Sunday, July 15, 2018

France vs Croatia - Competition: World Cup (Finale)
Date: 15 July 2018 - Kick-off Time: 17:00 CET
Venue: Luzhniki Stadium

France team have reached a second consecutive major tournament final, after they lost to Portugal at Euro 2016. Les Bleus are aiming to bring him the trophy they previously won in 1998, having also lost the 2006 final on penalties to Italy. Deschamps' men reached the World Cup final by beating Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals, courtesy of a Samuel Umtiti header. They have also beaten Argentina (4-3) and Uruguay (2-0) in the knockout stage. In the group stage, France beat Australia (2-1) and Peru (1-0), and recorded a goalless draw against Denmark (0-0). As a result, they have kept 4 clean sheet in 6 games. 
Deschamps can name an unchanged side from the semi-final win over Belgium as Blaise Matuidi should be fit to start despite going off injured last time out. Olivier Giroud should keep his place up front despite he is yet to break the duck. The Chelsea striker will be supported by Kylian Mbappè and Antoine Griezmann, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kantè anchoring the midfield. Djibril Sidibe is still a doubt for les Bleus but Benjamin Pavard is safe to start at right-back, forming an unchanged backline alongside Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane and Lucas Hernandez.
Croatia denied England's bid to reach the final for the first time since 1966, knocking off the Three Lions 2-1 in extra time. They are the first team in World Cup history to go to extra-time in all three of their knockout matches en route to the final, with two of them decided by penalty shootouts (against Russia and Denmark). That leaves doubt as to whether they have the energy to endure another marathon matchup. Interestingly, all three of their knockout games have finished 1-1. Hence, after two victories without conceding - 2:0 over Nigeria and 3:0 over Argentina - the Blazers have failed to keep a clean sheet in the last four matches. Croatia have never beaten France in five previous meetings, although the last two encounters have ended in a draw.
Mandzukic should also ready despite going off with cramp in extra-time against England. Ivan Strinic is also likely to recover after limping off in that match. Marcelo Brozovic should retain his spot as pivot in the middle of the park, while Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic will feature from the off as offensive midfielders behind Mandzukic. Milan Badelj and Mateo Kovacic provide useful midfield options, Andrej Kramaric is a viable alternative upfront. Sime Vrsaljko remarkably recovered from a knee injury in time to start against England and will continue at right-back here, forming a four man backline with Dejan Lovren, Damagoj Vida and Ivan Strinic.

Probable lineups:
France: Lloris – Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez – Pogba, Kante – Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi – Giroud.
Croatia: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic – Rakitic, Brozovic – Rebic, Modric, Perisic – Mandzukic.


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

France vs Belgium - Competition: World Cup
Date: 10 July 2018 - Kick-off Time: 19:00 BST - 20:00 CET
Venue: Saint-Petersburg Stadium
France team secured their route through with hard-fought and narrow wins over Peru and Australia in their opening two matches. Les Blues drew 0-0 with Denmark in the final group stage match. Their first knock-out game saw them defeat Argentina in a thrilling 4-3 triumph as Lionel Messi was knocked out of the competition. Then Deschamps' men reached their sixth World Cup Semi Final with their solid 2-0 victory over Uruguay. Doubts should remain about a defence who conceded three times against Argentina but in France's other four matches, a goal has not been conceded from open play. Excluding shootouts, France have lost just one of their last 13 games in the knockout rounds of the World Cup.
Didier Deschamps is unlikely to make sweeping changes. Sidibe is a doubt for Les Blues, but he is their only injury concern here. Suspended Blaise Matuidi gave place to Corentin Tolisso in midfield, but Juve’s man is expected to return to the starting XI here. Olivier Giroud should spearhead the attack once again, with Kylian Mbappè and Antoine Girezmann behind him. No changes are expected in defense where Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti wil lbe flanked by Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard.

Belgium won all three of their group stage clashes - 3:0 over Panama, 5-2 over Tunisia and 1-0 over England. The Red Devils survived a scare in the last 16 round by beating Japan 3-2 courtesy of a last gasp goal, after they were 2 goals down in the second half. Roberto Martinez's men came through a heavyweight clash in the quarter-finals as they knocked joint-favourites Brazil out (2-1) in a pulsating match. They were dominated, but they managed to score two goals from only three attempts on target in the game. Belgium are now unbeaten in their last 24 games under manager Roberto Martinez, winning 19 and drawing five.
Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens were victims of the tactics change last time out and could be benched once again. Thomas Meunier is suspended after he received his second yellow of the World Cup last time out. Martinez has tipped Chadli and Adnan Januzaj are both options to fill the void on the right. He is expected to switch to a 4-3-3 formation with Jan Vertonghen playing as left back. Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne should flank Romelu Lukaku up front, while Marouane Fellaini should join Mousa Dembele and Axel Witsel in a very strong midfield.

Probable lineups:
France: Lloris – Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez – Pogba, Kante– Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi – Giroud.
Belgium: Courtois – Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen – Tielemans, Fellaini, Witsel, Chadli – de Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard.

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Russia vs Croatia Highlights - World Cup 2018

Russia vs Croatia - Competition: World Cup
Date: 7 July 2018 - Kick-off Time: 19:00 BST
Venue: Olimpiyskiy Stadion Fisht, Sochi

Croatia defeated Russia yesterday in the quarter final. The match ended in penalties and Croatia is going to face England in the semifinal of this world cup. 

Russia 2-2 (3-4 PEN.) Croatia (WORLD CUP 2018)
31' Denis Cheryshev 1-0 // 39' Andrej Kramaric 1-1 // 101' Domagoj Vida 1-2 // 115' Mario Fernandes 2-2 

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Belgium vs Japan - Competition: World Cup 2018
Date: 2 July 2018 - Kick-off Time: 19:00 BST
Venue: Rostov Arena

Belgium team produce a fantastic second half comeback to beat Japan in Rostov Arena.

Belgium 3-2 Japan (WORLD CUP 2018)
48' Genki Haraguchi 0-1 // 52' Takashi Inui 0-2 // 69' Jan Vertonghen 1-2 // 74' Marouane Fellaini 2-2 // 90' Nacer Chadli 3-2

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Saturday, June 30, 2018

France vs Argentina Competition: World Cup
Date: 30 June 2018 - Kick-off Time: 15:00 BST
Venue: Kazan’ Arena
France team have enjoyed a smooth passage into the last sixteen of the WC with two wins and a draw to their name. They beat 2-1 Australia in their opening game, 1-0 Peru in the second match and managed to earn a goalless draw against Denmark last time out. They had scored in 11 consecutive internationals before the dead rubber against. Les Blues haven’t been convincing in the final third despite they are considered one of the most talented squad. France conceded just once – a penalty – in the process. Didier Deschamps' men probabley face their first real test of the competition so far and they need to get out of first gear.
Didier Deschamps is likely to play with his usual 4-2-3-1 system. Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann are in contention to start as striker. Should Giroud get the nod, Griezmann will play out wide. Otherwise, the likes of Kylian Mbappè, Paul Pogba and Nabil Fekir will play as offensive midfielders. Blaise Matuidi is expected to partner N'Golo Kantè in the middle of the park. Samuel Umtiti remains a doubt, but is expected to be fit in time to join Raphael Varane, Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard in the four man backline. Hugo Lloris will return in goal.

Argentina team have survived a major scare and got through to the knock-out stages with a 2-1 win over Nigeria last time out, a match in which Messi finally opened his account for the tournament with a goal. Prior to that, they were hold by Iceland (1-1) and suffered a heavy 3-0 loss to Croatia team. The defense is their main concern - the Albiceleste have kept just 1 clean sheet in their last 5 (a friendly vs Haiti). Anyway, with Messi starting to fire all cylinders, this could be a very open contest.
Jorge Sampaoli could name the same XI that started against Nigeria on Tuesday night, meanign that Ever Banega will retain his starting berth as midfielder, joining Javier Mascherano. Up front, Gonzalo Higuain should partner Leo Messi once again, despite a poor performance last time out. Juv team Perez and ANgel Di Maria will be the preferred wingers. No changes are expected in midfield with Mercado, Rojo, Otamendi and Tagliafico retaining their berth.
France last 5 matches:
01/06/18 France 3 – 1 Italy
09/06/18 France 1 – 1 United States
16/06/18 France 2 – 1 Australia
21/06/18 France 1 – 0 Peru
26/06/18 Denmark 0 – 0 France

Argentina last 5 matches:
27/03/18 Spain 6 – 1 Argentina
30/05/18 Argentina 4 – 0 Haiti
16/06/18 Argentina 1 – 1 Iceland
21/06/18 Argentina 0 – 3 Croatia
26/06/18 Nigeria 1 – 2 Argentina

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Portugal vs Morocco - Competition: World Cup

Ronaldo was the hero for Portugal team in their opening game by scoring his first ever World Cup hat-trick in the 3-3 draw against Spain. CR7 became the first ever player to score at eight consecutive major international tournaments. The European champions have lost just one competitive game in four years but their defense is a major concern: the Iberians have conceded 3 golas to Spain and Netherlands, two to Tunisia this year.
No changes are expected from the side that drew 3-3 with Spain on Friday night. Andre Silva will be hoping to replace Gonçalo Guedes as Cristiano Ronaldo's strike partner, but the AC Milan striker is likely to be benched again. Bernardo Silva and Bruno Fernandes will play out wide with Joao Moutinho and William Carvalho anchoring the midfield. The four man backline will be formed by Raphael Guerreiro, Pepe, Josè Fonte and Cedric Soares. New Wolves' goalkeeper Rui Patricio will start between the sticks.
Morocco team  lost 1-0 to Iran in their opening WC match. The African nation wasted a whole host of chances to put away Iran in their Group B match and they were punished deep into added time when Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net. Picking up points against Portugal and Spain will not come easily for them, but Morocco only conceded three goals in qualifying and will try to frustrate their opponents. Portugal’s ageing defence were exposed far too much against Spain, and Morocco will have every chance of getting on the scoresheet here.
Morocco aren't expected to make any major changes to their squad. They will be without winger Nordin Amrabat, who had to go off with concussion against Iran. Nabil Dirar is a doubt and could miss out here, with Hamza Mendyl in line to start at left-back and Achraf Hakimi set to switch to right-back. The likes of Hakim Ziyech, Amine Harit and Youned Belhanda are expected to retain their starting berth behind the lone striker Ayoub El Kaabi.

Probable lineups:
Portugal: RuiPatricio – Soares, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro – Moutinho, W.Carvalho – B.Silva, B.Fernandes, Guedes – Ronaldo.
Morocco: Munir – Dirar, Saiss, Benatia, Hakimi – El Ahmadi, Boussoufa – Ziyech, Belhanda, Harit – El Kaabi.

Date: 20 June 2018 - Kick-off Time: 13:00 BST
Venue: Stadion Luzhniki, Moskva


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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Russia vs Saudi Arabia - Competition: World Cup 2018 (Group A)
Date: 14 June 2018 - Kick-off Time: 16:00 BST
Venue: Stadion Luzhniki, Moskva
Russia team come into their home World Cup as the lowest ranked side in the FIFA, 70th, and three positions lower than the next lowest ranked side, who happen to be Saudi Arabia. They have won just two of their last 11 games, failing to beat the likes Austria (0-1) and Turkey (1-1) in their most recent friendlies. The last time the Russians won an international match was in October of last year when they fended off a late rally from South Korea to win 4-2. They failed to record a victory in Russia four years ago and have not won a match at a major finals since Euro 2012. They conceded three goals in successive matches against Russia and France last March.
Krasnodar forward Fyodor Smolov is expected to lead the line alongside ALeksei Miranchuk as Aleksandr Kokorin is not a part of the team, as he is sidelined with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Artem Dzyuba provide a further option in attack. In midfield, Erokhin, Golovin and Glushakov are likely to play in the middle of the park while Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksander Samedov should be the starting wing backs in a 3-5-2 system. At the back, Kutepov, Granat, Kudryashov should form the three man defense with veteran goalkeeper Akinfeev between the posts.

Saudi Arabia stepped up their World Cup preparations in an international friendly with Italy, losing 2-1 with Yahya Al Shehri scoring their only goal. Since then, they lost 3-0 at the hands of Peru but limted a full strength Germany side to a 2-1 win on 8th June. The former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is the third head-coach in the space of 10 months and he got little time to settle with the squad. Anyway, ten of their 23 man squad play for the same club, Al-Hilal, and this could be a massive advantage.
Top scorer Al-Sahlawi is likely to start up front. He should be supported by Al Shehri, Al Jassim, Al Dawsari as offensive midfielders. The likes of Otayf and Al Khaibri are expected to feature from the off in the middle of the park. In defense, Pizzi is likely to choose Al Shahrani, Om. Hawsawi, Os. Hawsawi and Al-Harbi while Al Mosailem should get the nod over Al Maiouf as starting goalkeeper.
Russia last 5 matches:
14/11/17 Russia 3 – 3 Spain
23/03/18 Russia 0 – 3 Brazil
27/03/18 Russia 1 – 3 France
30/05/18 Austria 1 – 0 Russia
05/06/18 Russia 1 – 1 Turkey

Saudi Arabia last 5 matches:
09/05/18 Saudi Arabia 2 – 0 Algeria
15/05/18 Saudi Arabia 2 – 0 Greece
28/05/18 Italy 2 – 1 Saudi Arabia
03/06/18 Saudi Arabia 0 – 3 Peru
08/06/18 Germany 2 – 1 Saudi Arabia

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