Germany’s World Cup hopes suffered a severe blow on Saturday when midfielder Marco Reus was ruled out of the tournament due to an ankle injury sustained in their final warm-up game against Armenia on Friday.
Germany left for Brazil on Saturday with 22-year-old Sampdoria defender Shkodran Mustafi booking an unexpected last-minute ticket following Reus’s injury.
“I do not have the words to describe what I am feeling at the moment,” Reus said in a statement issued by his club Borussia Dortmund.
The injury mars Miroslav Klose’s achievement when he became Germany’s all-time top scorer, breaking Gerd Mueller’s 40-year record when he notched his 69th goal in a 6-1 rout of Armenia.
Racing against time
England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be given until 24 hours before their opening World Cup match against Italy to recover from injury, manager Roy Hodgson said on Friday. The 20-year-old is working hard to overcome a knee ligament strain suffered in Wednesday’s warm-up game with Ecuador and he will be offered every chance to get fit.
Spain striker Diego Costa has refuted Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s claims that he contacted him over playing the World Cup for the host nation. Costa said that Spain coach Vicente del Bosque convinced him to play for the reigning world champions while Scolari never approached him.
“Scolari never called me. The only coach that I spoke to was Del Bosque who showed interest in me, invited me for a meal and made me realise that I was in his plans,” Costa said. “I am Brazilian and that is not going to change but I want to win the World Cup with Spain,” he added.
“Go home and kiss your families” was Scolari’s parting message to his players as he gave them a day off.
Scolari gave his squad Saturday off to return home after they beat Serbia 1-0 in their final warm-up match on Friday. “My last words in the dressing room were, ‘Go see your family, hug them, kiss them, enjoy them’,” he told reporters.
“Take advantage because you might suffer over the next 30-odd days. But the reward is that if you win you are world champions for 1,430 days. So it’s 30 days hard work for 1,430 days. It’s a good deal if you ask me.”
Lawmakers reacted with anger on Saturday over the $980,000 bonus each Spain player will get if the national team retain the Cup. Captain Iker Casillas and vice-captain Xavi Hernandez signed the deal with Spain’s football federation June 3 on behalf of the 23 players.
Lawmakers of the opposition Socialist party criticised the premium as “disproportionate” and “an insult to citizens” given the recent economic crisis. One lawmaker tweeted that Spain would pay “more than twice” the bonus Germany would if they win the tournament.
Croatia edged Australia 1-0 in a hotly-contested final warm-up game but their victory was marred by an apparently serious ankle injury to defender Danijel Pranjic. The 32-year old left back was carried off the pitch midway through the first half after a late tackle by Australia defender Ivan Franjic, casting doubt over his involvement in the World Cup.
Colombia are sweating on a fitness report for injured midfielder Aldo Leao Ramirez. The seasoned 33-year-old injured his knee during training at the team camp outside Buenos Aires and is a doubt for the tournament.