Category Archives: World Cup 2018

Germany wins Confederations Cup with second string squad

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World Champions Germany asserted their dominance in international football with a 1-0 victory over Chile to win their first FIFA Confederations Cup despite fielding a second-string squad.

After Germany fans saw their team win the under-21 European Championship in Poland on Friday, they can once again celebrate another impressive tournament victory 12 months before they launch the defence of their world title.

Chile had the better of the opening encounters, but Die Mannschaft launched a rapid counter-attack against the run of play and while Chile initially neutralised the move, terrible mistake by Marcelo Diaz allowed Timo Werner to collect the ball and pass to Lars Stindl for an easy-tap in.

Despite the setback, the Copa America winners maintained the pressure against their opponents, somehow even doubling it in the second-half — but the German team that had not managed a clean sheet all tournament held them back as Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Angelo Sagal both blazed over the bar in the closing stages.

The second-half also turned ill-tempered as Vidal and Joshua Kimmich, both team-mates in Bayern Munich, were booked following one spat while frustrated Chile players piled on a prone Emre Can in an attempt to retrieve the ball.

Video assistant referee (VAR) technology was cast under the spotlight too after Chile’s Gonzalo Jara remained on the pitch despite landing an elbow in Timo Werner’s face during a second-half challenge. The foul was brought to the attention of referee Milorad Mazic, who reviewed the footage from the touchline but only proceeded to caution Jara with a yellow.

German coach Joachim Low, while suggesting diplomatically that it “could have been worthy of a red card”, did not allow the issue to dampen his spirits as the youngest team at the tournament lifted the trophy.

“The fact that these young players have won this trophy is a historic achievement. It’s unique in Germany history,” Low said. “It is just outstanding: players with so little international experience, with so few caps in other final matches, have been playing at the top level of quality.”

Even before the game, Low said that he felt “vindicated” of criticism for fielding an inexperienced squad and leaving out stars such as Marco Reus, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.

Indeed, with just 12 months left from the 2018 World Cup and winning a considerable accolade with what was effectively a second-string squad, Germany is a strong favourite and could very well become the third team ever to defend the World title successfully.

Eden Hazard fractures ankle in Belgium training camp

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Eden Hazard is set to miss out on two international fixtures after suffering fractured right ankle in training camp, the Belgian Football Association says.

The RBFA confirmed that Hazard, 26, twisted his ankle in training, with subsequent scans revealing a fracture.

While it is not known as of yet how long the Chelsea playmaker will be out, the RBFA confirmed that he will miss Belgium international friendly against the Czech Republic and their subsequent World Cup qualifier against Estonia on 9 June.

Hazard had been influential for the Blues in the Premier League this season, scoring 16 goals in 36 games.

However, while three years remain in his contract with the club he is linked with a move to Real Madrid. The Belgian himself also admitted he would consider an approach from the Spanish Champions.

“Of course I would consider it if Madrid made an offer,” Hazard said. “I am keen to win trophies. It would be great to win the Champions League. But Chelsea’s goal is to win the Champions League as well. Honestly I do not know what will happen.”

“I only know that I still have a contract with Chelsea for three seasons and that we just had an amazing 2016-17 campaign.”

“We want to continue on this path and want to build on this in the Champions League. I am feeling very well at Chelsea. But you never know what will happen. I have not met the board yet to discuss a new deal.”

Jorge Sampaoli unveiled as Argentina’s new manager

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Sevilla have confirmed Jorge Sampaoli has departed to take charge of Argentina after compensation to trigger the release clause in his contract was received.

Sampaoli, 57, leaves Sevilla to enter a five-year deal with the Albiceleste and was presented on Thursday evening at the Argentina Football Association (AFA) headquarters in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires.

“This is a dream come true, one that I had desired for some time. I always admired this place,” Sampaoli said at his unveiling.

“I thank the (AFA) president (Claudio Tapia) for his patience. The contract is through to the 2022 World Cup, (and) I hope we can do something important for Argentine people.”

Sevilla said last week they had reached an agreement in principle with the Argentinian Football Association for the coach despite his remaining year in his contract with the club.

The La Liga fourth-placed club had set a deadline of 1 June to complete the paperwork the remaining for the former Chile manager, and with that completed on Thursday, Sampaoli was released and allowed to be announced as the Argentina manager in a presentation at their training complex just outside Buenos Aires.

“Jorge Sampaoli has left Sevilla definitively today after the documentation by which Sevilla is guaranteed the collection of the fixed amount in the termination clause of the Argentine coach was initiated,” Sevilla wrote in a statement published on their official website.

“Sevilla wishes luck and success to Jorge Sampaoli in his new professional career and appreciates the services provided in the 16-17 season, in which the team met the objectives of the campaign: earning fourth place in the league – with the second-best points total in its history – and surpassing the group phase of the Champions League.”

Nonetheless, Sampaoli has an immediate challenge ahead of him as Argentina lies fifth in the CONMEBOL region qualifier standings with four games remaining.

Gareth Southgate out to strengthen England-Man United ties

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England manager Gareth Southgate will attempt to improve the relationship between the FA and the authorities at Manchester United after admitting there had been a trust issue.

At present, the Football Association (FA) of England suspects Manchester United have withheld valuable key sports science data regarding England international players because United coach Jose Mourinho and his staff believed that such information will be leaked to rival clubs.

While there are other clubs that share United’s sentiments, the Red Devils were the only club to made their misgivings distinct as Southgate makes it “a case of building up trust” with the Manchester club.

“To clarify, we share our data,” Southgate said. “We don’t always receive data, though. That’s what we would like because it would help us work out a training schedule when they [the players] first come into camp.”

“That can be a big help but we can’t enforce it. That has to be an agreement – sharing – and at the moment some clubs are more comfortable with it than others. One of the dangers, I guess, is the perception of it being leaked.”

However, Southgate insisted that Mourinho’s feelings would not hamper him from making decisions “that are right for England” which includes the selection of Marcus Rashford for two games next month: a World Cup qualifier against Scotland and a friendly against France just three days later.

“I’m not in a position where I can make decisions to keep people happy. I’m not going to achieve that,” Southgate added. “The key for us is not the relationship with Jose, it’s the relationship with Marcus. I didn’t speak to him (Mourinho) about it. I let him know where I was heading with it at the end.”

“Respectfully, none of the managers are going to be around in 10 years, or it’s very, very unlikely, and I think people like Marcus Rashford will be. So there’s always going to be some collision at some point on that and some disagreement on that.”