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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Mano Menezes, the coach of Brazil’s national soccer team said the best team in the world isn’t the Netherlands or Spain, which are ranked first and second in FIFA’s latest poll.
It’s third-ranked Germany – not the Seleção.
“At the 2010 World Cup we were behind Germany, which in my opinion is the most complete team, even more complete than Spain,” he told Brazilian magazine Veja. “Germany has always been very methodical and almost perfect when it comes to tactics, but they lacked the ability to solve matches. This gap has been brilliantly filled by players such as [Mesut] Ozil, [Thomas] Muller and [Bastian] Schweinsteiger.”
Menezes was very complimentary of the Germans, weeks after they posted a 3-2 victory over the Seleção in Stuttgart, Germany last month.
Brazil tumbled two spots in the latest FIFA rankings to No. 6, largely because the loss to Die Mannschaft was preceded by a poor finish at Copa América, where the Seleção lost in the quarterfinals to Paraguay. Brazil had won the past two Copa Américas and four of the last five.
Brazil’s lowest-ever FIFA ranking was eighth, in 1993.
Menezes, 49, who took over after Dunga was removed as coach following Brazil’s loss in the quarterfinals to the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, said the Seleção has plenty of work to do if it’s to regain its spot atop the world’s soccer hierarchy. Brazil was last ranked No. 1 from April 2010 to May 2010.
“It is necessary to recognize Brazil is no longer playing the best football in the world,” he told Veja.
Brazil has automatically qualified for the 2014 World Cup since it’s the host country. The only other team that’s qualified is Spain, as it’s the defending champion.
The Seleção faces ninth-ranked Argentina in a friendly in Córdoba, Argentina, on Sept. 14. The teams meet against on Sept. 28 in Belém, Brazil.
Argentina’s Agüero says he’s going to be icon for Manchester City
Argentine forward Sergio Agüero wants to make it perfectly clear: He’s going to be as big a star for England’s Manchester City as his famous father-in-law, Diego Maradona, was for Italy’s Napoli more than two decades ago.
“I hope I can help Manchester City do great things like Diego did with Napoli,” Agüero, 23, told reporters. “I’m coming here to help the team develop and win titles, and if we can do that this year, it will be perfect. But we’ll keep on trying to get better and better, and I hope to play a big part in that.”
Agüero has been nearly unstoppable since agreeing to a £38 million (US$60 million) deal to leave Spain’s Atlético Madrid last summer. He’s scored six goals in four games for Manchester City, including all three in a 3-0 victory over Wigan on Sept. 10. He needed just 69 minutes to accomplish the feat.
Manchester City is counting on Agüero, who is married to one of Maradona’s daughters, to lead it to the Premier League title. Maradona powered Napoli to two Serie A titles, a UEFA Cup and a Coppa Italia from 1984-1991, when he scored 81 goals in 188 games.
But Roberto Mancini, who coaches Manchester City, isn’t getting too excited as his team prepares to make its first Champions League appearance against Napoli on Sept. 14.
“I understand why people are getting excited, but it is still early for us,” he told reporters. “Yes, it’s our target to improve, to win the Premier League and Champions League in the future. But we’ll see what happens in May. This group of players has only been together two months, and we need time. Of course, playing in the Champions League was all part of that project. But we are actually in the competition sooner than I thought we would be.”
Steven Gerrard: Uruguay’s Suárez could become one of Liverpool’s best
Liverpool forward Steven Gerrard said the team has found a forward who could emerge as one of the greatest stars ever to don the club’s prestigious red jersey: Luis Suárez.
The 24-year-old Uruguayan forward has been sensational following a £22.7 million (US$36 million) move from Amsterdam’s Ajax in January to fill the void left by Fernando Torres, who transferred to England’s Chelsea.
Suárez, who has scored six goals in 15 starts for the Reds, is a major reason why Liverpool has emerged as a contender to finish high in the Premier League and dethrone defending champion Manchester United.
Liverpool is in sixth place in the Premier League with seven points (two wins, a tie and a loss), five points behind leader Manchester United.
“He’s still young enough, and I’m sure he’s going to get even better than he is now, which is a scary thought,” Gerrard told Liverpool’s website. “He’s got the appetite for the game to learn and get better. Hopefully, he will go on here for a long time because he’s certainly got a massive part to play at this club in the future – the history is there to be written.”
Suárez, whose nickname is “The Gunfighter,” is coming off a terrific performance for Uruguay at Copa América, where he led La Celeste to its first title since 1995 by scoring once in a 3-0 victory over Paraguay in the final in Buenos Argentina in July. He finished the tournament with four goals en route to be named the event’s most valuable player.
Gerrard hopes Suárez continues his success with Liverpool.
“It’s fantastic to have him and hopefully he can continue his form until the end of the season,” he told the team’s website. “If he does, it will give us a much better chance of getting some trophies.”