SAO PAULO -- FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke arrives in Brazil talking about "busy days ahead" to finalize the country's preparations. A day after Brazil held the last two test events at stadiums, Valcke said he will visit all 12 host cities again "to see that the finishing touches" are completed in time. By Tales Azzoni. SENT: 500 words, photos.
VOULIAGMENI, Greece -- Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou keeps his place in the country's World Cup squad despite three forwards being dropped from the preliminary lineup. Greece coach Fernando Santos announced the final 23-man squad and said he believes the 26-year-old Mitroglou will be ready for Brazil despite his lack of game time since moving to England at the start of the year to join now-relegated Premier League side Fulham. By Derek Gatopoulos. SENT: 400 words, photos.
STANFORD, California -- It's been 12 years since a U.S. forward scored in a World Cup. Brian McBride's goal against Mexico during a 2002 second-round match in South Korea helped the Americans advance to the quarterfinals in their best showing since 1930. The U.S. has eight goals in the two World Cups since then, seven by midfielders Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley, plus an own-goal against Italy. By Ronald Blum. SENT: 600 words, photos.
SAO PAULO -- Brazilian organizers acknowledged problems but expressed satisfaction with the final two stadium tests for the World Cup, including one at the troubled Sao Paulo arena that hosts the tournament opening game in a few weeks. By Tales Azzoni. SENT: 500 words, photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Muggings and assaults are spiking in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, just as hundreds of thousands of foreigners are set to arrive for the World Cup. By Jenny Barchfield. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos.
WITH: Glance with tips on how to avoid being robbed.
MADRID -- Spain is hoping a turbulent season at Barcelona won't negatively impact its World Cup defense in Brazil with most of the club's internationals struggling on the field and off, with the death of former Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova and Spain coach Luis Aragones plus the resignation of the club's president. With Carles Puyol unavailable and Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro Rodriguez failing to impress, will Barcelona's season make a dent in Spain's quest for eternal glory? By Paul Logothetis. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos.
SOC--WCUP-TATTOES FANS (Photo essay)
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Photo essay on die-hard Brazilian fans who cover their bodies with tattoos of their favorite teams. Photos by Felipe Dana.
SOC-- WCUP-CAPTIVATED CONTINENT
BUENOS AIRES -- Businesses close. Classes are interrupted. Transport grinds to a halt. In football-mad Latin America, daily life stops when the national teams play in the World Cup. By Vicente L. Panetta. UPCOMING: 800 words, photos.
MADRID -- Spain coach Vicente del Bosque unveils the 23-man squad the World Cup champions will take to Brazil to defend their title. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.
SOC--WCUP-BRAZIL-MOBILE PHONE FAILURES
RIO DE JANEIRO -- It may be the World Cup when barely a tweet is seen, hardly any selfie posted or even a voice call made from packed stadiums during matches. Despite government promises that each of the host cities would have blazing fast 4G technology, just making a single mobile call in Brazil without having the signal drop remains a rarity. By Luis Henao. UPCOMING: 500 words, photos.
SYDNEY -- Australia will have a new captain when it meets South Africa in its last international friendly on home soil before leaving for Brazil to fine tune for the World Cup. By Keiran Smith. UPCOMING: 350 words, photos.
GENK, Belgium -- Belgium hopes its strikers get a lot of target practice when it meets neighbor Luxembourg in a World Cup warm-up game. By Raf Casert. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos.