “Does Team USA have enough firepower?”


As Donovan sips his coffee, he knocks a replica World Cup trophy off the kitchen table and shakes his head. The clip ends with Donovan playing the video game, scoring a goal as himself to lead the U.S. to the championship. He then looks into the camera and rolls his eyes.


Fans will know a lot more about whether the decision to drop Donovan was a bad one after the Americans face Ghana later Monday in Natal. Donovan will be providing commentary for ESPN from Los Angeles.





NATAL, Brazil (AP) — There figures to be a red, white and blue crowd for the United States’ World Cup opener against Ghana on Monday night.


About 2,800 U.S. fans attended an American Outlaws party on the eve of the match at Arena das Dunas, and the roads near the beach were filled with people wearing U.S. jerseys.


The U.S. Soccer Federation said it sold its entire allotment of about 2,000 tickets, and more fans were thought to have obtained tickets through FIFA’s corporate partners and travel agencies.


— By Ronald Blum —





BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s top-selling newspaper sent a message to Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo: “Today, WE have the winners’ muscles!”


The Bild daily’s front page Monday featured an illustration showing Germany captain Philipp Lahm, midfielder Thomas Mueller and coach Joachim Loew striking Ronaldo’s shirtless pose from Real Madrid’s Champions League victory over city rival Atletico Madrid last month.


The Berlin tabloid B.Z. couldn’t resist a shirtless moment either. Under the headline “Today Ronaldo will look old!” its front page featured an illustration of an aged, gray-haired Ronaldo with a sagging belly.




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