SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari got some laughs out of Neymar and journalists in a packed news conference at the Itaquerao Stadium on Wednesday.
Asked if he was expecting a good night of sleep before Brazil’s World Cup opener Thursday, he didn’t hesitate to say he was at peace. At least with the football side of things.
“I always sleep well,” he said. “I don’t know if I do other things well, but I do sleep well. I’ll sleep well tonight, you can be sure of that.”
Sitting next to Scolari, Neymar looked a bit surprised with the answer, but laughed when the coach started smiling.
Neymar also made Scolari laugh when he was told by a reporter to ask the coach a question.
After thinking for a bit, the Brazilian star said: “Will I play tomorrow?”
— By Tales Azzoni — www.twitter.com/tazzoni
SAO PAULO (AP) — Some Ecuadoreans who came to Brazil to watch the World Cup were taking on a side job to try to make extra money.
Freddy Tenorio said he came to Brazil with a group of about 15 people to see Ecuador play, but in between matches they will be selling World Cup-related products in front of stadiums.
The 30-year-old Ecuadorean on Wednesday was in front of the Itaquerao Stadium, where Brazil will play Croatia in the tournament’s opener Thursday. He was selling everything from Brazil hats to scarves to flags.
Tenorio and his group don’t have tickets for the opening match but were taking advantage of the huge Brazilian crowd expected at the venue.
He and friends will travel to the nation’s capital of Brasilia, where Ecuador plays its first match Sunday against Switzerland.
“Hopefully sales will be better there. So far it hasn’t been very good here in Sao Paulo,” he said.
— By Tales Azzoni — www.twitter.com/tazzoni
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Wayne Rooney wasn’t jealous watching former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo pick up the Ballon d’Or award earlier this year.
“I’m not a player who needs that like Cristiano Ronaldo,” the England striker said Wednesday. “He has to have that and you admire him for having that. I’m more about winning things as a team. You can see how he is. He wants ... his moments.”
Just like in the Champions League final, when the Portugal star celebrated scoring Real Madrid’s fourth goal in the 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid by pulling off his shirt to reveal his muscles in front of the cameras.
“It’s more important for me to win trophies as a team,” Rooney said. “I’ve won (Professional Footballers’ Association) player of the year, which is nowhere near as good as winning a trophy with Manchester United.”
— By Rob Harris — www.twitter.com/RobHarris
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Laundry can wait. Brazil has a World Cup match to play.
The typical timeline at one Rio apartment complex: Turn in those dirty clothes Thursday, and they’re ready at 9 a.m. the next morning.
But this Thursday, host nation Brazil faces Croatia in Sao Paulo to open the 2014 tournament.
“Don’t expect it before 5 or 6 (p.m.),” said Joao, who handles laundry at the complex. “You know how it is. Brazilians are crazy about football. Everyone will be watching.”
He made a fist, stuck out his thump, and raised the imaginary drink to his mouth. He suggested there may be some celebrating, or drowning sorrow should Brazil lose.
Joao usually starts work at 6 a.m. On Friday, he’ll come in about noon. He wants to avoid any problems.
“I don’t want to be out driving early in the morning,” he said. “People will still be out there going crazy.”
— By Stephen Wade — twitter.com/StephenWadeAP
SANTO ANDRE, Brazil — Along with the heat and humidity, the German team also has to come to terms with the unusually early kickoff time of its World Cup opener against Portugal.
Monday’s match in Salvador kicks off at 1 p.m. local time, 2½ hours earlier than most Bundesliga games. Champions League and national team matches usually kick off at 8:45 p.m.
The German team has left it to individual players to decide how to best adjust.
“This is new for us, so we’ll have to see how they adapt,” said the team’s general manager, Oliver Bierhoff.
There is no set time for breakfast, and a buffet has been opened so that players can decide when and what to eat. The team’s practices have now been set for 1 p.m. as of Wednesday to simulate conditions for the opener.
— By Nesha Starcevic
SOUNDS OF ITALY
MANGARATIBA, Brazil (AP) — Luigi Serrano was banging out the notes to the Neapolitan folk song “Reginella” at Casa Azzurri on Wednesday.
He’s the official singer at the facility that the Italian football federation sets up at World Cups and European Championships for media and sponsor activities.
As visitors sip strong Italian espresso or taste a plate of pasta, they can listen to classic Italian tunes.
“I specialize in songs from the 60s, which are also very popular here in Brazil — songs by Peppino Di Capri, Mina, Ornella Vanoni,” Serrano said.
Serrano is from the southern Italian region of Calabria and works as a pianist and singer at the well-known Jackie O’ club off the famed Via Veneto in Rome.
He’s been working at Casa Azzurri since the 2008 European Championship in Austria.
So who’s the best singer on Italy’s squad?
“I think (Antonio) Cassano, if I remember correctly. He’s a nice guy,” Serrano said. “(Andrea) Pirlo is nice too, but I don’t think he sings.”
The Italy squad also has a theme song and video created specifically for this World Cup by the Italian group Negramaro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71IGqqIDRAU
— By Andrew Dampf — www.twitter.com/asdampf
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