World Cup big guns limber up in Russia as atmosphere builds

first_imgWorld champions Germany, seeking to equal Brazil’s record of five World Cup wins, will land in Russia on Tuesday, along with Gareth Southgate’s youthful England side.Brazil and Neymar arrived in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in the early hours in buoyant mood after hammering Austria 3-0 in their final warm-up match on Sunday.Argentina’s Lionel Messi has cast doubt over his international future © AFP / Vasily MAXIMOVNeymar, who broke a bone in his foot in February, marked his first start in more than three months by scoring in Sunday’s easy victory in Vienna.– Disputed choice –Russia was a disputed choice when it was handed the World Cup in a closely watched 2010 vote that has since been tainted by bribery charges, and the 2018 tournament takes place against a background of international tensions.Russia and the West have engaged in a major wave of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions since London accused Moscow of being behind the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Britain in March.But as the clock ticks down to the opener in Moscow’s imposing 80,000-capacity Luzhniki stadium, the tournament is beginning to catch the public mood, with about 3,500 fans attending Australia’s training session in the central city of Kazan.Russian supporters, enjoying a holiday, shouted “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, go, go, go”.Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan speaks at a press conference in Kazan © AFP / Saeed KHANSocceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan warned France that a new, improved Australia team are plotting an early World Cup shock when the sides meet in Kazan on Saturday.“Come the France game, we’re going to be ready… and giving ourselves opportunities to win this game,” the stopper who plays for Premier League side Brighton warned. “We can’t wait for Saturday.”France, who boast “world-class” attacking talent, according to Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo, are among the tournament favourites in Russia alongside Brazil, Germany and Spain.The atmosphere also went up a notch in Red Square in Moscow, where dozens of Argentinian, Colombian and Mexican fans sang and played drums in support of their teams as darkness fell.– Salah trains –Mohamed Salah trained with his Egypt teammates, still nursing a shoulder injury © AFP / KARIM JAAFARA big question mark hangs over the participation of Egypt and Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah, who is still receiving treatment for the shoulder injury he suffered in the Champions League final.Team doctor Mohamed Abou al-Ela admitted the striker, who scored 44 goals for Liverpool this season, was unlikely to play in Egypt’s opening Group A match against Uruguay on Friday.But Salah did some light running in Grozny on Monday, monitored by medical staff, as the other Egypt players took part in a group warm-up.Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera said he hoped Salah would be fit to line up when the two countries clash.“I like the best players to play, I train with the best and I want the best players to play,” Muslera said.Argentina captain Messi said his international future will be determined by his country’s performance at the World Cup.“It will depend on how far we go, how we’re going to finish” at the finals, Messi told Spanish daily Sport.“We’ve just lost three finals in a row, which has led to us going through some difficult moments with the press,” the Barcelona forward said.Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final 1-0 to Germany after extra time, before suffering successive defeats by Chile on penalties at the Copa America in 2015 and 2016.Even before the tournament gets under way, FIFA has the major task on Wednesday of choosing the host of the 2026 World Cup — a straight fight between a joint bid featuring the United States, Canada and Mexico and Morocco.A long-awaited report from FIFA inspectors left the North American bid as the front-runner in the race to host the first 48-team World Cup.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000The World Cup kicks off on June 14 © AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACEMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jun 10 – The World Cup big guns limbered up on Monday ahead of the tournament opener in Russia while brash underdogs Australia warned Euro 2016 finalists France to brace for an early shock.As the atmosphere built before Thursday’s curtainraiser between the hosts and Saudi Arabia, Argentina star Lionel Messi and his teammates and France’s talent-studded squad including Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe were put through their paces.last_img read more

Hull City 0-2 Derby (3-2 agg): Tigers hold on to book play-off final place

first_imgHull City set up a Championship play-off final meeting with Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley with a 3-2 aggregate win over Derby. The Rams won 2-0 on the night at the KC, but they were left to pay after losing so heavily to Steve Bruce’s side on Saturday.County came flying out the traps and they looked like they meant business as Johnny Russell opened the scoring after seven minutes. A dangerous cross was sent into the box on 36 minutes and Hull defender Andrew Robertson put the ball into his own net from six yards. The east Yorkshire crowd were on edge as Derby went for a third, but it eluded them and the Tigers are one match away from a Premier League return. The play-off final will take place at 5pm on Saturday, May 28.Knowing the odds were stacked against them, Derby began at a high tempo and took the lead when Hull failed to deal with a cross to the back post from Cyrus Christie.The ball was headed down by Chris Martin and Russell saw his first shot blocked but forced home the rebound from a couple of yards.Ten minutes later Russell curled a free-kick just wide as Hull continued to soak up pressure and it took 25 minutes for the home side to have a shot when Jake Livermore fired well over.With the break less than ten minutes away, Derby got their second when a low cross from the left by Andreas Weimann was met by Robertson and sent past Eldin Jakupovic.Hull had a penalty appeal turned down when Moses Odubajo went to ground and the same player saw his shot deflected wide for a corner as Derby continued to be solid at the back.With the tie finely balanced both sides began the second half in search of the next goal, Derby being denied in a goalmouth scramble by some hurried Hull defending.Derby looked composed in midfield but were not quite able to make the most of their possession, Will Hughes firing over after one period of concerted pressure and Martin then tested Eldin Jakupovic with a shot which the Hull keeper beat away with his fists. Hull City’s Andrew Robertson puts the ball into his own net 1last_img read more