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Countdown to Brazil: Injuries piling up as World Cup approaches

By Evan Hilbert | CBSSports.com

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Spain's Diego Costa is expected to be in top form by the World Cup. (Getty Images)

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Two world powers, Germany and Spain, appear to have dodged a few major bullets when it comes to injuries.

Chances looked slim for Spain's Diego Costa, who, while playing for Atletico Madrid, left Saturday's match with Barcelona in the first half with a hamstring injury. It seemed as though Costa would, at the very least, be less than 100 percent for the Cup.

"We have to wait for the report from the medical staff, but it doesn't look good," a Spanish Football Association spokesman said Monday, according to the Guardian. "The problem is more serious because it's a recurrence of an injury in an area that had already been damaged. We have to wait, but we also have to have an alternative plan."

Costa was diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring tear.

However, according to the report, Costa is now expected to be healthy in time for the World Cup, though he will most likely not be able to play Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid.

It seems that Germany got a bit of similar news, as both Philipp Lahm and Manuel Neuer suffered injuries while playing for Bayern Munich this weekend. However, both players are expected to be fully healthy in time for the Cup.

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It's yours for like 70 bucks.

Young England likes its chances: The largely-youthful British side is using the world's collective low expectations and transforming them into motivation. Speaking to Sky Sports, England captain Steven Gerrard had this to say about the doubters.

"I think [low expectations] can help but there's no harm in dreaming. Us players dream as well, you always say to yourself 'what if', 'what if it does happen' and you prove all the doubters wrong and you go on to have a successful World Cup?

"So there's no harm in dreaming but the reality is that there are a lot of top teams going to this World Cup. It's a very difficult competition but there's excitement and belief in the squad they we can do well.

"It's for real now. It's not far away and the preparations start [Monday] when we get over to Portugal and do our first training session. There's certainly a lot of excitement and belief in the squad."

End of an era: Ryan Giggs, the most decorated player in the history of Barclay's Premier League, retired Monday.

"My dream was always to play for Manchester United, and although it saddens me to know I won't be pulling on a United jersey again as a player, I have been lucky enough to have fulfilled that dream playing with some of the best players in the world, working under an incredible manager in Sir Alex Ferguson, and most of all, playing for the greatest fans in world football. I have always felt and appreciated your support," Giggs said Monday.

Giggs, 40, will take over as Manchester United's assistant manager.

Man U's new man: Speaking of which, Manchester United named Louis Van Gaal its new manager. Giggs had held the position for the final four games of the season after David Moyes was ousted. If anything, the hire will give Man U stars the opportunity to completely focus on the Cup without worry of who their manager will be upon returning from Brazil.

Barca manager quits: After just one season at the helm, Gerardo Martino relinquished his post as coach of Barcelona Monday. Barca failed to win the La Liga title after tying Atletico Madrid Saturday. According to the Associated Press, former Barcelona player Luis Enrique will take over.

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