A towering physique and range of flashy hairstyles mean Paul Pogba rarely goes unnoticed but he has become emblematic of a French squad willing to sacrifice personal gain for World Cup glory.
France goes into Sunday’s final against Croatia in Moscow aiming to make amends for the bitter disappointment of losing the Euro 2016 final on home soil to Portugal.
Just weeks before Manchester United paid a then world-record £89 million to sign Pogba from Juventus, that final largely passed him by. Play Live bet now on NaijaBet
The intervening two years have not always been easy either. Pogba has been criticised in England for failing to dominate big games and was even dropped a number of times last season because his defensive work did not match the standards demanded by Jose Mourinho.
However, it is that aspect of Pogba’s game that has been so impressive in Russia as he and N’Golo Kante have laid the perfect foundation for France’s array of attacking talent headlined by Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann.
“I want to win this World Cup and you have to make sacrifices,” said Pogba on Thursday.
“Defending isn’t my strong point, I’m not N’Golo, but I’ll happily do it. I have grown up, matured.” Continue reading “Pogba & Kante does the dirty work to help France flourish”
Rangers manager Steven Gerrard is satisfied with the team’s 2-0 win against FK Shkupi in his first competitive match at the helm but says there is still “a lot of work to do” in the second leg of the Europa League preliminary qualifying round tie.
Goals from winger Jamie Murphy and skipper James Tavernier helped Rangers beat the visiting minnows at the Ibrox Stadium but Gerrard, a former England and Liverpool captain, was underwhelmed that his team did not finish off the tie.
“I’m satisfied with the result, satisfied with parts of the performance but it’s not any better than satisfactory,” the 38-year-old told the club’s website. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“I think there are a lot of positives to take from the game… but one concern would be that we didn’t win the game a lot more comfortably and put the whole tie to bed tonight. Continue reading “Gerrard gets off to a perfect start with Rangers victory”
Chelsea have sacked Italian Antonio Conte as manager, media in Britain and Italy reported on Thursday.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis had said on Wednesday that the Premier League side were close to securing a deal for former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri to replace Conte.
There was no immediate confirmation from Chelsea, who won the Premier League title with Conte in his first season after joining in 2016 and also the FA Cup in his latest campaign.
The former Italy manager had a year remaining on his current contract and had already taken charge of pre-season preparations at the club’s Cobham training ground.
Conte’s future with the Roman Abramovich-owned club has looked uncertain for months, however, with the West Londoners failing to qualify for the coming season’s Champions League after finishing fifth in 2017-18. Continue reading “Chelsea has send Antonio Conte away”
Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday by South African giant Kevin Anderson while Rafael Nadal edged Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court epic and will meet Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
Defending champion Federer lost a Court One thriller, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 as 32-year-old Anderson became the first South African in the Wimbledon semifinals since Kevin Curren in 1983.
“Down two sets to love I tried my best to keep fighting. Beating Roger Federer here at Wimbledon will be one I remember, especially in such a close match,” Anderson said. Place Bet on Live tennis matches on NaijaBet
“I kept telling myself to keep believing. I said today is going to be my day.”
In a nail-biting four hour and 13 minute classic, it was 36-year-old Federer’s earliest exit at the All England Club since his shock second round defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky in 2013.
“Sometimes you don’t feel good, and you try your best. Today was one of those days. I didn’t see it coming,” said Federer.
“I had moments where I was great, I felt like I was reading his serve, other moments where I don’t know where the hell I was moving to.”
Eighth seed Anderson will play American ninth seed John Isner on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final. Continue reading “Federer out as Nadal set to face Djokovic semi final”
Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal deep in extra time as Croatia beat England 2-1 in an utterly gripping World Cup semifinal in Moscow on Wednesday to set up a final date with France.
The Juventus forward netted in the 109th minute to complete a remarkable comeback from a shattered Croatian team and take the small nation of little more than four million people into the World Cup final for the first time in their short history.
Kieran Trippier’s magnificent early free-kick had seemingly set England on course to reach their first final since they lifted the trophy on home soil back in 1966. Bet Now
But it wasn’t to be, as Croatia came roaring back in the second half and equalised through Ivan Perisic before somehow finding the energy to win despite being taken to extra time for the third time in 11 days.
The biggest winners of the night could well be France, who have had an extra day’s rest for Sunday’s final after edging out Belgium 1-0 on Tuesday.
That will not matter too much right now for Croatia, who are the smallest nation to make it to the final since Uruguay back in 1950. Continue reading “Croatia sink England to reach first World Cup final”
Algerian international Riyad Mahrez secured his move to Manchester City on Tuesday, with the Premier League champions paying a reported club-record £60 million for the winger.
It comes seven months after City refused to pay Leicester’s asking price of £80 million, having offered £50 million plus young winger Patrick Roberts, who was valued at £15 million.
This time though Leicester said they had sold him in a club-record deal.
The 27-year-old – a pivotal figure when Leicester stormed to a shock Premier League title in 2016 – signed a five-year contract. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
“I am so pleased to have joined City, a side playing great football under Pep Guardiola,” Mahrez told the Manchester City website.
“Watching them from afar has been a pleasure.
“Pep is committed to playing attacking football, which is a perfect for me, and City’s performances last season were outstanding.” Continue reading “Mahrez has move from Leicester to Manchester City”
French teenage midfielder Matteo Guendouzi says he wants to become part of the history of Premier League side Arsenal after signing for them on Wednesday for a fee reported to be £7 million.
The 19-year-old – Arsenal’s fifth signing since Unai Emery was appointed Arsene Wenger’s successor in late May – joins from Ligue 2 outfit Lorient
Guendouzi, who began his career in the youth system at Paris Saint Germain before moving to Lorient in 2014, told Arsenal’s website for him the move is a dream come true. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“Arsenal have always been the team closest to my heart and a side I’ve wanted to join since I was a child,” said Guendouzi.
“It gives me great pride – it’s incredible. I hope I can do great things here.
“It doesn’t get any better than coming to a club like this, with so much history, like Arsenal. I’m hugely proud.
“I want to become part of the club’s history and to achieve great things here.” Continue reading “My childhood dream is to play for Arsenal – Guendouzi”
England will seek to reach their first World Cup final since 1966 when they lock horns with a talented Croatia team on Wednesday for the right to play France for the trophy.
France reached the final for the third time in their history on Tuesday when a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave the 1998 champions a 1-0 victory against Belgium in a tactical battle in Saint Petersburg
The win sent tens of thousands of French fans pouring onto the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris in scenes of joy last seen when France won the World Cup two decades ago. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
France coach Didier Deschamps said he was delighted to have the chance to bury the pain of the Euro 2016 final, which his side lost on home soil to Portugal.
“Finals have to be won because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago,” he said.
In England too, World Cup fever has been building with Gareth Southgate’s young team on the cusp of reaching the country’s first World Cup since they won it on home soil in 1966. Continue reading “England target final but needs to remove Croatia first”
As Serena Williams prepares for her 35th Grand Slam semifinal, the American star says a fear of failure is driving her bid for an eighth Wimbledon title.
Williams avoided a major upset on Tuesday as the former world No 1 battled back to beat unseeded Camila Giorgi 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a Centre Court thriller.
The 36-year-old’s quarterfinal escape act set up a last-four showdown with German 13th seed Julia Goerges on Thursday.
Serena hasn’t won a Grand Slam since the birth of daughter Olympia in September and her last trophy came at the 2017 Australian Open.
“You’re only as good as your last win. It’s been a while since I’ve won a championship,” Williams said. Place bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet
But the 23-time major winner is heavily favoured to end her wait this week, fuelled by the thought of suffering the painful sting left by her rare defeats.
“I hate losing. I mean, that’s no secret. But I feel like every time I lose, I get better,” she said.
“It’s important for me to have the losses. Just the fewer the better for me!” Continue reading “Serena sets to win her eighth Wimbledon title”
Five-times world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo has signed for Italian champions Juventus from Real Madrid, the La Liga club said in a statement on Tuesday.
Ronaldo, who joined Real from Manchester United in 2008 for a then world record £80 million, is the Spanish club’s all-time top scorer with 451 goals in all competitions and won two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies with them.
“For Real Madrid, Cristiano Ronaldo will always be one of its greatest symbols and a unique reference for the generations to come,” European champions Real said, adding that Ronaldo had asked to be transferred. “Real Madrid will always be his home”. Naija and Bet
The transfer fee was not disclosed but Spanish media said Ronaldo had signed a four-year deal and had cost Juventus €105 million. Continue reading “Ronaldo join Juventus from Real Madrid”
France coach Didier Deschamps is confident he has prepared his players for any tactical surprises his opposite number Roberto Martinez might spring when they face Belgium in the World Cup semifinals in St Petersburg on Tuesday.
Belgium are the tournament’s top scorers, and Martinez sprang a surprise by changing his system in the quarterfinal against Brazil, moving target man Romelu Lukaku out wide so Kevin de Bruyne could operate as a “false nine”.
The tweaks worked a treat as Belgium neutralized Brazil’s midfield while allowing Lukaku and Eden Hazard to get beyond their fullbacks. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
De Bruyne profited from spaces opening up in the middle as Brazil’s centre backs were forced to deal with the threat out wide, and he scored his first goal of the tournament in the 2-1 victory.
With Thomas Meunier suspended for the semifinal, Martinez is sure to make at least one change.
“Belgium didn’t arrive here by chance. They played a great game against Brazil with a specific game plan,” the 49-year-old Deschamps told a news conference on Monday. “Will they do something similar for us? Probably. Continue reading “France prepared for Belgium’s tactical surprises – Deschamps”
Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was appointed Spain’s new coach on Monday after the previous incumbent Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the World Cup in what turned out to be a disappointing campaign.
“Luis Enrique’s appointment as coach for the next two years was approved unanimously,” Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish football federation, told reporters.
The 48-year-old will have the tough task of reviving a national team deflated after three consecutive failures at major tournaments, the latest their World Cup loss to hosts Russia – ranked 70th in the world – on penalties in the last 16. Various betting options are Available on NaijaBet
Before that, Spain were humiliated at the hands of the Netherlands in 2014 and beaten by Italy at Euro 2016 – their 2008-2012 winning streak but a distant memory.
Enrique will be taking over from Lopetegui, who was fired by Rubiales when the coach announced he had signed to take over at Real Madrid.
The national team’s then sporting director Fernando Hierro stepped in hastily to replace him and led Spain to the last 16, before stepping down after the tournament. Continue reading “Spain SFF appoint Luis Enrique as new coach”
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is confident the team can step up another level in the upcoming campaign as the Premier League side looks to end their trophy drought after coming close in recent seasons.
The Merseyside outfit’s most recent triumph was a League Cup win in 2012 and despite showing improvement under Jurgen Klopp, the German manager has seen them lose three finals since he joined the club in 2015.
“We’re going to work our socks off and do everything possible to make it happen this season. We were very close to silverware but obviously not close enough,” Netherlands international Van Dijk told Liverpool’s website. Play bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
“I can improve in any aspect of the game. At the moment, it’s getting back to full fitness, making sure I’m getting better and stronger than I was before. I will work every day and do everything possible and no doubt it will happen.” Continue reading “Van Dijk ready to help Liverpool wins silverware”
The irony of Thierry Henry, one of France’s all-time soccer greats, plotting his own country’s downfall at the World Cup in Russia has not been lost on his former teammate Didier Deschamps, who calls it a bizarre situation.
When France goes up against Belgium in the World Cup semi-final at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday, the 40-year-old Henry will be on the opposing bench, looking to stop his country from advancing to Sunday’s final.
Up against him is Deschamps, who he played alongside in France’s 1998 World Cup-winning squad and who has been Les Bleus’ coach for the last six years. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“It’s bizarre because he’s French and will be on the opponent’s bench,” Deschamps said on Sunday on the French sports show Telefoot.
“But he is someone I really appreciate, I’m happy for him.”
Henry, who scored 51 goals in 123 international appearances, played for France at four World Cups in all. He was a runner-up in 2006 and also competed in 2002 and 2010. Continue reading “Henry wants Belgium to sink France”
Defending champion Roger Federer advanced to the Wimbledon last 16 without dropping a set after a 6-3 7-5 6-2 win over German Jan-Lennard Struff on Friday.
Federer, seeking a record ninth Wimbledon title, eased through the first set before the big-serving Struff put up more of a fight in the second.
But Federer clinched it with a superb service game that included a wonderful volley at the end of a long rally followed by a winning drive down the line.
The 36-year-old Swiss proceeded to win his 29th consecutive set at the All England Club and wrap up victory on Centre Court in just over one and a half hours. Place bet on LIVE games on NaijaBet
“Against big servers who go for a lot it’s always difficult to find rhythm and be sure that you are in driver’s seat until the match is over,” Federer said.
“I was happy to stay calm and finish off the job. I thought I did very well today. I created more chances in the second set and was always able to stay pretty clean on my own service game.
“It’s a wonderful feeling walking out there, I take every match one at a time, I try to put on a good match, try hard every time, and will never underestimate anybody – that keeps me in check.” Continue reading “Top seed Federer, Zverev and Monfils into last 16”
France coach Didier Deschamps was relieved to come through his side’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over Uruguay without losing any of his players to an unnecessary suspension, he said after Friday’s match in Nizhny Novgorod.
After Antoine Griezmann scored France’s second goal, Kylian Mbappe was involved in an incident with Uruguay’s Christian Rodriguez that ended with the France attacker on the ground and players from both sides getting involved in a melee.
The situation threatened to boil over, and Deschamps took midfielder Paul Pogba aside for a quiet word as both Mbappe and Rodriguez were shown yellow cards. Various Weekend games betting options are available on NaijaBet
“Regarding Paul, well things got a bit hot, and bearing in mind that he did have a yellow card, I didn’t want him to lose his temper and to get a booking for nothing much,” Deschamps told reporters after the match.
“That’s what I told all the players. If we qualify and they get yellow cards… not even for fouls but because of their gestures, because of their attitude, because of certain words that were said, that’s completely unnecessary.
“You can talk to the referee but you can’t be provocative and you can’t fall for the provocation of your rivals. I definitely didn’t want him to get another booking.” Continue reading “Deschamps excited as France avoid suspensions in pitch”
Neymar’s Brazil crashed out of the World Cup on Friday, failing to erase the pain of their humiliation on home soil four years ago as Belgium beat them 2-1 to set up a semifinal against France.
The five-time champions came to Russia desperate to make amends for their stunning 7-1 semi-final defeat on home soil to Germany in 2014.
But they were outplayed and out-thought by the fleet-footed European side in Kazan, with Premier League stars Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard marauding forward at will in the first half before showing impressive resilience in the second. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“These boys deserve to be heroes in Belgium,” said Belgium coach Roberto Martinez. “The execution of the tactics was magnificent.
“It is special and we can’t let the people of Belgium down. We can pass that down the generations – beating Brazil.”
Coming into the match, Martinez acknowledged the gulf in World Cup pedigree between his side, who have never been further than the semifinals, and their illustrious rivals. Continue reading “Belgium sink Brazil to face France semi-final”
Clubs in elite European competitions, including the Champions League and Europa League, will be allowed to make a fourth substitution if the match goes into extra time from next season, Uefa said on Thursday.
Fifa, the sport’s governing body, approved the use of a fourth substitute in extra time earlier this year and the rule has been a success at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.
According to Uefa’s amended laws, teams in the Champions League and Europa League will still be allowed three substitutes in normal time but can make another change when the match goes into extra time. Place Bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Teams that have made less than three substitutions in the standard 90 minutes can still make a total of four changes throughout extra time.
“A series of amendments to football’s Laws of the Game are coming into force immediately in various Uefa competitions,” European football’s governing body said in a statement.
Uefa also said that clubs in the Champions League and Europa League can list a maximum of seven substitutes on the match sheet, unless it’s for the final, where 12 substitutes can be listed. Continue reading “Uefa include fourth extra-time sub in Champions League”
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Cristiano Ronaldo has received an offer to leave Real Madrid and join Italian champions Juventus, a source close to the player told Reuters on Wednesday.
Ronaldo, who joined Real from Manchester United in 2008 for a then world record 80 million pounds ($105.65 million), is the Spanish club’s all-time top scorer with 451 goals in all competitions and has won two La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies with them.
Despite the glut of silverware, however, the five-times world player of the year has had frequent fallouts with Real and has declared on several occasions that he wants to leave the club. Various Betting options are Available for today’s games on NaijaBet
Moments after lifting a third consecutive Champions League trophy by helping beat Liverpool 3-1 in the final on May 26, Ronaldo appeared to suggest he had already decided to leave Real, telling a television reporter on the pitch at Kiev’s NSC Olympic Stadium: “It was beautiful to play for Real Madrid.”
Ronaldo, 33, appeared to backtrack on that statement during Real’s celebration parade through the Spanish capital the next day, when he told a mass of supporters: “See you next season.”
The Portugal forward was reported to be on the verge of leaving last June after a news story appeared in Portuguese newspaper Record declaring he was unhappy with the club. Continue reading “Ronaldo has received offer, might sign for Juventus”
Real Madrid on Wednesday denied media reports they have made a bid for Paris Saint-Germain’s teenage striker Kylian Mbappe, who is emerging as one of the biggest stars of the Russia World Cup.
Social media user Baptiste Ripart, who identifies himself as a journalist and editor, said in a Twitter posting that the Spanish Champions League holders had agreed to a world-record €272 million fee for the French 19-year-old.
Real Madrid issued their denial after Spanish sports dailies Marca and AS ran articles citing the posting. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“Given the information published …regarding an alleged agreement between Real Madrid and PSG for the player Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid would like to state that it is completely false,” the club said in a statement on their website.
“Real Madrid has not made any offer to PSG or the player and condemns the spreading of this type of information.” Continue reading “Real Madrid deny report about Mbappe bid”
While some of their biggest rivals have already fallen by the wayside in Russia, Brazil have been making serene progress towards the latter stages of the World Cup.
After watching holders Germany, Spain and Argentina all exit the competition in the last week in various states of disarray, the Selecao eased into the quarterfinals with a 2-0 victory against Mexico on Monday.
As they aim to lift the World Cup for a record sixth time in Moscow on July 15, their next opponents are Belgium in Kazan on Friday, in what will be something of a clash of styles – the best defence up against the best attack.
This Brazil team is not just about Neymar, even if his theatrics and intermittent magic, like his opener against Mexico, are what immediately catch the eye and dominate the headlines.
Look a little more closely and it becomes clear what is really making them tick – coach Tite has instilled an admirable collective discipline and his team are built on solid foundations.
They have conceded just one goal so far at this World Cup, and Steven Zuber’s effort for Switzerland in a 1-1 draw in Rostov-on-Don could have been disallowed for a foul on Joao Miranda. Continue reading “Brazil living up to expectation as World Cup favourites”
Maria Sharapova suffered her first opening-round Wimbledon defeat and earliest Grand Slam exit in eight years on Tuesday when she was shocked by fellow Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, the world No 132.
Sharapova, the 2004 champion, was joined at the exit by 2011 and 2014 winner Petra Kvitova who was stunned by Belarusian world No 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
However, two-time men’s champion Rafael Nadal and three-time winner Novak Djokovic eased into the second round. Place bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet
Sharapova was cruising to victory at one stage on Court Two with a set and 5-2 lead before qualifier Diatchenko shrugged off a back injury to win 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 after more than three hours of tense action.
Sharapova, playing Wimbledon for the first time in three years after missing 2016 through a drugs ban and 2017 due to injury, gave up the match on her 11th double fault.
It was her earliest exit at a Slam since a first round defeat at the 2010 Australian Open. Continue reading “Sharapova, Kvitova crash out Wimbledon; Nadal, Djokovic win”
England manager Gareth Southgate said he “doesn’t want to go home” as he called on his young side to build on their penalty shootout victory over Colombia in the World Cup last 16 on Tuesday.
After a second-half penalty gave Harry Kane his sixth goal of the tournament, Yerry Mina’s last-gasp header kept Colombia alive, only for England to win on penalties at a World Cup for the first time after defeats in 1990, 1998 and 2006.
“We played so well in the 90 minutes, we showed resilience to come back from huge disappointment and kept calm,” Southgate. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“Shootouts are tough. We had talked long and hard about owning the process of a shootout. They kept calm. The players have taken it all on board, it’s a special moment for us.
“We looked at technique, how we needed to be as a team, the goalkeeper’s role.”
England will next face Sweden in the last eight on Saturday in Samara, bidding to reach the semi-finals for only the third time. Continue reading “Southgate looking ahead after England’s World cup win”