Monday Kickoff: Rossi suffers knee injury; Blatter hits out at Brazil WC preparations; and more

Monday Kickoff: Rossi suffers knee injury; Blatter hits out at Brazil WC preparations; and more

South American Soccer

Monday Kickoff: Rossi suffers knee injury; Blatter hits out at Brazil WC preparations; and more

GiuseppeRossiFiorentina2-Livorno2014 (EFE)

By DAN KARELL

For the third time in as many years, Giuseppe Rossi is facing an extended layoff due to a knee injury.

The American-born forward who has been in fine form this season was at the end of a crunching challenge on Sunday in Fiorentina’s 1-0 victory against Livorno, forcing Rossi off the field in the 71st minute. Originally thought to have suffered a third torn ACL, Fiorentina released a medical report on Monday saying that Rossi suffered a grade two MCL tear in his right knee, the same one that he tore the ACL.

Fiorentina also said that Rossi will travel to Vail, Colo. to visit Dr. Richard Steadman, who operated on Rossi’s two prior knee surgeries and as performed thousands of ACL surgeries in his medical practice.

In his first full season back from injury, Rossi leads Serie A with 14 goals in 18 games. Italy National Team head coach Cesare Prandelli has wished Rossi good luck in coming back from this injury and is hopeful to have the 26-year-old available for the World Cup this summer.

Here are some more stories to kick off your week:

BLATTER CRITICIZES BRAZIL WORLD CUP PREPARATIONS

In his first public comments of 2014, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has chosen to slam Brazil ahead of the upcoming World Cup.

Blatter claimed in an interview with Swiss newspaper 24 Heures that six of the 12 World Cup venues have missed FIFA’s latest deadline of Dec. 31, and that there are delays to construction of hotels, airports, and roads across the nation.

“Brazil has just found out what it means and has started work much too late,” Blatter said. “No country has been so far behind in preparations since I have been at FIFA, even though it is the only host nation which has had so much time – seven years – in which to prepare.”

At least three of the stadia are expected to continue construction through mid-April, just two months prior to the start of the tournament.

PORTUGUESE GREAT EUSEBIO PASSES AWAY

Arguably the greatest soccer player in Portugal’s history, Eusebio, passed away on Sunday at his home in Lisbon due to heart failure. He was 71.

As a forward for Benfica and the Portuguese National Team, Eusebio lead his sides to great heights with his goal-scoring achievements. With Benfica, Eusebio lead his side to a European Cup title in 1962 against Real Madrid with a hat-trick in the final and they finished runners-up in 1963, 1965, and 1968. The Mozambique-born star is perhaps best known for his four-goal performance at the 1966 World Cup for Portugal, helping his side come back from a three-goal deficit against North Korea to win 5-3. Portugal finished in third-place in that World Cup, the closest they have ever come to winning the tournament.

Tributes to Eusebio have poured in from around the world from both political leaders and soccer players paying their respects. In Portugal, he’s referred to as “the eternal.” Eusebio remains Benfica’s top goal scorer with 474 goals in 440 matches in all competitions. For Portugal, Eusebio scored 41 times in 64 appearances.

LEWANDOWSKI FINALLY SIGNS FOR BAYERN

After months of anticipation, Bayern Munich finally made the news official.

The reigning Bundesliga, European, and Club World Cup champions announced on Saturday that they’ve signed Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski to a five-year contract, set to begin on July 1. Lewandowski will move to Bayern this summer on a free contract, as his deal is set to expire with Dortmund at the end of June.

“We’re very pleased about completing this transfer,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a club statement. “Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world. He will strengthen the Bayern squad and give us another boost. We’re delighted both parties have today signed a five-year contract until 2019.”

The Polish international has been the best-scoring forward in the Bundesliga for the last two years and has long been linked with a transfer to Bayern. Since 2011, Lewandowski has scored 57 goals in the Bundesliga and 82 goals in all competitions. It’s the second major signing in the last six months that Bayern has made from Dortmund, with Mario Götze moving last summer for a reported €37 million.

QUICK KICKS

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is finally back in full training with the squad after struggling to overcome a back injury for the past five months. (REPORT)

David Moyes says he’s unsure if Manchester United will be able to sign their transfer targets in January. (REPORT)

Real Madrid have plans to offer Xabi Alonso a two-year extension, despite worries that he could leave on a free transfer this summer. (REPORT)

Real Madrid also offered Robert Lewandowski and his advisors a deal of €81 million to bring him to Spain. (REPORT)

Arsenal winger Theo Walcott could miss four weeks with a knee injury suffered in his club’s 2-0 victory against Tottenham on Saturday. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Rossi returning for the World Cup? Agree with Blatter’s comments on Brazil’s World Cup preparations? What are your favorite memories of Eusebio’s career?

Share your thoughts below.

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