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updated: 6/16/2014 8:41 PM

World Cup notebook: Scoring, selfies and Kobe

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Associated Press

CURITIBA, Brazil -- In 2010, on the very first day of the World Cup, both games ended as draws -- one of them scoreless.

The 2014 tournament made it to its fifth day and 13th match before its first tie. Nigeria and Iran ended 0-0 in their Group F opener Monday, a dull contrast to the streak of high-scoring games, all with a winner.

Brazilians for Portugal:

Outside Restaurant Haddock Grill in Sao Paulo hangs a big flag of Brazil, and a small one of Portugal.

Inside, businessmen in suits and ties are having their lunch break -- chattering loudly over their dishes with their eyes glued to the screen above the buffet offering. Portugal is playing its first World Cup game, and the mood suddenly turns dour as the team surrenders its second goal of the first half, en route to a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany.

Even though Brazil has been independent from Portugal for nearly two centuries, most of the diners appear partial to the squad of their former colonizers.

"Portugal is in our blood, in our body," said Andres Szarukan, a 37-year-old business manager for a digital media company. "We still have a lot of families who came from Portugal and the connection is strong."

Among those are the Martins, the owners of the diner in downtown Sao Paulo who placed the flag outside.

Sandra Martins says her parents were born in Portugal, so naturally their allegiances were to the team of Cristiano Ronaldo -- so long as they weren't playing Brazil.

Chancellor selfie:

Win the game, take a selfie with your nation's leader.

After Germany routed Portugal 4-0 in its World Cup opener Monday, forward Lukas Podolski posted a photo of himself with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Podolski, who is giving a thumbs-up in the picture, tweeted: "The Chancellor and me after the victory....."


Under towering palm trees in Belo Horizonte's main square, about 100 Algeria and Belgium fans engaged in a friendly but very boisterous sing-off.

They chanted back and forth at each other in Praca da Liberdade on Monday, to the bemusement of residents who use the square for taking a stroll or running. Algeria fans were the loudest, blowing air horns and even vuvuzelas. One group of Algerians even got up on the plaza's bandstand to shout down at the Belgians.

But it was all in good humor. The Algerians made their way down from the bandstand to join the Belgians, and they danced and sang in a circle. The square is one of Belo Horizonte's iconic images, surrounded by landmarks including the Minas Gerais state government headquarters and an Oscar Niemeyer-designed building.

Algeria and Belgium will play in the Group H opener at Mineriao Stadium on Tuesday.

The Kobe connection:

At least this time, Sepp Blatter wasn't booed.

The FIFA president tweeted out a photo of himself shaking hands with NBA star Kobe Bryant during Monday's World Cup match between Germany and Portugal.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard grew up in Italy and is a big soccer fan.

Blatter, routinely jeered when he's shown on stadium video boards, watched the game with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Flexing muscles:

Germany's top-selling newspaper sent a message to Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo: "Today, WE have the winners' muscles!"

The Bild daily's front page Monday featured an illustration showing Germany captain Philipp Lahm, midfielder Thomas Mueller and coach Joachim Loew striking Ronaldo's shirtless pose from Real Madrid's Champions League victory over city rival Atletico Madrid last month.

The Berlin tabloid B.Z. couldn't resist a shirtless moment either. Under the headline "Today Ronaldo will look old!" its front page featured an illustration of an aged, gray-haired Ronaldo with a sagging belly.

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