Spain’s identity crisis looks to be well and truly over after Marco Asensio inspired a 6-0 thrashing of World Cup runners-up Croatia in the Uefa Nations League on Tuesday.
Defeat to Russia in July prompted a change of coach and doubts about the Spanish passing style but after an impressive win over England at Wembley, Luis Enrique has now overseen a demolition of Croatia too.
Asensio’s two long-range shots, the second cannoning in off goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic, had Spain three up before halftime in Elche, after Saul Niguez had earlier headed home.
Croatia, abject at the back, were no better after the break. Asensio first threaded Rodrigo Moreno through to finish before supplying the corner for an unmarked Sergio Ramos to nod in No 5. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
Isco then flashed a sixth into the top corner, again Asensio the provider.
Two victories in four days mean Spain sit top of League A’s Group Two, with a six-point gap over both Croatia and England, who play each other in Rijeka next month.
Brushing aside two of the World Cup’s top four teams, and one so emphatically, sends out its own message, but just as satisfying for La Roja will be the sense of pride restored. Continue reading “Spain sink World Cup runners-up Croatia 6-0”
Germany coach Joachim Loew admitted making several mistakes that contributed to their World Cup debacle but opted for only a handful of changes to the squad for next month’s internationals, saying a balance of experience and youth was necessary.
Loew said on Wednesday that Germany, who were condemned to their earliest World Cup exit in 80 years after being eliminated following the group stage, should never have played their possession game in a knockout tournament as teams counter-attacked successfully.
He also said he failed to instill a sense of urgency and passion among his players who lost two of their three group matches.
Among the players called up for the Nations League game against France on Sept. 6 and the friendly against Peru three days later, are returning internationals Leroy Sane, Nils Petersen and Jonathan Tah as well as newcomers Kai Havertz, who is 19, Thilo Kehrer, 21, and 25-year-old Nico Schulz. Various betting options are available on site for today’s games
He also included Ilkay Gundogan, who was criticised for posing alongside Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan before the World Cup in a photograph which also featured Germany team-mate Mesut Ozil. The episode caused a big furore and led to Ozil’s international retirement after the World Cup.
Loew said Gundogan had suffered during the affair that overshadowed their World Cup campaign. Continue reading “Joachim Loew makes few changes to Germany squad”
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have dropped from 48th to 49th in the latest FIFA Rankin released after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Super Eagles dropped by one place in the FIFA rankings released just before the start of the World Cup and continued in the same trend in the last released by the World football governing body on Thursday, August 16.
The Super Eagles drop can be traced to their performance at the football fiesta in Russia. Place bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
The Super Eagles lost their first group game 2-0 to Croatia, then won their second group game against Iceland 2-0 thanks to heroics from Ahmed Musa.
In their last group game against Argentina, the Super Eagles narrowly lost 2-1 to a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina as they could not match their achievements of the 2014 FIFA World Cup where they progressed to the round of 16. Continue reading “Nigeria drop point in Latest FIFA Ranking”
Veteran Egyptian goalkeeper Essam El Hadary has retired from international duty aged 45, after breaking the record for oldest player to appear at a World Cup in Russia.
“After reflecting at length and asking God, I have decided to retire from international football,” El Hadary wrote on Facebook late Monday.
El Hadary, nicknamed “High Dam”, won 159 caps for his country during a 22-year international career that saw him win the Africa Cup of Nations four times. Place bet on Live matches 24/7
At the age of 45 years and 161 days, El Hadary smashed Colombian stopper Faryd Mondragon’s record for oldest player at a World Cup when he took to the field against Saudi Arabia in Volgograd this summer.
He wrote that he was “very proud” to have finally “realised the most important, biggest, dearest dream of playing at the World Cup”. Continue reading “God told Egypt keeper El Hadary to retires aged 45”
Germany captain Manuel Neuer has denied that Mesut Ozil was the victim of racism within the German FA (DFB), but admitted the fiasco has taken a toll on the players.
Having been booed by German fans in pre-World Cup friendlies, Ozil quit the national team following Germany’s shock early exit from the finals in Russia and with his parting shot he accused DFB president Reinhard Grindel of racism.
“We’ve always tried to integrate all the players and we’ve also done everything for our teammates to make them feel good going into games,” said Neuer at Bayern’s pre-season training camp in southern Bavaria.
Continue reading “Germany captain Manuel Neuer denies Ozil’s claims of racism”
German soccer star Mesut Ozil said on Sunday he would no longer play for the national team because he faced racism and disrespect because of his Turkish roots.
His impassioned statement comes amid a political debate in Germany about an influx of 1.6 million migrants since mid-2014 that has seen a rise of the far right at the expense of traditional parties.
Ozil was a member of Germany’s World Cup-winning side in 2014 and has been voted by fans as the team’s player of the year five times since 2011.
But the creative midfield player faced a barrage of criticism at home for having his photograph taken with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in May. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
He and Ilkay Gundogan, a teammate also of Turkish descent who also posed with Erdogan, were jeered by some German fans in warm-up games before the World Cup in Russia.
Germany failed to qualify from the group stage in Russia, making their earliest exit from the tournament in 80 years and Ozil was one of the scapegoats for their unsuccessful title defence. Continue reading “Ozil quits German national side due to racism and disrespect”
Morocco will bid to host the 2030 World Cup, a government spokesperson said on Thursday, a day after the kingdom missed out on the 2026 tournament to a joint North American bid.
“Upon royal instructions, Morocco will prepare its bid to host the 2030 tournament,” spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi told a press briefing.
He also said Morocco would implement the projects included in its 2026 bid, despite losing to a joint bid by the United States, Mexico and Canada.
The North American bid received 134 Fifa Congress votes to Morocco’s 65. Khalfi said it was “regrettable” that seven Arab countries did not vote for Morocco, including close political allies such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Various betting options for today’s games are available on NaijaBet
Qatar, who will host the tournament in 2022, voted for Morocco. Continue reading “Morocco are ready to bid for 2030 World Cup”
Super Eagles Star, Ahmed Musa, who was arguably Nigeria’s best player at the just concluded Russia 2018 World Cup has been shortlisted for the Goal of the Tournament Award by FIFA.
A total of 169 goals were scored at the 2018 World Cup; but only 18 from that pool were shortlisted for the top award.
Musa’s second goal against Iceland in the group stage of the Mundial, alongside 17 others, has been selected. The list includes Cristiano Ronaldo’s third goal against Spain and Lionel Messi’s goal against Nigeria.
The voting for the Best Goal in Russia 2018 will be open until July 23 on FIFA’s official website. Bet now
Leading the line are the two goals scored by Russia midfielder Denis Cheryshev and one from his teammate striker Artem Dzyuba Continue reading “Musa’s second goal gets nomination for Goal of the Tournament”
France won the World Cup for the second time in spectacular style on Sunday as a 4-2 victory in one of the most entertaining and action-packed finals for decades ended battling outsiders Croatia’s dreams of a first title.
After an early own goal by Mario Mandzukic France’s big guns delivered on the biggest stage of all as Antoine Griezmann – with a penalty awarded after a VAR review – Paul Pogba and teenage tyro Kylian Mbappe all hit the target.
Ivan Perisic and Mandzukic replied for Croatia, who ended beaten but unbowed after making much of the running in their first appearance in the final. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
It was the highest-scoring decider since England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra-time in 1966 and the highest in normal time since Brazil defeated Sweden 5-2 60 years ago.
There were as many goals in 90-action-packed Moscow minutes as in the last four finals combined, and three of those went to extra time.
The game featured the first final own goal and the first VAR-decided spot-kick – one that Croatia were furious about and that was arguably the turning point of the game. Continue reading “France sink Croatia to become 2018 World Cup Champions”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said he was deeply proud after his team hit back from 2-0 down to beat Japan and claim a place in the World Cup quarterfinals.
Substitute Nacer Chadli slotted home in the fourth minute of injury time to complete a memorable comeback and seal a 3-2 win in the last-16 match in Rostov-on-Don.
Belgium were stunned after Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Inui gave Japan a two-goal advantage early in the second half.
But Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini pulled them level and Chadli’s winner means they will play Brazil in the last eight.
“That was a test for the team and its character,” said Martinez after Belgium become the first team in 48 years to overturn a 2-0 deficit in a World Cup knockout match. Various betting options are Available for today’s games on NaijaBet
“We survived it, we have gone through and that is the most important thing.”
“No negatives today, it was about getting through,” Martinez added. “It is a day to be very proud of these players. Keep believing in Belgium. Continue reading “Martinez hails Belgium ‘fighting spirit’ after stunning win”
Akira Nishino’s short time in charge of Japan has been defined by a succession of gambles and so it was perhaps fitting that his side departs the World Cup after risking it all in the last 16 against Belgium.
It was a gamble in itself to install Nishino as coach two months out from the tournament, and since taking over the 63-year-old has shown a daring not associated with his predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic, nor indeed Japanese soccer in general.
After choosing to keep faith with many of the veterans who were in danger of losing their place under Halilhodzic, Nishino’s Japan opened their Group H campaign with a win over Colombia and a draw with Senegal. Place bet on today’s game on NaijaBet
Nishino threw the dice in their final group match against already-eliminated Poland, making six changes to the starting 11 and then, when a goal down, opting not to chase an equalizer, instead of holding out for a result that would see them into the last 16 instead of Senegal due to a better disciplinary record.
Against Belgium in Rostov-on-Don, Nishino recalled his key players and went on the offensive, keeping to the promise of playing attacking football he made when he took charge. Continue reading “Japan defeat cause heart broken for fans”
The Spanish press turned on Julen Lopetegui, the former national coach who was sacked on the eve of the World Cup, after they were knocked out of the tournament on Sunday.
The 2010 winners were eliminated by host nation Russia in a penalty shootout after a match that Spain dominated but failed to make their overwhelming possession count.
“The KO in the last 16 is another dark chapter in our history,” said sports daily Marca.
“The match… was a horror. (Spain) played badly, and didn’t think it out… by the time the penalty shootout started this was a broken team lacking the desire to confront a challenge which owes a lot to luck but also to courage,” the paper said. Place bet on today’s tennis games on NaijaBet
Marca blamed Lopetegui, whose decision to accept the coach’s job at Real Madrid on the eve of the World Cup led to his sacking, for destabilising the team. Continue reading “Spanish press blame ex-coach for blowing apart the W-Cup chances”
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has signed a new long-term contract with the club, the Premier League side said on Monday.
Salah had a remarkable first season with Liverpool, scoring 44 goals in all competitions and helping the club reach the Champions League final. He was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year.
“I think this news can be seen for what it is; rewarding a person who performed and contributed greatly for the team and the club last season,” manager Jurgen Klopp told the club’s website. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“It demonstrates two things very clearly also – his belief in Liverpool and our belief in him.”
Continue reading “Salah signs new five years deal with Liverpool”
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”