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Modric, Rakitic headline Croatia s preliminary WCup squad

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — In possibly their last World Cup as midfield partners, Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were named Monday in the provisional Croatia squad for the tournament in Russia. Modric's focus could be distracted by perjury charges he faces in his country for testimony about financial deals with a former Dinamo Zagreb director charged with embezzlement and tax fraud. The prosecutors in the eastern town of Osijek say Modric gave a false court statement in June about his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. Striker Mario Mandzukic, who just clinched yet another Serie A title with Juventus, was also chosen by Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic for his 32-man selection. Mandzukic has scored 30 goals for his country in 82 international games. Forwards Ivan Perisic and Nikola Kalinic are also available up front. Center back Dejan Lovren, who will play in the Champions League final with Liverpool, and veteran Vedran Corluka will likely anchor Croatia's defense. Domagoj Vida, Josip Pivaric, Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic are also part of Croatia's defensive line. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and his likely backup, Lovre Kalinic, were also included. Croatia will play in Group D at the World Cup campaign against Nigeria on June 16 before facing Argentina on June 21 and Iceland on June 26......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnMay 15th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

WORLD CUP: Star-studded Croatia has potential to shine

Even with the talent oozing through the squad, Croatia only squeezed through the playoffs to qualify for a second straight World Cup. More is expected of Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic and Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic in Russia. Can they emulate the performance in 1998 when Croatia finished third at its first World Cup? Davor Suker, who was that tournament's top-scorer, now has overall responsibility as the head of Croatia's football federation. After France, Croatia qualified for three more World Cups in 2002, 2006 and 2014 but was always eliminated in the group stage. In qualifying for the 2018 edition, Croatia was robust in ...Keep on reading: WORLD CUP: Star-studded Croatia has potential to shine.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 12th, 2018

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Croatia thrills as Russia s fairytale World Cup run ends in tears

  SOCHI, Russia – Luka Modric admitted Croatia felt shattered after they ended Russia's World Cup hopes in another penalty shootout on Saturday, July 7, to advance to a semifinal against England. Ivan Rakitic scored the winning spot-kick in Sochi at the end of a draining and roller-coaster last-8 clash that finished ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 8th, 2018

Croatia beats Denmark on penalties, sets up QF vs Russia

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia --- Danijel Subasic saved three penalties to help Croatia reach the World Cup quarterfinals with a 3-2 shootout victory over Denmark following a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Ivan Rakitic scored the decisive penalty after Subasic had used his feet to stop an attempt from Nicolai Jorgensen. Croatia captain Luka Modric, who also scored in the shootout, had a chance to put his team ahead late in injury time but his penalty was saved by Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. Croatia will next face host Russia in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Sochi. Denmark took the lead in the first minute when defender Mathias Jorgensen scrambled in a shot that went in off Su...Keep on reading: Croatia beats Denmark on penalties, sets up QF vs Russia.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Icardi left out of Argentina s World Cup squad

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Serie A co-top-scorer Mauro Icardi was left out of Argentina's World Cup squad on Monday. Icardi, also the Inter Milan captain, was the most notable absentee from coach Jorge Sampaoli's 23-man list. Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, who has not played since March and is recovering from a knee operation, was picked. Sampaoli said in a news conference his choices were based on "players that can do many functions to give us different characteristics." "Those players in the final list are closer to the idea we are implementing. They are closer to the opposition's goal line than to their own." Icardi was part of Sampaoli's preliminary list of 35 players announced on May 14. He scored 29 goals in Serie A, one of them on Sunday when Inter secured a spot in the Champions League for the first time since 2012. Aguero had a great season with English Premier League champion City, scoring 31 times until he was injured. It is still uncertain when he will be back in action. Also injured, defender Gabriel Mercado and midfielder Lucas Biglia were in the squad. Mercado's injury opened a door for Torino left back Cristian Ansaldi, who can also play on the right. Asked about the risks of taking recovering players to the World Cup, Sampaoli said he will take full responsibility for his choices. "We need to face the World Cup without fear," he said. "In this list there are players with a lot of skill. The ones that understand our game better will be closer to being starters." Argentina is grouped in Russia with Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria. ___ Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Franco Armani (River Plate). Defenders: Cristian Ansaldi (Torino), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Federico Fazio (Roma), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Marcos Acuna ( Sporting Lisbon), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax). Midfielders: Cristian Pavon (Boca Juniors), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Angel Di Maria (Paris Saint-Germain), Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Milan), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica). Strikers: Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Injured Aguero and Biglia in Argentina World Cup squad

By Debora Rey, Associated Press BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Injured striker Sergio Aguero and midfielder Lucas Biglia were included in the preliminary, 35-player Argentina squad for the World Cup in Russia on Monday. Also, four players with few or no games for the national team were picked. The final 23-man squad will be announced next Monday. Aguero has not played for Manchester City since March because of a left knee injury and had surgery in April. Biglia broke two vertebrae in April, missed three AC Milan games, and was injured again on Sunday after an Atalanta player hit him in the operated area. Coach Jorge Sampaoli considers Aguero and Biglia as likely starters in the World Cup for the opening match against Iceland in Moscow on June 16. The two will be closely followed when the squad gathers. Lionel Messi, the captain, was confirmed to play his fourth World Cup. Aguero's likely replacement is Gonzalo Higuain, but the Juventus scorer has not showed the same efficiency for Argentina. Inter Milan top scorer and captain Mauro Icardi and Racing's Lautaro Martinez were also picked. Striker Paulo Dybala, also of Juventus, was included despite recently saying it was difficult to play with Messi. Rodrigo Battaglia of Sporting Lisbon, yet to be capped, and Guido Pizarro of Sevilla were possible substitutes in case Biglia does not fly to Russia. River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani, a fan favorite, convinced Sampaoli and was included. Manchester United's Sergio Romero, a starter in the two last World Cups, has not played much in England. Racing midfielder Ricardo Centurion has been called as a possible substitute for Angel Di Maria because of his speed. Torino defender Cristian Ansaldi received a spot after Sevilla's Gabriel Mercado was injured. Mercado will be evaluated by Argentina doctors. Nine of Sampaoli's squad reached the 2014 World Cup final won by Germany: Messi, Romero, Rojo, Biglia, Mascherano, Perez, Aguero, Di Maria, and Higuain. Argentina is in Group D with Iceland, Nigeria and Croatia. ___ Argentina Goalkeepers: Sergio Romero (Manchester United), Wilfredo Caballero (Chelsea), Nahuel Guzman (Tigres), Franco Armani (River Plate). Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Federico Fazio (Roma), Nicolas Tagliafico (Ajax), Gabriel Mercado (Sevilla), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Marcos Acuna (Sporting Lisbon) Javier Mascherano (Hebei China Fortune), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), German Pezzella (Fiorentina), Ramiro Funes Mori (Everton), Cristian Ansaldi (Torino). Midfielders: Angel Di Maria, Giovani Lo Celso (Paris Saint-Germain), Ever Banega (Sevilla), Manuel Lanzini (West Ham), Leandro Paredes (Zenit St. Petersburg), Diego Perotti (Roma), Maximiliano Meza (Independiente), Enzo Perez (River Plate), Ricardo Centurion (Racing), Lucas Biglia (AC Milan), Guido Pizarro (Sevilla), Rodrigo Battaglia (Sporting Lisbon), Cristian Pavon and Pablo Perez (Boca Juniors). Strikers: Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain (Juventus), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Lautaro Martinez (Racing), Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 15th, 2018

Still alive: Teams chasing World Cup spots through playoffs

A look at the lineup of teams in the intercontinental and European playoffs for the 2018 World Cup in Russia: ___ em> strong>EUROPEAN PLAYOFFS (matches to be confirmed) /strong> /em> strong>ITALY /strong> Four-time world champion Italy will be favored to qualify no matter which opponent it faces, yet the Azzurri aren't in top form after four discouraging results — a 3-0 loss to Spain, slim 1-0 wins over Israel and Albania, and a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. However, the expected returns from injury of center forward Andrea Belotti and veteran midfielder Daniele De Rossi could provide a boost. The playoff outcome will likely determine the future of Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura. Milan's San Siro or Palermo's Renzo Barbera stadium are being considered to host the home leg of the playoff. strong>CROATIA /strong> Croatia finds itself in familiar territory. Led by playmaker Luka Modric and other high-profile players in Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic, the Croatians faced the same hurdle before the 2014 tournament in Brazil, eliminating Iceland 2-0 on aggregate. In this campaign, Croatia was on course to qualify automatically from the first place before two poor results — a 1-0 loss in Turkey and a 1-1 draw at home to Finland. Those results cost coach Ante Cacic his job. Under new coach Zlatko Dalic, Croatia won a needed 2-0 victory at Ukraine to seal a playoff spot behind Iceland. strong>SWITZERLAND /strong> Switzerland was perfect in World Cup qualifying for more than one year: Nine games, nine wins. Now coach Vladimir Petkovic must lift his players after a 2-0 loss in Portugal on Tuesday sent them to the playoffs, where the best runner-up record counts for little except being seeded. The Swiss have a reputation for being an efficient team in group-stage games that falls just short against good opponents in elimination games. They lost to Argentina at the 2014 World Cup, and Poland at Euro 2016. Their opponents next month are likely to be below that class, and Petkovic can expect that forward Breel Embolo — a substitute in Lisbon — will be fully fit after a one-year injury absence. strong>DENMARK /strong> There's a chance Denmark could face neighbor Sweden, which denied the Danes a spot in the 2016 European Championship by winning their playoff. Christian Eriksen is the undoubted star of the Denmark team, the playmaker having been one of the best players in the English Premier League over the last two years and scoring eight times from midfield in qualifying. Denmark was second to Poland in its group, only missing out on automatic qualification in the final round. strong>GREECE /strong> Reaching the playoffs came as a relief for Greece's players and coach Michael Skibbe following an embarrassing qualification campaign for Euro 2016, when the team was twice beaten by the Faeroe Islands and finished last in the group. An obdurate defense was again the key to earning a runner-up spot, nine points behind Belgium, with Skibbe struggling to find stability in midfield and a strike partner for Kostas Mitroglou. The German coach may look forward to the development of 21-year-old Tassos Donis, who provided some badly needed pace in midfield, as well as the talents of the Portuguese-born Carlos Zeca. strong>SWEDEN /strong> Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist says he'd prefer to not play Italy or Scandinavian archrival Denmark and would rather face Croatia or Switzerland. Sweden, for example, has never beaten Italy in the last 17 years. Sweden finished behind France in its group, but ahead of the Netherlands, in its first qualifying campaign without retired striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Marcus Berg has replaced Ibrahimovic as Sweden's leading striker and scored eight times in the qualifying. strong>IRELAND /strong> This will be Ireland's ninth time in the playoffs for a major tournament. The Irish have progressed on three occasions, with their most high-profile failure coming against France in the playoffs for the 2010 World Cup when Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball in the build-up to the crucial goal. In the final round of group play, Ireland beat Wales in Cardiff in a virtual playoff for the playoffs. Coach Martin O'Neill's counterattacking tactics worked perfectly in that 1-0 win and it would be no surprise if he does the same in the playoffs. strong>NORTHERN IRELAND /strong> After reaching the knockout stage at Euro 2016, the Northern Irish continued their rise in international soccer by finishing runner-up behind Germany in their group. They have never been to back-to-back major tournaments. There's no chance of a potentially spicy match against neighbor Ireland, as both are set to be among the non-seeded teams after the seedings are confirmed on Monday. ___ em> strong>INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFFS /strong> /em> strong>HONDURAS vs. AUSTRALIA /strong> Both countries have been regulars in recent World Cups, with Honduras looking to make it for a third straight tournament and Australia seeking a fourth in a row. Los Catrachos — as the Honduras national team is nicknamed — were squeezed out of an automatic place in Russia by Panama, which scored a late winner in a dramatic denouement to qualifying in the CONCACAF region. Asian Cup champion Australia had its chances to qualify directly, but failed to capitalize on a glut of scoring chances in the last group game against Thailand and ended up finishing in third spot behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos then beat Syria 2-1 after extra time to clinch the two-legged Asian playoff, but only after Syria hit the post with a free kick in the last moments of the second leg. The Australians were most recently in an inter-confederation playoff in 2006, when they ousted Uruguay over two legs. strong>PERU vs. NEW ZEALAND /strong> On New Zealand's side is a more recent appearance at the World Cup — going through the group stage in 2010 unbeaten but still being eliminated — and a first taste of Russia by qualifying for the Confederations Cup in June. But more than a 100 places separate New Zealand and Peru in the FIFA rankings. While New Zealand is at No. 113, Peru has surged to 12th as it chases a first visit to the World Cup since 1982. Peru claimed fifth place in the tough South American qualifying group to set up the intercontinental play-off that will be played over two legs on Nov. 6 and 14. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball, Mbappe young player award

MOSCOW, Russia – Croatia captain Luka Modric won the Golden Ball award for the World Cup's best player despite being on the losing side to France in a thrilling final in Moscow on Sunday.  Modric was named man-of-the-match 3 times in Croatia's 7 games in Russia, but even the Real Madrid ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

With flags, song, pride, French celebrate unifying victory

By Elaine Ganley, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — It was a victory for all of France and the home crowd did it justice, pouring into Paris' Champs-Elysees Avenue by the tens of thousands to celebrate in an explosion of joy. France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday marked the second time in 20 years that France has won the World Cup, and came at a time when the people feel needy. "It represents enormous things," said Goffrey Hamsik, dressed in a hat resembling a rooster — the French national symbol — and a shirt with the No. 10 for Kylian Mpappe, the 19-year-old breakout star who hails from the Paris suburb of Bondy. "We've had lots of problems in France these past years," he said, recalling deadly terror attacks. "This is good for the morale ... Here, we are all united. We mix. There is no religion, there is nothing, and that's what feels good." Troublemakers marred some of the festivities at the top of the Champs-Elysees, breaking the window of a major store, throwing bottles, temporary barriers and even a bicycle at riot police as the celebrations wound down close to midnight. Police responded with water cannon and tear gas. BFM-TV reported that the store was pillaged. Earlier, people wrapped in flags and dressed in crazy hats, and one man spotted totally nude except for the Tricolor, marched down the avenue where France displayed its military might a day earlier for Bastille Day. Revelers set off smoke bombs in the national colors — blue, white and red — obscuring Napoleon's triumphal arch. People climbed atop every newspaper kiosk and bus stop in the area to wave flags and lead the crowds below in cheers. The national anthem, the Marseillaise, rang out, cars honked horns and cherry bombs cracks. A young man sprayed a fire extinguisher on the crowd on a late hot afternoon. Hundreds of police in riot gear were discretely lined up on side streets to monitor revelers. Typically, celebrations in France end up with some broken shop windows and other destruction, and Sunday was no exception. Tear gas was lobbed at one point on the Champs-Elysees. About 4,000 police watched over the fan zone — packed to its 90,000 capacity — during the match, then moved to the Champs-Elysees and neighboring streets. As night fell, The Eiffel Tower flashed 1998-2018 to mark France's two World Cup titles. The Arc de Triomph was awash in the national colors, lit with the rooster, the faces of the winning team and the words "Proud to be Blue," or French. The celebrations were spread across the nation. For all the crazy antics — and some revelers who got out of control — a sense of patriotism and unity was almost visceral. Antoine Griezmann, the France striker who scored one of the goal's Sunday, told a news conference two days before the final, televised on BFM TV, that pride in country is in short supply. "We say it so little ... We should be proud to be French," Griezmann said. Mahmoud Bourassi was among those taking a longer-term view and he had some sobering thoughts about France's run to the title and the festivities it has sparked. Bourassi runs a youth center in Bondy — Mbappe's home that was among those scarred by riots in 2005 that exposed the fissures of France that have yet to heal — and he knows the teenage star of the tournament. "All this euphoria and effervescence, it's positive but it's emotional and ephemeral," he said ahead of France's win. Bourassi said sports is a "catalyst to bring people and nations together." But, he added, it must be built on. "What we're seeing is magic, exceptional. But what are we going to do with it tomorrow?" That is a question for President Emmanuel Macron, who was in Moscow celebrating with the team on victory night, and will receive the squad more formally on Monday at the presidential Elysee Palace. Revelers celebrated the moment. "We're happy. It took 20 years ... It's the pride of the nation. It unites everyone. It federates," Frederique Pourquet said as she and her friend left the Champs-Elysees. The win "shows that the French people are consolidated and the work of all France," said Omar Bzi. Hajar Maghnaoui, of Asnieres, north of Paris, said "It's a way to bring the French people together, and also the world." ___ John Leicester in Moscow contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Croatia fears World Cup chance may never come again

MOSCOW --- The rain hid Croatia's tears. After Luka Modric collected his Golden Ball award in a downpour, he shared an emotional embrace with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, both wearing the country's red-and-white checkered uniform. Croatia knows Sunday's 4-2 loss to France in the World Cup final was a chance that may not come again anytime soon. "We were so close and we played the best soccer. We deserved more," said Modric, who at 32 may have played in his last World Cup match. READ:France wins 2nd World Cup title, beats Croatia 4-2 Croatia's first golden generation lost to France in the 1998 World Cup semifinals, and its second went one better. Besides...Keep on reading: Croatia fears World Cup chance may never come again.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 15th, 2018

WORLD CUP KICKOFF: A look at the World Cup’s final day

MOSCOW (AP) — Here’s a look at what’s coming up at the World Cup , which is down to its final day, featuring the title match Sunday in Moscow between France and Croatia. PUTIN REAPPEARS The Russian president has kept a fairly low profile at the World Cup considering he’s more or less the man behind the tournament. Vladimir Putin attended the opening match a month ago in Moscow, a 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia that kicked off a surprising quarterfinal run for the home team. That’s evidently the only soccer he’s seen in person, though he has hosted a handful of events involving FIFA officials in and around Red Square, including a Saturday evening concert at the Bolshoi Theater. Putin was to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Sunday ahead of the final, then attend the match at Luzhniki Stadium a short drive from the Kremlin before heading off to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Finland on Monday. WORLD CUP-CLASS ENTERTAINMENT If Putin is into Puerto Rican pop, he’s in for a treat. The tournament’s official song, “Live It Up,” has showed up at World Cup stadiums about as often as Putin himself. It will be showcased Sunday when Will Smith joins singers Nicky Jam and Era Istrefi in performing it during the closing ceremony. The song is innocuous enough, but that doesn’t mean some controversy couldn’t crop up. Though the three avoided anything sensitive during their news conference this week, Istrefi has ruffled feathers in the past on a topic that caused problems earlier in the tournament: An ethnic Albanian from Kosovo, she upset some conservative Serbs last year when she shot a music video inside an Orthodox Church. FIFA fined several Swiss players, also ethnic Albanians, who made pro-Albania symbols with their hands in a comeback win over Serbia in the group stage. WHO’LL TAKE HOME THE HARDWARE England’s Harry Kane has six goals to his credit, making him a near lock to win the Golden Boot , awarded to the tournament’s top scorer. The awards based on judgment calls are more up in the air. Croatia midfielder Luka Modric is a good bet to be named player of the tournament if he plays well again and Croatia wins. But the Golden Ball could just as easily go to Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann if France triumphs. Best goalkeeper? Maybe the toughest call of all. The two playing Sunday — France captain Hugo Lloris and Croatian sensation Danijel Subasic — and England’s Jordan Pickford all have strong cases in a tournament where several ’keepers have excelled. OH, AND THAT OTHER TROPHY Will France win its second World Cup, or Croatia its first? That could come down to the Croats’ stamina. No team has played three extra-time matches in the same World Cup, as Croatia has done in its past three contests. Moreover, France has had one more day to prepare because its semifinal preceded Croatia’s. “An extra 24 hours is a really big thing at this stage of the tournament,” Belgium coach Roberto Martinez noted Saturday, allowing for what edge his side might’ve had in its 2-0 win over England in the third-place match. On the other hand, Croatia has defied logic on this once already. It was faced with a fast, younger, relatively rested team in its semifinal against England, just as it is against France. After going down a goal, the Croats steadily grew stronger, controlling the game and beating opponents to the ball as if they were the ones with fresh legs, finally getting the winner in extra time. France will be favored for a lot of other good reasons , but another upset shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been watching Croatia or the rest of this upset-filled World Cup. Catch the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Final between France and Croatia on July 15, Sunday, 11 PM LIVE on S+A, S+A HD, LIGA, LIGA HD and via livestream......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 15th, 2018

Croatia official allowed to watch semis despite conviction

Croatia's Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ante Rebic, Marcelo Brozovic and Filip Bradaric, from left, warm up during a training session in the Luzhniki sport ground at 2018 soccer World Cup in Mosc.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

All those oh, so nears and more for England at World Cup

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — They sing of alcohol and agony, and of all those oh, so nears. The anguished English now have another line to add to the lyrics of "Three Lions": Football's not coming home. There was no penalty heartache this time, like in the semifinals at the 1990 World Cup or 1996 European Championship. But a 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time stopped England from reaching its first World Cup final since 1966. "It hurts a lot," England striker Harry Kane said. "It's going to hurt for a while." The fans sang of 30 years of hurt in 1996. Two years later, they refreshed it to 32. But the Lightning Seeds, an English musical act, stopped producing updates after that. It's now 52 years and counting. England came very close on Wednesday. For more than an hour, Gareth Southgate's young team led Croatia before the weary, aging opposition sprung back into life at the Luzhniki Stadium. Now, on their way to St. Petersburg for a third-place playoff against Belgium, there are just so many agonizing misses to replay in their heads. Kane. Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling. Chances to build on the lead secured by Kieran Trippier's free kick in the fifth minute. While Trippier did Bend it like Beckham for his goal, this generation of England players is far removed from the celebrity-obsessed David Beckham-era that straddled the millennium. They even managed to win a game on penalties, breaking the streak of five tournament shootout losses, in the round of 16. "Wasn't to be this time," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter amid the latest Brexit turmoil within her government, "but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud." There is a genuine sense of warmth between this squad and its followers. The apathy of just four years ago — when the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium was more than half empty — replaced by a newfound affection for the national team under Southgate. Fans could relate to players like Kane, Trippier and John Stones, who toiled through lower leagues to eventually reach the pinnacle of the game. The coach even became an unlikely fashion icon. "If we have brought joy back home, which I know we have," Southgate said, "that has been worthwhile." Tens of thousands packed into Hyde Park in central London to watch Wednesday's match, roaring in delight and flinging beer in the air when Trippier scored. Thousands more made the journey from England to Russia, packing into the Luzhniki after shunning the group stage. Even after Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal, a young squad was saluted for exceeding expectations with its deep progress in this year's tournament. "They are still maturing and Croatia have some hardened warriors," Southgate said. "They have broken through a number of barriers over the last few weeks. We have made such strides with our supporters." And still they sang , long after the final whistle as midnight approached, about "drinking all your vodka." There are sorrows to drown, but this was not an embarrassment for England. No need to rip up the script that has seen England recover from the humiliation of being denied a place at the 2008 European Championship by Croatia with a coaching blueprint instilled through all age groups winning titles. Champions last year at both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups, collecting the main prize will have to wait at least until 2022. A timepiece at the national team's St. George's Park base has been counting down to the final in Qatar. It was compared to the Doomsday Clock when new leadership took charge at the Football Association. But Southgate has real optimism that his team can hit its peak in the Gulf in four years — from Kane up front to Jordan Pickford in goal. "It's clear to everyone the progress that's been made in terms of the level of performances and the quality of the group," Southgate said. "This is a thoroughly different journey." English soccer has now had its reset moment. The country came to Russia to regain respect. From the ignominy of the failure to win a game at the 2014 World Cup to the meek collapse against Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. "This team has taken us to a place that we never thought we would ever have imagined we would get," Gary Neville, England's assistant coach during the Euro 2016 campaign, said on British broadcaster ITV. "They have taken the nation with them." For all the playfulness in practice with rubber chickens, splashing around with unicorns in a pool and the sense this was a group of friends having fun on an extended summer vacation, there was always a steely, winning mindset. There should be tinges of regret about falling short at a World Cup where defending champion Germany was eliminated in the group stage, and Argentina, Brazil and Spain fell before the semifinals. England does not appear in semifinals very often. Southgate was in the last one 22 years ago. A post-match news conference after the loss to Croatia looked like the last place he wanted to be. "I'm trying to get the balance right," Southgate said, "of recognizing that tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can't guarantee that those opportunities will ever come again." Football will come home in two years when Wembley Stadium stages seven games, including the semifinals and final, at the 2020 European Championship. Southgate has to find a way to get his team one step further than in Russia. Without just coming oh, so near......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

UP Maroons ink 3rd sponsor, set to train in Serbia, Croatia

MANILA, Philippines – It has been a rags to riches story for the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons. Far removed from their dark days languishing as a UAAP cellar-dweller, the rejigged Diliman-based squad just signed its 3rd sponsor NXLED and are set to train in Serbia from July 21 to ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 10th, 2018

Croatia ends Russia s run, advances to World Cup semifinals

By TALES AZZONI,  AP Sports Writer SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Croatia ended Russia's surprising World Cup run with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Ivan Rakitic scored the deciding penalty after a 2-2 draw. The overachieving hosts, the lowest ranked nation in the tournament, were trying to make it to the World Cup semifinals for the first time since the Soviet Union team finished fourth at the 1966 tournament in England. Croatia hadn't advanced this far at the World Cup since the 1998 World Cup, which was its first appearance. Croatia will next play England in the semifinals on Wednesday in Moscow. The English team defeated Sweden 2-0. Russia defender Mario Fernandes scored the equalizing goal in extra time, but then sent his penalty wide of the net in the shootout. Croatia defender Domagoj Vida also scored in extra time with a header in the 101st minute. Denis Cheryshev gave Russia the lead with a shot into the upper corner in the 31st minute and Croatia equalized with Andrej Kramaric's header near halftime......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 7th, 2018

Denmark goalkeeper gets one-upped in World Cup shootout

By Stephen Wade, Associated Press NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Despite saving three penalties, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel got one-upped in the shootout. Schmeichel first saved a penalty from Croatia playmaker Luka Modric late in extra time to force Sunday's match to a shootout. He then saved two more spot kicks, but it was Croatia that advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. "It's a strange feeling," Schmeichel said. "Huge disappointment but also enormous pride about our team. I think today we had the opportunity." The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic then set a tournament record by saving three penalties in the shootout, which Croatia won 3-2. Schmeichel and Subasic stopped five spot kicks combined, a record in a World Cup shootout and one of the greatest goalkeeping displays in tournament history. "He saved three penalties in a shootout," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said of his goalkeeper. "'You don't see that every day." Schmeichel's first penalty save came in the 116th minute when he dived to his left to smother the attempt from Modric. He later saved spot kicks from Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric. "I'm sorry for Kasper and the whole team," Denmark coach Age Hareide said. "That's just the brutality of football." Schmeichel was playing with his famous father in the stadium, the pain and joy on Peter Schmeichel's face flashing on the giant TV screen as he watched his son play. He jumped up and down after each penalty save. The elder Schmeichel, who played for Manchester United, was in goal when Denmark beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the 1992 European Championship. Denmark went on to win that title. The current Denmark goalkeeper, who does not like to be compared to his famous father, said it was difficult to accept the result. "There are many emotions right now," said Schmeichel, who won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2016. Schmeichel said he seldom practices penalties because it's impossible to replicate the pressure and adrenalin in practice. "Pressure does something to players and people and it's natural," Schmeichel said. "I've played a lot of games and today with the penalties I went with my intuition, what I felt in the moment. That was unfortunately not enough in the end.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Russia hopes for miracle

MOSCOW, Russia — Russia is hoping for a World Cup miracle on Sunday as it takes on 2010 winners Spain for a place in the quarterfinals after Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi exited the tournament. The other Last 16 match pits a talented Croatia team led by Luka Modric that had a perfect record in […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJul 1st, 2018

Croatia reserves halt hard-fighting Iceland 2-1 at World Cup

    ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia --- Fielding a side filled with reserves, Croatia ended Iceland's first ever World Cup run with a 2-1 win in Rostov-on-Don.   Milan Badelj crashed a volley against the bar, and moments later scored for Croatia in the 53rd minute, sprinting into the area to fire a bouncing shot past goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson.   Croatia playmaker Luka Modric led the already-qualified Croats for 65 minutes before being taken off, as his team remained in low-gear for most of the match to contain the Icelanders who had needed a win to hope for a place in the last 16.   Iceland equalized with a penalty shot taken by Gylfi Sigurd...Keep on reading: Croatia reserves halt hard-fighting Iceland 2-1 at World Cup.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018