Chelsea representatives are believed to be spreading out across Europe at the moment to try and close several transfer deals ahead of the new Premier League season, but one man they had earmarked as someone they would like to bring in has given them the cold shoulder in favour of signing for Ligue 1 outfit Monaco. Aleksandr Golovin has been heavily linked with relocation to Stamford Bridge since starring in Russia’s World Cup campaign on home soil, but the French Principality have won the race to sign the 22-year-old midfielder. Reports indicate that recent Chelsea signing Jorginho may have had an influence on Golovin’s decision to choose Ligue 1 over the Premier League, with game time seemingly becoming increasingly difficult in west London.
Football is a game of clichés. Indeed, one of the oldest ones in the book suggests that intelligent coaching and tactical systems can only take a team so far; world class players are the real difference makers. And so it proved tonight as France secured a second FIFA World Cup trophy after defeating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow. For the best part of an hour, the Vatreni were definitely the superior side and were extremely unlucky to find themselves 2-1 down at half-time thanks to a dubious penalty in the opening 45 minutes. Continue reading
Regardless of what happens in tomorrow’s FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia, the Vatreni have already made history this summer. Indeed, they are the first team in the tournament’s history to reach the final after each of their three knockout matches went to extra time. Denmark, Russia and England have all taken Zlatko Dalić’s side beyond 90 minutes, which many fear could take its toll on them physically in the Luzhniki Stadium. Continue reading
With the World Cup now all but done and dusted and in the history books, time to take a look at how things are standing in this year’s Golden Boot race. The Golden Boot is, of course, awarded to the player who has scored the most goals in the tournament proper, and has historically been won by some legendary players in football. Brazilian Ronaldo won it in 2002, for example, while the last English player to do so was Gary Lineker in 1986. This time around another Englishman is in the running – and no prizes for guessing which one! Harry Kane had a wonderful start to the campaign, and has netted six goals on England’s path to the semi-finals where they would eventually bow out to a superior Croatia side.
Fans of the Croatian national team have spent much of the last 20 years pining for a side to do them as proud as the ‘Class of 98’ did at the World Cup in France. Unfortunately for them, no group of players has ever come close to matching the third-place finish earned by Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban and their colleagues. Comparisons between Miroslav Blažević’s squad and the Vatreni’s current crop of stars are inevitable, especially now that they have reached the semi-finals where they will face England, another country which has struggled to live up to billing in recent years. Continue reading
England will never get a better chance of reaching the World Cup final. That has been the rhetoric among fans and journalists for over a week now. While Gareth Southgate and his players are determined to remain humble, there is already a certain arrogance creeping into the mind-set of many people around the Three Lions camp. Amid the battle cries of ‘It’s Coming Home’, it seems to have been forgotten that none of Sweden, Russia or Croatia will simply roll over and give England a free pass to the final, where they would face one of Uruguay, France, Brazil or Belgium. Continue reading
Nicholas Carroll and Chloe Beresford pick their best fantasy team of 11 for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.
Fernando Hierro’s Spain were left licking their wounds as they crashed out of the World Cup Following a disappointing performance that leaves many querying where they go from here.
Spain went ahead early in the tie when 38-year-old Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich inadvertently turning a Marco Asensio free kick into his own net as he bid to stop Sergio Ramos at the back post.
Despite going ahead, Spain failed to turn their dominance into further chances and paid the price before half-time as the tournament hosts secured a shock penalty as Artem Dzyuba’s header from a corner hit Gerard Pique‘s outstretched arm. Continue reading
Make no mistake, Croatia were far from their best last night as they struggled to break down a stubborn Denmark defence. Indeed, the Vatreni could have had no complaints had they been eliminated after turning in such a poor performance in Nizhny Novgorod. As it turned out, Zlatko Dalić’s side prevailed by three goals to two after a tense and nerve-wracking penalty shootout which saw veteran Monaco goalkeeper Danijel Subašić emerge as a national hero. Continue reading
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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