Daily Archives: November 13, 2017

Gareth Bale: forward’s return delayed with fresh injury

Published by:

Gareth Bale’s return is delayed once more after suffering a fresh thigh injury just days after returning to training after more than a month out with a calf injury and is likely to be out for the rest of the year.

The Real Madrid and Wales International forward will be having 19th layoff during his four years at the Bernabeu after joining Real from Tottenham for a then world-record transfer fee of £85.

Thus far, Bale has missed 40 of Real Madrid’s last 60 matches while also being absent for Wales in crucial World Cup qualifiers against Serbia, Georgia and the Republic of Ireland.

Wales manager Chris Coleman received the news of Bale’s fresh injury at the Stade de France ahead of a friendly against France — a game his side lost 2-0.

His team, who were denied a place in the World Cup finals, will also play Panama at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday.

“I don’t know the full extent of it,” Coleman said. “He’ll be devastated. We haven’t had dialogue with Real Madrid, but we’ll speak with Gareth in the next few days and find out exactly what it is. It’s bad luck, bad news, and he’ll be gutted.”

“The harder you try to get back you get a setback and sometimes you have to go through that. He’ll get over and he’ll be back. He just needs to get settled again and get his fitness. He needs to take his time and not rush himself back.”

“Some players as they get older they change their schedule,” Coleman added. “That’s up to him and Real Madrid. When he’s with us all our players have different programmes at different times of the week because we know what they do with their clubs. We have to make sure we taper that in with the way we work.”

Croatia and Switzerland qualify for World Cup with goalless draws

Published by:

Croatia and Switzerland are in the 2018 World Cup finals after both teams secured goalless draws put them through.

Croatia secured their place in Russia next summer by closing out a dour game against Greece that contained only one shot on target, although the were never in any danger after a comprehensive 4-1 victory in their first leg.

Greece’s coach, Michael Skibbe, made six changes to the team that lost heavily in the first leg and the home side produced a much better performance this time, but it remains that the team could not convert possession into results and never really looked like scoring and their one shot on target, an effort by Panagiotis Tachtsidis, was comfortably saved by Danijel Subasic.

And with their progress into Russia, Croatia has now qualified for 10 out of 12 major tournaments since the Balkan state was founded in 1991by winning all five of their play-off ties to reach either World Cup or European Championship tournaments.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill lamented the “cruelty” of Northern Ireland’s World Cup play-off defeat by Switzerland after they were ultimately denied a place in Russia by the controversial first-leg penalty.

A goalless draw in the second-leg was also enough to send Switzerland through to a fourth consecutive World Cup finals thanks to Ricardo Rodriguez’s penalty in the first-leg.

Rodriguez was also on hand to clear a Jonny Evans header off the line in stoppage time in the second leg while Michael McGovern’s goalkeeping and wayward finishing kept his team from extending their goal advantage.

“The cruelty is in the poorness of the decision that means we are missing out on the chance to go to a World Cup,” O’Neill said. “That is the cruelty. We should still be playing extra time now, that is the reality. Yes, Switzerland were the better team in the first leg but they didn’t score other than the penalty.”

“We were the better team tonight. For us to miss out because of that mistake, at this level and with those group of players who’ve given everything, is extremely cruel. We should be out on the pitch now fighting for a place in Russia.”

Buffon: Italy in “high tension” ahead of vital qualifier versus Sweden

Published by:

Italy’s veteran goalkeeper and captain, Gianluigi Buffon, said the team were in a state of “high tension” ahead of his team’s second leg match against Sweden in the World Cup qualifying playoffs.

Italy lost their first leg against the Swedes by 1-0, and will will fail to reach a World Cup for the first time since 1958 if they do not win the second at San Siro.

“We can make no mistakes,” Buffon said ahead of the vital game. “We are focusing on what we must do to win but if we fail to qualify everybody should take the blame. We are not stressed, personally I am focused on the game and I hope fans will support us. Sweden are a solid side and their behaviour will make little difference, it all depends on us.”

“We know we can win this game, we dream to qualify for the World Cup, it’s an important game for us and for the history of the national team.”

“I’ve already faced similar situations in my career, sometimes I’ve succeeded, some other times I’ve failed. The game means a lot for all of us, not only for me. My situation is not important at the moment. It would be a great satisfaction to qualify for the World Cup.”

Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura, who came under fire for the Azzurri’s results in the qualifier playoff and the group stages, said his team would try to qualify for the World Cup in Russia by “playing football” after their ill-tempered play-off first leg against Sweden.

Ventura’s tactics and team selection have been the subject of heavy criticism after he dropped his preferred 4-2-4 formation for a 3-5-2 in Friday’s match.

While his side also complained of rough play by Sweden in the first leg — including a challenge which left defender Leonardo Bonucci with a broken nose — Sweden were also said to be unhappy at their rivals’ alleged gamesmanship.

Bonucci will be forced to wear a face mask in the second leg.

“We are Italy and, if we qualify, I would like to be able to say that we did it by playing football,” Ventura said. “I don’t know what sort of game it will be but I hope it will be played in the correct spirit.”