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  1. Today
  2. Leicester City have signed James Maddison from Norwich City for an undisclosed fee believed to be about £20m. The 21-year-old midfielder passed a medical and agreed personal terms with the Foxes earlier this week ahead of signing a five-year deal. He had decided against a switch to Southampton in order to be closer to his Coventry-based family home. "I'm really happy to be here," Maddison told the official Leicester site. "I had a good chat with the manager about football and how he wants me to play, how he likes to play and I was sold. We talked about the type of player I am, how I'm going to fit into his style of play and everything sounded really promising. I haven't looked back since that phone call. "Leicester just seems like the right fit for me. I've got a good feel about the club and I can't ignore that, in my head and my heart. I felt like this was the right place for me to be, so I'm delighted and can't wait to get started." Foxes boss Claude Puel added: "James is a wonderful player who is one of the most exciting young talents in English football. "He made a big contribution to Norwich City last season and I'm delighted that he has decided to make the step up to the Premier League with Leicester." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  3. Lucas Torreira's transfer to Arsenal appears close to completion after Sampdoria president Massimo Ferrero revealed that the player had "left" the club. The Uruguay international, currently away on World Cup duty in Russia, was first tipped to join the Gunners following Unai Emery's arrival last month. Following Jack Wilshere's announcement that he is to depart Arsenal later this month, the North London outfit are now on the brink of bringing in a long-term replacement. Speaking live on Italian television, Ferrero said: "Torreira left for 30m euro. "I bought him from Pescara when no one believed in him. We placed a bet and we won, paying just 3m euro. "La Samp does not sell unless there are excellent offers. We do not look for buyers. We have natural talents whose value increases exponentially." Arsenal have also agreed a move for Germany goalkeeper Bernd Leno of Bayer Leverkusen. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  4. West Ham have announced the signing of Poland goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski from relegated Swansea City. The 33-year-old moves to the London Stadium on a three-year contract, just a day after the Hammers signed defender Issa Diop for £22m. Fabianski will fill the void left by Joe Hart after he returned to parent club Manchester City. The Pole, who was on the bench for his nation's opening World Cup game against Senegal, is looking forward to a fresh challenge with West Ham after four seasons at Swansea. "West Ham is a massive club so I'm really happy to be joining at such an exciting time here," said Fabianski, who was voted Swansea's Player of the Year last season. "I will do my best on and off the pitch to help the team to achieve the best results possible and can't wait to start this new chapter of my career." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  5. Yesterday
  6. England kick started their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over Tunisia. It was not going to be an easy game for Gareth Southgate’s men as Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul set his team out to sit back, park the bus and settle for a draw by letting England come at them and attack hoping to catch them on the counter. We were almost given the perfect start when Jesse Lingard saw his effort saved superbly by the Tunisian goalkeeper in the 3rd minute with many of us expecting that ball to end up in the back of the net. It wasn’t until the 10th minute that England’s constant pressure was rewarded when John Stones goalbound headed effort from a corner was saved brilliantly once more by the Tunisian goalkeeper only for Harry Kane to use his poacher's instinct to capitalise on the parried effort to score his first World Cup goal. Raheem Sterling had the easiest chance of the game when Lingard squared the ball to him rather than opting to go with his favored right foot he decided to go with his left making a real hash of it and sending his shot wide. Lingard again found himself round the back managing to knock the ball round the goalkeeper only for his effort to hit the post and go wide. The pressure seemed too much for the Tunisians who when pressed by the England players found it uncomfortable on the ball losing the possession on many occasions with passes going astray. But in the 35th minute England were made to pay for their missed chances when Kyle Walker was adjudged to have elbowed the opposing attacker in the box giving away a penalty which Jordan Pickford was unlucky not to keep out having managed to get only fingertips to the effort. It was a controversial decision made by the referee as he opted not to go to VAR to investigate the incident further which we was told this is what VAR was for to make sure of Penalty decisions. If the referee was sure that Walker used his arm in the face of the opposition then surely it was a red card incident, which fortunately for us he only received a yellow. When VAR was introduced we were on the understanding that it was to help referees with incidents that they may not have been aware of. But we were left frustrated when the referee refused to use VAR when Kane was rugby tackled to ground by the Tunisian defence in the box not once but twice. Both occasions the referee did not use VAR. Surely those in the VAR control room spotted these incidents and should have explained to the referee he should review the evidence. Not only was the lack of VAR used by the referee frustrating for England but the referee failed to act professionally when a Tunisian player went down after being struck by a football in the stomach, unless there is a head injury the referee should not have bought the game to a halt. Approaching the closing stages of the game, England were awarded a free kick which a Tunisian player was blocking the ball preventing it being taken which the referee failed to act on only telling the player to move away but the player did not move 10 yards which the England players were furious about only for the referee to still fail to act. Had that been an England player would we have seen a card being brandished? My thoughts are we would have. But even all these decisions going against us, even with the Tunisians trying to slow the game down and time waste, in the 91st minute, Kane snuck in at the back post from Harry Maguire’s flick to head home the winner and secure a well deserved 2-1 victory and 3 points in the bag. We could say that when the final whistle was blown justice was served. We go again on Sunday against Panama, as long as we stick to the same game plan and attack the opposition we should managed to claim all 3 points which will effectively see us through to the knockout stages. We need to take our chances more clinically and we should be there. A few changes might be needed in my opinion, first of those would be Danny Rose in for Ashley Young and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in for Dele Alli. We should also try and get Jamie Vardy involved who can get in behind those defenders. Another thing to look at would be Kane shouldn’t be playing so deep, as a front man he should be up there poaching and doing what he does best - score goals. Share your thoughts about this opinion piece on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  7. Joe Jones

    Issa Diop joins West Ham from Toulouse

    West Ham have confirmed the signing of France Under-21 centre-back Issa Diop from Toulouse on a five-year contract. The fee is undisclosed but a Sky Sports report suggests that the player has joined for a fee of £21.9m. Diop flew into London on Monday after the deal was agreed between the clubs late last week, successfully passed a medical and finalised personal terms. He becomes new manager Manuel Pellegrini's second summer signing after right-back Ryan Fredericks joined from Fulham. Diop said: "I am very happy to sign for such a historic English club, and I hope to show my best here. "I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we've seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  8. Manchester City playmaker Ilkay Gundogan has dismissed reports that he could leave the Etihad Stadium to join Barcelona. The La Liga champions have been linked with a £50m swoop for the Germany midfielder, who is currently on World Cup duty with his nation. However, Gundogan has insisted that he is happy at the Premier League club and is keen to see out his contract there. "I have two years to go on my current contract," the 27-year-old told Arab News. "With the way we play, with the people around me, in the city, in the community. I really enjoy it here." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  9. Dele Alli has been sent for a scan as the England backroom staff assess the thigh injury he picked up in Monday's 2-1 win over Tunisia at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Alli appeared the pull up with a muscle problem during the first half but was kept on for 80 minutes by Gareth Southgate before being substituted for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder will sit out England's training session in Repino on Tuesday to undergo a scan on the injury. "We had to keep monitoring Dele," Southgate said. "He was feeling a little bit of an issue just before half-time, but he felt he could carry on and I thought the runs that he was making and the way he was pressing the ball was still causing a problem. "He had a half chance with a lovely ball Jordan Henderson played to him, lofted over the top. "But we have good options on the bench and we felt to put the freshness of Marcus (Rashford) and Ruben (Loftus-Cheek) would both bring fresh energy but also a different sort threat to the one that we'd posed." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  10. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group H Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan POLAND It's the first World Cup since 2006 for Poland, who were impressive at Euro 2016 and were unlucky to lose on penalties to eventual champions Portugal in the quarter-finals. Poland’s hopes very much depend on the goalscoring exploits of Robert Lewandowski after another stellar season from the Bayern Munich man, and at 29 he hasn't much more time to make a big mark at the World Cup. One concern in qualifying was a 4-0 thrashing by Denmark in September that raised concerns about the defence, but I think they'll have enough about them to claim a knockout spot. Group prediction: 2nd SENEGAL Senegal are back at the World Cup for the first time since their stunning debut in 2002, when they beat defending champions France on the way to the quarter-finals, then only the second African team to make the last eight. This qualification has been contentious, with Senegal benefiting from an unprecedented decision by FIFA to order a replay of their 2-1 loss in South Africa because of match-fixing by the referee. Nonetheless, they have a star in their ranks in the shape of Liverpool forward Sadio Mane, who has been every bit as effective for country as for club, while Kalidou Koulibaly is a rock at the back, but with such fine margins in the group, I feel they will only just miss out on second. Group prediction: 3rd COLOMBIA Colombia reached the quarter-finals four years ago in Brazil and they certainly have the talent to mount another impressive run. However, they barely made it to the 2018 World Cup after struggling through a tough CONMEBOL qualification slate, failing to win in any of their final four qualifying matches. That said, with superstar quality in the shape of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, plus a decent goalkeeper in David Ospina, a solid centre-back pairing of Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina and an experienced manager in Jose Pekerman, I think they will qualify in first place. Group prediction: 1st JAPAN While the squad lacks the star power of many other World Cup teams, Japan can count on a group of reliable players with plenty of European experience, such as Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund and Maya Yoshida of Southampton. However, Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City, one of Japan's most creative and dangerous players, looks to have been ruled out through injury, which would be a major setback for an already limited team. Japan finished first in Group B in Asian qualifying, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia, but given the limited quality in their ranks, I don't think they'll have much success in the group. Group prediction: 4th Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  11. Last week
  12. Premier League newcomers Wolverhampton Wanderers have signed Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Sporting Lisbon on a four-year deal, subject to international clearance. The 30-year-old was one of seven Sporting players who last week terminated their own contracts following an attack by fans, citing just cause. Patricio won the 2016 European Championships with Portugal and is currently with his country at the World Cup in Russia. The signing follows the £10m capture of Porto defender Willy Boly, while Mexico forward Raul Jimenez has joined Nuno Espirito Santo's side on a season-long loan deal from another Portuguese side, Benfica. Wolves finished top of England's second tier with 99 points, finishing nine clear of Cardiff City in second and 11 ahead of third-placed Fulham, who won the playoff final to join the top two in the Premier League. Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  13. England striker Harry Kane says he is scoring more goals in training now that he is captain and is dreaming of matching Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick feat. Ronaldo scored a penalty and a free kick either side of his second goal on Friday to earn Portugal a thrilling 3-3 draw with Spain in Group B. Kane, England's skipper for the World Cup, told reporters that his first priority is to help the Three Lions win as Tunisia await on Monday night. "He's put me under a little bit of pressure for sure," the 24-year-old said. "He's a fantastic player and had a fantastic game but as always for me it's about concentrating on myself and the team. "Hopefully I can score a hat-trick tomorrow and we'll be level, but it's not something I'll think about much until hopefully towards the end of the tournament. "Maybe I've been scoring a few more goals in training. I am proud to be England captain and can't wait to get going. The team are all very close. We've done a lot of stuff for the fans so they can see what we've been up to and that's not always been the case. It's about doing it on the pitch first and foremost." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  14. Wales midfielder Joe Allen has signed a new four-year contract with Stoke City despite their relegation to the Championship. The 28-year-old was two years into the five-year deal he signed when he joined the Potters from Liverpool for £13m in 2016. Allen spent four seasons at Anfield after signing in 2012 from Swansea City, who first tried to buy him back in 2016 and were again linked with him last summer. "Tony Scholes made it very clear the club weren't interested in selling me," Allen told the club website. "That stance from the club, coupled with how settled I am here, how happy I am and how much I've enjoyed it, made it pretty straightforward for me." Stoke boss Gary Rowett added: "I'm delighted. "He's exactly the type of player we need because he's got Premier League quality and he's also got the mentality to handle life in the Championship in my opinion." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  15. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group G Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England BELGIUM Despite a squad brimming with world-class talent, a host of managers have tried and failed to get Belgium to play to its potential. In Brazil, Belgium earned their best finish since the 1986 World Cup, when the team reached the quarter finals, but expectations have risen further for Roberto Martinez’s side as they approach this summer as one of the tournament’s favorites. A host of world class stars, including Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku lead the front line, but there are issues in defence. Central defender Vincent Kompany is injury prone and there are very few credible back-ups available for the likes of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen. That said, I expect them to make the most of a relatively straightforward group, save for England, and nab top spot. Group prediction: 1st PANAMA A first-ever qualification for the World Cup earned Panama a national holiday as the Central Americans made it to Russia in style, defeating Costa Rica 2-1 in the final qualifier to quality ahead of the mighty United States. Hernan Dario Gomez has brought three different nations to the World Cup, with Colombia and Ecuador preceding his current venture with Panama, so he is an experienced head at this level. It's likely to be a swansong for Blas Perez, the 37-year-old forward with 43 international goals, but Ismael Diaz is a talented young player and has been plying his trade in Spain with Deportivo La Coruna's B team. Nevertheless, the reality is that the team - and its parts - has little experience of playing at the top level and where the stakes are highest, so I don't expect them to progress from their group. Group prediction: 4th TUNISIA Unbeaten during their qualifying campaign, Tunisia are making a return to the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. The Eagles of Carthage qualified for Russia ahead of Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Guinea and will take part in their fifth World Cup. They have never got beyond the group stage, but with a new generation of players including Wahbi Khazri and former Monaco defender Aymen Abdennour, they will be hoping to break new ground for the nation. Youssef Msakni will miss the tournament due to a knee injury, leaving Khazri to assume the attacking and creative reins in his absence, while coach Nabil Maaloul is a former assistant under Roger Lemerre when Tunisia won the African Cup of Nations in 2002. The question is, will Tunisia have enough about them to get the better of Belgium and England? I don't think they will. Group prediction: 3rd ENGLAND Expectations in England have plummeted because of the team's embarrassing performances in recent major tournaments - exiting the 2014 World Cup at the group stage and losing to Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. Gareth Southgate has named a side without much fanfare. They have little expectation, with most of their hopes piled on the shoulders of star striker Harry Kane, the one truly world class option in their starting XI. That said, it's refreshing to see England go to a tournament without the constant "maybe we can...?" in the press, or adverts, or even songs - maybe less pressure could see them actually do better? In terms of the group stage, I see them stumbling against Tunisia but doing enough against Panama to win and then spring a surprise against Belgium to nick second. Group prediction: 2nd Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  16. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group F Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea GERMANY The World Cup holders are in great shape to defend their title after going unbeaten in 2017, winning 10 out of 10 games in qualifying with 43 goals scored, and winning the Confederations Cup last year. Die Mannschaft's pedigree at tournaments is superb, having reached at least the semi-finals in every World Cup and European Championship bar one since 2002, and with Joachim Low still at the helm, there is little to suggest anything different this time round. Once again the conveyor belt of German players keeps churning out superb players and with most of the expected starters turning out regularly for the biggest of clubs plus talented young back-ups, they should go far in this tournament. Admittedly the group is somewhat difficult but Germany should still have more than enough to clinch top spot. Group prediction: 1st MEXICO Mexico have been regulars at the World Cup, but always come up just short - they have played in the last six World Cups, and were knocked out each time in the round of 16. El Tri impressed four years ago in Brazil and were also superb in qualifying for Russia, doing so with three games to spare ahead of Costa Rica and Panama. There are few surprises in Juan Carlos Osorio's provisional 28-man squad, with breakout star Hirving Lozano among the players, while Javier Hernandez is also in despite his struggles at West Ham. Although Germany are likely to get top spot in the group, I fancy Mexico to get second place ahead of Sweden and South Korea. Group prediction: 2nd SWEDEN Sweden are at the World Cup thanks to a stunning defeat of Italy in the playoffs, conceding just just nine goals in 12 qualifiers. At the other end of the field, the Swedes netted 26 times, besting everyone in Group A, including the eventual group winners, France, whom they beat 2-1 at home and lost to 2-1 away. Andreas Granqvist, who will partner Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof in the center of defence, is the captain, while RB Leipzig's Emil Forsberg is arguably the nation's star player, in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Winger Viktor Claesson, who has impressed at Krasnodar, is also expected to impress. Though I expect Sweden to be solid, I don't think they have enough about them to qualify in a very tricky group with three other good/great teams. Group prediction: 3rd SOUTH KOREA Every World Cup since 1986 has featured South Korea, but the Taeguk Warriors have reached the knockout rounds of the World Cup just once in the three tournaments held since they were joint-hosts in 2002. Qualifying was tricky, with a place only secured thanks to a tense 0-0 draw against fellow contenders Uzbekistan on the final day of the Asian group stages, combined with Syria's failure to beat Iran. Much will depend Tottenham Hotspur's Son Heung-min as well as former Swansea City man Ki Sung-yeung, who bring valuable experience of top-level football to the setup. Pound for pound, I see South Korea as the weakest of the four in the group, and as such I think they'll struggle. Group prediction: 4th Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  17. Gareth Southgate has stated that his England players "know their jobs" and "are ready" ahead of their World Cup opener against Tunisia on Monday. The Three Lions trained for the final time at their Repino base on Sunday morning, before travelling to Volgograd to complete their preparations. England have enjoyed a positive build-up and have no injury issues, forward Marcus Rashford having overcome a minor knee problem which prevented him training earlier in the week. "They're ready," Southgate told the England team's YouTube channel on Sunday. "If they played today, they'd be ready. "We've got to make sure they don't do too much physically, don't overload them with information. They're clear on how we want to play, they're clear on the opposition. "I think that's helpful that everything's settled. They know their jobs. The guys who aren't in the team are prepared and have trained well. They become a key part of what we do now. "They have to support the players who are starting, but also be ready because anything can happen before the game, anything can happen during the game. "We only progress as a collective. That's been the mentality from the day we started and will go right through the tournament." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  18. Germany head coach Joachim Low has no concerns over whether Manuel Neuer or Mesut Ozil will be ready for their World Cup opener against Mexico. Despite missing most of Bayern Munich's season with a foot injury, Neuer is in line to start against El Tri in Moscow on Sunday after playing in his side's warm-up games against Austria and Saudi Arabia. Arsenal playmaker Ozil, meanwhile, had been carrying a minor knee problem picked up during the friendly defeat against Austria before heading to Russia. However, Low moved to allay fears over either players' fitness at a pre-match press conference on Saturday. He said: "Neuer is making a very stable impression on me. The last few weeks he has been very focused, very calm, he has worked hard to come back. "The two matches have helped him for sure. He looked very self-confident in those matches and in training - it's the Manuel Neuer we know. "All players are fit. Mesut Ozil has put in two additional training sessions this week. "We cannot get ahead of ourselves, we first have to send a message by winning this first game. Mexico have a dangerous front three, it will be a big test for our defence. "As always, we want to win our first game, but Mexico are a difficult opponent." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  19. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group E Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia Brazil Manager: Tite Captain: Marcelo World Ranking: 2 Brazil's 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup will not be forgotten in a long time, but the Selecao have bounced back from that monstrosity and now boast a side with quality all across the pitch and a great run of form to boot. Tite's charges were the first team to clinch qualification for Russia and, in 13 fixtures under his management, there have been 13 wins, three draws and only one loss - in a friendly against Argentina. While Brazil looked lost without Neymar last time out, the team is not so likely to rely on one player this time, with the likes of Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho all able to deliver up front, and unlike some previous Selecao outfits, there are some genuine class goalkeepers and defenders in there too. Brazil may have been arrogant four years ago, but this time they have something to prove, and I think not only will they coast the group, but will win the tournament outright. Switzerland Manager: Vladimir Petkovic Captain: Stephan Lichtsteiner World Ranking: 6 The core of Switzerland's team won the Under-17 World Cup in 2009 and there are some talented players going to Russia, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka superb on their day. There are also some talented youngsters such as Breel Embolo, Edmilson Fernandes and Manuel Akanji, who could slot in very nicely alongside the more experienced players. Switzerland won nine games in a row in their qualifying group but still had to contend the playoffs, in which a dubious penalty call saw them eventually overcome Northern Ireland en route to the finals. Although I don't expect Switzerland to get much against Brazil, I still think they'll have more than enough against Costa Rica and Serbia to finish second and qualify for the knockouts. Costa Rica Manager: Oscar Ramirez Captain: Bryan Ruiz World Ranking: 23 The surprise package of the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup four years ago before losing to the Netherlands in a penalty shootout. Los Ticos boast one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Keylor Navas, but he will be tested a lot due to a suspect defence, while some of the key players are ageing, such as Bryan Ruiz at 32 and Christian Bolanos at 34. The team has barely changed since the previous World Cup, and the system is likely to be the same, which in one aspect you could call continuity, but on the other side you could say it's stagnation. I can't personally see lightning striking twice, and with the other teams much more likely to do their homework and less likely to underestimate them as Italy, Uruguay and England did, I think they'll finish bottom of the group. Serbia Manager: Mladen Krstajic Captain: Aleksandar Kolarov World Ranking: 34 Serbia cruised through their qualifying group to return to the World Cup finals after eight years, the second time since becoming an independent nation in 2006. There are concerns about an ageing defence, but further up the pitch there is plenty of creativity to help unlock opposition defences, with Aleksandar Mitrovic impressing since moving on loan to Fulham and the midfield duo of Nemanja Matic and Dusan Tadic especially skilful. Serbia's manager, Mladen Krstajic, is however quite inexperienced at the top level, with the Group E opener against Costa Rica in Samara on June 17 being his competitive debut as a head coach in any category. I can see Serbia performing admirably but with a stellar Brazil side and an efficient, well-drilled Switzerland team, I don't think they'll be in the top two. Predictions Costa Rica 1-3 Serbia Brazil 4-2 Switzerland Brazil 5-2 Costa Rica Serbia 0-1 Switzerland Switzerland 2-0 Costa Rica Serbia 1-2 Brazil 1. Brazil 9 pts 2. Switzerland 6 pts 3. Serbia 3 pts 4. Costa Rica 0 pts Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  20. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group D Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria, Iceland Argentina Manager: Jorge Sampaoli Captain: Lionel Messi World Ranking: 5 Lionel Messi will grace the World Cup for a fourth time in hope he can finally claim the one trophy that has eluded him. Argentina will look to try and win the trophy they haven’t won since the days of Diego Maradona. Argentina have a wealth of attacking options including Messi, Juventus pair Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain as well as Man City’s Sergio Aguero. They also have a stern defence including Nicolas Otamendi Javier Mascherano. Sampaoli has used many formations in qualifications and friendlies to try and get Argentina to click. Messi, Dybala and Aguero can switch around playing up front and either, out wide or behind the lone frontman. All three players skill, creativity, technical ability and goalscoring prowess make them one of the most potent attacks at this summer’s World Cup. Lucas Biglia and Ever Banega are the knitters in the midfield whilst Cristian Pavon, Giovanni Lo Celso and Angel Di Maria will battle it out to determine who starts on the wing. Pavon and Lo Celso are two players to watch out for. They can be quite solid defensively, having conceded only 16 goals in qualification. They have the quality to get through, but a lot will be expected from them after an inconsistent qualification. Croatia Manager: Zlatko Dalić Captain: Luka Modric World Ranking: 20 Croatia once again will have a squad with talent in abundance but since they finished 3rd in 1998, they haven’t reached the knockout stage. This year their squad is stacked with stars. Luka Modric is one of the best midfielders in world football. Mario Mandzukic has had another fantastic season with Juventus. Dejan Lovren has got to the Champions League Final and Ivan Rakitic has won La Liga with Barcelona. Marcelo Brozovic is a brilliant centre midfielder and big things are expected of young winger Marco Pjaca. Whilst playing as a wide man for Juventus, Mandzukic can player there for Croatia or as a striker, although this is mainly Hoffenheim goal machine Andrej Kramaric. Modric and Rakitic help support the front three, which also includes Brozovic’s Inter teammate Ivan Perisic. Rakitic is a big factor in midfield with his combination of passing, hard work and perseverance. Brozovic himself plus Mateo Kovacic, like to get forward, but whether both will start is still a big question. However, committing several players forward may leave them prone to being caught on the counter attack. Former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka is likely to start in the back four despite picking up an Achilles tendon injury earlier this year. The front men are the key to Croatia getting through as is getting off to a good start in what is probably the closest group. They have the squad to get through, but it all depends on which Croatia team turn up. They will be hopeful not to repeat the groups stage exits of 2002, 2006 and 2014. Iceland Manager: Heimir Hallgrimsson Captain: Aron Gunnarsson World Ranking: 23 Iceland are entering their first World Cup off the back of a great qualifying campaign and brilliant performance at Euro 2016, their first major competition. They are the smallest nation to ever qualify for a World Cup with the country’s population only 339,000. Gylfi Sigurdsson is the teams star man, his technical and creative skill shining throughout qualification and his current stint in the Premier League. Augsburg striker Alfreð Finnbogason had one of his best seasons to date, scoring 12 goals in the Bundesliga. They are defensively solid and have several good players all around the pitch. Johann Berg Gudmundsson has had a superb season with Burnley, who are very much the Iceland of the Premier League and so Gudmundsson should be used to the set up. They have several players from the Championship including captain Aron Gunnarsson, Villa’s Birkir Bjarnason and Bristol City’s Hordur Magnusson. PSV winger Albert Gudmundsson is one to watch out for. Iceland are very hardworking, in which, they may lack in skill and flair in some areas, they make up for it with grit and determination. They are very compact and strong. Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Bjarnason and Sigurdsson will be the attacking outlets. Sigurdsson will start centrally with Gunnarsson, with the former Swansea midfielder moving forward to support Finnbogasson. Sigurdsson can also play behind the striker against better opposition, which allows Udinese midfielder Emil Hallfredsson to sit deep with Gunnarsson, making the team even more defensively solid and harder to break down. They are also dangerous from long throws, as shown against England at Euro 2016, where centre half Ragnar Sigurdsson got on the end of a long throw which wasn’t dealt with. Ragnar is likely to start at Centre back with either Sverrir Ingi Ingason or Kari Arnason partnering him. Iceland will be tough to beat and should not be underestimated despite it being their first World Cup. They may not have a consistent goal scorer at national level, but goals can come from all around the team. Nigeria Manager: Gernot Rohr Captain: John Obi Mikel World Ranking: 48 Nigeria enter their 6th World Cup having progressed through a hard-qualifying group including 2014 qualifiers Algeria and Cameroon, plus former Africa Cup of Nations champions, Zambia. They have an influx of pace in the side including Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Moses and Moses Simon. Captain, Mikel likes to get forward for the national team, something he wasn’t used to at Chelsea. Ogenyi Onazi and Leicester’s Wilfried Ndidi should provide lots of creativity for the front men, who will consist of three of Moses, Iheanacho, Simon, Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa or Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi. Nigeria will look to play it long to Ighalo or Iheanacho and try to bring the wingers and the creative midfielders into the game. The wingers are especially important, as they will try and use their pace to get in behind opposition defences. Their defence seemed unconvincing in the first half, in their friendly against England and their midfield will have to work hard to adapt from attack to defence. The centre back pairing of Elderson Echiejile and new Brighton signing Leon Balogun are experienced. For the 5th time in the last 7 World Cups, Nigeria were drawn with Argentina in the same group. The Super Eagles have a good chance of progressing as anyone could go through from this group. They can give any team a game on their day and have been a lot more prepared for this World Cup, then they have for past editions. Predictions (Argentina 1-1 Iceland FT) Croatia 2-2 Nigeria Argentina 0-1 Croatia Nigeria 1-1 Iceland Iceland 1-0 Croatia Nigeria 1-2 Argentina 1. Argentina 2. Iceland 3. Croatia 4. Nigeria Share your thoughts about this preview on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  21. England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford believes that Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri will be a player to watch out for when the two teams meet in the World Cup on Monday night. The playmaker has not played since injuring his thigh on loan at Rennes in April and his future is currently in doubt due to Sunderland's relegation to League One. However, Khazri is deemed so instrumental to Tunisia's World Cup plans that he is expected to start against the Three Lions at the Volgograd Arena, with his former Black Cats teammate in the opposing goalmouth. "Wahbi's a decent player," Everton keeper Pickford told BBC Sport. "He kept us up when we were at Sunderland [in 2016], scoring some good goals. "Whoever plays will have to be careful of his corners because he doesn't mind a shot from corners and he likes a shot from outside the box as well. "He's got ability and quality. He proved that at Sunderland. We've been watching a bit of Tunisia and they look a decent side and look like they have got positive types of players so we have got to be up for it and no doubt we will be." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  22. Cristiano Ronaldo is confident that Portugal will progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup after his hat-trick stunned Spain in a 3-3 draw at Sochi's Fisht Arena. The 33-year-old became the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick, twice putting the Euro 2016 champions ahead before his 88th-minute free-kick secured a precious point. It was the 51st treble of Ronaldo's goal-filled career as he became the fourth player to score in four different World Cups and the first to do so at eight consecutive international tournaments. "I'm very happy," the Real Madrid star told BBC Sport. "It is a personal best, one more in my career and the most important thing is to highlight what the team has done. "We have played one of the favorite teams to win the World Cup, we have been winning twice and drew and I think it was a fair result. The game was about to end and we managed to equalise so we are happy. Now we have to think about the next match, it is going to be hard, but our goal is to win and to move on from the group stage. "Portugal is going to start moving through the group stage, we know it is going to be hard, and have to think match by match. We are not the favourites so we will try to do our best. The team is doing very well and we are going to do well for sure." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  23. Egypt manager Hector Cuper has explained that Mohamed Salah could not be risked in their World Cup opening-game loss to Uruguay. The Pharaohs fell to a late defeat in their Group A opener in the absence of the Liverpool forward, who has spent the past three weeks nursing a dislocated shoulder following the Champions League final against Real Madrid. Speaking to reporters after the match, Cuper stressed that he could not risk Salah ahead of games against Saudi Arabia and tournament hosts Russia. "Mo Salah is an important player for us but you need to have a good team, and we have a good team," he told reporters. "Salah will have an important role for us in the future matches. "We wanted to avoid risks in this match [with Salah], but I think he will be fine for the next game [against Russia]." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  24. Scottish champions Celtic have completed the signing of Paris Saint-Germain striker Odsonne Edouard on a permanent four-year contract for a club record fee of £9m. The 20-year-old spent last season on loan with Brendan Rodgers' side from PSG, scoring 11 goals in 29 appearances as the club secured a historic back-to-back domestic treble. Edouard told the club's website: "From the moment I walked into Celtic, the club has felt like home to me. I have been made to feel so welcome by everyone at the club and our fans have given me such brilliant support. "Celtic is one of the world's great football clubs and I was desperate to make my move permanent. The scenes from May when we achieved such a historic double treble and made the city come alive are still very fresh in our memories. "To see our fans so happy is the reason you play football and now we want to do everything we can to bring our great supporters even more success." Celtic boss Rodgers added: "We are delighted to make such an important signing. Odsonne is one of the best young players I have worked with and one of the best in Europe. "Our fans saw exactly what he is capable of last season and we look forward to working with him again as we look to build on the tremendous success we achieved last year. I am sure he will be a big player again for us this season." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  25. Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard says England will play without fear when they take on Tunisia in their opening World Cup match on Monday. The Three Lions begin their campaign with a tough test in Volgograd against Tunisia, who are currently ranked 21st in the world. Lingard insists there is real belief in the England camp that they can reach the latter stages of the tournament - confidence he says stems from the appointment of Gareth Southgate. "Gareth has come in with the mentality to play with freedom and without fear, and you will enjoy your time more," said Lingard, who scored his first international goal against the Netherlands in March. "So as a group of players, that is what we are going to do - enjoy our football, play with no fear and play exciting football at the same time. "You have got to embrace the moments. You've got to enjoy your time on the field no matter what game it is. You've got to go into the big games full of confidence, knowing that you can win. "Sometimes that is not the outcome but, on the day, you've got to be a team and work hard, play free and enjoy the football. You are with your team-mates playing football and it is a job you love doing. "We've been training together for a long time now so the confidence is up. We can't wait to get going and we're excited to make our mark on the World Cup." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  26. Leeds United have announced the appointment of former Argentina and Chile boss Marcelo Bielsa as their new head coach on a two-year deal. The club has been searching for a replacement for Paul Heckingbottom since sacking him on June 1 after less than four months in charge at Elland Road. "I am delighted to accept the role of head coach at Leeds United," Bielsa said. "It has always been my ambition to work in England and I have had several opportunities to do so during my career. "However, I have always felt it was important to wait for the right project to come along and so when a club with Leeds United's history made me an offer, it was impossible to turn down. "I am excited for the challenge ahead and I look forward to collaborating with Victor, Andrea and Angus, as we work hard to achieve great things at this football club." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  27. Mohamed Salah is "almost 100 per cent" certain to play in Egypt's World Cup opener against Uruguay on Friday, according to national head coach Hector Cuper. The Liverpool talisman suffered shoulder ligament damage playing for his club in the Champions League final last month following a challenge from Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos and has not played since. But when asked about Salah's potential involvement against Uruguay, Cuper said: "We still have to see how training goes today. But I can almost assure you 100 per cent that he will play - save unforeseen circumstances at the very last minute. "We are all very optimistic that he will be on the pitch. Nothing prevents him from competing for the title of the golden boot." Share your thoughts about this news story on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
  28. The World Cup is upon us - let’s have a look at the teams, groups and what might happen in Russia. Group C France, Denmark, Peru, Australia France Manager: Didier Deschamps Captain: Hugo Lloris World Ranking: 7 France really could not have asked for an easier draw could they? For me, they have the best squad in the tournament. Their strength in depth is frightening. Griezmann, Mbappe, Lemar, Dembele, Giroud, Pogba, Kante, Matuidi, Varane, Umiti, Lloris, Tolisso. That such quality means, Dimitri Payet, Alexander Lacazette and Anthony Martial were not able to make the final squad. The team has become stronger since the end of Euro 2016. Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are looking to have breakout tournaments and look to be stars of the present and future. Both players recently had transfers worth over 100 million euros. The two will look to get down the line as the midfielders look to take advantage of both men’s pace. Whilst, they will control most games, if the opposition is attacking and the French win it back, they will look to use Mbappe and Dembele to get them on the attack. Antoine Griezmann’s goalscoring abilities will be crucial but he is currently one of the best strikers on the planet and is very reliable. They have midfield options to suit all opponents. Blaise Matuidi is a regular under Deschamps and can be used to cover the defence a bit more whilst also producing long passes out towards the wingers. Thomas Lemar is another player looking to star on his first venture onto the world stage. He can be used as a winger or an attacking midfielder. There is such an amazing brand of quality players there, it’s hard not to tip them to add a second star to that badge. Denmark Manager: Åge Hareide Captain: Simon Kjær World Ranking: 12 Denmark have returned to the world stage after missing the party four years ago. New coach Åge Hareide (formerly of Malmo) got the team to the World Cup after a play-off win over Republic of Ireland. The new generation of young players who impressed at the 2015 Euro U21’s have taken their opportunity in the first team. These include Pione Sisto, Andreas Christiansen, Riza Durmisi, Viktor Fischer and Yussuf Poulsen. Not to mention as well Ajax’s Kasper Dolberg. Their star man is Christian Eriksen who makes everything tick for the Danes and is usually allowed free roam in attacking midfield. However, their team is a lot more talented now than it was in 2010 and their talent lies not just with Eriksen. Poulsen is a striker but plays right wing and this is where he sometimes plays for the national team with ex Cardiff pilot Andreas Cornelius or Nicolai Jorgensen playing in the main striker position. Sisto will be a big help with his pace down the left and can help create chances easily, as shown by his nine assists in La Liga this season, for Celta Vigo. He is sure to become a world-class player in years to come. Werder Bremen's Thomas Delaney and experienced central partner William Kvist will provide the steel in the team infront of a back four consisting of Kjaer, Christiansen along with Brentford’s Henrik Dalsgaard and Austria Wien’s Jens Stryger Larsen. Peru Manager: Ricardo Gareca Captain: Paolo Guerrero World Ranking: 11 Peru have a very nice team and have qualified for the first time since 1990. Andre Carrillo and Jefferson Farfan are the game changers and match winners in the team. Andy Polo is also one to look out for. Captain Paolo Guerrero recently had a drug ban overturned and is ready to lead the line for the South Americans. Cristian Cueva is a good talent and will play in the Eriksen/Dzagoev role and free roam behind the frontmen and try to create. Renato Tapia is a versatile player who can play in defensive midfield and at centre back. He mainly plays in midfield at national level. His grit and range of passing are crucial. Peru push many players forward when attacking including Guerrero, Carrillo, Farfan, Cueva and sometimes left back Miguel Trauco. This is where they are vulnerable and if teams can counter quickly against them, they may be in trouble. The team also struggles against physically imposing strikers. Chris Wood caused a variety of issues against them in the play-offs. The match against Denmark looks to be a massive game in deciding who goes through. They are ranked next to each other in the world rankings and are both on 15 match unbeaten runs coming into the tournament. Australia Manager: Bert van Marwijk Captain: Mile Jedinak World Ranking: 36 Australia head into their 5th World Cup on the back of scraping through qualification. The experienced Tim Cahill will compete at his fourth World Cup whilst Celtic’s Tom Rogic looks set to stand out for the Socceroos along with Aaron Mooy. Van Marwijk hasn’t had long to get the Aussies into shape after previous coach Ange Postecoglou quit after securing qualification. Rogic’s ability to create and help the striker will be of huge importance to a team who has only escaped the group stage once. However, Rogic can be inconsistent when playing for his country. Mooy, who has had a good season with Huddersfield, will look to start attacks from deep. Captain Mile Jedinak is a reliable penalty taker and is hard working, winning the ball back and supporting the defence whilst his defensive midfield partner Mooy gets forward. Jedinak somewhat helped steady the ship when he returned from injury, as Australia initially leaked goals in qualifying before his return. Matt Leckie and Bursaspor’s Aziz Behich are quick options in wide positions. 19-year-old Daniel Arzani became the youngest ever Australian player to make a World Cup squad. He was awarded the NAB young footballer of the year award in the A-League and recently scored in a 2-1 friendly win against Hungary. The Australians are a physical team and are defensively strong but their lack of goals maybe their undoing. Predictions France 3-0 Australia Peru 1-1 Denmark Denmark 2-1 Australia Peru 0-2 France France 2-1 Denmark Australia 1-1 Peru 1. France 9 (+6) 2. Denmark 4 (0) 3. Peru 2 (-2) 4. Australia 1 (-4) Share your thoughts about this preview feature article on Football Manics by signing up for FREE to the website, visiting the forum and joining the chat with fellow football fans.
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