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BRAZIL BEAT: Curitiba games get even less enticing

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Waiting passengers are silhouetted against a window in an airport terminal, where flights were delayed due to heavy fog, in World Cup host city Curitiba, Brazil, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Waiting passengers are silhouetted against a window in an airport terminal, where flights were delayed due to heavy fog, in World Cup host city Curitiba, Brazil, Tuesday, June 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

United States’ head coach Jurgen Klinsmann stands with his team during a training session in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. The United States will play against Portugal in group G of the 2014 soccer World Cup on June 22. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Fans of England and Uruguay cheer for their national teams outside the Itaquerao Stadium before the group D World Cup soccer match between Uruguay and England in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Greece’s head coach Fernando Santos arrives for a press conference of Greece in Natal, Brazil, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. Greece play in group C of the 2014 soccer World Cup. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

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CURITIBA, Brazil (AP) — You’ve got to feel for the football fans of Curitiba.

First, when the draw for the 2014 World Cup took place last year, the southern Brazilian city’s allocation of games, with all due respect to the teams involved, wasn’t as high-profile as others.

Well, at least the fans would get to see Spain, the defending champion.

They will still see Spain on Monday, but it will be a team that has already been eliminated from the tournament. Not only that, but Spain’s opponent at the Arena da Baixada, Australia, also can’t advance.

It’s what is known in the parlance as a dead rubber, a game bereft of meaningful consequence.

The disappointment is evident throughout this well-manicured city that has been at the forefront of urban planning in Brazil and beyond.

One FIFA volunteer, who wouldn’t give his name in line with the football governing body’s scriptures, said everyone was “naturally upset” as Spain was the highlight in the city’s World Cup allocation.

Curitiba’s football fans have already seen one game, but the 0-0 draw between Iran and Nigeria was a fairly drab affair with few chances.

The other two matches in Curitiba are Ecuador-Honduras on Friday and Russia-Algeria next Thursday.

— By Pan Pylas — http://twitter.com/panpylas

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TRAFFIC HOLIDAY

SAO PAULO (AP) — The perpetual traffic jam in South America’s most populous city lifted Thursday, and the 4-mile ride from downtown to the U.S. team’s training camp at Sao Paulo Futebol Clube took just 15 minutes, down from two hours two days earlier.

Most businesses were closed because of the Feast of Corpus Christi holiday, which is celebrated on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday.

— By Ronald Blum — www.twitter.com/ronaldblum

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TICKETS PLEASE

SAO PAULO (AP) — Lydia Gibbons walked through Sao Paulo’s hip Vila Madalena neighborhood late Wednesday with a pathetic pout on her face. Acting a little bit, she hoped, might just help her cause.

The 28-year-old from England held a homemade cardboard sign reading: “TICKETS NEEDED ENGLAND VS URUGUAY” featuring hand-drawn flags for each country.

Her friend, Tarso Liang of Brazil, said they wouldn’t be picky about who they cheered for if they actually got into Itaquerao Stadium for Thursday’s Group D match between teams that lost their openers.

“If you have tickets we can be England or Uruguay,” Liang said. “She’s English, but I can cheer for anybody.”

Thousands of English fans took to the street in this area packed with sports bars, many buying their drinks from giant coolers in the middle of the road and paying with credit cards at these outdoor establishments.

—By Janie McCauley — www.twitter.com/JanieMcCAP

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GREEK JAPANESE

NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Japan and Greece were set to play a critical Group C match on Thursday night, but the Greeks got a bellyful of Japanese before they even came to Brazil.

Greece coach Fernando Santos took his team to lunch at a Japanese restaurant in Athens, where they snacked on sushi and sashimi.

Santos says it is his favorite restaurant, but it was chosen by a team sponsor. He called the meal and the match against Japan a coincidence.

“Well, this is probably the restaurant that I go (most) often in Greece. I often go there with my family, my wife, my children. It’s a great restaurant,” Santos said.

“I invite you to come,” Santos told the Japanese journalist who asked him about it. “The food is wonderful.”

— By Jim Vertuno — www.twitter.com/JimVertuno

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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

Associated Press

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