Mexico eliminated by Brazil, but bow out with pure pride and vanity


Ahead of the Round of 16 fixture at the Samara Arena between Brazil and Mexico, the main focus was on the former and how they would perform, due to the fact that the likes of Argentina, Portugal and Spain were eliminated from the competition over the last couple of days. Meanwhile, many were keeping an eye out on the latter, who are blessed with an energetic and fearless squad.

Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio had full faith in his team, keeping the same front three of Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez that started in the group stages. In midfield, Rafael Marquez started at the centre whilst Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera played alongside him.

Within the backline, Guillermo Ochoa continued to play between the goalposts with Jesus Gallardo, Carlos Salcedo, Hugo Ayala Castro and Edson Alvarez playing in front of him from left to right. The side were full of energy and experience from top to bottom, however, the individual quality and brilliance was not there at all as Tite’s Brazil remained on top of Mexico from start till the end.

During an eventful day in the hot and beautiful city of Samara, Mexico’s constant pressing high up the pitch and ability to counter-attack the opposition only lasted for the first half an hour of the game. In that time, Brazil showed how defensively solid and compact they can be against a team full of pace and energy, which is something that isn’t really mentioned enough about the side.

Though, Brazil took the game up a notch in the second half, as they started to increase the tempo and speed into their attacking build-up as well as their movements on the flanks. Six minutes in, Neymar gave his side the lead through a well worked one-two between the player himself and Willian, before the Paris Saint-Germain star slotted it past Ochoa into the back of the net.

Mexico piled the pressure on after conceding the goal, by bringing the likes of Jonathan Dos Santos and Raul Jimenez on from the bench. However, the fact that they only produced two shots on target throughout the match shows, how tight Brazil were in their own area of the pitch and that Mexico’s main attackers could not produce the individual brilliance that their supporters were hoping for.

With a few minutes left until the linesman had held up the board with how much time is added on, Brazil instantly doubled their lead and the Mexico players as well as their fans were quick to show how devastated and heartbroken they were from this outcome. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino secured the side’s spot into the quarter-finals he latched on to a loose ball that was deflected off Ochoa.

Overall, Mexico were regarded as a team that would not beat the popular sides in their group and that, they were going to be leaving Russia and the competition earlier than expected. On the other hand, the North American side showed their fighting spirit as well as their passion which led them to beating the likes of Germany and South Korea, which helped them progress from the group stages.

Although the national team’s chapter within the World Cup 2018 story book has come to an end, there are a number of reasons to why the Mexican supporters should be excited about the future and what to expect from the number of talented players they currently possess within their squad.

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Best Goalkeeper of the Week – Alisson Becker (Brazil)


With the group stages of the Russia 2018 World Cup now firmly in the history books and the round of 16 having begun in earnest, let’s take a look at which goalkeeper has been the best over the past few days. There have been some notable performances of course – Jordan Pickford‘s outing for England against Belgium brought some harsh criticism despite the fact that Belgium’s goal, scored by former Sunderland team-mate Adnan Januzaj, was a belter. Otherwise the Everton stopper had a solid game as usual. Kasper Schmeichel had a great game for Denmark even though the former European champions crashed out at the hands of Croatia, and Hyun-Woo Cho deserves credit as South Korea kept a clean sheet against world champions Germany to send them home.

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Which three youngsters have been impressive so far this World Cup?


The World Cup 2018 group stages has now come to an end, where most teams have amazingly reached to the Round of 16 within the competition, whilst the others return to their native countries, and enjoy a short break before the pre-season campaign start towards the last two weeks of July.

With the Round of 16 just kicked off, it’s time to take a quick look at some of the young individuals that have impressed their fans and football supporters around the world in their first World Cup campaign for their respective country. Some players are quite known and some are still on the rise.

With no further ado, here are the three youngsters that were incredible during the group stages…

Aleksandar Golovin – Russia

From the first group fixture against Saudi Arabia, CSKA Moscow’s Aleksandar Golovin showed his quality on and off the ball, from being able to drop deep to help his midfield to producing the key passes in the final third of the pitch. Also, his versatility is something that most managers in the world would love to see in a player, as he can play on the flanks as well as a central midfielder.

At the age of 22, he still has a couple of years left until he reaches his total peak and is already showing signs of how complete of a midfielder he actually is. Due to his recent rise and well as his consistent and please performances in the Russian Premier League last season, he has been now scouted by many of the well-known European clubs such as Arsenal, Chelsea and Juventus.

Hirving Lozano – Mexico

Mexico surprised a lot of people when they went on to beat Germany as well as qualify for the knockout stages. Given the defensive solidity that Sweden possess and the energetic and fearless players that South Korea have in their line-up, all the odds were up against Juan Carlos Osorio’s men, who were expected and predicted to leave the competition before the World Cup had even started.

However, a certain winger called Hirving Lozano, has helped his side from the flanks through his incredible burst of pace and intelligent movement in the opposition’s half. The PSV Eindhoven attacker assisted his national team by scoring a goal against Germany and providing a valuable assist in the win over South Korea, which allowed Mexico to achieve six points from their first two games.

Manuel Akanji – Switzerland

Switzerland have had the tendency to be known to have a solid defence, dominant midfield and an inconsistent attack. Due to this, the national team have constantly done well in the group stages but have failed time and time again to do well in the knockout rounds. Centre-back Manuel Akanji has been one of the few reasons to why Vladimir Petkovic’s side have been aerially dominant and very tough to beat.

The 22-year-old is currently enjoying his time at Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund, who he joined during the January transfer window on a four-year deal from FC Basel. Since then, Akanji has made a number of league appearances under head coach Peter Stoger, and will be aiming to become a regular starter for the German side anytime soon. With Sokratis expected to leave in the summer, Akanji’s time to shine has certainly come.

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Hector Herrera crucial to Mexico chances against Brazil


Mexico‘s victory over Germany shocked the footballing world, but not for too long. The way they put the world champions, who have since been eliminated from the World Cup, on the back foot with their high press, meant that they were soon taken seriously. They followed it up with a 2-1 win over South Korea, but a 3-0 defeat to Sweden saw the Scandinavians top Group F; next up, as a result, is a clash with five-time winners Brazil.

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World Cup Preview


After the first break of the tournament, the World Cup is ready to proceed with what promise to be four great days of football. The round of 16 will kick off later today with two of the most interesting match-ups on paper: France-Argentina and Uruguay-Spain.

Les Bleus have won two out of three matches in the group stage, but they have been rather uninspiring so far, squeaking by Australia and Peru and drawing with Denmark. The Albiceleste is the poster child of not playing up to their talent: they showed great character in the thriller against Nigeria, but their manoeuvre is still way too discombobulated. Both teams need to improve to go far, but they have an excellent launching pad early because eliminating a contender always gives you a big boost. Continue reading

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

Germany Eliminated From the World Cup



Just about the biggest shock imaginable at this summer’s World Cup has now taken place. With almost every major international tournament there are a few surprises in store, particularly during the earlier stages when some of the less fancied teams take to the field with a point to prove. That proved to be the case in Group F when Germany went up against South Korea on Wednesday afternoon, needing a win to smooth a path through to the last 16. What ensued was a thoroughly sub-par performance from the reigning world champions, and two injury time goals in South Korea’s favour ensured Germany were out of the competition at the first hurdle for the first time since 1938. South Korea went ballistic, but the Germans were atrocious.

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Germany loss tough to overcome, but Sweden have it all in their hands

Sweden’s cruel loss against Germany, conceding the winner in the last seconds of the game, certainly makes things tougher for the Swedes, although they have it all in their own hands. 

Toni Kroos‘ 95th-minute strike is certainly hard to overcome, luckily for Sweden, however, there is a way to work around it.

From the game, they will definitely be able to bring more than a few positive aspects, nearly holding on to a draw against the World Champions.  Continue reading

Euro Fantasy League Podcast – #21 – Lee Stobbs on England


The lads are back with a catch up of all the goings-on during the World Cup so far. Dave reveals his true colours (anything but the white shirt of England) while Jamie and guest Lee Stobbs happily agree on Gareth Southgate’s standing as England boss.

All the groups are given the usual treatment, and a roundup of Dave and Jamie’s predictions ahead of the tournament show that one of the two seems to confuse himself when it comes to points scoring.

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