BRAZIL BEAT: Piranhas? No problem at Manaus beach

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MANAUS, Brazil (AP) — Beaches are a big part of life for most Brazilians, and the locals deep in the Amazon jungle are definitely Brazilian.


In Manaus, the most exotic of the 12 World Cup host cities, the residents head to the posh neighborhood of Ponta Negra to lounge on the sandy beach and take a dip in the Rio Negro, the river that joins up with the Amazon River on the other side of the city. The warm water, as its name implies, is dark, but with a bit of a red tint.


Oh yeah, there are piranhas in there, too, but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. And neither does the rain.


On Monday, it started to pour in the afternoon, scattering the few spectators in the nearby Fan Fest who were watching Germany beat Portugal 4-0 on a large-screen TV. But down on the beach, most of the revelers stood their ground and stayed in the water.


No piranha injuries were immediately reported.


— Chris Lehourites





NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Clint Dempsey wasted no time in ending the goal drought by U.S. forwards at the World Cup.


The Americans’ captain scored in the first minute of their opener against Ghana on Monday — the fastest World Cup goal in his country’s history. U.S. strikers had failed to find the net in the previous two tournaments: The last goal came from Brian McBride against Mexico in the second round in 2002 in South Korea.


Dempsey briefly left the game later in the first half after taking a cleat to the nose, but he returned. The news was far worse for the American’s other starting forward, Jozy Altidore, who was taken off on a stretcher in the 21st minute with an apparent left hamstring injury. He was replaced by Aron Johannsson.





MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) — No. 3 goalkeeper Mattia Perin has one foot high in the air as he leans down to return a table tennis shot.


Daniele De Rossi is battling Ignazio Abate in a video game.


Andrea Pirlo interrupts a pinball game to glance at the camera.


The photo that defender Leonardo Bonucci posted on Instagram last week offered insight into what Italy’s players do with their free time at the Portobello Resort & Safari.


On Monday, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu revealed which player is better at what on PlayStation and Xbox.


“Thiago Motta gets the gold medal at war games,” he said. “(Alessio) Cerci, (Ciro) Immobile and (Lorenzo) Insigne dominate at football. De Rossi thinks he’s good at basketball, but he’s not, and I know that because Perin beat him.


“And I’m happy to let everyone know (De Rossi) is no good,” Sirigu added with a laugh.


The game room must have been approved by Cesare Prandelli, although the Italy coach might do well to warn the players not to go overboard. It was only a few years ago that defender Alessandro Nesta had to have his thumb operated on, reportedly after injuring it playing too many video games.


“It’s a good way to spend our free time and create team spirit,” Sirigu said. “It’s just good to be together.”


— By Andrew Dampf





FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari sent a message to his former Portugal players after their 4-0 loss to Germany on Monday.


“I tell my friends that when I was the coach at the Euros (in 2004) we also lost the first match and we still went on to the final,” Scolari said. “This is what I can say to motivate them. They have to regroup to try to win the next match, and then win again to make sure they can advance. We lost it that time at home but we still reached the final. It can still happen and this Portugal team can do it.”


Scolari coached Portugal after he led Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title in South Korea and Japan. He stayed with the Portuguese national team until 2008.


In the news conference previewing Brazil’s match against Mexico on Tuesday, the coach also took the time to joke with team captain Thiago Silva. In one of his answers, the defender was listing the players who could replace striker Hulk if he can’t play because of an injury.


Scolari interrupted his player and asked, “Wait, so now you are the one who is saying who will be playing?”


— By Tales Azzoni





CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — The very first day of the 2010 World Cup, both games ended as draws — one of them scoreless.


The 2014 tournament made it to its fifth day and 13th match before its first tie. Nigeria and Iran ended 0-0 in their Group F opener Monday, a dull contrast to the streak of high-scoring games, all with a winner.





SAO PAULO (AP) — Outside Restaurant Haddock Grill hangs a big flag of Brazil, and a small one of Portugal.


Inside, businessmen in suits and ties are having their lunch break — chattering loudly over their dishes with their eyes glued to the screen above the buffet offering. Portugal is playing its first World Cup game, and the mood suddenly turns dour as the team surrenders its second goal of the first half, en route to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany.


Even though Brazil has been independent from Portugal for nearly two centuries, most of the diners appear partial to the squad of their former colonizers.


“Portugal is in our blood, in our body,” said Andres Szarukan, a 37-year-old business manager for a digital media company. “We still have a lot of families who came from Portugal and the connection is strong.”


Among those are the Martins, the owners of the diner in downtown Sao Paulo who placed the flag outside.


Sandra Martins says her parents were born in Portugal, so naturally their allegiances were to the team of Cristiano Ronaldo — so long as they weren’t playing Brazil. The 38-year-old frowns after Germany scores again.


As the first half comes to a close, the diners shuffle out and reluctantly head back to their offices. Less commotion is expected the next day, when Brazil is set to play again. Most say they’ll skip their business lunch out, leaving work early to catch the afternoon game at home.


— By Aron Heller

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