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Group B World Cup preview

Any successful World Cup campaign can depend on a favourable draw at the first round group stage, as starting off on the right foot and avoiding dangerous teams can be the ideal recipe for success. Each of the thirty-two teams have earned the right to appear at Brazil 2014, and carry a certain element of quality which may stand them in good stead to make their country proud. The theoretical belief that there is no such thing as an easy game in the world of football may be perfectly illustrated by the four teams who make up an absolute cracker of a World Cup group that could produce fireworks for the neutrals to savour. Group B will feature the reigning World Cup and European champions, the creators of ‘Total Football’, a dangerous up-and-coming South American side packed with pace and creativity, and one of the most successful nations from Asia who should not be underestimated. Football punters may require invaluable world cup 2014 betting tips to make head or tail of one of the strongest World Cup groups in modern history, with Group B poised to provide six wonderful games of football.

Spain

After so many years of showing real potential to blossom into a dominant and successful international side, Spain have finally rose to prominence – and have done so in imperious style. Winning the last three major tournaments perfectly demonstrates why the current Spain squad is highly regarded as one of the best ever international sides in world football. It is well within their capabilities to become the third nation in history to win back-to-back World Cup tournaments, in addition to setting a new record as the only side to lift four consecutive major trophies, but they are only backed as fourth favourites for Brazil 2014 at 7/1.

Despite being in imperious form throughout a qualifying group which included France via their wonderful tiki-taka style of football, there may be an underlying reason why Spain are not considered favourites. Vincente Del Bosque has a vast array of world class players to choose from in every department, but may face a selection headache in attack. David Villa and Fernando Torres may have superb international scoring records, but none of their recognised strikers have found any sort of form or consistency in front of goal for their respective clubs. Diego Costa, who has recently registered to play for Spain despite being born in Brazil, is the only striker Del Bosque could trust to lead the line, although his relative inexperience at international level could count against them.

Netherlands

‘Always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ is a phrase which perfectly applies to the Netherlands at World Cup tournaments. The ‘Oranje’ hold an unwanted record as the nation who have played in the most World Cup finals without ever winning one. This reflects an inability to turn huge potential into success, particularly during the 1970s which was a golden era for the Netherlands who produced some of the greatest international sides in world football. The class of 2014 arguably do not possess the same quality, but do have an intriguing balance with a number of top young prospect alongside experienced heads. Domestic clubs continue to power a never-ending conveyor belt of talent emerging from famed youth academies across the country, although Louis Van Gaal holds high hopes that the 23 players he selects for Brazil 2014 will right the wrongs of Euro 2012 and repeat the performance in South Africa 2010 whey they finished runners-up to Spain – their opening Group B opponents. Netherlands are 13/5 to gain revenge, but are ranked amongst the dark horses to win the World Cup at 33/1.

Chile

The considerable humidity and heat levels that are predicted throughout Brazil 2014 are widely predicted to favour the South American nations who do not have to acclimatise to play in these conditions. While Brazil and Argentina remain the leading lights of the continent, Chile have emerged as a potential dark horse to win the World Cup at 33/1. Although they have never won a major international tournament, the current crop of players have created great hope and excitement across the country who believe Chile can compete against the major international side. Their belief is fully justified through superb performances throughout the South American qualifying campaign and friendlies against higher placed teams in the world rankings; 2-2 draws away in Brazil and Spain were topped by a convincing victory over England at Wembley in 2013, and while they lost 1-0 to Germany in March, they won plaudits for the quality of football they displayed in Stuttgart.

The secret to Chile’s rise to prominence is their dedication to playing fast-paced attacking, free-flowing football within every game which has made Jorge Sampaoli’s side highly appealing on the eye. It is a system that appears to be paying dividends through an impressive scoring rate, although Chile have also established a defensive stability that can compete against the very best.

Australia

The Socceroos could be forgiven for believing they face a baptism of fire at Brazil 2014 after being drawn in an extremely strong group packed with pedigree and quality. Australia will always play with pride and commitment, but it may prove an impossible task to qualify from Group B. Preparation for the World Cup has not been ideal, with Holger Osieck being sacked following consecutive 6-0 defeats in friendly matches against France and Brazil, despite being the man who led Australia to the World Cup. New manager Ange Postecoglou faces a challenge to restore pride in the Australia national team, with poor performances during the qualifying campaign adding more cause for concern that they may become the Group B whipping boys. Much will depend on their opening fixture against Chile, in which Australia are already rated as rank outsiders to win at 5/1; a shock victory could provide great hope that Australia could match their best ever World Cup performance and reach the second round.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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The NCAA’s idiotic drug test penalties

It’s fashionable these days to bust on the stupidity of the NCAA, but they keep making it so easy. The latest fiasco involves Mitch McGary being suspended for a full season for failing one marijuana drug test. Now he’s heading off to the NBA.

The NCAA has archaic and idiotic rules. Everyone knows that. Now we’re learning that it takes years to get rid of some of the dumbest rules, like the restrictions on meals for athletes. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the NCAA is nowhere near keeping up with evolving public opinion on marijuana use. The notion of banning a player for a year as a result of one joint sounds logical in the hysterical “War on Drugs” mentality of the 1980s. Today it sounds silly, and offers up another example of how this organization needs to be reformed.

Can we finally get a Triple Crown winner?

The Triple Crown was part of my childhood. I was a little too young to appreciate Secretariat in the early 70s, but Seattle Slew and Affirmed were both incredible horses and I remember those vividly. Seattle Slew was dominant in 1977, even if it wasn’t celebrated quite as much as the legendary Secretariat. Affirmed was special due to the classic rivalry with Alydar in one of the most excited Triple Crown runs in history. Their epic battle ended in a race at the Belmont Stakes for the ages with Affirmed literally winning by a nose to grab the Triple Crown.

But Affirmed was the last winner. It was so exciting in the 1970s with these great horses, but nobody good have predicted the Triple Crown drought that would follow. There were many close calls, and I was at the Belmont Stakes in 1989 when Sunday Silence was trying for the Triple Crown but was denied by Easy Goer. I had bet Sunday Silence hoping to witness history, but I was in the infield near the finish line as Pat Day rode to an impressive win for Easy Goer, which was probably the better horse.

But May is around the corner, and the sports world will be watching sports like basketball and hockey, but that won’t be all.

As we get set for the NBA and NHL playoffs next week all eyes have diverted away from horse racing but lest we forget the most exciting 2 minutes in sports that are the Kentucky Derby. The 2014 Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May and you can get the latest qualifying scores report and line moves at the official Kentucky Derby betting site to help you with your Kentucky Derby online wagering picks and predictions.

Horse racing could really use a Triple Crown winner, as the health of the sport has really suffered over the years. Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, home of the Preakness Stakes, had to be bailed out by the state in order to continue operations. Many race tracks these days can’t survive without slots to draw more visitors.

But the big races are still a huge party, and if you’re looking for a great time you can start with the classic Kentucky Derby.

Uniting The Ringless: Damian Lillard Foot Locker Ad Kills

No-Rings-Foot-Locker

Retirement has proven to be little respite for living NBA legends Karl Malone and Chris Webber, and former NFL starsBarry Sanders and Ladainian Tomlinson, who are reminded of their ring-less professional careers in the new spot from Foot Locker, “No Rings”.

Airing today and throughout the start of playoff action, the new commercial features Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard on his phone talking about how he hopes not to end up ringless like some athletes of the past. To his surprise, iconic (and ringless) sports legends Sanders, Tomlinson, Webber, and Malone are hanging out in his living room, noticeably affected by the reminder that the coveted championship ring has slipped through their fingers.

Foot Locker’s new commercial is part of Foot Locker’s successful “Approved” marketing platform and can be seen here.

The spot features the newest performance footwear from Adidas basketball, including the Lillard Edition Crazy 1, Crazy 8 and D Rose 4.5, as well as the latest apparel styles from Adidas Originals.

Jon Hamm Directs “Clint Dempsey: On The Move” For Degree Men

Degree-Clint-Dempsey-Jon-Hamm

Since Clint Dempsey and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team were knocked out early in the World Cup four years ago in South Africa, he’s been on a mission to DO:MORE so he could ultimately IMPROVE and lead the team farther during this summer’s matches in Brazil.

To help tell his personal IMPROVE story, Degree Men enlisted the help of ‘Mad Men’ star and soccer fan, Jon Hamm, to direct the short film, “On The Move.”

Here’s a behind the scenes look featuring Hamm and Dempsey:

We spoke with Clint recently and asked the US Soccer captain 10 questions, here are a few choice cuts:

1. Talk about your partnership with Degree: DO MORE and how one lucky soccer fan can win a trip to Brazil in June to support you and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.

Degree is working with soccer and promoting the game. And also they’ve got the new deodorant now out with Degree Motion Sense technology where the more you move the more protection you get. The cool thing about it the campaign is, if you go to degreesoccer.com, a fan can win a trip to Brazil to join us at the World Cup this summer, so that will be exciting.

2. Is scoring a goal the hardest thing to do in sports?

At times, it feels like that, but other times, it feels like luck is on your side. It is a great feeling. For me growing up, whether I scored a touchdown or hit a home run, or scored a goal, scoring a goal is the greatest feeling to me. It gave me such a rush you want to keep doing it over and over again. That’s the reason I love the game. I love that it’s continuous, there aren’t that many stoppages, and scoring a goal is why I fell in love with it.

3. What does it feel like to be the captain of the American team?

One, it puts more pressure on me to try to will the team on. At the same time, there are a lot of players on the team that have played in World Cups, and will be ready for that challenge. We have a lot of leaders on this team; not just myself. Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and plenty of others that have that experience and really helped the team out in tough times. We’re a team that’s in good hands and we’re looking forward to the challenge, and I’m excited about that opportunity.

Read the full interview with Clint here.

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