Spain goalkeeper David de Gea is “working like a bloody animal” and has the full backing of his teammates in the face of stinging criticism from the national media for his World Cup displays, midfielder Thiago Alcantara said on Friday.
De Gea made a high-profile blunder in Spain’s 3-3 draw with Portugal by allowing a shot from Cristiano Ronaldo through his hands, which led to his status as No 1 keeper being called into question.
The Manchester United goalkeeper made his first save in the tournament in the 2-2 draw with Morocco in Spain’s final group game and although he has not made any more costly errors since the game with Portugal, criticism has persisted. Place bet world cup event on NaijaBet
“It is the most unfortunate position on the pitch but if you have seen David’s games for Manchester United and his other games for Spain you’ll be able to tell he is an outstanding goalkeeper,” Thiago told a news conference.
“The media also need to take a look at themselves and realise what a great player he is. Look how many times he has been named best goalkeeper in the Premier League. He works like a bloody animal and the confidence we have in him is gigantic.” Continue reading “De Gea working hard to improve his performance – Thiago”
Argentina and Lionel Messi need to find form fast if they are to go any further in the World Cup on Saturday when they meet a France team who have yet to live up to their billing.
The first last-16 match in Russia promises to be a fascinating clash of two under-achieving sides who are supposedly on different trajectories.
All the flaws of an ageing and unbalanced Argentina team were ruthlessly exposed in the thrashing by Croatia in the group stage.
But, roared on by a pumped-up Diego Maradona, Messi finally opened his account in this tournament before Marcos Rojo volleyed in a stunning winner against Nigeria as the losing 2014 finalists punched their ticket to the knockout stage.
Didier Deschamps’ France, meanwhile, among the pre-tournament favourites, have looked sluggish despite easing through the group stage unbeaten. Place bet on Live Matches on NaijaBet 24/7
First-choice striker Antoine Griezmann has been unable to recapture his best form and the creativity has failed to flow from midfield.
Deschamps is adamant that France will get it all right on the night when the business end of the tournament kicks off on Saturday.
“A whole new competition begins now, direct elimination,” Deschamps said. “We got what we wanted. Now the mountain looms up in front of us, but we’re there and we’re aiming to get through to the next round after that.” Continue reading “Messi must deliver against France to keep world cup hope alive”
Tunisia failed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup at the fifth time of asking in Russia and coach Nabil Maaloul says they will continue to struggle on the biggest stage without drastic changes to the game in the country.
While the North Africans won their first World Cup game in 40 years on Thursday, a 2-1 win over new boys Panama, it counted for little after defeats to England and Belgium.
Maaloul said Tunisia and the other Arab countries at the tournament – Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia – were just not equipped for success. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“We have four Arab teams that are not yet at the required level for the tournament, they still have to work harder and improve their performances,” said Maaloul.
“In order to do that, we need to have more of our players in professional leagues so they can learn and grow.” Continue reading “Arab teams need Rethink to perform at World Cup”
Four weeks on from her run to the last 16 at the French Open, Serena Williams is back at Wimbledon, having missed last year’s event as she prepared for the birth of her daughter.
Ranked 183 after just three tournaments back, the seven-time champion will go into Wimbledon as the 25th seed, the seeding committee having deviated from the WTA ranking list, an exception because she is coming back after maternity leave.
Having pulled out before her fourth-round match in Paris with a pectoral injury, Williams did not play a warm-up event on grass. Instead she arrived early at Wimbledon and has been practising hard under the eye of her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
Such is the aura the American brings with her to south west London, British bookmakers make her second favourite for the title, behind the two-time champion, Petra Kvitova. Bet Now
Three months short of her 37th birthday, it is 16 years since she first won Wimbledon and as she continues to regain full fitness, she knows an eighth title is a big ask.
“Roland Garros was a mountain way steeper than the other mountains I’ve climbed,” she told her documentary, Being Serena, which is being streamed on Eurosport Player.
“And….I can honestly say that I didn’t enjoy all the demands and all the tugging. Continue reading “Serena Williams is back at Wimbledon seeking eighth title”
Crisis-hit Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday fired coach Sinisa Mihajlovic just nine days after he was apppointed by former club president Bruno de Carvalho.
“Sporting have decided to end his probationary period and cancel his contract,” said Jose Sousa Cintra, the club’s new president at a press conference. Play Bet on Virtual Games on NaijaBet 24/7
“We will quickly seek a new coach, who should be presented by Monday.”
Mihajlovic was recruited on a three-year contract by De Carvalho on June 18, five days before his dismissal by a general meeting of club members.
The crisis at the club began when Sporting lost a Europa League game to Atletico Madrid in April and De Carvalho tweeted ferocious criticism of the players. Continue reading “Sporting sacked Mihajlovic after just nine days”
One of sport’s old adages is “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” but not for Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, at least not when his team take on England in their final World Cup round-robin match to decide top spot in Group G.
Normally a battle between European neighbours for first place at a World Cup would bring out the win-at-all-cost cliches but with Belgium already assured a spot in the last 16 along with England, Martinez was looking ahead for bigger scalps in the knockout round.
Martinez’s thinking, however, ran counter to that of England coach Gareth Southgate who made it clear that his squad will be out for victory on Thursday to build momentum ahead the knockout phase.
“Tomorrow we want to perform well but the priority is not to win,” Martinez told a pre-match press conference on Wednesday. “The reality is we put ourselves in this situation we wanted to qualify and we have done that. Place bet on tennis games on NaijaBet
“There are players with yellow cards and I don’t think it would be professional for us to put those players in a risk to miss the knockout phase.
“It is very important for us to protect and give every player the best possible programme to be in the best condition in the knockout game.” Continue reading “Win over England not priority – Belgium coach”
Holders Germany sensationally crashed out of the World Cup on Wednesday in one of the biggest shocks in the tournament’s history – failing to make it past the opening round for the first time since 1938.
In a stunning reverse by the footballing superpower who have reached either the final or semifinals of every World Cup since 2002, the Germans stumbled to a 2-0 loss to South Korea that left them rooted to the bottom of Group F.
Germany went into the game knowing that a win by two clear goals would have seen them into the last 16. But instead it was Sweden and Mexico who advanced after the Swedes romped to a 3-0 win over the Mexicans in Yekaterinburg. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“The disappointment of us being eliminated is just huge,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew, who is now under pressure to quit despite signing a contract extension until 2022 last month.
“It’s too soon for me to answer, it will take a few hours to see things clearly, the disappointment is very deep in me,” the 58-year said when asked if he would resign.
“It is a really, really bitter evening for us,” defender Mats Hummels added. “The situation is very difficult to put into words.”
“We had plenty of opportunities, we broke our necks trying out there today,” he added. Continue reading “Brazil progress, Germany crash out of the 2018 world cup”
Midfielder Naby Keita is eager to help Liverpool build on their impressive run last campaign as the Guinea international prepares to complete his transfer to the Premier League club on Sunday.
Liverpool signed Keita from Leipzig for a club record fee last August, with the teams agreeing that the 23-year-old would move to Anfield ahead of the 2018/19 season.
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s side hosted a blistering attack last season, which helped the team finish fourth in the league and reach the Champions League final, where they were defeated by holders Real Madrid in May. Place bet on LIVE matches Now on NaijaBet
“When you see how they performed last season it makes me want to do the same and to be a part of this team. I would like to be able to achieve a similar kind of season with them next season – but even better,” Keita told Liverpool’s website.
“When I see how things have progressed here, I think if I am brave I can do the same and develop further.” Continue reading “Keita keen to take Liverpool to new heights”
Argentina and Lionel Messi scraped into the knockout stages of the World Cup by the skin of their teeth on Tuesday after an 86th minute strike from defender Marcos Rojo gave them a barely deserved 2-1 win over Nigeria, eliminating the African side.
The twice World Cup champions will face France in the last 16 while Croatia, who advance as winners of Group D with the maximum nine points after beating Iceland 2-1, will take on Denmark.
Nigeria were just minutes away from progressing before central defender Rojo superbly volleyed home a Gabriel Mercado cross from the right. Place bet on today’s world cup games on NaijaBet
As the drama unfolded in St Petersburg, Iceland were simultaneously fighting with all their Nordic might for a win over the Croats in Rostov-on-Don that could have sent them through. The Argentines, however, had enough on their plate with a feisty Nigeria to worry about results elsewhere.
Messi had put them ahead in the 14th minute, with a fabulously taken goal but the Africans equalised through a Victor Moses penalty in the 51st minute. The South Americans struggled to respond to that setback with a ragged second half display. Continue reading “Argentina sink Nigeria to reach knockout stage”
A foul on Cristiano Ronaldo during Portugal’s Group B clash against Iran on Monday resulted in a record 19th penalty at the World Cup before the knockout rounds.
The Portugal forward was brought down in the box shortly into the second half in Saransk, with the penalty awarded by use of the video assistant referee (VAR).
Although Ronaldo’s spot kick was saved by Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand, the decision eclipsed the previous record tally of 18 penalties awarded set at the 2002 World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea.
In Brazil four years ago, there were only 13 penalties in the entire tournament. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
The use of the VAR has contributed hugely to the spike, and it was employed earlier on Monday to award a penalty to Saudi Arabia’s Salman Al-Faraj in their Group A match against Egypt. Continue reading “Ronaldo foul sets new World Cup penalties record”
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary is set to become the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup after the 45-year-old was named in the team to face Saudi Arabia in Volgograd on Monday.
Egypt tweeted their team line-up including El Hadary, who will smash the record set by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.
Liverpool star Mohamed Salah was also named in the starting line-up as Egypt go in search of a first-ever win in their third appearance at the World Cup finals. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Salah missed the opening 1-0 defeat against Uruguay after injuring his left shoulder in last month’s Champions League final. He scored a penalty in the 3-1 defeat to Russia.
El Hadary, who is 45 years and 161 days old and nicknamed “High Dam”, made his debut for Egypt in 1996 – a year before his Egyptian squad mate Ramadan Sobhy was born. Continue reading “Egypt El Hadary become the oldest player in World Cup history”
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has tipped Radamel Falcao for more success after the joy of seeing his star striker bag his maiden World Cup goal in a 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
“I think this is one of the greatest joys we experienced tonight,” Pekerman said when asked how important Falcao’s goal was for the team and the country.
Falcao, 32, was cruelly deprived of competing in Brazil four years ago after suffering a serious knee injury while playing for Monaco against an amateur side in the French Cup. Place bet on today’s world cup games on Naija and Bet
Falcao had to watch on as teammate James Rodriguez emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with six goals and the best strike of the tournament as Colombia reached the quarterfinals.
Falcao has dreamed of scoring at the World Cup since his childhood, and after missing Brazil the whole of Colombia has prayed for El Tigre (The Tiger) to make his mark on football’s biggest stage. Continue reading “Falcao scored as Colombia sink Poland”
Jorge Sampaoli begged for forgiveness from Argentina’s fans on Thursday after a 3-0 drubbing by Croatia left Lionel Messi’s World Cup dreams hanging by a thread.
Second-half goals from Ante Rebic – the first from a horrendous error by Argentina goalkeeper Willy Caballero – Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic sealed a deserved victory for the European side and ensured their passage into the last 16.
A contrite Sampaoli said the rout was his fault entirely and apologised to supporters left in tears in the Nizhny Novgorod stadium on the banks of the River Volga. Place bet on today’s world cup matches on NaijaBet
“First and foremost, I would beg for their forgiveness, especially those who came great distances to see Argentina,” said the softly spoken Sampaoli.
“I am responsible for this result but I was as dreamy-eyed as the fans.”
The Group D defeat means Argentina, one of the pre-tournament favourites and defeated finalists in 2014, are on the brink of a humiliating first-round exit. Continue reading “Argentina Coach asks for ‘forgiveness’ as hopes fade”
Under-fire Germany star Sami Khedira on Thursday laughed off a cheeky offer of early flights home for the holders from a Swedish reporter ahead of their crunch World Cup clash.
Holders Germany will be under intense pressure in the Group F clash in Sochi on Saturday against Sweden after suffering a shock 1-0 defeat to Mexico in their first match of the tournament. Naija and Bet
The Juventus midfielder kept his cool when a Swedish tabloid reporter handed him a home-made return ticket for the entire German squad.
“I don’t think we will need that until July 16,” said the smiling Khedira. The World Cup final takes place in Moscow on July 15.
The Germans are deadly serious ahead of the Swedish match, knowing a second defeat will effectively send them home at the end of the group stages.
Despite calls to drop him, Khedira insists he can handle the pressure and shore up the German midfield, which was badly exposed by the Mexicans. Continue reading “Khedira dismisses Germany early flights home”
Diego Costa rejected claims he intentionally stamped on Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand during a tense 1-0 win over Iran but admitted his crucial match-winner for Spain came down to “luck”.
Frustrated throughout by a dogged defensive display from the Lions of Persia, Costa courted first-half controversy when he walked towards the Persepolis shot-stopper as he prepared to kick out the ball.
The Atletico Madrid front man got so close he stood on Beiranvand’s toes, causing the ‘keeper to wince in pain and drop to the ground.
The gesture went unpunished by Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha, and Costa went on to find the net with a 54th minute strike that rebounded off the leg of defender Ramin Rezaeian.
Asked about his gesture afterwards, Costa lashed out by claiming Iran had been the main culprits.
“What game were you watching?” said Costa when probed by a Spanish journalist.
“They were provoking us, we were on the grass all the time, you can’t just say that because it’s your national team.” Continue reading “I’m not competing against him, (Ronaldo) – Costa”
Lionel Messi is under increased pressure to redeem himself when Argentina face Croatia in Thursday’s pivotal match after eternal rival Cristiano Ronaldo scored his fourth goal of the World Cup to send Morocco packing.
France will be looking for a second World Cup Group C win against Peru Thursday while Australia need to bounce back from their heart-breaking defeat to Les Bleus against Denmark.
Messi’s teammates have rallied around their superstar captain after his spot-kick was saved in the 1-1 draw against minnows Iceland on Saturday.
Messi is bearing the weight of expectations as Argentina seek a first World Cup trophy since 1986, desperate to crown his glittering career with a major international tournament success. Various betting options are available on site for today’s games on NaijaBet
However so far in Russia, Messi has been overshadowed by Ronaldo, who took his tournament goal tally to four on Tuesday with the winner in Portugal’s 1-0 defeat of Morocco, which condemned the Africans to an early exit.
A defeat against the Luka Modric-led Croatians in Nizhny Novgorod could see Argentina, unthinkably, flirting with a first group stage exit since 2002. Continue reading “Ronaldo scores again put Pressure on Messi”
Cristiano Ronaldo leads all scorers at the 2018 World Cup after the Portugal star netted his fourth goal of the tournament in the 1-0 group-stage defeat of Morocco on Wednesday.
In his second game of the World Cup, Ronaldo overtook Denis Cheryshev of Russia, who has scored three goals so far.
Midfielder Joao Mario was included in Portugal’s starting line-up for the World Cup Group B match against Morocco on Tuesday in the only change from the team which started the 3-3 draw against Spain. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Joao Mario, a key player in the team which won the European Championship two years ago, replaced Manuel Fernandes while Goncalo Guedes kept his place in attack, again being preferred to Andre Silva.
Morocco made three changes to the team which lost 1-0 to Iran as defenders Manuel da Costa and Nabil Dirar and forward Khalid Boutaib were all included. Continue reading “Ronaldo scored as Portugal send Morocco out of 2018 World”
Former England defender Jamie Carragher believes Marcus Rashford should replace fellow forward Raheem Sterling for the World Cup fixture against Panama on Sunday, explaining that the Manchester United player is better suited to the side’s system.
Skipper Harry Kane bagged a brace, the second in stoppage time, as England beat Tunisia 2-1 in their opening Group G match on Monday but Sterling was unable to prevent his scoring drought from extending to 21 matches for the national side. Today’s world cup matches are available on NaijaBet
Carragher noted that Rashford’s positive contribution after he replaced Sterling in the 68th minute gave England the impetus to break down a stubborn Tunisia rearguard and said the 20-year-old’s performance warranted a starting spot.
“England’s system does not suit Sterling – or certainly not in the position he is currently occupying,” the former Liverpool defender, who earned 38 caps for England, wrote in his column for the Telegraph. Continue reading “Rashford should replace Sterling against Panama – Carragher”
Roger Federer began his last week of pre-Wimbledon competition with a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Slovene Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday to reach the second round of the ATP Halle grass event.
The world No 1 needs to lift a record 10th title on Sunday in order to remain at the summit of the rankings and assure himself the top seeding at Wimbledon starting a week from Monday.
Federer’s straightforward victory in 71 minutes marked his 17th straight on the grass dating to June, 2017, when he lost in Stuttgart to Tommy Haas. Place bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet
The Halle defending champion, who has a laneway leading to the stadium named in his honour, has won exactly half of his 18 grass trophies at the wooded north German venue.
Federer took back the top ranking from Rafael Nadal for the second time this season last week in Stuttgart as he returned to competition for the first time in three months after avoiding the clay season to prepare fully for the grass.
The 36-year-old Swiss got off to an early break in the opening set against the 72nd-ranked Bedene, who briefly played for Britain. Continue reading “Federer starts Halle campaign with a victory”
Japan beat 10-man Colombia 2-1 in group H on Tuesday to become the first Asian side to beat a South American one at the World Cup.
Asian teams had managed three draws in 17 matches against South American sides, but the four-times Asian champions made their extra man count after Colombia midfielder Carlos Sanchez became the first player to get a red card in Russia.
His sending-off in the third minute, for a deliberate handball, was the second fastest in World Cup history after Uruguay’s Jose Batista was dismissed after 55 seconds against Scotland in 1986. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Shinji Kagawa scored from the resulting penalty to give Japan the lead.
Juan Quintero’s clever low free-kick in the 39th minute brought Colombia’s equaliser, but Yuya Osako leaped above his marker to head a corner into the net for the 73rd-minute winner. Continue reading “Kagawa, Osaka help Japan to sink Colombia”
A stunning volley from Dries Mertens and a Romelu Lukaku double broke the resistance of a brave Panama side on their World Cup debut as Belgium cruised to a 3-0 win in their opening Group G game on Monday.
Mertens hammered home a superb volley two minutes into the second half, sending the ball arcing over Jaime Penedo after Panama struggled to clear a cross.
Lukaku’s hard work up front was rewarded when he headed home Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant pass off the outside off his foot to make it 2-0 in the 69th minute and the big striker latched on to an Eden Hazard pass to complete the scoring with a neat finish. Place bet on today’s world cup matches on NaijaBet
The announcement of the first team to represent the Central American nation at the World Cup finals was greeted by an ear-splitting roar from the thousands of flag-waving Panamanian fans dotted in clusters around the Fisht Stadium.
The debutants endured a shaky start as Lukaku went close for Belgium in the opening minute after an incisive pass from De Bruyne set Yannick Carrasco free down the left, but the striker fired wide. Continue reading “Lukaku shine as Belgium sink first timer Panama”
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 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’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”