ALEX STILL HOPING

Paris St Germain defender Alex says that he has not given up hope on playing in the World Cup 2014. Competition is intense for the Brazil squad that will be selected by Luiz Felipe Scolari in a few months time. Brazil will go into the competition as the firm favourites to win it after having lifted the precursor – the confederations cup – only a few months ago. They are also the hosts of the tournament, thus making it a huge incentive for Brazilians to take part in it. Former Chelsea defender Alex used to be a regular for the national team, but the emergence of David Luiz has reduced his first-team opportunities.

The 31-year-old could be making one final appearance in a major tournament if he is selected, but the intense competition makes him sceptical. His PSG teammate Thiago Silva and David Luiz have been the preferred centre back partnership under Scolari, while Bayern Munich’s Dante is just behind them in the pecking order. Alex helped the PSG win the French league title last season, while he has almost made it into the quarter-finals of the Champions League once again this time. PSG are 4-0 up on aggregate over their last 16 opponents Bayern Leverkusen after the first leg.

Alex says that performing well for PSG is his only option.

“It is very difficult to integrate into the Selecao because the competition is fierce on all lines. Pundits are saying that three defenders are almost certain to participate in the World Cup, as coach Luiz Felipe Scolari seems to want four that means I still have a chance. If I continue performing well during the next four months, I can do it . In any case, I believe. The more you play in the opposing camp, the less danger for the defence,” said Alex.

US CAN QUALIFY

The US National team star Landon Donovan has stated that the squad believes that they can qualify from the group stages into the knockout stages at the World Cup 2014. United States have done well in recent major tournaments, but they face a stern test in their hopes of achieving this ambition. This is due to the tough group pairing, which will see the US take on the likes of Germany and Portugal. Ghana are the other group opponents and they are one of the strongest teams from Africa.

Donovan has acknowledged that it is going to be very difficult group since they will be playing against stars like Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo from Germany and Portugal respectively. Despite this, the players in the US national team squad are of the belief that they can qualify. The US recently held a training camp in Brazil to help the players get accustomed to the situations that they will face in the summer.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann took with him 26 players for this training camp. The user scheduled to play a number of friendly matches between now and the start of the tournament with an encounter against South Korea being one of the first.

After a sabbatical, Landon Donovan is slowly looking like coming back to his best. He will be a player to lookout for in the summer. “There’s never been competition for places like there is in our team now. You can really make a case for probably 35 or 40 guys to be a part of a 23-man roster, and that’s never been the case. It’s really up for grabs in a lot of positions, and that in itself obviously creates competition, which makes the team better. The reason it’s the group of death is because we are in it,” said Donovan.

NOT WATCHING

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said that he will not be following the World Cup 2014 after his team failed to reach the finals of the tournament. Sweden and Portugal were involved in a play-off match to determine their future at the World Cup finals. Portugal managed to qualify for the tournament after a 4-2 win on aggregate. Ibrahimovic scored two goals for Sweden, but he was overshadowed by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored all of the goals.

This match was seen as the competition between Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo since these two players have become very important for their national teams. The 32-year-old striker has been in impressive form for PSG. Even though he could not replicate this form in the first leg, he came alive in the second leg by scoring two goals to cancel out Ronaldo’s opener. However, the Real Madrid man came back to show that he is one of the best in the running for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award by scoring a hat-trick to book Portugal’s place in the World Cup.

“One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup. Congratulations to Portugal but both teams deserved to get to the World Cup. It was probably the last attempt to reach the World Cup with the national team for me. The disappointment of course is great now that the World Cup in Brazil will remain a dream for the Swedish national team,” said Ibrahimovic, who also congratulated Ronaldo after the match.

After the match, Ibrahimovic said that he will not be watching the competition since it does not feature him. The outspoken striker is regarded as one of the finest in the world.

Ibrahimovic is also included in the 23-man shortlist to win the Ballon d’Or award.

CAN ENGLAND WIN?

There are a number of English fans who believe that England will be capable of winning the next major tournament despite the country not lifting any major trophies since the 1966 World Cup. In fact, England will be one of the talk about nations prior to a World Cup. They have often disappointed in recent years by exiting major tournaments in quarter-finals itself. The English Football Association recently appointed Greg Dyke as the new chairman, and he opted a more cautious approach when it came to the expectations for the World Cup 2014.

Given the recent history, he expects England not to be one of the top sides going into the tournament. He has also recalled the history European nations have when it comes to the World Cup competitions held in South America. No European nation has ever won the World Cup title when the competition is held here.

England will be playing two World Cup qualifying matches against Moldova and Ukraine. The former will be at home, while the team will be travelling to Kiev for the latter. These are two important matches that will go along way into determining the winner of the group, which is currently led by Montenegro. England do need to win these matches without fail.

“I don’t think anyone realistically thinks we are going to win the World Cup in Brazil. I asked a bunch of journalists what would be seen as doing well in Brazil. The consensus was if we reach the quarter-finals we’ll do very well. That’s not to say we can’t win. But let’s not kid ourselves, it’s pretty hard to win in Latin America anyway for a European side. We’re certainly not going to go there as odds-on favourites, that’s for sure,” said the new FA chairman to the BBC.

BALLOT OPENS

Fans will be able to buy tickets for the FIFA World Cup 2014 from Tuesday onwards, and FIFA has said that it expects a similar demand to the one experienced for the 2006 World Cup. The 2006 edition was one of the popular World Cup tournaments in recent years. Despite the enormous negativity surrounding the Brazilian World Cup, FIFA has stated that it still expects an increased demand from the fans. The 2006 edition was a 64 match tournament and each match received around seven applications for one ticket. The tournament was attended by more than 3 million people.

The 2010 edition in South Africa saw the visitor more than 2 million people. After this dip in visitors, FIFA expects the 2014 edition to be a major success. The marketing director of FIFA, Thierry Weil has said that it is difficult to predict the demand of the tickets, but he is confident that the interest will be substantially greater than that of the 2010 World Cup. The lowest priced tickets will cost fans around $ 90, while the highest priced tickets will be for the final at $ 440. This is the lowest price of tickets for the final, while the highest will be selling for $ 990.

“It’s always difficult to predict. But I truly believe that it will be more toward to what happened in Germany than in South Africa. We believe there will be a huge demand for this World Cup. But again, we will see after the opening. We can do a lot of simulations but the biggest test will come tomorrow when it all starts. But we are confident that things will work. We all agree that the Confederations Cup is more than just a test event,” said FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil ahead of the start of the ticket sales.

HUGE OPPORTUNITY

US social networking giant Twitter has said that they will be looking to generate huge business during the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Speaking ahead of the tournament, the company’s head of revenue has said that the World Cup promises to provide a huge scope of business for the company even as the nation is still trying to complete the development work of infrastructure and the stadiums. Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which has resulted in the huge penetration of Internet. Internet is now accessed by almost half of the country’s population.

Brazil has a population of close to 200 million and Twitter reckons that this could a huge market for the company in the next decade. The FIFA World Cup is not the only major tournament that is around the corner, but the 2016 Olympics will also be held in Brazil. Twitter’s global head of revenue, Bain has said that Brazil could be one of the important markets for the company in the next 10 years. The social networking site had a huge spike in traffic during the 2012 London Olympics, and it expects the visitors to be even greater during the World Cup.

The company has made more than $600 million in advertising revenue in the current financial year.

“You think about the next 10 years in Brazil and it is really going to be amazing from a business perspective. Brazil is the largest opportunity we see in Latin America and frankly across all of the other markets. That’s why we are here building and we will continue to invest in this market in a big way. Some of our most strategic deals that we have signed with marketers, which are global deals that we have signed over multiple years,” said Bain.