Messi’s present lights up small Russian town

Lionel Messi’s arrival in Bronnitsy, a quiet town with 20,000 residents some 50km southeast of Moscow, has brought an unprecedented level of attention to a place most renowned for its Archangel Michael cathedral.

But as the euphoric shouts echoing around a temporary stand suggest, its selection as Argentina’s team base camp has transformed it into one of the epicentres of the World Cup. Bet Now on NaijaBet

Flags bearing Messi’s face hang over barriers, while a giant mural of the Barcelona star towers above the people of Bronnitsy as they come to terms with the intense spotlight now fixated on their hometown.

Never has it been subjected to such scrutiny, and perhaps never again will this town, founded in the middle of the 15th century, attract such global recognition.

Around 400 fans flocked to Argentina’s base camp on Monday for the team’s first open training session, each and every one desperate to steal a glimpse of Messi in the flesh.

None of them were yelling “Aguero”, “Mascherano” or “Higuain”. They were all waiting for Messi to emerge from a building by the training ground and began to eagerly chant his name. Continue reading “Messi’s present lights up small Russian town”

Spain needs ‘team spirit’ ahead of clash with Portugal

 

Spain captain Sergio Ramos and new coach Fernando Hierro displayed a united front as they looked ahead to Friday’s World Cup opener against Cristiano Ronaldo’s European champions Portugal following an extraordinary 48 hours.

Hierro and Ramos posed together, smiling for the cameras, at a press conference inside the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, the venue for the Group B clash between the Iberian neighbours.

Coming into this World Cup, Spain had been seen as one of the outstanding favourites to lift the trophy in Russia after a two-year unbeaten run under Julen Lopetegui.

But Wednesday’s sensational decision by the Spanish Football Federation to sack Lopetegui, in response to the announcement he would take over at Real Madrid after the tournament, has threatened to derail their chances. Place Bet on today’s World cup games on NaijaBet

Suddenly Hierro – a great former Real and Spain defender but a man with little coaching experience – finds himself in charge of a side eager to show they can still go all the way on Russian soil.

“There is nobody better than Fernando. He was a great player and has known us for a long time,” said Ramos, the Spain captain. Continue reading “Spain needs ‘team spirit’ ahead of clash with Portugal”

Arsenal host Man City on Premier League opening day

Arsenal’s new manager Unai Emery faces a baptism of fire after the Gunners were handed an opening day fixture at home to Premier League champions Manchester City.

Emery, Arsenal’s first new manager since Arsene Wenger took charge in 1996, will then travel to London rivals Chelsea on the second weekend of the season.

Liverpool, who will look to build on their Champions League final appearance, open their campaign at home to West Ham United in what will be manager Manuel Pellegrini’s first competitive game in charge of the London side. Place bet on Today game on NaijaBet

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United, a distant runners-up to City last season, start at home to Leicester City while FA Cup winners Chelsea are away to Huddersfield Town.

Tottenham Hotspur, who finished third, have confirmed that their first home fixture on the second week of the season against newly-promoted Fulham will be held at Wembley.

The north London club say their first game in their new stadium will be against Liverpool on the weekend of Sept 15-16. Continue reading “Arsenal host Man City on Premier League opening day”

Russia eye perfect start against Saudi in 2018 World Cup opener

Nobody would have handpicked the tournament’s two worst teams to launch the 2018 World Cup, but when Russia and Saudi Arabia meet on Thursday form will be irrelevant as the world’s biggest sporting festival explodes into life in Moscow.

PREDICT AND WIN!

Hosts Russia, and Saudi Arabia are the two lowest-ranked teams at the tournament by some distance and they are both in dire form. But their clash will set the tone for the global showpiece.

Partly due to a lack of competitive matches, Russia have slipped to 70th in the Fifa rankings, which sounds shockingly low for a World Cup team until you glance up to see the Saudis, despite securing automatic qualification from a competitive Asian confederation, at 67. Place Bet on all world cup group stage matches on NaijaBet

Despite failing to win in seven matches stretching back to October, 2017, the hosts still have realistic hopes of making it to the second round for the first time in more than 30 years after being drawn in a group also containing Egypt and Uruguay.

Russia coach Stanislav Cherchesov has been working overtime trying to rebuild his team, particularly defensively, after a cruel run of serious injuries to some of his most experienced operators, but the tournament has arrived without him showing much evidence of progress.

His team last tasted success via a 4-2 victory over South Korea – and even that win needed two own goals – and their most recent warm-ups brought defeat by Austria and a 1-1 draw with Turkey. Continue reading “Russia eye perfect start against Saudi in 2018 World Cup opener”

Ronaldo backs Brazil to end 16-year World Cup wait

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo believes it is time for his country to live up to the expectations and end their 16-year wait for a World Cup in Russia.

Tite’s Brazilian squad head into the tournament as one of the favourites, and will meet Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.

“I think for me the favourite is, of course, Brazil, not just because I am Brazilian but because Brazil are playing very well,” Ronaldo, who was the top scorer when Brazil last won the World Cup in 2002, told reporters in Moscow. Place bet on world cup group stage matches on NaijaBet

“Spain are playing very well, and Germany are always strong. But the World Cup is such a difficult tournament, and we also have Argentina, who are always strong, France with a very young team. Continue reading “Ronaldo backs Brazil to end 16-year World Cup wait”

US, Mexico and Canada win right to host 2026 World Cup

The United States, Mexico and Canada won the right to host the 2026 World Cup after easily beating Morocco in a vote by FIFA member nations on Wednesday.

The North American bid received 134 of the 203 votes, while Morocco polled 65 in the ballot at a FIFA Congress held in Moscow on the eve of the 2018 World Cup.

Football’s showpiece event will return to the North American continent for the first time since 1994 when the United States hosted the tournament.

Delegates had been faced with a clear choice — the joint North American bid boasts modern, established stadiums and well-developed transport links underpinned by Mexican football fervour. Naija and Bet

Morocco, on the other hand, promised a “European” World Cup in Africa, playing on the north African nation’s proximity to Europe. Continue reading “US, Mexico and Canada win right to host 2026 World Cup”

Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui 24 hours before the start of World Cup

Spain sacked coach Julen Lopetegui just two days before the team’s opening game against Portugal at the World Cup, Spanish football federation chief Luis Rubiales confirmed on Wednesday.

In a surprise announcement on Tuesday, Real Madrid named Lopetegui as their next manager to start work after the tournament in Russia, sparking outrage among the federation and Spanish fans at the timing of the announcement.

At a severely delayed press conference at Spain’s World Cup base in Krasnodar, Rubiales appeared to say he felt Lopetegui’s decision to join Madrid so close to the start of the tournament “obliged” him to take drastic action. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“I am here to say that we feel obliged to sack the national team manager,” said Rubiales.

Lopetegui had signed a contract extension until 2020 just last month and Rubiales is reportedly angry at only being informed of his decision to join Real minutes before the European champions made the announcement public. Continue reading “Spain sacked Julen Lopetegui 24 hours before the start of World Cup”

World Cup Update: Rashford suffers injury scare

England forward Marcus Rashford has suffered a “slight knock” in the final training session before heading to the World Cup in Russia, manager Gareth Southgate said.

The 20-year old, who scored 13 goals for Manchester United in all competitions last season, will be hopeful of a starting spot in Southgate’s team after impressing in the warm-up games, including a long-range goal against Costa Rica. Predict World Cup Matches Correctly & Put more money in your pocket on NaijaBet

“Marcus took a slight knock but nothing too serious so we will have a look at that ahead of tomorrow’s session which is open for everyone to see,” Southgate said on media.

“We have another week of preparation and a lot of competition for places, as you know.” Continue reading “World Cup Update: Rashford suffers injury scare”

Real Madrid appoint Julen Lopetegui as coach

The Spain boss will take over at Santiago Bernabeu following the World Cup, succeeding the inimitable Zinedine Zidane

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui will take over as Real Madrid coach after the World Cup, the club have confirmed.

Real had been heavily linked with a number of potential managerial appointments following the shock resignation of Zinedine Zidane, including Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino and former Spurs and Porto manager Andre Villas-Boas. Naija and Bet

However, they have now decided to appoint Lopetegui, who signed a new two-year extension with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) last month.

But following the conclusion of the tournament in Russia, which La Roja are considered one of the favourites to win, Lopetegui will transition into the role at Santiago Bernabeu.

A statement read: “Julen Lopetegui will be the coach of Real Madrid after the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Continue reading “Real Madrid appoint Julen Lopetegui as coach”

Kane expects England to be ‘brave’ and ‘aggressive’

England will adopt an aggressive approach to their World Cup fixtures and tackle the tournament “head on” as Gareth Southgate’s youthful squad hopes to make its mark in Russia, captain Harry Kane has said.

The 24-year-old Tottenham striker hopes that an inexperienced squad will be motivated by the biggest stage, on which the national team has repeatedly disappointed since lifting the trophy in 1966.

“The aim is to be aggressive and brave in possession,” Kane said. “We want to take this tournament head on. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“There will be tough moments, and ups and downs. Sometimes going into a big tournament is about not losing and being passive but, for us, it’s about playing attacking football.

“We are aiming to win the first game, then to target the second, and take that attitude to the World Cup.” Continue reading “Kane expects England to be ‘brave’ and ‘aggressive’”

My future depends on World Cup performance – Messi

Argentina captain Lionel Messi said his international future will be determined by his country’s performance at the World Cup in Russia.

“It will depend on how far we go, how we’re going to finish” at the finals, Messi said in an interview.

“We’ve just lost three finals in a row, which has led to us going through some difficult moments with the press,” added the Barcelona forward.

“Notably with the Argentine press because we have differences of opinion over what it means to make these three finals.” Place bet on world cup group stage matches on NaijaBet

Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final 1-0 to Germany after extra time, before suffering successive defeats by Chile on penalties at the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. Continue reading “My future depends on World Cup performance – Messi”

Patrick Vieira appointed Nice coach

Former Arsenal and France star Patrick Vieira, world and European cham-pion with Les Bleus, has taken the reins at top-flight Nice, the French club said Monday.

Vieira, 41, arrives after a stint at MLS outfit New York City FC. He has signed a three-year contract and replaces Lucien Favre who is moving to Borussia Dortmund.

The former midfield dynamo started his playing career at Cannes then had a brief spell AC Milan before becoming the rock on which Arsenal built a decade of glory, starring for the Gunners from 1996-2005. Place bet on LIVE matches on NaijaBet

After winning three Premier League titles and three FA Cups he joined Juventus for a season as the club topped Serie A but then were stripped of the title and then had four years with Inter Milan each topped with a Serie A crown.

In 2011, he retired after a spell back in England with Manchester City and after winning 107 French caps. Continue reading “Patrick Vieira appointed Nice coach”

Thiem hails “awesome” Rafael Nadal after final defeat

Dominic Thiem hailed Rafael Nadal’s “awesome” 11th French Open title after suffering a straight-sets defeat by the king of clay in the final at Roland Garros on Sunday.

The Austrian pushed Nadal hard early on but his spirit appeared crushed when the Spaniard won his service game to love to secure the first set, going on to win 6-4 6-3 6-2.

Dejected but gracious in defeat, Thiem told Nadal and the Philippe Chatrier court that his extended record for the most men’s Grand Slam wins at any tournament was “one of the most awesome things in sport. Congrats. Bravo.”

Thiem arrived in Paris in hot form, having picked up more Tour-level wins than any player in 2018 and beaten Nadal in the Madrid Open quarterfinals last month, snapping Nadal’s 21-match winning streak and his run of 50 straight sets won on clay. Place bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet

But beating an imperious Nadal at his favourite slam was too big an ask for the 24-year-old.

“To me it’s still been two great weeks,” Thiem told the Philippe Chatrier centre court and his opponent. Continue reading “Thiem hails “awesome” Rafael Nadal after final defeat”

Hazard demand clarity on Conte’s future

Eden Hazard wants clarity on Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s position at the club, as well as what signings they plan to make in the close season before he makes his mind up about his own long-term future.

Conte won the Premier League in his first year at Chelsea but his future is unclear after they finished fifth last season and failed to qualify for the Champions League.

When asked if his future at the club depended on who was in charge at Chelsea next season, Hazard told media: “Yeah I want to know. I want to know, but like I say I am focused on the World Cup. Place bet on today games on NaijaBet

“If we have something new – manager or players – it is always good to know it because I want players that can (help bring success back to) Chelsea next season.” Continue reading “Hazard demand clarity on Conte’s future”

Ronaldo return help Portugal to sink Algeria

With talisman Cristiano Ronaldo back in the side, Portugal strolled to a 3-0 win over Algeria in a World Cup warm-up match in Lisbon on Thursday.

A brace from Paris Saint-Germain forward Goncalo Guedes, who spent last season on loan at Valencia, and another strike from Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes secured a comfortable success.

It was a welcome boost for the European champions, who hadn’t won since March and were held to draws by Tunisia (2-2) and Belgium (0-0) in their previous two friendlies. Latest world cups group stage matches betting options are available on NaijaBet

Having been given some extra time off following Real Madrid’s Champions League final victory over Liverpool, Ronaldo made his 150th international appearance for Portugal. Continue reading “Ronaldo return help Portugal to sink Algeria”

Nadal reach 11th French Open semifinal

Rafael Nadal insisted he still “feels pressure” and is “only human”, after battling back from a set down to beat Diego Schwartzman on Thursday and set up a French Open semifinal clash with Juan Martin del Potro.

The 10-time champion was much-improved under the sunshine on Court Philippe Chatrier after finding life difficult the night before, clinching a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over dogged Argentinian Schwartzman on his fourth match point.

It is the 11th time the 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the French Open last four, becoming only the third man in history to achieve the feat at a Grand Slam tournament, after Jimmy Connors at the US Open and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Latest today’s tennis odds are available on NaijaBet

“I don’t have any obligation to win, first thing. Second thing, if you don’t feel the pressure, it’s because you don’t love the sport,” said Nadal, who has never failed to win the title in Paris after reaching the semifinals.

Pressure is good. You are able to control that. That pressure, that adrenaline, can be in a positive way.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion was pushed for three hours and 42 minutes by 11th seed Schwartzman, but will face Del Potro for a place in the final after the fifth seed downed Marin Cilic 7-6 (7/5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. Continue reading “Nadal reach 11th French Open semifinal”

Southgate happy with Rashford’s ‘swagger’

England manager Gareth Southgate was giving no clues as to his starting line-up for England’s opening World Cup game but the performance of striker Marcus Rashford in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica certainly gave him food for thought.

Rashford scored with a beautiful long-range shot to set England on their way to their second victory this week as they prepare for the group G clash with Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June.

Southgate called the goal “world class” but he was just as happy with the all-around play of the 20-year-old Manchester United forward.

“What pleased me most is that Marcus Rashford enjoyed his football tonight. He played with a real swagger,” Southgate said. Place Bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“I thought his link-up was good. It was a wonderful strike for the goal and he worked incredibly hard for the team.

“We have got great competition for places throughout the team – you saw that,” added the England manager. Continue reading “Southgate happy with Rashford’s ‘swagger’”

Guardiola has problem with African players – Toure

Midfielder Yaya Toure accused Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola of having “problems with Africans” in an interview that was published on Tuesday by France Football magazine.

“He insists he has no problems with black players because he is too intelligent to be caught out,” Toure said. “But when you realise that he has problems with Africans, wherever he goes, I ask myself questions.”

“I’m not the first to talk of these differences in treatment. At Barcelona, I know that some also asked questions.” Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“Last summer, when Pep brutally got rid of (Wilfried) Bony, who had been signed a year earlier for a huge some, I asked questions,” Toure said.

The 35-year-old Ivorian played just 17 matches this season for City, who romped to the Premier League title, and he confessed to wondering if his limited playing time “was not because of my colour.” Continue reading “Guardiola has problem with African players – Toure”

Buffon get Uefa banned for three matches

Uefa has banned goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon for three matches for comments he made about the referee after Juventus lost in the Champions League quarterfinals in April, European soccer’s governing body said on Tuesday.

Buffon was enraged by English referee Michael Oliver’s decision to award Real Madrid a stoppage-time penalty during the second leg at the Bernabeu and lost control, screaming at and jostling the Englishman until he was shown a red card.

Cristiano Ronaldo coverted the spot-kick and Real lost the match 3-1 to win the tie 4-3 on aggregate. Place bet on Today’s games on NaijaBet

“The Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has decided to suspend Juventus player Gianluigi Buffon for three Uefa competition matches for which he would be otherwise eligible,” Uefa said in a statement on its website https://www.uefa.com/insideuefa/disciplinary/index.html.

The 40-year-old Buffon, who left Juventus after 17 seasons at the club, criticised Oliver after the match, saying the referee had been out of his depth, should have been in the stands eating crisps and must have a garbage bin for a heart. Continue reading “Buffon get Uefa banned for three matches”

Sane out, Neuer named among Germany squad

Attacking midfielder Leroy Sane was a surprise omission from Joachim Loew’s final Germany squad for the World Cup finals on Monday as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was named among the 23 players heading to Russia for the defending champions.

Neuer made the squad despite playing in just one official game, a friendly against Austria on Friday, since breaking a bone in his foot in September but talented 22-year-old Sane was the highest-profile player excluded.

The Manchester City midfielder, goalkeeper Bernd Leno, forward Nils Petersen and defender Jonathan Tah were the four players that failed to make the cut from Loew’s provisional list. Latest world cup group stage matches betting options are Available on NaijaBet

Sane, who joined the English champions in 2016, had been a surprise addition to Germany’s Euro 2016 squad two years ago but this time he was overlooked by Loew, who opted to take the more physical Julian Brandt to Russia instead.

“It was a very tight decision between him and Julian Brandt which went in favour of Brandt,” Loew said. “There are better days in the life of a national team coach when you have to send four amazing players, who deserve to be at the World Cup, home.

“It’s like being at the airport check-in counter en route to Moscow and you are not allowed to board the plane.” Continue reading “Sane out, Neuer named among Germany squad”

Anderson not underestimating Schwartzman in Paris

Kevin Anderson will tower over French Open fourth round opponent Diego Schwartzman on Monday but the big South African insists the Argentine’s short stature should not be interpreted as a weakness.

World No 7 Anderson, at 6ft 1in (2.02m), faces 5 ft 7in (1.7m) Schwartzman, bidding to make the quarterfinals for the first time in Paris.

On paper, it should be straightforward.

Anderson, the first South African man to make the US Open final in 52 years when he finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2017, has a 2-0 record over Schwartzman.

One of those wins came on clay in Nice in 2016. Which games are you looking  to today, Bet Now NaijaBet

At this year’s French Open, Anderson has fired 57 aces and been broken just twice while Schwartzman has just nine aces.

But the Argentine has won all three rounds in straight sets while Anderson needed four to see off Pablo Cuevas and Mischa Zverev. Continue reading “Anderson not underestimating Schwartzman in Paris”

Madagascar sent Bafana out of Cosafa Cup

Madagascar beat South Africa 4-3 on Sunday in a penalty shootout after their 2018 Cosafa Cup quarterfinal match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane ended goalless.

The home nation got off to a positive start as they controlled possession stakes and dictated the flow of the game.

Bafana created their first scoring opportunity as early as the fifth minute when a right-sided free-kick was cleverly worked into the Madagascar box, but Lebohang Maboe shot just wide of the target from 14 yards out.

Luther Singh proved to be a real threat for the Madagascar defence and should have opened the scoring in the 20th minute when he broke through on goal, but he was denied in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Jean Leda.

Madagascar did not really offer much in the way of attack in the opening half, but they did manage a stinging shot on goal courtesy of Jaotombo Bourah just after the half-hour mark. His 24-yard effort, however, sailed over the crossbar. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

Maboe had another great scoring shot for Bafana in the 35th minute when he broke into the box from the right, but Leda was on hand yet again for Madagascar to stop him from close range.

The half ended goallessly.

Continue reading “Madagascar sent Bafana out of Cosafa Cup”

Super Eagles must improve before World Cup – Mikel

Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel admits his side have to improve quickly if they are to make an impact at the World Cup.

The Super Eagles lost 2-1 to England in a friendly at Wembley on Saturday.

Nigeria were punished for a dismal first-half display as goals from Gary Cahill and Harry Kane put England in control.

Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi pulled one back for the visitors after the interval, but Nigeria couldn’t find an equalizer despite their improved second half performance. Now is the best time to start forecasting your world cup games on NaijaBet

Mikel knows Nigeria have to sharpen up in Russia if they to get through a tough group featuring Argentina, Iceland and Croatia.

“We are a very young team and we have to learn, it is good for this young team to have a taste of what we are going to face in Russia,” Mikel said.

“We have to learn together as a team, we have to improve and that is why we played this game against such a quality side.

“We can know where we are and now we go back to training and try and improve.” Continue reading “Super Eagles must improve before World Cup – Mikel”

Nadal, Cilic, Del Potro through to French Open third round

Reigning champion Rafael Nadal bludgeoned his way into the French Open third round with a 6-2 6-1 6-1 defeat of outclassed Argentine Guido Pella on Thursday.

With rain showers forecast at Roland Garros the 31-year-old wasted no time on Court Suzanne Lenglen after saving four break points in the first game against the 78th-ranked Pella.

Once that early danger had been snuffed out Nadal offered up a masterclass against his fellow left-hander and his forehand was too hot for Pella to handle. Latest tennis games odds are Available on NaijaBet

The Spanish world No 1 has now won his last 27 sets at Roland Garros, having captured a 10th title last year without dropping a set.

Next in the firing line for Nadal is Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

CILIC INTO THE THIRD ROUND

Third seed Marin Cilic reached the French Open third round for the eighth time with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-7 3/7), 7-5 win over Polish qualifier and world number 188 Hubert Hurkacz. Continue reading “Nadal, Cilic, Del Potro through to French Open third round”

Neymar on fast track to full fitness before World Cup kicks off

Brazil star Neymar is getting fitter every day as the striker recovers from a broken foot, Brazil teammate Danilo said from their pre-World Cup training camp in London on Wednesday.

The Paris Saint Germain forward was injured in February and is yet to play a match since then, with two weeks to go before the World Cup kicks off in Russia.

“He’s getting better every day, getting faster, agiler and more difficult to defend against,” said Manchester City’s Danilo, who knows Neymar from his Santos days. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet

“He’s so fast you wouldn’t know whether to go, left, right, forwards or backward,” Danilo said of Neymar’s trickery. Continue reading “Neymar on fast track to full fitness before World Cup kicks off”