World Cup Weekly Recap


A couple of shockers, late drama, clutch goals: the third round of the group stage did not fall flat. The biggest surprise was obviously Germany dropping the ball against South Korea: Die Mannschaft just had to win two-nil (or more) to be safe, but despite multiple good chances, they did not manage to score and eventually the Taeguk Warriors took advantage of their unbalanced tactics and punished them, much to the jubilation of Mexico.

The World Cup Champion curse continues, as also Spain in 2014, Italy in 2010 and France in 2002 also were not able to get past the first phase after lifting the trophy. Continue reading

Brazil Through to World Cup Last 16


Brazil have made it through to the last 16 of the World Cup after beating Serbia 2-0 at the Otkrytie Arena. The five-time world champions began their campaign with a stutter but by the time they took to the field against Serbia – also contenders to qualify on the night – they were looking much more like their usual selves. The football was fast, fruitful and flowing – and suddenly fellow challengers for this year’s World Cup crown may be fancying a draw away from the South Americans for as long as possible. Neymar  put in easily his best performance of the summer so far, and helped to inspire Brazil to the top of Group E.

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World Cup Weekly Preview


The second round will end today with England looking to secure the qualification against Panama. Japan and Senegal will square off in the afternoon, trying to maintain the momentum they obtained after the surprise wins in their respective debuts. The main event will be Poland versus Colombia, where both teams need a win to bounce back to stay alive.

Let’s recap the already sealed verdicts ahead of the third and final match. Four squads have gained access to the elimination stage: Russia and Uruguay in the group A, France and Croatia in C and D one. Continue reading

World Cup Weekly Recap

Brazil v Costa Rica: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

An action-packed week on the World Cup is the books and the tournament rages on with an uncanny amount of penalties and own goals. The first verdicts are already in: Russia and Uruguay have advanced in the group A after their wins against Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Croatia did the same in the G one.

While La Celeste has been doing it with minimal efforts, the other two teams, along with Belgium have been the most impressive squads so far. The Sbornaya is on an incredible run and is very well-structured. As for the Red Devils, who have more than one foot in the next phase, Romelu Lukaku keeps terrorizing defences, while Eden Hazard netted his first two goals in a World Cup.

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Will Brazil Find Form Versus Costa Rica?

Like many of the heavily favoured nations at this summer’s World Cup, Brazil’s campaign got off to a poor start, held to a frustrating draw with a Switzerland side who scratched and clawed their way to a point. That, along with Serbia’s victory, makes this clash with Costa Rica a must-win game for the Selecao and their Coach understands that his side must recover their concentration if they hope to enjoy tangible success in Russia.

“If we were more focused, we could have made the goalkeeper work more,” Tite said after their first game. “After the equaliser you could feel something emotionally. There was a feeling. We had to be cooler, more precise. My expectation was for a victory and, of course, I’m not happy with the result.”

He will undoubtedly be aware of Brazil’s excellent record against Costa Rica, a team they have lost to only once in ten previous meetings, their sole defeat coming way back in 1960. However, Tite may well have to go into this clash without Neymar, the PSG star struggling with an injury that may rule him out of the match at St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium.

Fernandinho and Renato Augusto – both of whom came off the bench against Switzerland – could start in Neymar’s place with Philippe Coutinho pushed into a more advanced role, meaning that the Coach could retain his favoured 4-3-3 system. Paulinho and Thiago Silva have also missed training sessions this week, but both are expected to recover in time to take their places in the starting XI on Friday evening.

For Costa Rica – who currently sit bottom of the group as the only side with zero points – this match presents an extremely difficult challenge. Los Ticos were largely unthreatening against Serbia, Aleksandar Kolarov superb free kick continuing their dismal recent form. They have lost seven of their last nine matches and that last defeat was their third on the spin, a run which includes England’s 2-0 win in Leeds and a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Belgium.

“Whenever you play Brazil, in any circumstance, it’s always something special, it’s always something different,” Costa Rica midfielder Celso Borges told Reuters in an interview this week. “It’s the country with the most World Cups, so it’s very different, but it’s still the game, it’s still enjoyable and it’s still fun.”

Having only been fit enough for a place on the bench against Serbia, Joel Campbell appears to have shaken off his injury and is fighting for a starting berth against Brazil, with Johan Venegas widely tipped as the man to miss out. At the same time, Johnny Acosta and Francisco Calvo are likely to retain their places, with Kendall Waston and Sunderland’s Bryan Oviedo unlikely to earn a recall.

Brazil (4-3-3): Alisson; Danilo, Thiago Silva, Joao Miranda, Marcelo; Renato Augusto, Fernandinho, Paulinho; Willian, Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho

Costa Rica (3-4-3): Keylor Navas; Johnny Acosta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte; Cristian Gamboa, Celso Borges, David Guzman, Francisco Calvo; Bryan Ruiz, Marco Urena, Joel Campbell

Do you have what it takes to challenge the best Fantasy Football Managers? If you’re up for the challenge then play now!

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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Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #19 – World Cup 2018: Groups D-F Preview


The next of our World Cup preview episodes sees Jamie and Dave discuss Groups D-F, with particular topics of note including the coaching position at Nigeria (8:28), the Serbian national team (17:48) and the interesting man that is Joachim Low (20:44).

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Why Joel Campbell should seek a January exit from Arsenal

joel campbell arsenal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger gave an ultimatum to Costa Rican forward Joel Campbell this season, suggesting this was the youngster’s last chance to impress before his future will be up for consideration. Currently in the starting eleven following an injury crisis in the Arsenal squad, Campbell has been given a rare opportunity to prove his worth in the Premier League, and has managed to score his first goal for the Gunners.

The 23-year-old has one goal from his two league appearances, and recently made his intentions clear to prolong his stay at the Emirates due to his love for the London club. But given the players set to come back into the side in the coming weeks, Campbell’s place in the starting eleven is far from guaranteed, and he could even find himself out of the match day squad entirely with so many injured stars likely to replace him.

Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck are regular first-team players in the Arsenal side when fit, and five players Campbell will be competing with this season when they return from their respective injuries. As a result, it would take something special for the South American forward to remain in the side when Wenger has a clean bill of health in the squad, which is why Campbell needs to be realistic and make a move to a club willing to give him regular game time.

Signed back in 2011, 17 appearances for Arsenal in four years is a poor return for the 23-year-old, and some indifferent loan spells have done little to boost Campbell’s development. His contract with the Londoners is reportedly up in the summer, and there’s been little talk of a renewal as things stand. The club don’t hold him in as high regard as the regular performers, and why should they? Campbell has done very little of note in an Arsenal shirt, and is only playing for the side as a last resort.

It’s hard to see the Costa Rican international being a regular in the Arsenal attack in the second half of the season, and if he wants a move to a good European club, he should be putting the word out in January. There’s sure to be plenty of interest given he will be a free agent in the summer, and regular game time is likely to be the deciding factor in negotiations.

Should Joel Campbell call time at Arsenal and seek a move for more game time?

Real Madrid to add Navas to ‘keeper conundrum

Of the positions Real Madrid needed to strengthen this summer, you’d be hard-pressed to find many observers who ranked goalkeeper as one of them. In Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez, Carlo Ancelotti already had more quality custodians than he could use to the full extent. If reports from Spain are to be believed, he’s about to have another one in Keylor Navas.

The Levante stopper caught the eye representing Costa Rica at the World Cup, his performances in helping Los Ticos to the quarter-finals confirming what those who closely follow La Liga had already realised – Les Granotes have a fine player. A fee of €10m will convince Levante to part with Navas, the rumour mill claims, but surely the Madrid high command could find a cheaper way of giving Ancelotti another headache.

Last year the Italian used Lopez in the league and Casillas in the cups – the Copa del Rey and the Champions League. It hasn’t been lost on the Madrid-based press, who worship the ground upon which San Iker walks, that Madrid were victorious in the two competitions for which Casillas kept goal and were off the pace in third when Lopez took the gloves. It’s an unfairly basic assessment of the situation and doesn’t reflect the quality of Lopez, who rarely let Ancelotti down.

And now a third goalkeeper will come into the mix. Madrid tried to offload Lopez, it was claimed, offering him to Monaco as part of the James Rodriguez deal, and rumours of a move to Napoli have long lingered. There’s also talk that Casillas has an agreement with president Florentino Perez that he can leave at the end of his contract next summer. The situation may be resolved in 12 months but that’s a long time to leave one and possibly two top-notch goalkeepers on the sidelines.

Ancelotti said while on Madrid’s tour of the United States that he hasn’t decided who will be his starting ‘keeper. The Italian, keeping his cards close to his chest, is presumably stuck between the three, having to weigh the experience and importance of captain Casillas against the good service of Lopez and the potential long-term gains of trusting in the younger Navas.

Casillas, at 33, could have years left at the highest level, although he was at fault for Atletico Madrid’s goal in the Champions League final and made costly errors for Spain in the World Cup. Lopez, meanwhile, appears a safe pair of hands – reliable but not capable of seemingly-impossible saves – and Navas lacks experience of the game in the deep end bar his summer exertions. They each have their positives, but each have their negatives as well.

Like so many things, this is all Jose Mourinho’s fault. It was he who first dumped Casillas for Lopez, falling out with the Madrid icon. Ancelotti rewarded Lopez’s good form by keeping him in the league side and kept Casillas sweet too, a masterful show of man-management. But how he will contend now Navas is in the picture too – and the affect the balancing act has on the rest of the squad – will be an intriguing part of the coming season.