Pepe remain’s Portugal’s weakest link

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As opening group games go, Spain vs Portugal will be hard to match, with Cristiano Ronaldo, as expected, writing the narrative.

The captain and talisman for his team was unplayable at times, and he deservedly bagged his hat-trick with an unstoppable free-kick that David De Gea didn’t even move for, so good was the quality of the strike.

Pepe will be thanking his lucky stars that his colleague took home the match ball, and with it the headlines from around the world. Continue reading

Douglas Costa For Costa Rica!

Football supporters had waited four days to watch Brazil’s first outing in this summer’s World Cup, the current side having been hyped beyond belief after looking much more like their old selves under boss Tite. The Selecao played their usual brand of silky football in the opening minutes as fans across the globe had their popcorn ready, waiting to be entertained.

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Serbia & Milinkovic-Savic impress in World Cup win over Costa Rica


Mladen Krstajic’s Serbia have started their 2018 World Cup campaign in perfect fashion as they confidently beat Costa Rica through a sublime free-kick from Aleksandar Kolarov in the 56th minute. Had the side’s attack been full of drive and consistency in front of goal, they could have easily secured their first three points of the competition with 15 to 20 minutes of the game still remaining.

As expected, before the game had even started, Costa Rica would sit deep and look forward to making the most on the counter-attack, which allowed Serbia to enjoy the possession of the ball for the majority of the match and it resulted in more action being in the opposition’s half of the pitch.

Most importantly, Serbia’s backline showed how compact and defensively solid they can be during the crucial moments, which cannot be said about most of the other international teams that have already played in their opening fixture of the competition. Also, it cannot be easy for any central midfielder from the opposite team to get past both Luka Milivojevic and Nemanja Matic.

Meanwhile, the wingers in Adem Ljajic and Dusan Tadic were linking play up very well with Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who was playing in the number ten role and just behind lone forward Aleksandar Mitrovic. The three attacking players behind the striker were proving to be too much to handle for Costa Rica’s defence, but the finishing and key decision-making simply let Krstajic’s side down a bit.

Milinkovic-Savic was at the centre of attention before and after the game as many football fans around the world were keeping an eye on the Lazio central-midfielder who has been linked with the likes of Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid in recent months. The rising talent who was born in Spain had a huge chance of notching a goal and an assist in his first World Cup appearance.

In the end, Mitrovic could not position himself well to convert Milinkovic-Savic’s pass into the back of the next. And, the youngster did not have the composure or ideal self-control to finish the one or two attempts he had from distance. Once the game came to an end, some were very disappointed at the fact that he didn’t offer enough whilst the rest witnessed a young player that is on the rise.e

Costa Rica only had three shots on target throughout the game, which instantly analyses on how defensive-minded they were and how little they created in the final third. Though, the team looked dangerous going forward once Joel Campbell made an appearance from the bench. Coach Oscar Ramirez should certainly build his team around the pace and movement of the 25-year-old.

Serbia approached the game very well, in a way that they would be effective on both sides of the pitch, which many teams have failed to do over the last few days in the competition. Krstajic’s men may have gone into sleep mode from time to time, but they have shown that they are intelligent on and off the ball as well as having the understanding of being in the right place at the right time.

Overall, now that all the teams in Group E have played their first match of the group stages, Serbia will be very happy that they currently lead the group with three points. On paper, the team only need to pick up a victory over Switzerland in order to qualify for the knockout stages, however, they will still be looking forward to facing Brazil as all teams have to face the strong sides soon or later.

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Nigeria had success stifling Croatia’s star-studded midfield but they offered nothing else


Pace, verve and energy should be synonymous with this Nigeria side, but as they showed in Kaliningrad on Saturday night, they lack bravery. Croatia ran out 2-0 winners; Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic are part of the ageing golden generation ready for one last push at a major tournament, but they didn’t need to play anywhere near their best to take the three points.

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Lucky Denmark must change approach to beat Australia following Peru win


If there is one thing that can be taken from Denmark’s victory over Peru on Saturday, it is that every game the South Americans play at their first World Cup in 36 years will be an exciting watch. They came into the tournament predicted to be everyone’s second favourite team; given the energy and attacking intent they showed, it is easy to see why. Continue reading

Modrić leads by example as Croatia secure solid victory over Nigeria


On the face of it, a 2-0 victory over a team many considered to be potentially dangerous opponents represents an excellent start to Croatia’s FIFA World Cup campaign. Indeed, there were several positives for coach Zlatko Dalić to take from the match. Captain Luka Modrić was in sublime form, dominating the middle of the pitch as he has done for the past several seasons at Real Madrid. It is no exaggeration to say that he was a class above the rest in every possible sense. Continue reading

World Cup Weekly Preview


Two contenders will take the field on Sunday: Germany will square off against Mexico, while the Neymar-led Brazil will take on Switzerland, both looking to get off on the right foot, but their opponents are no pushovers. Today’s first game will be between Costa Rica and Serbia.

Two other top national teams will make their debut in Russia on Monday: Belgium will face Panama and England will challenge Tunisia. They will try to take advantage of favourable match-ups on paper. The slate will be opened by Sweden versus South Korea. Two intriguing teams in the second tier, Colombia and Poland, will day view on Tuesday, respectively against Japan and Senegal.  Continue reading

If only Griezmann’s football was as box office as his ‘decision’

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France kicked off their World Cup campaign with a slender victory over Australia.

For long periods, the French looked lethargic and unable to string a succession of passes together.

Antoine Griezmann was one of the worst offenders and was largely ineffective against supposedly ‘inferior’ opposition.

Take nothing away from Australia, who fought for every ball and toiled for the entire 90 minutes. Continue reading

Serbia vs Costa Rica: Can Mladen Krstajic’s men get off to a dream start in Russia?


After an exciting and eventful first couple of days within the World Cup, Group E kicks-off on Sunday afternoon with Serbia facing Costa Rica. On paper, the outcome for the fixture might be easy or hard to predict, but the supporters of the beautiful game of football will know by now that anything can happen.

Costa Rica qualified for the competition by finishing in second place in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, just five points behind group leaders in Mexico, where the group is made up of national teams who are members of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football.

Meanwhile, Serbia showed how dominant and defensively solid they can be when they were working really hard over the last two years to qualify for the World Cup. The side qualified for the competition under Slavoljub Muslin, who was sacked by the Football Association of Serbia due to the fact that he didn’t have faith in the young rising talents and the fact that his football wasn’t appealing at all.

Now, under the management of Mladen Krstajic, not many can produce an educated guess on what to expect from the 44-year-old as he has no pure managerial experience and everything that he is facing on a day-to-day basis is quite new to him. However, Krstajic’s first managerial job is coaching the country he played for, which is the perfect outcome for all parties as he was Muslin’s assistant for quite some time.

Overall, Serbia are certainly in for an exciting adventure as their squad is mixed with old experienced defenders to some young attacking-minded individuals. Given the classy character and personality of Krstajic, his enthusiasm and winning mentality is what the current Serbia squad needs from him the most.

With Group E also including Brazil and Switzerland, it is more than crucial that Serbia get off to a solid start by convincingly winning their first fixture against Costa Rica. On the other hand, if things do not go down as planned, a lot of questions will definitely be asked on how the Serbs will go on to respond back.

Looking a bit into Costa Rica’s results throughout the year, they have only won two of the five friendly matches they have played in 2018. In the games where they suffered defeat in, Oscar Ramirez’s side failed to get into the match quickly and did not have the quality up the pitch to go and attack at the opponents, which meant that they had to play in a back-five system to ensure they concede very little.

Serbia’s key individuals will be none other than Aleksander Kolarov, Nemanja Matic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. The mentioned trio do not play close enough to one other and nor do they link-up play together constantly throughout the match, however, all three of them are an influential figure within the line-up and they have the ability and skill-set to be effective and successful on both sides of the pitch.

On top of that, the experience and aggressiveness of Branislav Ivanovic in the backline will be as crucial as the consistent creativity and impressive vision that Dusan Tadic posses. Given that Costa Rica will potentially sit back and look to counter attack in quick succession, the movement of Kolarov and Tadic in the opponent’s half will be more than important as Serbia will need to take a lot of risks in order to win.

Predicted line-ups

Serbia – Stojkovic; Rukavina, Ivanovic, Milenkovic, Kolarov; Matic, Milivojevic; Tadic, Milinkovic-Savic, Ljajic; Mitrovic.

Costa Rica – Navas; Oviedo, Duarte, Gonzalez, Acosta, Gamboa; Guzman, Borges, Bolanos, Ruiz; Urena.


Serbia 2-1 Costa Rica.

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