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Hamann: I think Argentina, Brazil or Spain will triumph – FIFA on GBP Sports

Didi Hamann would be “very surprised” if Germany become the first side in 56 years to retain the FIFA World Cup™ and believes the Russia 2018 winners will be Argentina, Brazil or Spain.

“With the personnel we’ve got, I think in depth we may be better than four years ago, but I don’t think the first 11 are better,” the 59-times-capped former defensive midfielder told Gulf News. “There are a few positions I’m really worried about and I’d be very surprised if Germany were able to defend the title.

“In Miroslav Klose, Philipp Lahm and Per Mertesacker, they lost 300 caps after the last World Cup. There are some talented kids coming through now, but they are yet to prove their class. We’ve seen it in the Champions League – the cream rises to the top and the World Cup is a unique tournament, sometimes people get found out there.”

Germany were the only European team to win all ten of their Russia 2018 qualifiers, scoring 43 goals and conceding just four in the process. Joachim Low’s charges also conquered last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.

However, in their last four outings they have drawn with England, France and Spain and lost 1-0 at home to Brazil. And, despite Germany fielding under-strength teams against them, Hamann was left impressed enough to tag La Roja and A Seleção as the teams to beat in Russia – along with another surprise side.

“We played Brazil a few weeks ago and Spain were probably the better side against us,” said the 44-year-old. “You shouldn’t read too much into friendlies, but I think Spain and Brazil.

“And then the way that Argentina qualified, because they needed to beat Ecuador in the last game of South American qualifiers to get in. They went 1-0 down after two minutes and Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick and won that game.

“Sometimes when you have a close shave and qualify like that, and with it also possibly being Messi’s last World Cup, I wouldn’t rule Argentina out either.”

Germany face Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic in Group F at Russia 2018.

Hamann was part of a Germany side that Croatia dumped out of France 1998. The former Bayern Munich and Liverpool midfielder also helped his country reach the Korea/Japan 2002 Final, where they were undone by Ronaldo.

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IOC approves venue plan for 2020 Olympic Football Tournaments – FIFA on GBP Sports

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board has approved the final venue plan for the Men’s and Women’s Olympic Football Tournaments Tokyo 2020.

Situated across Japan, seven stadiums have been selected to play host to matches in both men’s and women’s football at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“I am very happy that, with us having submitted our proposals for all football venues as a single request, we received approval for all of them today, which means the venues for all of the sports in the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 have now been decided,” said Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori.

Olympic Football Tournaments Tokyo 2020 venues

  • Olympic Stadium – Tokyo
  • Tokyo Stadium
  • Sapporo Dome – Sapporo, Hokkaido
  • Miyagi Stadium – Rifu, Miyagi Prefecture
  • Ibaraki Kashima Stadium – Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture
  • Saitama Stadium – Saitama
  • International Stadium Yokohama – Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture

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Iwobi: I almost cried seeing my parents celebrate – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • ​Alex Iwobi ‘almost cried’ twice after sending Nigeria to Russia 2018
  • He couldn’t believe he’d achieved the feat at such a young age
  • The 21-year-old believes he will shine at the World Cup

Alex Iwobi has discussed seeing his parents jump for joy when his goal booked Nigeria a 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ trip and why he feels he will shine at the tournament.

In front of 80,000-plus spectators in Uyo – including his father Chuba and mother Patience, the sister of Jay-Jay Okocha – the 21-year-old Arsenal attacker scored the 73rd-minute winner against Zambia in October which sent the Super Eagles to a sixth World Cup from the last possible seven.

“It’s difficult to describe, as the feeling was crazy,” Iwobi told the June edition of FourFourTwo magazine. “I remember looking at the crowd and seeing my parents jumping – I almost cried, it was emotional.

“I would never have guessed I’d do something like that so early in my career. I had dreams about it, but the fact that my dreams came true – I can’t put into words how I felt.

“After the game I went to the hotel and my mum and dad were both there. Just seeing them, I almost burst into tears again.”

Nigeria open their Group D campaign against Croatia on 16 June, before facing Iceland and Argentina. And Iwobi is relishing the challenge.

“The fact I’ve been training with world-class players every day has given me a bit of experience, so I’ll know what to expect in Russia,” the 15-times-capped, four-goal international said. “The intensity I train at with Arsenal is very high, so I’m preparing in a good way.

“It was always my dream as a kid, so I can’t wait to be involved. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere and wearing the colours of Nigeria. I feel like I can do well.”

Nigeria have lost all four of their World Cup encounter with Argentina by a one-goal margin – most recently when Lionel Messi headlined a thrilling clash at Brazil 2014. However, the Super Eagles will be buoyed by a 4-2 friendly victory over La Albiceleste in October, with Iwobi nutmegging Javier Mascherano en route to a brace-completing strike.

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A final shot at their peak – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both hope for glory at Russia 2018
  • Pair will be 35 and 37 at Qatar 2022
  • Statistically this tournament looks set to be their last shot at FIFA World Cup glory

“Lionel Messi doesn’t have the energy he had when he was 20 years old, nor does he have a magic wand to ensure his team qualifies. He has lost spontaneity and strength in his dribbling.”
Raymond Domenech, 8 March 2017

Messi on 9 March 2017: Scores one and is instrumental in two more as Barcelona beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1, making UEFA Champions League history.

“There were times when Cristiano Ronaldo’s team led 4-0 and he still wanted to score two goals so badly… But that’s over now.”
Bernd Schuster, 11 April 2017

Ronaldo on 18 April 2018: Scores in his 13th successive game, netting his 24th goal during that period.

People have wanted to be the first to flag the end of the Messi and Ronaldo dynasties for some time. When staggering performances have been handed out on a near-weekly basis for over a decade, a fallow month can seem like an eternity.

However, with the pair still on top of Spain’s La Liga scoring charts, and Ronaldo leading the way in the Champions League, their supremacy is far from over. But, at 30 and 33 respectively, time is inevitably running out for the pair to add the FIFA World Cup™ to their heaving trophy cabinets.

With both heading to their fourth finals, will they find success in Russia, and what are their hopes should they not be standing at the top of the podium on 15 July?


Not everyone thinks they are in decline, of course.


This season

Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid and Portugal)
Appearances: 47
Goals: 48
Assists: 10
Achievements: FIFA Club World Cup 2017 winner, Spanish Supercopa winner, UEFA Super Cup winner, UEFA Champions League finalist

Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)
Appearances: 56
Goals: 46
Assists: 18
Achievements: La Liga winner, Copa del Rey winner

In their favour
Ronaldo has undergone a clear transformation over the last season or so, with his all-action status being pragmatically swapped out for more of a penalty-box finisher role. Having arguably not had a clinical striker since Pauleta hung up his boots after Germany 2006, Ronaldo focusing solely on this task could be a major benefit for the European champions.

Even without Messi, Argentina would arguably have the most overflowing array of resources when it comes to attacking talent. Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi would walk into most teams, so with such a varied array of forwards, the pieces are there to craft a devastating frontline if Jorge Sampaoli can get the balance right.

Where they have fallen before

Ronaldo
2006: Semi-final, 1-0 v France
2010: Round of 16, 1-0 v Spain
2014: Group stage
Messi
2006: Quarter-final, 1-1 (4-2 PSO) v Germany
2010: Quarter-final, 4-0 v Germany
2014: Final, 1-0 AET v Germany



What awaits in Russia
Both will be confident of moving beyond the group stages, but neither has an entirely straightforward opening trio of games. Portugal start with a mouth-watering meeting against neighbours Spain which, should Ronaldo and Co stumble in, will leave them needing to make up ground fast against Morocco and IR Iran.

Argentina meanwhile will face a much more even selection, on paper at least, with Croatia, Iceland and Nigeria all well capable of stealing points from the group favourites – particularly given La Albiceleste’s suspect rearguard. A 6-1 defeat by Spain in March exposed that in spectacular fashion.

However, should both top their groups and escape the Round of 16, a Ronaldo-Messi quarter-final awaits in Sochi on 7 July.

What does history say?
Some may argue putting Messi and Ronaldo in the frame of their predecessors, considering their unparalleled feats when it comes to goalscoring and record-breaking, is fundamentally flawed. However, no one can fully repel the march of time, no matter how expertly they look to adapt with it. After this World Cup, both players will be defying the numbers again should they triumph at Qatar 2022, with Messi and Ronaldo set to be 35 and 37 respectively when that edition begins.

Since 1930, 422 players have been members of a World Cup-winning squad. Of those, only seven have been over 35. Just two of that seven haven’t been in goal.

Nilton Santos incredibly played every game for a triumphant Brazil in 1958 and 1962, despite being their oldest player at both tournaments. He was 37 when they lifted the trophy in Chile. A little more recently, Miroslav Klose was 36 when his two goals at Brazil 2014 helped Germany to victory. This suggests that the prospects of either Messi or Ronaldo ending their wait in Qatar are slim.

While no-one would write off either player defying the numbers once again in four years’ time, Russia 2018 seems likely to represent these modern-day icons’ last shot at football’s biggest prize while at the top of their game.

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Asian success sends Philippines soaring – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • The Philippines are up to their highest-ever FIFA Ranking position ​
  • Rise to 113th came after qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup for the first time
  • The Azkals’ captain and coach confident that it can be a turning point

The Philippines have long been considered one of Asia’s sleeping giants. The country is deeply embedded in the continent’s football history, from being involved in Asia’s first-ever international fixture in 1913 to providing the birthplace for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 31 years later.

Yet, until recently, the Philippines – the 12th-most populous country in the world, with over 100 million inhabitants – had never qualified for the AFC’s flagship tournament. It took until March of this year for that painful 62-year wait to end, and qualifying for the Asian Cup has also taken the Azkals to an all-time high in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

While their position of 113th might not seem especially lofty, it should be considered that the Philippines languished as low as 191st in 2005, and had been beaten 13-1 by Indonesia three years earlier. Now, they are ranked ahead of regional rivals such as Bahrain, Jordan, Tajikistan and Thailand.

It was a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Tajiks in Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium that secured this historic qualification, and there was a fairy tale element in the way the win was secured. The decisive goal came, after all, in the 91st minute – and was scored by the Azkals’ talisman and long-suffering captain, Phil Younghusband. Moreover, it was the former Chelsea trainee’s 50th goal for his country.

Though still just 30, Younghusband has been part of the Philippines national team for 12 years and, having endured plenty of setbacks in that time, considered this success long overdue. “It’s been up-and-down,” he acknowledged, speaking to ABS-CBN. “We didn’t qualify for the last Suzuki Cup, and then this. So yeah, it has been up-and-down [but] it’s been amazing too, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I just feel very blessed that I get to play the sport I love, and enjoy it in a country I love.”

The Asian Cup success, and subsequent nine-point ranking rise, capped a memorable few months for Filipino football. In January, there was a stunning AFC Champions League victory by Ceres Negros, one of the country’s biggest clubs, over Australian A-League outfit Brisbane Roar. And while basketball and boxing, thanks to the successes of Manny Pacquiao, have tended to dominate the country’s sporting landscape, football is definitely on the up.

“Hopefully, this is the catalyst for more growth,” Younghusband said of qualifying for the Asian Cup. “In 2010, we got a lot of support from the private industry, and hopefully, this can spur a resurgence.”

Thomas Dooley, a veteran of USA’s 1994 and ’98 FIFA World Cup™ campaigns, is the coach responsible for leading the Philippines to uncharted territory. Though out of contract and facing an uncertain future, the former Stars & Stripes captain is confident that recent triumphs will lead to more players from the vast Filipino diaspora declaring for the Azkals.

“You have players in Germany playing in the first division, who might have a chance to play for Sweden or Denmark, instead of playing for the Philippines because they’re qualifying for the European Championships or the World Cup,” Dooley told Reuters. “What do we have to offer? A beautiful country and playing for your country – but we need more.

“But if we get to the Asian Cup and we are in the top 100 in the world and are more visible and people are talking about the Philippines and what’s going on, then when those players are making those decisions, they will say: I want to go. We have lined up players already that would like to come and they are waiting. Waiting for what? Qualifying for the Asian Cup is very interesting for them.

“That could be the spark and it will spread in all directions. The potential is there – we just need to have the plan.”

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Roma vs Liverpool 4-2 – All Goals & Highlights – 02/05/2018 | HD

by Footoz

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Liverpool set up Real Madrid final – FIFA on GBP Sports

Roma hosted Liverpool in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday evening.

In what was another goal-fest between these two clubs, Liverpool outlasted their hosts to advance to the final with a 7-6 aggregate success, despite losing the second leg 4-2 in the Italian capital.

First-half goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum proved pivotal in securing the English club’s ticket for Kiev, Ukraine, on 26 May. Edin Dzeko and a late brace from Radja Nainggolan helped Roma earn the match victory in the Stadio Olimpico.    

FIFA.com breaks down the biggest moments of Wednesday’s match with a photo gallery.

The winner of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League will represent Europe at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2018 at the end of the year.

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RØMA Vs L1V3RPOOL 4-2 – All Goals & Highlights – Resumen y Goles 02/05/2018 HD

by NugoBasilaiaa

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Cahill: My goal was like an out-of-body experience – FIFA on GBP Sports

Tim Cahill has likened his breathtaking goal against the Netherlands at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ to “an out-of-body experience”.

Just one minute after Arjen Robben had broken the deadlock in Porto Alegre, the Australia No4 allowed a high, hanging ball from the right to drift over his left shoulder, before thundering a volley home off the underside of Jasper Cillessen’s crossbar – and with his weaker foot.

The goal was nominated for that year’s FIFA Puskás Award, which was ultimately won by James Rodriguez for his own mind-blowing volley at Brazil 2014.

“I can’t explain how it felt to score that goal – it was like an out-of-body experience,” Cahill told FourFourTwo magazine. “All you can do to understand how much it meant to me is watch it and see me going crazy during the celebrations.

“I’ve always been a strong believer in just taking a chance. I know I’m either going to hit the back of the net or row Z, and mentally it doesn’t bother me if it hits row Z as I will do it again – I’ll look for another moment to make somebody say, ‘Wow’. That one’s up there [with my greatest ever], for difficulty and also for the way it went in.”

Cahill finished Brazil 2014 with two goals in two appearances. He also scored in the 2-1 win over Serbia at South Africa 2010, and bagged a quick-fire, 11th-hour brace in the 3-1 comeback win over Japan at Germany 2006.

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Roma Vs Liverpool 2-2 – All Goals & Highlights – (1st Half) 02/05/2018 HD

by NugoBasilaiaa

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