2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Dele thinks self-belief can spur England to glory

By Laure James with England

Ahead of England’s FIFA World Cup™ opener against Tunisia on Monday, Dele believes the Three Lions’ self-confidence can lead them to success at Russia 2018.

The midfielder told FIFA.com the squad is confident they can beat anyone, including potential quarter-final opponents and World Cup holders, Germany. 

“We fancy ourselves against anyone we play, given the squad we’ve got and the players we’ve got – we’ve come here to win it,” Dele said. “You have to have the mentality that whoever we come up against, we can beat.

“We’ve watched clips [of Tunisia], it’s hard to watch whole games when you’re busy, but we know how we want to play and we’ve got to know their strengths and weaknesses, they’re a very good side, some people in England when the draw was made maybe thought it would be an easy game but it’s definitely not, this is the World Cup, you’re not going to get an easy game, so you have to be ready.”

The Tottenham Hotspur man, however, admitted talk of how far England can progress is not a conversation topic in camp. 

“We’re all confident in ourselves and the team we have,” he said. “We have a young, a very talented squad, so we don’t say how far we can go in the tournament, we just have to enjoy the time together and put the energy in the right way and play as well as we know we can.”

Dele, who made his senior international debut in 2015, is lauded for his versatility and keen eye for a pass, so can he be the key to unlock Tunisia’s solid defence? 

“I hope so! I guess we have to be confident in ourselves and there are lots of players in our squad who can play and score goals, but we have to be switched on, because at any time, if we’re dominating possession, they can win the ball. They’ve got quality.”

Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Uruguay take Russia through as three fall

DAY REPLAYED – It has not taken long for the first two Round-of-16 places to be claimed. Uruguay beat Saudi Arabia to make it two wins out of two and progress to the knockout phase. In the process, they eliminated the Saudis and ensured that hosts Russia also advanced.

The first tears of this FIFA World Cup™ have also fallen. Despite their best efforts against the European champions, Morocco let themselves down with their finishing and fell to another defeat to become the first side to exit the competition. The man who condemned them to their fate was Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored his fourth goal of the tournament.

It was also a day for centurions, with both Luis Suarez and Gerard Pique winning their 100th caps. But while the Uruguayan celebrated with a goal to become the first Charrúa to score in three different World Cups, the Spaniard was made to suffer in what turned out to be a very tough assignment for La Roja against IR Iran.

The AFC side’s deep-lying defence thwarted the Spanish attack for long periods, while their lightning counter-attacks put David De Gea’s goal under threat on more than one occasion. Diego Costa forced a defensive error in the Iranian box to finally tilt the match in Spain’s favour and put them in a very strong position in Group B.

Did you know?
With 85 international goals now to his name, Cristiano Ronaldo overtook Ferenc Puskas to become the all-time leading European marksman. The only player on the global scene who has scored more is former IR Iran striker Ali Daei with 109.

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Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Costa on target to give Spain victory

  • Spain earn first win at Russia 2018
  • Diego Costa nets his third goal in two games
  • RELIVE: As it happened, stats, more | Post-match press conferences

IR Iran and Spain rounded off Matchday 2 in Group B, with La Roja securing a deserved 1-0 win to record their first victory at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Fernando Hierro made two changes to Spain’s starting line-up following their opening match against Portugal, as Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez respectively replaced Nacho and Koke. However, the Iberians struggled to break down a reshuffled Iranian defence that included Majid Hosseini in place of the injured Roozbeh Cheshmi. Indeed, Spain’s first clear opening did not arrive until around the half-hour mark, when David Silva went close with a sideways scissor kick, before narrowly missing the target again just before the break with a deflected shot.

The second half started brightly and Gerard Pique, earning his 100th cap for Spain, had a chance from a corner before Sergio Busquets tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area. Team Melli had a sight of goal at the other end of the pitch in the 53rd minute, but Karim Ansarifard’s shot could only brush the side netting. Spain took the lead with their next attack a minute later, the ball ricocheting into the net off Diego Costa, who registered his third goal in two matches. Iran grew more adventurous after falling behind and Vahid Amiri almost levelled matters with a header that flew just over.

Team Reporter Analysis

Siavash Rahmani, IR Iran [Follow: Twitter]Iran initially set out to sit deep and play on the counter but were forced to change their tactics after Spain scored. They created a number of chances but were unable to convert any, leaving them ruing a dropped point.

*Antia Andre, Spain *[Follow: Twitter]Spain picked up a narrow win before going into their final Group B fixture against Morocco. Hierro’s charges went up against a well-organised side with a solid backline, but took all three points thanks to their experienced midfielders and an in-form Costa.

​Budweiser Man of the Match

Diego Costa‘s goalscoring instincts are blossoming in Russia. The forward got his name on the scoresheet again, netting a vital goal against a disciplined Iranian side after an excellent turn to escape his marker, and making good use of his physical prowess.

**The stat**

15 – Sergio Ramos made his 15th World Cup appearance in this match, taking him level with Xavi Hernandez. Iker Casillas (17) and Andoni Zubizarreta (16) are the only two players in *La Roja *history to have featured more often at the global showpiece. 

**What’s next?**

Spain – Morocco – Group B – 25 June, Kaliningrad
IR Iran – Portugal – Group B – 25 June, Saransk

**Have your say**

IR Iran fans (AR) | Spain fans (ES)

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Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Pricey predators produce the points

Cristiano Ronaldo (€12m), Luis Suarez (€10.5m) and Diego Costa (€9m) – the most expensive men on Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and Kazan grass – did the business on a day of few goals and, therefore, few McDonald’s FIFA World Cup™ Fantasy points. Their six-point returns put the Portugal No7 and the Spain No19 first and fourth on the overall player standings.

Rui Patricio (€6m) and Fernando Muslera (€5.5) were Wednesday’s highest scorers, with seven points apiece. David de Gea (€6.5m) and 12 defenders also seized six points, as did assist-providing midfielders Carlos Sanchez (€7.5m) and Joao Moutinho (€7.5m).

Change your captain
Round 2 matches will take place over six days, and you can change your captain ahead of each one. Only the player that finishes Round 2 in your armband will score double points.

So, if you have Costa, Ronaldo or Suarez in your armband, you may not want to risk making a change. But if your skipper did not do as well as planned, you probably want to select a new one before the Day 8 deadline (14:00 CET on Thursday).

Teams boasting Sergio Aguero, Christian Eriksen, Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric and Paul Pogba are in action on Day 8. And if you choose one of them, and he doesn’t do well, you can always change your captain again ahead of the Day 9 deadline (14:00 CET on Friday).

Make substitutions
If a player in your starting XI didn’t perform well, you can substitute him out for a player on your bench who hasn’t yet played. However, if you want to bring in Eriksen for Andres Iniesta, you have up until the kick-off of the first game of the day (14:00 CET on Thursday).

Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – How Artem Dzyuba’s dreams came true 

  • Artyom Dzyuba was included in Russia’s squad for the World Cup right at the last minute
  • The towering striker had not played for the national team for nearly two years
  • He has scored in both of the Sbornaya’s fixtures so far

By Igor Borunov with Russia

Everyone wanted to chat to Artem Dzyuba after the Egypt game. The Russian star duly obliged, patiently giving a flash interview and chatted with FIFA TV before spending more time in the mixed zone speaking to the media than any other player.

“I’m tired but it’s a nice fatigue,” he said smiling. No wonder. The Russian forward has already scored in both of the hosts’ 2018 FIFA World Cup™ games so far, leading the line for 80 minutes against Egypt.

Dzyuba is already a hero in the national team: during qualification for UEFA EURO 2016 he scored eight goals, including a crucial strike against Sweden that booked his side’s passage to France. At the time he was being hailed as the next Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but things soon changed.

Russia endured a disappointing tournament and over the next two years Dzyuba won just a solitary cap in a 4-3 friendly loss against Costa Rica, a game in which he scored twice. As for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017, an injury decided he wouldn’t be taking part.

Having butted heads with Zenit Saint Petersburg head coach Roberto Mancini last seaon, who almost never played him, and with the World Cup was approaching fast, Artem needed to do something.

© Getty Images

So it was that the powerful centre-forward made the bold decision to accept a loan move to mid-table Arsenal Tula. It proved to be a masterstroke. Dzyuba made ten appearances for the Russian Gunners, scoring six times and drawing praise from the Sbornaya head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who was facing an injury crisis as one player after another dropped out of his squad.

With eventual Russian Premier League top scorer Alexander Kokorin also among those injured, Dzyuba was called up just prior to Russia 2018 as back-up for Fyodor Smolov, the hosts’ only striker fully fit and scoring regularly.

The sharp-tongued Dzyuba got a swift rebuke from Stanislav Cherchesov after telling the media that he was a bench-warmer but still happy to be part of the squad. Cherchesov reminded him that it is up to him who to play and not to play – and he was right. Dzyuba started the tournament on the bench but came on as substitute in the second half of the Opening Match against Saudi Arabia and made an immediate impact, scoring after just two minutes.

“I’m over the moon,” Dzyuba said after his first goal at the World Cup. “It was a challenging road. I’d like to say it all probably happened for a reason. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles.”

Indeed, it has been uphill battle ever since his return to the side. Dzyuba was a stomping presence against Egypt and had a hand in all three goals, contributing himself with a beautifully taken finish that sent the fervent crowd into a frenzy.

Finding the net in Saint Petersburg is a familiar feeling for Dzyuba, but this time he is wearing the shirt of Russia in the biggest tournament of his life. He is once again a hero, living out a football fairy-tale that he does not want to end.

“We’ve achieved the minimum requirement,” a delighted Dzyuba concluded, “but the World Cup is far from over. It might be a bit cheeky on our part, but now we want to compete for first place in the group. We were lucky, but we earned it through our effort and attitude. We were fighting for each other; the whole country was behind us.

“We deserved this win because we refused to give away an inch to the Egyptians. Let’s cross the next bridge when we get to it. I am so happy just to be here, to play and to score – it was my childhood dream.”

Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Uruguay seal their place in last-16

  • ​Uruguay reach Round of 16 for third World Cup running
  • Saudi Arabia goalless again to break their own world finals record
  • RELIVE: As it happened, stats, more

Uruguay made sure of their place in the Round of 16 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ after a 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Rostov-on-Don.

With the temperatures reaching 32°C, La Celeste had good reason to conserve their energy. They took the lead after 23 minutes, when Luis Suarez sidefooted into an empty net after Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais had tried and failed to claim a corner. 

After moving into pole position to qualify for the next round, the Uruguayans paced themselves, continuing to probe but without exerting themselves too much, despite the fact that a draw with Russia in their final game will leave them second in Group A.

In the lead-up to the match, Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi had urged his players to be competitive, putting the emphasis more on the right mindset than on strategy and tactics. He has reason to be satisfied despite their elimination. Though not the strongest side in the competition, the Saudis battled hard and had chances to score.

Team reporter analysis
Florencia Simoes with Uruguay [Follow on Twitter | Facebook]
Uruguay made the most of their considerable defensive prowess and strength in the air to claim a win that did not come as easily as expected. Though they tried to kill the game off to avoid a nasty surprise, La Celeste were wayward in front of goal after Suarez’s opener, which proved enough for a place in the next round along with Russia.

Abdullah Alghazal with Saudi Arabia (Follow on Twitter | Facebook)
The team gave a better account of themselves than in their opening match. Despite conceding, the Saudi defence held the Uruguayan attack at bay for the rest of the game and enjoyed plenty of possession, without ever carrying a genuine goal threat.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Luis Suarez celebrated his 100th appearance for his country in typical fashion, scoring his 52nd international goal to become the first Uruguay player in history to find the back of the net at three World Cups. The front man scored three times at South Africa 2010 and twice at Brazil 2014.

The stat
366 – Saudi Arabia have beaten their own record for failing to score at the world finals, having now gone goalless in the competition for 366 minutes. Their previous worst mark was 343 minutes, between France 1998 and Germany 2006, when Al Jaber scored their most recent World Cup goal, against Tunisia.

What’s next
Uruguay-Russia: Group A, 25 June, Samara
Saudi Arabia-Egypt: Group A, 25 June, Volgograd

Have your say
Uruguay fans | Saudi Arabia fans

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Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Halldorsson squashes an atomic flea

Change your captain
Round 1 matches will take place over six days, and you can change your captain ahead of each one. Only the player that finishes Round 1 in your armband will score double points.

So, if you had Hannes Halldorsson as your captain, you probably do not want to risk making a change. But if your skipper did not do as well as planned, you probably want to select a new one before the Day 4 deadline (14:00 CET on Sunday).

Teams boasting Keylor Navas, Dusan Tadic, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernandez, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar and Xherdan Shaqiri are in action on Day 4. And if you choose one of them, and he doesn’t do well, you can always change your captain again ahead of the Day 5 deadline (14:00 CET on Monday).

Make substitutions
If a player in your starting XI didn’t perform well, you can substitute him out for a player on your bench who hasn’t yet played.

However, if you want to bring in Brazil forward Neymar for Argentina’s Lionel Messi, you have up until the kick-off of the first game of the day (14:00 CET on Sunday).

Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Preview: Belgium v Panama

  • Belgium and Panama open Group G in Sochi
  • Belgium building on Brazil 2014 quarter-final run, Panama are debutants
  • THE LATEST: #BELPAN LIVE BLOG updating now

The opening match in Group G promises to deliver a fascinating contrast of styles. Belgium, for their part, go into the game with serious momentum after some impressive performances in their warm-up friendlies, and coach Roberto Martinez boasts a talented generation at the peak of its powers. His players bring solid international experience as well, with the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and UEFA EURO 2016 under their belts, and they now hope to reach a whole new level in Russia.

As for Panama, they are set to embark on their first ever World Cup adventure but have no intention of giving Les Diables Rouges (Red Devils) an easy start. Coach Hernan Dario Gomez is wary of Belgium’s firepower and will be anxious for his side to keep things tight at the back, especially since neighbours Costa Rica suffered a heavy 4-1 loss to the European hopefuls in a friendly just a week ago.

Team Reporter Analysis
Simon Massart, Belgium [Follow: Twitter | Facebook]
Roberto Martinez is expected to begin the tournament with a 3-4-2-1 formation, fielding a three-man defence and tasking Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Meunier with patrolling the flanks. Meanwhile, Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens will look to provide service for Romelu Lukaku and leave heads spinning in the Panama defence as often as possible.

Samuel McCollin, Panama [Follow: Twitter | Facebook]
For Panama, this opening game represents the most important match in their history. Their first ever World Cup opponents possess a number of gifted attacking players, but Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) will be determined to show their best by building on their defensive rigour and tactical discipline, while looking to get forward on the break.

Did you know?
This fixture may look one-sided on paper, but a glance at the history books makes it appear even more daunting for Panama. Since losing to Mexico at the Estadio Azteca during the group stage at the 1986 World Cup, Belgium are undefeated in 11 matches against CONCACAF nations, posting nine wins and two draws. Panama, on the other hand, have yet to prevail in nine previous meetings with European teams, drawing four and losing five.

Possible Line-ups
Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld; Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco, Thomas Meunier; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku

Panama: Jaime Penedo; Roman Torres, Fidel Escobar, Eric Davis, Michael Murillo; Gabriel Gomez, Anibal Godoy, Armando Cooper, Edgar Barcenas, Jose Luis Rodriguez; Blas Perez

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Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Kante keeps his midfield secrets under wraps

Ngolo Kante won his first cap for France against Russia on 29 March 2016. Two years and 25 caps later, he is making his FIFA World Cup™ debut as an indispensable part of Les Bleus line-up. And he has achieved that status by doing what he has always done, wherever he has played: by winning and recovering possession, all without saying a word.

Kante came in through the door, shook hands, and took a seat, a typically discreet smile on his face. Describing his first taste of the World Cup, the 27-year-old midfielder told FIFA: “Arriving in Russia was special. It’s taken a lot of work and effort to get here and I feel very proud.”

When it comes to work, Kante, who hails from Paris’ tenth arrondissement, is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in, especially when it comes to dispatching his midfield duties. An example of that came in the 2014/15 season. Still at Caen at the time, he racked up an average of 5.3 tackles per match during the French league campaign, more than any other player in Europe’s five major championships. If ball-winning were an art form, Kante would be a museum piece.

The English Premier League’s Player of the Season for 2016/17 was at his ball-winning best against Australia, regaining possession 14 times in all, though he was quick to play down that statistic.

“What matters to me is winning. It was vital for us to come away with three points,” he said, before heaping praise on one of his team-mates: “Sometimes there are vital defensive situations that can change the outcome of a match. And on Saturday, without Hugo Lloris, we’d have gone 1-0 down in the 20th minute. We were all grateful to him.”

Speaking in a low voice and almost apologetic tone, the Chelsea player continued to deflect attention away from himself: “I’m just a defensive player. It’s the lowest position. I’ve got the ball-carriers in front of me, and it’s our job as midfielders to link up with the defence and pick out the forwards so we can create chances.” Described by Frank Lampard as the best midfielder in the world, Kante is reluctant to say any more about his art.

Up next for France are Peru, a side he has been keeping an eye on: “They play with a lot of intensity and commitment and give it all they’ve got.” That match will give Kante another opportunity to win possession time and again, and all without a word out of place or any visible signs of irritation.

Calmly rising to his feet, he shook hands once more and left through the door he came in, having left us none the wiser as to who he really is. Modest Kante is a man who keeps himself to himself and his secrets firmly under wraps.

Source: FIFA.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ – News – Ronaldo grabs winner, Morocco eliminated

Cristiano Ronaldo was the star man for Portugal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ for the second match running, scoring the winner against Morocco at the Luzhniki Stadium to eliminate the North Africans. After his hat-trick heroics against Spain in his side’s opener claimed a single point, one goal was enough to secure all three today.

Morocco played their part in an enthralling match, their vociferous fans cheering their side on for consistent waves of attack against the stern Portuguese defence. Younes Belhanda came closest for the Atlas Lions, but his header was superbly kept out by Rui Patricio.

In the end, it was a decisive header from Ronaldo that claimed the win, his strike coming after just four minutes. Portugal will come up against a familiar face in Carlos Queiroz in their final Group B fixture, while Morocco will have purely pride to play for when they face Spain.

Team reporter analysis
Raquel Branco with Portugal [Follow: Twitter]
Portugal’s first half was much more impressive than their second, not only for the Cristiano Ronaldo goal but for the fact that Fernando Santos’s side applied more pressure to Morocco. The continuous Morocco pressing on the Portuguese midfield meant some difficulties for A Seleção das Quinas. Rui Patricio put in a superlative performance, with some great saves that helped secure the victory.

Zineb El Houari [Follow: Twitter]
Morocco will leave the Luzhniki with plenty of regret. They created plenty of opportunities without scoring, due to their lack of cutting edge up front. Renard’s 4-3-3 tactic saw plenty of attacking threat, but placing Achraf Hakimi in an unfamiliar left-sided role ultimately proved costly with the Portuguese goal coming from that side. In the end, Portugal took revenge on Morocco for their victory at Mexico 1986.

Budweiser Man of the Match
Cristiano Ronaldo – While there was no repeat of his stellar showing against Spain, Ronaldo’s opener was the difference between the sides in Moscow, while also sending him back to the head of the top scorers table.

The stat
85 international goals for Cristiano Ronaldo is a new record for a European player, with Ronaldo passing Ferenc Puskas today to hold the record outright. He is now second on the all-time list of international goalscorers behind Ali Daei (109 goals).

What’s next
IR Iran v Portugal – Group B, 25 June, Saransk
Spain v Morocco – Group B, 25 June, Kaliningrad

Have your say
Portugal fans (PT) | Morocco fans (AR)

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Source: FIFA.com