BRAZIL BEAT: Defenders doing most of the scoring

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Associated Press

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 6:04 PM

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Colombia's James Rodriguez, Brazil's Neymar, Germany's Thomas Mueller and France's Karim Benzema came into the World Cup quarterfinals with a combined 16 goals.

So with all that scoring ability on the pitch for Friday's two games, of course the goals were coming from defenders. Mats Hummels gave Germany a 1-0 win over France, then Brazil's Thiago Silva and David Luiz put Brazil up 2-0 against Colombia. Rodriguez went on to score in the 2-1 loss, though his goal came on a penalty.

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FROWNING UPON FRED

SAO PAULO (AP) — A new poll published Friday makes it official: Fans feel that striker Fred is the worst player on Brazil's World Cup squad.

The respected Datafolha polling group says that for 21 percent of the close to 3,000 people questioned, the Fluminense forward is the Brazilian team's worst player. Nine percent said striker Hulk, and 6 percent said defender Dani Alves, who was removed from the starting lineup for Fridays' quarterfinal against Colombia.

No surprise: For 56 percent of the respondents, striker Neymar is the team's best player. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is a distant second with 10 percent.

Datafolha questioned 2,857 people, and the poll has a margin of error of two percentage points.

— By Stan Lehman

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EXTRA, EXTRA

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Taking advantage of the huge Colombian crowd accompanying the national team at the World Cup in Brazil, Colombia's main newspaper handed out free copies of its daily to fans arriving for Friday's quarterfinal match against the hosts.

Youngsters dressed in the Colombian colors — blue, yellow and red — were giving away a special edition of the "El Tiempo" newspaper at traffic lights outside the Arena Castelao in the northeastern city of Fortaleza.

The newspaper says it's the first time in its 103-year history that it's being published in another country. The edition being handed out in Brazil has 12 pages of coverage about the Colombian team and the World Cup in general.

Colombia has one of the biggest fan bases in Brazil, packing stadiums and host cities everywhere the team has played. Colombians were the majority in the crowd in each of the team's first four matches.

— By Tales Azzoni — www.twitter.com/tazzoni

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UPLIFTING SWISS FANS

ABOARD SWISS AIR FLIGHT LX093 (AP) — Disheartened Swiss fans returning to Zurich after their country's 1-0 World Cup loss to Argentina could at least take comfort in one parting treat — they were flying home with their beloved team.

Faces perked up at the departure gate moments before boarding when coach Ottmar Hitzfeld and his players strode in. Some stopped to sign autographs and briefly mingled with fans still sporting the team's red paraphernalia.

On board, the players were greeted with champagne and a Swiss-decorated football was draped in a team scarf. Swiss flags were placed inside the cabin and each player's name appeared on his designated business class seat.

Fans quickly snapped selfies with the players, and once everyone was seated, the captain of Swiss Air flight LX093 — even before announcing the duration and altitude — welcomed the team aboard and said the country was proud of their valiant effort against the heavily favored Argentines.

Most players were not eager to speak to a reporter. Others said the memory of Angel di Maria's crushing 118th minute goal was still too fresh.

"We have to try and forget it," said defender Johan Djourou. "When you lose that way, it is always hard."

Midfielder Valon Behrami said that the team would have much preferred to be on a different flight this day — to a quarterfinal match against Belgium in Brasilia.

"Now everyone has to go to holiday," he said shortly before takeoff. "That is it."

Mario Stalder, a 46-year-old fan from Bern, said flying home with the team offered a fitting coda to his three-week journey in Brazil. Still, he would gladly have forgone the experience in favor of another.

"I would rather they won the game," he said.

— By Aron Heller — www.twitter.com/aronhellerap

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KLINSMANN'S PICKS

SAO PAULO (AP) — No way is Jurgen Klinsmann going against the home Brazilians in this World Cup.

The U.S. coach believes the Selecao are making quite a run at their sixth World Cup championship, even if his homeland of Germany is still in the tournament while the Americans head home.

"Brazil is the No. 1 name to mention because of their talent and their home advantage and the energy they bring into this tournament," Klinsmann said. "There are other teams that will be difficult to beat. Germany will be difficult to beat. Holland will be difficult to beat."

Germany and Brazil would meet in the semifinals in they both win Friday.

— By Janie McCauley — www.twitter.com/JanieMcCAP

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014

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