First, as increasing numbers of nations are submitting their ‘final’ squads of 23, many have had to finally admit that certain desperately-rehabbing stars were not going to recover in time. This was the case with Bryan Oviedo of Costa Rica, Giuseppe Rossi of Italy, and most notably (and devastatingly for Colombia) Radamel Falcao of Colombia. Frank Ribéry of France has also now admitted defeat in his struggle.
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Then there are the teams in limbo, with players whose injuries are not as serious but happened recently enough that they can’t be sure whether to wait, take a chance that the player will be available for at least one or two crucial group games, or replace them while there is still time (teams have until the beginning of their first group match to make a replacement due to injury). Players like Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (who seems now to be miraculously recovering), Spain’s Diego Costa, Russia’s Captain Roman Shirokov, and several on the German squad (including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, defender Philip Lahm, and midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger) fall into this category.
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This situation is aggravated by the flurry of warm-up ‘friendlies,’ which have quickly turned out to be a double edged sword. A collision between Mexico’s Luis Montes and Ecuador’s Segundo Castillo resulted in Montes being knocked out of the tournament and Castillo hoping to perhaps make his team’s third group game. Italy’s Riccardo Montolivo broke his leg against Ireland, ruling him out, while the Netherlands’ Robin Van Persie, England’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and again today for Germany, midfielder Marco Reus have all been rendered questionable as a result of ‘friendly fire.’
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The strangest of injury stories, somehow unsurprisingly, come from Africa. Liverpool defender and Ivory Coast international Kolo Touré, brother of superstar Yaya, has been named to the final squad, despite contracting a case of malaria. Meanwhile, Ghana’s ‘most influential’ witch doctor, Nana Kwaku Bonsam, has claimed credit for predicting back in February Christiano Ronaldo’s mysterious lingering knee/thigh problems that continue to keep him out of Portugal’s warm-up games, including tomorrow’s friendly with Mexico in New Jersey. “I know what Ronaldo’s injury’s about, I’m working on him,” says Bonsam. Will CR7’s shirtless bellow in the Champion’s League Final be the last we will see of him on a pitch this year? Jürgen Klinsmann, his US squad, Ghana and Germany are obviously watching with interest.
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