German star Marco Reus became the latest player to suffer World Cup injury heartache on Saturday as the football world prepared to descend on Brazil.
A day after injury saw French winger Franck Ribery ruled out of the tournament, Reus’s cruel exit was confirmed by officials as Germany prepared to jet off to their Brazilian base camp.
The Borussia Dortmund midfielder left the field in tears during Germany’s 6-1 drubbing of Armenia on Friday, and coach Joachim Loew confirmed the worst.
“Marco is obviously very disappointed to miss the World Cup and also for us it is a real blow,” he said.
“When we learnt last night (Friday) that the injury was to the ligament we knew his chances of going to the World Cup were over.”
Germany open their campaign against Group G rivals Portugal on June 16, who have their own injury worries over Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo, who is nursing knee and thigh injuries, missed Portugal’s 1-0 win over Mexico in the United States on Friday, their penultimate warm-up match before heading to Brazil next week.
Elsewhere Saturday, a host of top sides were putting the finishing touches on their pre-tournament plans before departing for Brazil.
Defending champions Spain, strongly fancied Argentina, England and the United States were among the teams in action.
Spain face El Salvador in Washington DC with all eyes on crocked striker Diego Costa, who coach Vicente del Bosque plans to start.
The Atletico Madrid forward limped out of his club’s final two matches of the season — the title decider with Barcelona and their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid in Lisbon.
The Brazilian-born forward’s participation in the World Cup has been in doubt ever since but del Bosque has effectively handed Costa the opportunity to erase any remaining doubt about his fitness against the Salvadorans.
Argentina, regarded by many pundits as favourites to wreck Brazil’s dream of winning the World Cup on home soil, were due to play Slovenia in what is expected to be a routine send-off in Buenos Aires.
Argentina’s captain Lionel Messi fueled the sense of expectation building around the South American giants by speaking of the squad’s sense of unity.
“The important thing is that there is complete trust between all of us. There’s peace and we all believe in each other,” Messi said.
England meanwhile faced fellow finalists Honduras in a friendly in Miami before flying directly to Brazil after the game.
England had based themselves in Florida for a week of warm-weather training to acclimatise for the searing heat and humidity awaiting them in next Saturday’s Group D clash with Italy in the Amazon city of Manaus.
England manager Roy Hodgson said the fact that so many of his young squad appeared to be hitting form could give the Three Lions invaluable strength in depth.
“It’s going to be hot and most teams won’t be able to get through three 90-minute games with the same team,” Hodgson said. “I have the opportunity to make changes.”