On June 12, the world’s eyes turn to Brazil for the start of the 20th FIFA World Cup, but the planet’s biggest football tournament will have plenty of news and views in the months leading up to it. ESPN FC’s World Cup Daily blog is the place to be:
• Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard has tipped club teammate Raheem Sterling to join him at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Read more.
• Speaking to Bild, Borussia Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp believes Kevin Grosskreutz "is probably the most versatile player we have in Germany right now and he can help Germany in certain moments."
• After his unveiling as an FC Toronto player, Jermain Defoe was asked if the move could hamper his chances of making England's World Cup squad. He said: "The most important thing for me is just playing football, scoring and doing well for the team. Hopefully, then I can be on a plane [to Brazil]." Read more at BBC.com.
• Germany forward Lukas Podolski has his sights on glory in Brazil, telling FIFA.com: "Our last major tournaments have gone well and I think we can play a major role again. We'll all be more clued up on where we stand after our first game, but the aim is to finish at the very top."
INTERNATIONAL BIRTHDAYS: Victor Valdes (1982), Yohan Cabaye (1986), Antonios Nikopolidis (1971).
DID YOU KNOW?
Karim Bagheri reached the landmark today of scoring 50 international goals. It was his last goal for Iran, more than 15 years after his first, and it helped them beat Singapore 6-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier. Bagheri is most famous for scoring seven times against the Maldive Isles on June 2, 1997, which matched the record for goals scored in a World Cup match (set by Australia's Gary Cole in 1981). It was later broken by Archie Thompson, who netted 13 against American Samoa.
-- Cris Freddi