FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

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Monday, February 27, 2006

World Cup Teams to have Friendly Games

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The World Cup is approaching and thirty of the 32 nations will play in friendly games this week. Only Togo and Australia will be inactive this days. Most of the action this week takes place in Europe on Wednesday — exactly 100 days before the World Cup starts June 9.

“It’s not time for experiments,” Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said.

The United States will be missing captain Claudio Reyna, recovering from ankle surgery, but will have most of its other Europe-based players for the first time this year for Wednesday night’s game. The Americans are 3-0-1 in World Cup warmups this year.

Other matches on Wednesday include defending champion Brazil at Russia; Uruguay at England, Germany at Italy, Slovakia at France, Ivory Coast at Spain and Ecuador at the Netherlands. Argentina plays Croatia at Basel, Switzerland.

What's more, on Tuesday, World Cup newcomer Trinidad and Tobago meets Iceland in London and Japan faces Bosnia-Herzegovina in Dortmund, Germany.

Brazil is without five injured players who are likely to be on its 23-man World Cup roster: midfielder Ronaldinho, defenders Cafu and Roque Junior, and goalkeepers Dida and Julio Cesar.

Spain coach Luis Aragones expects a tough test against African Cup of Nations runner-up Ivory Coast.

“In terms of individual ability, it’s the best African squad,” said Aragones, who thinks Chelsea’s Didier Drogba and Arsenal’s Kolo Toure are the most dangerous players.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson chose several fringe players for his squad to face Uruguay at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium, missing eight regulars who are hurt.

Eriksson has named rookie forward Darren Bent and given Wes Brown, Kieran Richardson and Luke Young the chance to impress.

“Everything depends on how many injuries we have,” Eriksson said. “The door is open to everyone, but if everyone is fit then I’m quite sure of 19 or 20 at least.”

Germany will play Italy without experienced defender Christian Woerns, whom coach Juergen Klinsmann said last week would not be part of his World Cup squad after the player criticized him.

Captain Michael Ballack said the decision surprised him.

“Christian was an important component of the national team,” he said.

However, Klinsmann is thought to prefer younger defenders with attacking skills.

Timo Hildebrand or Jens Lehmann are expected to play in goal in place of Oliver Kahn, who has pulled out with a bruised thigh. In fact, Germany also plays the United States in Dortmund on March 22.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi named newcomer Manuel Pasqual and welcomed back forward Christian Vieri. Pasqual, a 23-year-old Fiorentina defender, is replacing injured Juventus regular Gianluca Zambrotta while Vieri, now with AS Monaco, is rejoining the Azzurri after eight months.

Lippi also recalled AS Roma midfielder Simone Perrotta and Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, fully recovered from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for months. Real Madrid midfielder Antonio Cassano was left off the roster.

France coach Raymond Domenech called up Lyon defender Francois Clerc for the first time for the Slovakia encounter. Domenech also recalled AS Roma defender Philippe Mexes after a two-year absence and retained Fenerbahce forward Nicolas Anelka.

Dutch coach Marco van Basten also picked a rookie in his team to play Ecuador, Feyenoord midfielder Nicky Hofs. Rafael van der Vaart, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Andre Ooijer all out of the game to recover from injuries.

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