Group B kicks off with a rematch of the 2010 World Cup final as Spain will take on the Netherlands at the Arena Fonte Nova on Friday. Cheap Shoes . Follow all the action live on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto, TSN Radio 690 in Montreal, TSN Radio 1260 in Edmonton and TEAM 1410 on Friday at 3pm et/Noon pt. The two countries needed extra time to decide the winner of the 2010 final, which Spain ultimately won thanks to an Andres Iniesta strike. And with the majority of the same pieces in place, Spain will be looking to make history by not only becoming the first nation to claim back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil achieved the feat in 1962, but also by becoming the first European country to win the tournament in South America. Spains 2010 campaign opened with a narrow defeat to Switzerland, so with a much more difficult opponent awaiting the reigning champions in their 2014 opener, Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez attempted to take some pressure off the team. "In 2010 we showed that if you lose the first game its not all over, but we want to get off to a winning start," he said. "To win the tournament you have to win as many games as possible, but in the last World Cup we showed that even after losing the first game, we wanted to get to the final." While Spain remains among the favorites to win the entire tournament, the Netherlands faces stiff competition to emerge from a cutthroat field in Group B, which also consists of Chile and Australia. The Dutch have plenty of experience in attack with the likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, but the back line is relatively untested, increasing the concern as to whether the 2010 runners-up can even make it out of the group this time around. In order to compensate for the lack of experience in defence, manager Louis van Gaal looks poised to deploy five defenders in the form of three center-backs and two wing-backs. Ron Vlaar, who should feature as one of the nations three central defenders along with Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins Indi, is aware of the perception of Hollands weak defence, but he was quick to point out the stout performances in qualifying that saw the Dutch concede just five goals in 10 group games. "We know that. We work hard to get better as a team and we also know we have our best players up front," Vlaar said. "But if you look at all the games we played during qualification and friendlies we didnt concede many goals. "So we have to give confidence to our forwards to accelerate and make a difference for us. You play every game to win. You have to be realistic but I really believe we can achieve something. I look forward to it and I cannot wait." *** Mexico ready to put sloppy qualifying in the past vs. Cameroon After an absolutely dismal qualifying campaign, Mexico will get its first chance to put that struggle in the rearview mirror on Friday against Cameroon in Group A play at the Estadio das Dunas. Follow all the action live on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto and TEAM 1410 on Friday beginning at Noon et/9am pt. Mexico struggled mightily in CONCACAF qualifying, finishing fourth and needing a gift from the United States just to reach Brazil. El Tri was on the verge of staying home before the United States, which had already qualified for the World Cup, scored in stoppage time against Panama in the final round of matches to help Mexico clinch fourth place. A fourth-place finish meant El Tri faced New Zealand in a two-legged playoff, but breezed past the All Whites, 9-3, on aggregate to avert disaster. Head coach Miguel Herrera, who was installed as the teams fourth head coach during qualifying, will be hoping his side can put that difficulty in the past and focus on getting out of a tough group. Herrera has only been in charge for about six months, and he is taking a bit of a gamble by pinning Mexicos hopes on 35-year-old defender Rafael Marquez, who will become the first player to captain his side at four different World Cups. Javier Hernandez is a familiar face up top for Mexico, but the team will also rely on some new blood as well with Oribe Peralta leading the team in goals in qualifying while Carlos Pena carved out a place in the midfield for himself with some strong performances recently. But El Tri will be without a pair of players in Luis Montes and Juan Carlos Medina. Medina, 31, figured to occupy a defensive role in the middle of the field but who will miss the tournament because of an ankle injury, while Montes will miss the tournament with a broken leg suffered in a friendly against Ecuador. Cameroon, meanwhile, will be making its seventh appearance in the World Cup hoping to replicate the success they had 24 years ago. The 1990 team stunned the rest of the world by becoming the first African side to reach the quarterfinals at the World Cup as they were led by the scoring exploits of veteran striker Roger Milla. Head coach Volker Finkes team will be trying to break a streak of four straight group-stage exits. The Indomitable Lions are led by 32-year-old forward Samuel Etoo. Etoo has been in and out of the side in recent years, but enters the World Cup in fine form after scoring nine goals in 21 appearances for Chelsea last season. Etoo has netted three World Cup goals in his career, leaving him two short of Millas record for the national team, and he may need to match that total if the team is going to finish in the top two in Group A. Vincent Aboubakar and Pierre Webo will also be expected to share some of the scoring load, while Alex Song, Stephane Mbia and Jean Makoun make up a quality midfield. With Brazil and Croatia also in Group A Fridays match is crucial for both clubs. Mexico will be hoping to get off to a good start with three points, while Cameroon will also need three points if they hope to escape the group stage. *** Chile has plenty to prove in World Cup opener vs. Australia Chile will have its first opportunity to open the eyes of the football world on Friday against Australia in Group B play at the Arena Pantanal. Follow all the action live on TSN Radio 1050 in Toronto, TSN Radio 690 in Montreal, TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa and TEAM 1410 on Friday at 6pm et/3pm pt. La Roja arrived on the world football scene in 2010 when they showed the can play as beautifully as any team in South Africa. Under Marcelo Bielsa, the team was full of vibrancy and vigor, attacking with a fluidity that not many expected. Chiles squad remains largely unaltered from 2010 and are led by key pieces such as Mauricio Isla, Gary Medel and Alexis Sanchez. Sanchez has made the jump from promising player to global superstar. The 25- year-old enjoyed a banner year with Barcelona, scoring 19 goals in league play. Isla, 25, has gained much more experience since his exploits at the 2010 World Cup, splitting his club allegiances with two seasons at Udinese before making the switch to Juventus in 2012. The same can be said for Medel, who was a key defender for Sevilla in a run of a few impressive seasons. The 26-year-old moved to Cardiff City last summer, and while the Welsh club was relegated from the Premier League, Medel enjoyed a solid campaign on a personal level. On the offensive end, Esteban Paredes, Mauricio Pinilla, Eduardo Varas, Jean Beausejour and Fabian Orellana all have a chance to chip in as Sanchez cannot be expected to carry the team out of a group that consists of Spain, Australia and the Netherlands. The biggest question for Chile will be whether midfielder Arturo Vidal is fit for the opening match. Vidal is one of the most well-rounded central midfielders in the world, but he was a surprising inclusion on the final roster following a recent knee operation. Chile is more than capable of making it out of Group B without Vidal, but its outlook would be much brighter if the Juventus man is able to suit up. Australia, meanwhile, enters the 2014 event as a huge underdog against stiff competition in the group. And facing teams like Spain, Chile and The Netherlands with a vastly inexperienced squad doesnt make the Socceroos task any easier. Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano are the only two members of the team with more than 50 caps, making them two of the countrys most important pieces. Cahill has featured for Australia in 2006 and 2010 and even became the first Australian player to score in World Cup play by netting two goals against Japan on June 12, 2006. Bresciano, also 34, boasts a great deal of experience in Serie A having represented the likes of Parma, Palermo and Lazio, but he has not played in Italys top flight since 2011. Captain Mile Jedinak is another key piece for the Socceroos. He is coming off an impressive season in the Premier League with Crystal Palace and will be tasked with guiding the team from the middle of the park. Australia figures to struggle in Group B, but Fridays match represents the clubs best chance to earn a point. Cheap Shoes Discount . Jose Bautista homered for the fifth straight game in the sixth inning, following a two-out solo homer by Melky Cabrera. Edwin Encarnacion led off the seventh with a homer to tie the game 3-3 and, with two out in the seventh, Munenori Kawasaki came through with the two-out single to score pinch-runner Steve Tolleson with what proved to be the winning run. Cheap Shoes For Sale . -- Arizona pitcher Bronson Arroyo is expected to miss a week to 10 days because of a back injury.ATLANTA -- Adam Wainwright was dominant on the mound. He wasnt too shabby at the plate, either. Wainwright pitched eight strong innings and helped himself offensively, outscoring Atlanta all by himself to lead the St. Louis Cardinals past the Braves 7-1 on Wednesday night. Matt Holliday drove in three runs and Peter Bourjos homered for the Cardinals. Wainwright (6-2) bounced back from his worst start of the season, having surrendered 10 hits and six runs to the Chicago Cubs. He had no trouble against the struggling Braves, holding them to six hits and striking out six. He was lifted after 103 pitches. But that was only part of the story. Wainwright had two hits to raise his average to .400 on the season, and came around to score both times. "He said he was going to impress some people offensively," manager Mike Matheny said. One night after breaking a seven-game losing streak, their longest in nearly two years, the Braves returned to a familiar pattern. Freddie Freemans third-inning single drove home the lone run for an offensively challenged team that has scored more than four runs only once in its last 16 games. Atlanta went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and was held to one run or fewer for the 13th time this season. "We thought we had a little momentum after last night, then we run into a brick wall," Braves third baseman Chris Johnson said. "Hes tough. It seems like every time you go up there, he throws you something different in a different spot." Bourjos hit his first homer of the season with two outs in the second off Mike Minor. Wainwright led off the third with a double and came around to score. Holliday blew it open with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth. Minor (0-2) lasted just 4 1-3 innings, roughed up for 11 hits and six runs in his second start back after starting the season on the disabled list. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Minor had trouble with his breaking pitches. Minor disagreeed, saying he got sloppy with the command on his fastball the second time through the order. Cheap Shoes 2020. Whatever the case, the Cardinals seemed to know what was coming. "It was not a very good performance by the guy on our side, and a really good performance by the guy on their side," Gonzalez said. "Thats the result you get." Minor ran into trouble throughout the Cardinals lineup. Up top, leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter reached base four times on three hits and a walk, scored twice and drove in a run. Holliday had three hits in the third spot, knocking in the final run with a single in the ninth off Luis Avilan. Further down in the seventh spot, the light-hitting Bourjos had three hits and two RBIs after coming in with a .179 average, including a drive into the seats in left-centre for his first career NL homer. Then there was Wainwright, one of the games better-hitting pitches, doing plenty of damage in the nine hole. The Braves went down meekly after their last threat in the sixth, when they failed to take advantage of runners at first and third with one out. Wainwright retired the last eight hitters he faced and wanted to go back out for a shot at his second complete game. Matheny made it clear his pitcher was done. "He had had enough of me," Wainwright quipped. NOTES: RHP David Hale, who lost his spot in the Atlanta rotation when Minor returned from the DL, retired all eight hitters he faced after taking over in the fifth. ... Braves RHP Ervin Santana threw in the bullpen with no problems after missing a start because of an injured thumb. He will start Saturday against the Cubs. ... Matheny gave struggling 1B Allen Craig the day off and started Matt Adams. "When youre not right, youre not right," Matheny said, hoping a couple of days off would help Craig snap out of it. ... Both teams are off Thursday. The Cardinals will next play a weekend series at Pittsburgh, while the Braves are hosting the Cubs. ' ' '
The most under-rated team in the FBS resides in the great state of Michigan. Leon Durham Jersey . To the surprise of many, it isnt the Wolverines but their in-state rivals the Michigan State Spartans. Head Coach Mark Dantonio leads a capable offence, and one of the best defences the Big 10 has ever seen. Outside of a loss to Notre Dame back in September, the Spartans have been perfect, working their way up the BCS rankings where they currently sit 16th. With Nebraska, Northwestern, Minnesota and potentially Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship game still on the schedule, Michigan State has a chance to crack the Top 10 and wind up in the Rose Bowl. For a team you have heard very little about, the upside for the Spartans is incredibly high. And its well deserved. In their nine games, eight wins and one loss, the Spartans have given up more than 17 points just once. In their last three games theyve combined to give up just nine points total. They have allowed 11.6 points per game which is third-best in the FBS. Now paired with their daunting defence is an offence that has provided capable of keeping pace. Sophomore Connor Cook has taken over as the starting quarterback and has tossed 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Jeremy Langford has done a respectable job replacing Leveon Bell with 11 total touchdowns out of the backfield. The fact of the matter is the Spartans have been dismissed because of all the talk that the Big 10 is "down" and the conference is well behind the likes of the SEC, Pac-12, ACC and Big 12. The truth is while the depth in the conference is down; the top end could compete with all of those other conferences. The three-headed monster of Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin is capable of hanging with the other powers. Currently Michigan State sits behind Northern Illinois, Fresno State, and two-loss teams in UCLA and South Carolina in the BCS standings. On a neutral field the Spartans would win games against all four of those teams - a few of them handily. Depending on how they perform the rest of the season, it may take until the bowl season for Michigan State to prove that their ranking has been a sham all along, and the Spartans should have been considered elite long ago. Teams dont need to score 60 points to be exciting or successful, and the Spartans are the number one team at proving that point. They have work left to be done, starting with the Cornhuskers this weekend, but keep an eye out for Michigan State as they take a run at the Big 10 Title and a berth in a BCS bowl game. Other notes from around the NCAA: -Michigan lost their first game at home under Brady Hoke, falling to Nebraska. Theyve combined for minus-69 rushing yards the last two games. -Tyler Gaffney ran the ball 45 times in Stanfords upset win over Oregon, good for the new Cardinal school record. -Auburn scored 55 points against Tennessee despite attempting only seven passes. Theyve won two straight games without attempting 10 passes in either contest. -92 points and 1,092 yards in the Texas A&M win over Mississippi State. In likely his last game at Kyle Field Johnny Manziel tossed five touchdowns and three interceptions. -Tyler Cameron completed five passes and threw three interceptions against FSU. Amazingly, he wasnt even the teams worst QB on the day – that title goes to Tanner Price who had three picks and only one completion. The six INTs by Florida State were a school record. -Pitt upset Notre Dame 28-21. In the fourth quarter Ray Vinopal had interceptions on back-to-back passes by Fighting Irish QB Tommy Rees. -The 38 points Alabama scored against LSU were the most since they put up 41 back in 1947. -UCF RB Storm Johnson had his third 100-yard rushing game of the year and the Knights are tops in the American Conference. The stat may not be that impressive, but the name Storm Johnson sure is. Kyle Schwarber Jersey . (January 11, 2014) – Once again Kevin Martin proved why he is the all-time TSN skins leader, winning $11,500 in prize money and a spot in the Travelers All-Star Curling Skins Game presented by Pintys final following a semifinal victory over Brad Jacobs earlier this evening at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre in Banff, Alta. Phil Cavarretta Jersey . -- The Seattle Seahawks and wide receiver Sidney Rice have agreed to terms on a deal.TORONTO -- Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers have been nominated as finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award. The award is presented annually to the most valuable player in the NHL, as voted by fellow members of the National Hockey League Players Association. The three centres are also the finalists for the Hart Trophy, awarded by the NHL to the player considered most valuable to his team. Crosby scored 36 goals and led the league in assists (68) and points (104) to capture his second career Art Ross Trophy and lead the Penguins to their second consecutive division title. He registered points in 60 of the 80 games he played in (75 per cent), including 30 multi-point performances, and never went more than two consecutive games without registering a point. The 26-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native also reached the 100-point milestone for the fifth time hit 700 career points in his 497th game, the fastest among active players and sixth-fastest in NHL history. Crosby won the award in 2007 and 2013 and was a finalist in 2010. Jonathan Lucroy Jersey . Getzlaf scored a career-high 31 goals and ranked second in the league with 87 points to lead the Ducks to the top record in the Western Conference for the first time in franchise history. He posted a 14-game point streak from Nov. 15-Dec. 15 (six goals, 11 assists). Getzlaf, from Regina, also set a career high with seven game-winning goals and recorded a plus-28 defensive rating. Hes a first-time nominee and is looking to become the first Ducks player to receive the award. Giroux matched a career high with 28 goals and finished third in the NHL scoring race with 86 points to help the Flyers bounce back from a 3-9-0 start to the season. After being held pointless in his first five games and not scoring a goal until his 16th, Giroux totalled 28 goals and 51 assists in his final 67 games of the season. The 26-year-old Hearst, Ont., native also compiled a career-long, nine-game point streak Dec. 11-30, (six goals, 11 assists) and recorded his 100th NHL goal Dec. 19. Hes looking to become the first Flyer to receive the Award since Eric Lindros in 1995. ' ' '