BRAZIL BEAT: Energetic midfielder Blaise Matuidi 'still running' for France

The Associated Press

France's Blaise Matuidi watches as his kick goes past Switzerland's goalkeeper Diego Benaglio to score his side's second goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

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RIBEIRAO PRETO, Brazil (AP) — France midfielder Blaise Matuidi has so much energy that coach Didier Deschamps joked he even ran back to the team's training camp after Friday's match.

A few hours after the 5-2 win over Switzerland in Salvador, the French team flew the some 835 miles to its base in Ribeirao Preto.

"He didn't want to take the plane," Deschamps said Saturday. "He's still running now."

Deschamps captained France to World Cup glory in 1998 and the European Championship two years later. He was known as a tireless midfield runner himself, but even he is impressed with the amount of ground Matuidi covers.

"Even I have trouble following him," Deschamps said. "I see him in the 6-yard box and then, straight away, he's already in the opponent's 6-yard box."

The 27-year-old Matuidi scored France's second goal Friday. He has four goals in the past six games after not scoring in his first 18 international appearances.

"I used to tease him by saying he can't shoot properly, but actually he scores goals," Deschamps said.

— By Jerome Pugmire —



SAO PAULO (AP) — English fans devastated by their team's World Cup elimination still had a nice chance to see the sights.

A sign outside the Sao Paulo Museum of Art read: "ENGLISH, DON'T BE SAD. THIS WEEK YOU GET FREE ADMISSION TO MASP."

Two men working the ticket gate, or bilheteria, reported only a couple of takers by early Saturday evening but expected many more English visitors once word got out.

Bring those passports to save 15 reais.

— By Janie McCauley —



NATAL, Brazil (AP) — The girls squealed for Mario Balotelli. The locals chanted for their hometown team.

Italy got a warm welcome in the coastal city of Natal, where it will play Uruguay on Tuesday in the final match for both teams in Group D.

Several thousand fans — locals and traveling Italians — greeted the squad during its public training at the stadium of the local club team ABC FC. Also attending was Italian rock band Negramaro, which is performing in the city Monday.

The Italy players were showered with cheers every time they circled the field in their warm-up jog. At one point, a young boy wearing a Brazil jersey jumped the fence seeking an autograph or a piece of memorabilia from the team and scampered back over before security could catch him.

Italy fans waved flags and banners, some with the name of the hometowns. Fans of the local team also revved up chants of "A-B-C!"

The weather was breezy and pleasant for the Italians after two humid matches in the jungle city of Manaus and Recife.

Italy can advance to the knockout round with a win or a draw. Uruguay must win to move on.

Davide Mariotti, 31, was here with five friends from the town of Ascoli Piceno in Italy. They came just to see the Uruguay match. It's a bachelor party trip for one of Mariotti's friends.

"So we're going home after the match, but not them," he said of the team, adding: "We know they are going to win."

— By Jim Vertuno —



TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Dozens of youngsters got past security and invaded Brazil's training session Saturday.

It started when a handful of kids jumped the fence separating fans from the pitch at Brazil's camp outside Rio de Janeiro. Security guards were not able to contain them, and others quickly followed, easily getting to the players as they finished practice.

Most of the players began heading to the locker rooms, but some stayed to talk to the fans, many of whom carried jerseys to get autographs and cameras to take photos of their idols.

One girl hugged midfielder Willian and didn't let go until a member of Brazil's delegation arrived to take her back to where the other fans were located.

Brazil will play Cameroon on Monday in Brasilia in its final Group A match. The hosts need at least a draw to advance to the second round.