Roberto Martinez: Michy Batshuayi has boosted World Cup hopes

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has said that Michy Batshuayi has boosted his World Cup hopes after making the switch to Borussia Dortmund on loan for the second half of the season. The 24-year-old has since contributed five goals for his German employers in just four matches across all competitions.

Speaking to TalkSPORT, Martinez was pleased to see Batshuayi’s involvement on a regular basis with Dortmund after finding himself playing second fiddle to Alvaro Morata at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, the former Everton boss appeared to enhance the Belgian’s participation at the summer World Cup after finding his feet in the Bundesliga.
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Jose Mourinho expects Sergio Romero in goal for Argentina at World Cup

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho is confident that Sergio Romero will lead the line for Argentina at this summer’s World Cup despite receiving limited gametime this term. The former Sampdoria man has featured in just five matches this campaign with David de Gea remaining the first-choice for the Premier League duties.

Romero has been often linked with an exit from Old Trafford in recent weeks, but according to Mourinho, the Argentine remains an influential player in the club’s ranks regardless of his restricted period on the playing field. Ahead of United’s FA Cup third round versus Derby County, Mourinho confirmed that Romero would start the match whilst hinting that he could do the same when Argentina host Nigeria in their opening World Cup game in June.
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Sweden boss Janne Andersson dismisses Zlatan Ibrahimovic return talk

Sweden coach Janne Andersson has ruled out the prospect of Zlatan Ibrahimovic making a return to the national side. The East European nation qualified for the World Cup finals earlier this week after they beat Italy across two legs in the playoff. Sweden took a 1-0 lead in their home leg and managed to contain Italy to a 0-0 score in the reverse fixture which many term as the ‘Miracle of Milan’. Zlatan last featured for Swede at the European championships in France before calling time on his international career, but the journalists nevertheless posed a question whether the 36-year-old would return to the national setup.

In response, Andersson was surprised by the question and insisted that he would rather focus on the success from the current crop of players rather than pondering over the involvement of Zlatan, who is in the twilight of his career at 36. He said: “This is incredible! This player [Ibrahimovic] has just stopped to play with Sweden one year and a half ago and we are still here talking about him. Gosh, we need to talk about the great players we have in this team I believe.
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New Zealand manager pleased with goalless draw versus Peru

New Zealand kept their World Cup hopes alive after they held Peru to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the intercontinental play-off on Saturday. The teams will now face each other in the reverse fixture in Lima next week where Peru will hope to reach their first World Cup in over 36 years.

The South American nation were heavily tipped to beat the All Whites being the 10th ranked team in the world. However, they struggled to find the creativity in the forward department with star striker and captain Paolo Guerrera suspended for the game after failing a doping test.
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What Did the International Break Tell Us?

It is fair to say that you should not read too much into the results of international friendlies. This is especially true when they are matches scheduled just after the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup has ended.

All the qualified nations were in action at the start of November and most won’t now play again until the spring. Many of the countries had depleted or understrength sides on display – and although winning a match eight months ahead of a major tournament against weaker opposition doesn’t mean that side will win the World Cup, there is still some insight that can be taken. Continue reading “What Did the International Break Tell Us?”

Can Any of the UEFA Play-Off Nations Win the World Cup?

After a long and gruelling group stage there are eight European nations still dreaming of booking a place at next year’s World Cup in Russia. Italy, Sweden, Croatia, Greece, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark and the Republic of Ireland are all only two games away from qualifying. But can any of them go on to win the whole thing next summer?

As half of these sides won’t even make it to the finals it may seem a little early to predict glory for any of them. But once the play offs are decided the victors will be eagerly awaiting their first game in Russia and dreaming of winning the ultimate prize… Continue reading “Can Any of the UEFA Play-Off Nations Win the World Cup?”

Mesut Ozil left out of Germany squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers

Germany head coach Joachim Loew has left out Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira for the upcoming set of international fixtures.


The World Cup champions will be assured of a place in next year’s showpiece tournament in Russia, should they avoid a defeat against Northern Ireland, who trail them by five points in Group C. Other than that, they face a game against Azerbaijan, where Loew could potentially test his bench strength.

Speaking to reporters, Loew admitted that the likes of Ozil and Khedira have been left out of the national squad in order to recover from their respective injuries. The German pair have had their fitness issues since the start of the campaign, and Loew wants them in the best of shape ahead of the international friendlies next year.

He said: “It is unfortunate that some of our key players will not be with us. I expect Mesut Ozil and Sami Khedira to recover during this break for international matches. That is more important for them now. What will be decisive for us is that the players are fully fit next year.” Continue reading “Mesut Ozil left out of Germany squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers”

Antonio Conte ends debate over Davide Zappacosta’s first goal

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has ended the debate over Davide Zappacosta’s first goal by insisting that it was supposed to be a cross.


The Italy international notched his goal of his Blues career in sublime fashion as he ran through the right side of the field before shooting at goal from 30 yards out.

Zappacosta scored the second goal in the 6-0 Champions League thrashing of minnows Qarabag, and Conte was impressed with the performance of the Italian in the right wing-back spot, he said: “He told me he was aiming to cross. I think it was a good result. We start the Champions League in the right way. I saw the right commitment from my players. Great focus, great concentration from the start of the game. These are tricky games and we must pay great attention but I’m pleased for the great performance from our players. I think a lot of positive things for us and Batshuayi to score and Zappacosta on his first appearance at Stamford Bridge – he played very well.” Continue reading “Antonio Conte ends debate over Davide Zappacosta’s first goal”

Will Spain overpower Italy?

Spain take on Italy in a crucial World Cup qualification game on Wednesday night, and this match could potentially decide the winner of the group.

Both teams come into the game level on points after having taken 16 from the six matches so far. The only factor that has kept Spain at the top of the table is the slightly better goal difference. Italy, though, will be aware that any negative result at the Santiago Bernabeu will end hopes of reaching the World Cup 2018 through the automatic qualification places. Only the team that finishes top of the group will be able to reach the finals, while the second placed team will have to reach the competition by winning a play-off. Continue reading “Will Spain overpower Italy?”

WC 2018: RUSSIA OFFERS FREE TRAIN TRAVEL BETWEEN HOST CITIES

Fans that would be in Russia for the 2018 World Cup would be getting free train ride between the host cities, according to reports.


A Fan ID and a football match ticket would be required to book train tickets online. The Fan ID is an innovation to help manage the influx of football fans and get a visa-free entry into the 2018 World Cup host country.

The prelude to the World Cup, the Confederations Cup which held few weeks back was considered a success. Many applauded the free transportation and lack of fans’ clashes. Sixteen games were played between June 17 and July 2 and over 60,000 train tickets were issued.

The head of the Transportation Directorate TerentyMescheryakov said they thought of how to kill two birds with one stone in accommodating the thousands of incoming fans and the issue of seamless transportation, especially between the host cities. Continue reading “WC 2018: RUSSIA OFFERS FREE TRAIN TRAVEL BETWEEN HOST CITIES”