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– FIFA on GBP Sports

Luis Enrique has been appointed Spain’s new head coach after putting pen to paper on on a two-year deal. 

The former Barcelona, Celta Vigo and Roma coach succeeds Fernando Hierro, who had taken interim charge after Julen Lopetegui was sacked on the eve of the FIFA World Cup, having committed his future to Real Madrid. Enrique won two La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey trophies and one Champions League during his three-year spell in charge of Barcelona.

The news came on the back of Jose Francisco Molina, a former goalkeeper for Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna who won nine caps for Spain, being appointed the Spanish Football Federation’s new sporting director.

Molina said:  “We need a successful coach who’s modern and who knows the game style but can make small adjustments. We can’t swipe everything clean, with regards to all the work carried out.” 

The president of the federation, Luis Rubiales, added: “We have not spoken to anybody else – only Luis Enrique. We liked his commitment and he has turned down better paid jobs to coach the Spanish national team.”

Enrique’s first game in charge will be a UEFA Nations League game away to England at Wembley on 8 September.

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Chadli, the Red Devil in seventh heaven – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Following a season to forget, Nacer Chadli is flying high again
  • He won his starting place following a decisive cameo against Japan
  • Chadli wants to see Belgium stretch their winning run against France
By Simon Massart with Belgium

Just thinking about last season gives Nacer Chadli a knot in his stomach. Six months ago, the Belgium midfielder felt cursed. “Every time I came back from injury, I got injured again,” he told FIFA.com. “I couldn’t work out why my body was no longer responding. I told myself that it was fate, and that I had to accept it.”

Little did he know, happier times lay just around the corner. The football gods would soon smile again on Chadli, and never more so than on 2 July.

The date will be remembered for one of Belgium’s best ever comebacks at a FIFA World Cup™, seeing the team recover from two goals down to defeat Japan in the Round of 16. And the turnaround was due in no small part to the impact made by Chadli, who capped off a stellar performance off the bench by scoring the winning goal.

His prize was a starting role in the innovative formation chosen by Roberto Martinez for the quarter-final meeting with Brazil, four days later. It was his first start since October 2017. The West Bromwich Albion man repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately, delivering the corner that led to his team’s opening goal.

Last season Chadli played only 215 minutes of Premier League football, in addition to experiencing relegation for the first time in his career. Less than two months later, he has already clocked up over 199 minutes of action in Russia and is getting ready to play a World Cup semi-final against France.

“I’ve had a chaotic year,” admitted Chadli. “It has been really tough, to the extent that I’ve considered calling it a day. What I’m experiencing now is unreal. Quite simply, I’m over the moon.”

Eyebrows were raised in certain quarters back when Martinez named Chadli in his squad for Russia. Even the player himself admits to having been caught off guard. “It was a long struggle. I didn’t think that I was going to get called up. I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me that I was about to experience everything I’m going through now,” added the versatile midfielder. Having been deployed on the left against Brazil, he is now expected to replace the suspended Thomas Meunier on the right flank against France.

Advantage Belgium?
The Belgians played the match of their lives against Brazil. Now they are gearing themselves up for a repeat performance on Tuesday, in the firm belief that a third titanic showdown awaits them on 15 July. “If we could beat Brazil, we shouldn’t fear anyone, even though the French have such a complete team,” added Chadli. “We can’t settle for just containing one of their threats because they’ve got a whole range of them, much like us.”

Chadli may be on to something. With their mental strength, pace on the break, tactical discipline and outstanding individual talent, in many ways Belgium and France have come to resemble one another. Nonetheless, he is confident that the Belgians will have the last word against their bitter rivals.

“The crowd deserves a great spectacle,” he concluded. “All the players think that our manager is a step ahead tactically, and I think that our hunger for victory will be greater than theirs too.”

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Chadli, the Red Devil in seventh heaven – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • Following a season to forget, Nacer Chadli is flying high again
  • He won his starting place following a decisive cameo against Japan
  • Chadli wants to see Belgium stretch their winning run against France
By Simon Massart, with Belgium

Just thinking about last season gives Nacer Chadli a knot in his stomach. Six months ago, the Belgium midfielder felt cursed. “Every time I came back from injury, I got injured again,” he told FIFA.com. “I couldn’t work out why my body was no longer responding. I told myself that it was fate, and that I had to accept it.”

Little did he know, happier times lay just around the corner. The football gods would soon smile again on Chadli, and never more so than on 2 July.

The date will be remembered for one of Belgium’s best ever comebacks at a FIFA World Cup™, seeing the team recover from two goals down to defeat Japan in the Round of 16. And the turnaround was due in no small part to the impact made by Chadli, who capped off a stellar performance off the bench by scoring the winning goal.

His prize was a starting role in the innovative formation chosen by Roberto Martinez for the quarter-final meeting with Brazil, four days later. It was his first start since October 2017. The West Bromwich Albion man repaid his manager’s faith almost immediately, delivering the corner that led to his team’s opening goal.

Last season Chadli played only 215 minutes of Premier League football, in addition to experiencing relegation for the first time in his career. Less than two months later, he has already clocked up over 199 minutes of action in Russia and is getting ready to play a World Cup semi-final against France.

“I’ve had a chaotic year,” admitted Chadli. “It has been really tough, to the extent that I’ve considered calling it a day. What I’m experiencing now is unreal. Quite simply, I’m over the moon.”

Eyebrows were raised in certain quarters back when Martinez named Chadli in his squad for Russia. Even the player himself admits to having been caught off guard. “It was a long struggle. I didn’t think that I was going to get called up. I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me that I was about to experience everything I’m going through now,” added the versatile midfielder. Having been deployed on the left against Brazil, he is now expected to replace the suspended Thomas Meunier on the right flank against France.

Advantage Belgium?
The Belgians played the match of their lives against Brazil. Now they are gearing themselves up for a repeat performance on Tuesday, in the firm belief that a third titanic showdown awaits them on 15 July. “If we could beat Brazil, we shouldn’t fear anyone, even though the French have such a complete team,” added Chadli. “We can’t settle for just containing one of their threats because they’ve got a whole range of them, much like us.”

Chadli may be on to something. With their mental strength, pace on the break, tactical discipline and outstanding individual talent, in many ways Belgium and France have come to resemble one another. Nonetheless, he is confident that the Belgians will have the last word against their bitter rivals.

“The crowd deserves a great spectacle,” he concluded. “All the players think that our manager is a step ahead tactically, and I think that our hunger for victory will be greater than theirs too.”

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Match officials appointed for Russia 2018’s final phase – FIFA on GBP Sports

The FIFA Referees Committee has selected 12 referees, 26 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees for the final phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Given the fact that there are only four games to play, the number of referees has been reduced again.

Appointed for the final phase are:
AFC: FAGHANI Alireza (IRN)

CAF: DIEDHIOU Malang (SEN)

CONCACAF: GEIGER Mark (USA); RAMOS PALAZUELOS Cesar Arturo (MEX)

CONMEBOL: CUNHA Andres (URU); PITANA Nestor (ARG); RICCI Sandro (BRA)

OFC: CONGER Matthew (NZL)

UEFA: CAKIR Cuneyt (TUR); KUIPERS Bjorn (NED); MAZIC Milorad (SRB); ROCCHI Gianluca (ITA)

Video Assistant Referees
CONMEBOL: SAMPAIO Wilton (BRA); VIGLIANO Mauro (ARG)

UEFA: DANKERT Bastian (GER); DIAS SOARES Artur (POR); GIL Pawel (POL); IRRATI Massimiliano (ITA); MAKKELIE Danny (NED); ORSATO Daniele (ITA); VALERI Paolo (ITA); ZWAYER Felix (GER)

The FIFA Referees Committee would like to thank all the match officials that have been involved in the 2018 FIFA World Cup so far for their commitment and professionalism.

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Preview: France v Belgium – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • ​Belgium set for their first semi-final in over three decades
  • France new favourites after Brazil’s elimination
  • THE LATEST: #FRABEL LIVE BLOG updating now

Having both secured their seats at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ table until next weekend’s fight for medals, France and Belgium now have to see who will be pursuing gold and who is left searching for bronze. A potentially career-crowning Final is as little as an hour and a half of football away.

The pair arrived with high hopes but outsiders had their doubts about whether the two extravagant jigsaws comprised of stupendous talent could be pieced together in time for a true assault on the Final. While defensive doubts have arisen – against Argentina and Japan respectively – both have stood firm, with Belgium now enjoying their best major tournament since Mexico 1986.

The Red Devils will be without a key – if less flashy – part of their puzzle against France, with Thomas Meunier picking up a second booking prior to them being wiped for the semi-finals. Les Bleus will however be buoyed by the return of Blaise Matuidi, after sitting out a suspension of his own.

Team reporter analysis
Adrien Gingold, with France [Follow on Twitter | Facebook]
Les Bleus impressed against Argentina through offensive flair, and against Uruguay by their unit’s solidity. Now, they need to beat the most spectacular team of the tournament so far. Belgium’s biggest threat: Eden Hazard. France’s solution: Ngolo Kante. This clash between the Chelsea team-mates (and two of the best players of the competition) will likely be key to the result.

Simon Massart, Belgium [Follow: Twitter | Facebook]
Roberto Martinez may be willing to switch to a classic 4-4-2 approach, without Meunier to call upon, to adapt to the French. If so, Nacer Chadli may start on the right, with Yannick Carrasco returning on the opposite flank. The Red Devils are looking readier than ever physically, psychologically and in their football to prove that their “golden generation” moniker is justified.

Did you know?
France haven’t met any side more often than Belgium, having played them on 74 occasions. However, they have only met twice at the World Cup, with their last meeting coming in the third-place match at Mexico 1986, and have played each other in just eight friendlies since.

Possible line-ups
France: Hugo Lloris; Lucas Hernandez, Samuel Umtiti, Raphael Varane, Benjamin Pavard; Ngolo Kante, Paul Pogba; Blaise Matuidi, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe; Olivier Giroud.

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois; Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Thomas Vermaelen, Toby Alderweireld; Yannick Carrasco, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Nacer Chadli; Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku​.

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Why Belgium are Favorites to Win World Cup & Dominate Football World – Belgium: Tactical Profile

by Tactical Analysis Hub

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Russia receive rapturous welcome at FIFA Fan Fest – FIFA on GBP Sports

  • The Russian national team visited the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow
  • Hosts performance at the FIFA World Cup™ has been a source of pride for the Russian people
  • Thousands of fans turned out to thank the Sbornaya

The day after their hard-fought defeat at the hands of Croatia in the quarter-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, Russia visited the FIFA Fan Fest in Moscow to personally thank the fans for their unbelievable support throughout the tournament.

In turn, thousands of ecstatic fans showed up on Vorobyovy Gory on Sunday to thank their heroes for an amazing World Cup. The quarter-final result still stings for Stanislav Cherchesov’s side, but it was overshadowed by a sense of pride for the team, who managed to defy all the pre-tournament predictions, not only qualifying from the group but even beating the 2010 world champions Spain in the Round of 16.

“As soon as I found out there was going to be a reception with the Sbornaya, I dropped everything and drove with my husband to Moscow,” said Anastasiya, a fan from Tver who travelled for over three hours to reach the capital. “I really wanted to see in the flesh the men who gave us such a fairy-tale celebration. Huge ‘thanks’ to the guys for their performances, the emotions and the unforgettable memories. They’ve given us belief that we are a genuine footballing country.”

The crowd kept on chanting ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ the entire time the squad and coaching staff were on stage at the Fan Fest. When captain Igor Akinfeev and talisman Artem Dzyuba were handed the microphone to address the fans, all of Vorobyovy Gory was drowned out in applause. Even Fedor Smolov, who missed his effort from the penalty spot yesterday, was greeted as a hero, his nickname ‘Fedya’ roared into the afternoon sky.

The national team has never been greeted so warmly, not even after their stunning performance at UEFA EURO 2008, when they reached the semi-final. The reception culminated in a joint rendition by squad and fans of the national anthem of the Russian Federation.

“It’d be fantastic if the Sbornaya organised a tour of Russian cities and met the fans all over the country,” said Anton Voronin from Krasnodar, who was at the historic match against Spain at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Round of 16. “How could you not be proud of these lads. My mum and sister watched every one of their World Cup games at my place, passionately supporting them, and they have never watched football in their lives!”

“Thank you, friends! We are overwhelmed by such a warm welcome! We love you very much!”

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