De Futebol The EPL is Gearing Up for The New Season!

The guys are no getting ready for the start of the EPL season. The players who played for their countries in the World Cup will be given three weeks off.

The Daily Mail:” With the new Premier League season around a month away, clubs have started to re-group and begin their pre-season training. Holidays are over for some, but not all, and there is still the small matter of the World Cup final to attend to.

Of the top six, Arsenal look to be in the best shape at present – all six sides are still to embark on pre-season tours – while Tottenham and Manchester City still await the return of swathes of their respective first team squads from the World Cup.

Chelsea are missing star names, many of whom are yet to decide their futures now that Maurizio Sarri looks set to take over. Here, Sportsmail looks at the shape of the ‘Big Six’ as they prepare for the new campaign.

Arsenal

Many of Arsenal’s stars from last season are back at Colney – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan – where they are joined by a host of new signings including goalkeeper Bernd Leno and defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

The current big omissions are Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka, the German in particular enduring a disappointing World Cup campaign, while new signing Lucas Torreira is yet to join up with his new side after a strong showing with Uruguay in Russia.

Back training:

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Matteo Guendouzi, Bernd Leno, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Calum Chambers, Aaron Ramsey, Alexandre Lacazette, Hector Bellerin, Reiss Nelson, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Eddie Nketiah, Rob Holding, Stephan Lichsteiner, Emile Smith-Rowe, Emiliano Martinez, Chuba Akpom, Shkodran Mustafi, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Sead Kolansinac, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Chuba Akpom, Lucas Perez, Petr Cech.

Yet to return:

David Ospina (Colombia), Mohamed Elneny (Egypt), Mesut Ozil (Germany), Nacho Monreal (Spain), Granit Xhaka (Switzerland), Joel Campbell (Costa Rica), Alexander Iwobi (Nigeria), Lucas Torreira (Uruguay).

Still at World Cup:

Danny Welbeck (England).

Injured:

Laurent Koscielny.

Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri will take over a somewhat thin squad when he arrives at Cobham. He will be greeted by a host of players deemed not quite good enough for the World Cup – Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, and David Luiz headline the group already back.

Still to return are World Cup finalists Olivier Giroud and N’Golo Kante, as well as Englishmen Gary Cahill and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, plus highly coveted Belgians Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard.

Back training:

Marcos Alonso, Cesc Fabregas, Pedro, David Luiz, Ethan Ampadu, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Davie Zappacosta, Emerson Palmieri, Danny Drinkwater, Ross Barkley, Alvaro Morata, Kurt Zouma, Charly Musonda, Ola Aina.

Yet to return:

Willy Caballero (Argentina), Antonio Rudiger (Germany), Victor Moses (Nigeria), Andreas Christensen (Denmark), Cesar Azpilicueta (Spain), Willian (Brazil).

Still at World Cup:

Thibaut Courtois (Belgium), Gary Cahill (England), Eden Hazard (Belgium), N’Golo Kante (France), Olivier Giroud (France), Michy Batshuayi (Belgium), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (England).

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has already overseen victories over Tranmere and Chester, games in which Loris Karius has looked shaky.

At Klopp’s disposal for these games before a tour of the USA has been a large squad featuring the likes of Adam Lallana and James Milner, while new signings Fabinho and Naby Keita have been afforded their first run-outs in red.

Though many players may be at Melwood, Liverpool are far from being a complete side training together with Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane yet to join the team.

Dejan Lovren is preparing for the World Cup final with Croatia after defeating Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s England.

Back training:

Loris Karius, Danny Ward, Nathaniel Clyne, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Ragnar Klavan, Alberto Moreno, Andy Robertson, James Milner, Naby Keita, Adam Lallana, Ryan Kent, Sheyi Ojo, Harry Wilson, Pedro Chirivella, Fabinho, Daniel Sturridge, Georginio Wijnaldum, Joel Matip, Divock Origi, Danny Ings, Dominic Solanke, Ben Woodburn, Nat Phillips, Rafa Camacho, Curtis Jones, Caoimhim Kelleher, Lazar Markovic.

Yet to return:

Roberto Firmino (Brazil), Mo Salah (Egypt), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Marko Grujic (Serbia).

Still at World Cup:

Dejan Lovren (Croatia), Trent Alexander-Arnold (England), Jordan Henderson (England).

Injured:

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Manchester City

One could be forgiven for thinking that Manchester City are yet to start their pre-season training such is their dearth of players. New signing from Leicester Riyad Mahrez is the only name of note.

Pep Guardiola will have little time to whip last season’s champions into shape as so many are still to return – seventeen first team players, to be exact, practically an entire match day squad.

Given the form of many last season and at the World Cup, however, this is likely no major cause for concern for City.

Back training:

Jason Denayer, Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Patrick Roberts, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Lukas Nmecha, Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala.

Yet to return:

Ederson (Brazil), Danilo (Brazil), Nicolas Otamendi (Argentina), Ilkay Gundogan (Germany), Bernardo Silva (Portugal), Fernandinho (Brazil), David Silva (Spain), Gabriel Jesus (Brazil), Sergio Aguero (Argentina), Leroy Sane.

Still at World Cup:

Benjamin Mendy (France), Kyle Walker (England), John Stones (England), Vincent Kompany (Belgium), Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium), Fabien Delph (England), Raheem Sterling (England).

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez is the biggest name currently training at Carrington with Jose Mourinho, who himself has only just returned from a punditry gig at the World Cup.

Under the stewardship of the Portuguese are those on the fringes of the United team, the likes of Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial.

Much of what will form United’s starting XI are yet to return, and will likely join up with the squad on tour in America. The midfield axis of Nemanja Matic, new addition Fred, and Paul Pogba are yet to train together.

Back training:

Lee Grant, Joel Pereira, Eric Bailly, Chris Smalling, Daley Blind, Luke Shaw, Tim Fosu-Mensah, Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Axel Tuanzebe, Diogo Dalot, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira, Ander Herrera, Scott McTominay, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial.

Yet to return:

David De Gea (Spain), Victor Lindelof (Sweden), Marcos Rojo (Argentina), Nemanja Matic (Serbia), Fred (Brazil).

Still at World Cup:

Phil Jones (England), Ashley Young (England), Paul Pogba (France), Jesse Lingard (England), Marouane Fellaini (Belgium), Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), Marcus Rashford (England).

Injured:

Sergio Romero.

Tottenham

Spurs are not as badly placed as Manchester City with four or five first team regulars training, but their Enfield base is still missing a host of key names.

The World Cup play-off could feature as many as eight Tottenham players, including breakout star Kieran Trippier and likely Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, while Hugo Lloris is one match away from lifting the greatest prize in football with France.

Back training:

Vincent Janssen, Victor Wanyama, Michel Vorm, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Moussa Sissoko, Fernando Llorente, Juan Foyth, Paulo Gazzaniga, Serge Aurier, Lucas Moura, Harry Winks, Ben Davies, Erik Lamela, Josh Onomah, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Kyle Walker-Peters.

Yet to return:

Davinson Sanchez (Colombia), Son Heung-Min (South Korea), Christian Eriksen (Denmark).

Still at World Cup:

Hugo Lloris (France), Kieran Trippier (England), Danny Rose (England), Toby Alderweireld (Belgium), Jan Vertonghen (Belgium), Eric Dier (England), Mousa Dembele (Belgium), Dele Alli (England), Harry Kane (England).

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5950387/How-pre-season-preparations-Big-Six-going.html

De Futebol Thoughts from the 2018 World Cup

The 2018 World Cup is in the books. France is the champion. No one expected France to win the whole enchilada.

The French did.

This team flew under the radar. Everyone expected Brasil, Germany, Argentina, Spain and even Mexico to win it. Oh, how wrong the so-called pundits were.

The American press were building up the great pretender Mexico. After the Mexican win over Germany The USA press expected Mexico to make it to at least the quarterfinals.

Not so fast bucko, Brasil stood in the way and won with a strong 2-0 win.

Brasil lost to Belgium 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

Argentina barely made it out of the group stage. Thus, Argentinos earned the right to battle France in the round of sixteen.

In a matter of ten minutes in the second half France turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-1 advantage.

France won 4-3 however the final score was not the true reflection of how the French blew doors off of Argentina in that deadly eleven minute span to grab the match by the neck and choke the life out of a helpless Argentina squad.

The biggest surprise was Germany losing two matches in the group stage and thus bombed out and this quick exit shocked the Futebol world.

Japan almost made Belgium eat their own lunch in the round of sixteen. Belgium didn’t quit and scored three second half goals to win 3-2.

Belgium and France hooked up in the semifinals. The difference in the match was France’s lighten quick speed that led to the only goal in the match a header by Samuel Umtiti for the one nil win.

England came out of nowhere to earn a spot in the semifinals. Three Lions were the third youngest club in the World Cup. Nigeria was the youngest. France was the second youngest team assembled.

England lost a heart breaker to Croatia 2-1 in the semifinals. This devastating loss came on the heels of a thrilling 4-3 PK shootout win over Columbia the quarterfinals.

The two shockers of the 2018 World Cup were Russia making it to the quarterfinals. Russia defeated Spain 4-3 in a PK shootout. Spain crashed and burned out of the 2018 World Cup.

The other huge surprise was Croatia making to the finals against France.

The Croatians claimed Denmark, Russia and England on the way to the finals before losing to a superior French side 4-2.

Thus, in the end this 2018 World Cup was full of surprises however the quality of play was below par compared to other World Cups.

The cool thing about this World Cup the favorites wore the choke collar.

The Dogs won.

De Futebol Man U is Getting Ready for The New EPL Season

Man U is getting ready to start training for the EPL that begins in a little more than a month.

The Daily Mail:” Jose Mourinho is whipping his Manchester United stars into shape before their pre-season begins in earnest.

On an overcast day in Manchester, with a spattering of rain around, the Portuguese watched on as his squad set to work.

A number of first-team players were in action, working on their skills and fitness levels ahead of their tour to the United States

Alexis Sanchez wore a vest as he performed a number of drills but most of his team-mates opted to wrap up in a hoodie.

There seemed to be a relaxed atmosphere, with both Anthony Martial and Ander Herrera happy to take time out and pose for the cameras.

The training itself appeared to be in the format of close-quarters games with an emphasis on reactions and a sure first touch.

No doubt Mourinho and his squad will be keen for some game time against competitive opposition and they don’t have much longer to wait for the first run out ahead of the new campaign.

United’s pre-season schedule begins in Arizona next week where they play Club America in Phoenix on July 20.

They will then face San Jose Earthquakes before stepping up the intensity against AC Milan and Liverpool.

The US tour concludes with a glamour tie against Real Madrid in Miami on July 31, by which time most of the World Cup contingent will be back in club colours.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5950715/Jose-Mourinho-puts-Alexis-Sanchez-Anthony-Martial-work-Carrington.html

De Futebol France Wins The World Cup! A 4-2 win over Croatia!

France won the 2018 World Cup. The French were pressed hard throughout the match from a game never give up Croatia side in the end France won 4-2.

The score was not an indication of how close this match really was.

France dented the scoreboard first with a hard shot into the box off the foot of Antoine Griezmann that went budda bing budda boom of the Croatian defender Mario Mandzukic in the 18th minute.

Croatia never give up die hard attitude produced the equalizer in the 28th minute. Ivan Perisic perfect strike from the box made it one all.

France looked like they were on the ropes however a hand ball by Croatian defender Perisic in the 38th minute gave France the life line it needed. Antoine Griezmann nailed the gift to make 2-1 for France.

In the second half France imposed their dominance scoring two goals by Paul Pogba 59th minute and the brilliant strike by nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappé 65th minute that salted match away for France.

The howler of the match came in the 69th minute when French keeper Hugo Loris decided to play cute zee pie with the rock. Loris thought he was Curley Neal instead he became Meadowlark Lemmon. The brilliant genius play led to the toe poke by Croatian Mario Mandzukic to cut the gap to 4-2.

Croatia ran out of gas and that was all she wrote.

Give Croatia a ton kudos for their play. The Croatians put up one hell of fight however in the end France was a superior team.

The Guardians Daniel Taylor:” When the decisive blows arrived it was the entire French squad in the victory scrum by the corner flag. Hugo Lloris, the France goalkeeper, had run the entire length of the pitch. All the substitutes were disappearing under one another. There were even a few members of the backroom staff contemplating joining in, and who could blame them? France were on their way to their second World Cup and a party was already underway behind the goal where the tricolours were fluttering.

Not even Croatia, with all their powers of durability, could recover from the second-half goals that Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappé scored in quick succession to open up a three-goal lead and ensure France will soon be wearing a shirt with two stars, rather than one, above their cockerel. Didier Deschamps has become only the third man in history to win the World Cup as a player and manager, standing alongside two giants of the game in Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. Mbappé is a world champion at the age of 19 and, in the end, the embarrassing lapse from Lloris to let Mario Mandzukic pull one back for Croatia will not matter greatly.

France should be thought of as deserving champions, too, bearing in mind their assured performances throughout the tournament and any team that scores four times in a final is entitled to feel euphoric. That, however, told only part of the story and it was difficult not to sympathise with Croatia bearing in mind the narrative of the first half in particular, when Mandzukic scored an own goal and France were awarded a penalty because of a borderline VAR decision that will always polarise opinion.

Zlatko Dalic, the Croatia manager, has promised us his team would take defeat with dignity and his players kept to it in trying circumstances. Even at 4-1 down they refused to wave the white flag of surrender, rousing themselves for one last push after Mandzukic had punished Lloris’s slackness.

Croatia had begun this final as though affronted by the suggestion France were widely assumed to be the favourites. But the luck went against them in the key moments of the first half when the game took shape, starting when Marcelo Brozovic was penalised for an alleged foul on Antoine Griezmann in the build-up to the opening goal.

So many goals have been scored from set-plays in this World Cup but none has carried such significance or been shrouded in so much misfortune. Mandzukic was jumping between Pogba and Raphael Varane, straining to clear Griezmann’s cross, when the ball skimmed off the top of his head, eight yards from his own goal. His attempt to help out in defence had gone horribly wrong. There was nothing Danijel Subasic, Croatia’s goalkeeper, could do and France were ahead before any of their own players had managed a single attempt at goal.

It was the 53rd own goal in the history of the World Cup – going all the way back to a Mexican player, Manuel Rosas, doing the same against Chile in 1930. Nobody, however, had done it before in a final and presumably Rosas did not have to suffer the indignity, as Mandzukic did here, of the public announcer letting everyone know who was to blame.

Another side might have wilted. Except, of course, we should know enough about Croatia by now not to be surprised by their reaction. Ten minutes later, N’Golo Kanté became the first player to be booked. Luka Modric floated the free-kick to the far post and Ivan Perisic was waiting on the edge of the penalty area, anticipating where the ball might eventually arrive. Domagoj Vida turned the ball back to his teammate and the expertise in Perisic’s first touch opened up the chance to take aim. He let fly with a left-footed, diagonal shot that flew past Lloris at speed.

All this was rather unexpected given that there had been only four first-half goals in the previous seven finals. A splendid tournament always needs a splendid final and, in that respect, this one was certainly not lacking drama or incident. It was difficult, all the same, not to feel sympathy with the losing side given the stack of grievances that Croatia will take away with them. Even the free-kick on Griezmann before the opening goal looked generous, to say the least, and when it came to the penalty it was difficult to think Perisic had knowingly used his hand to intercept Blaise Matuidi’s flick-on from a 34th‑minute corner.

It certainly was not a straightforward decision for the Argentinian referee, Néstor Pitana, and the length of time he spent analysing the replays told its own story. Eventually the decision went against Perisic because it could be argued his hand was sticking out at an unnatural angle. Even that, however, was not clear given that he was stooping . Was Matuidi’s header on target or heading towards a teammate? The answer is no, to both questions. But maybe that is irrelevant. The ball did strike Perisic’s hand, however little he knew about it, and that was enough for the decision to go against him, no matter how tough that might seem. Griezmann held his nerve to guide the penalty past Subasic and, after nearly four minutes of arguments and counter-arguments, France were back in front.

The game was still finely poised until Pogba made it 3-1 just before the hour with a left-foot shot after Mbappé and Griezmann has set him up on the edge of the penalty area. Pogba’s first effort came back to him off a Croatian defender. The second was more controlled, wrong-footing Subasic in the process, and when Mbappé strode away to fire in France’s fourth goal six minutes later it was starting to feel like it could become a rout.

Instead, Manduzic took the ball off Lloris to make the final score more respectable from a Croatian perspective and, with 20 minutes still to play, they kept pushing forward, trying to pull off an improbable feat of escapology. It was too late and the jubilant winner could soon be seen throwing Deschamps into the air.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jul/15/france-croatia-world-cup-final-match-report

De Futebol Belgium Shutouts England 2-0 to Win Third Place at 2018 World Cup!

Belgium was too strong for England. Belgium started out quick with a masterful goal by Thomas Meunier in the 4th minute to take the one nil lead.

This sent the English side on their heels.

Three Lions attacked in the second half. Belgium swatted away attack after attack until the match was salted away on a brilliant counter attack goal from Eden Hazard in the 82nd minute winning in a cake walk 2-0.

England put up a fight however Belgium was a superior side.

It was a good tournament for Three Lions. However, England needs to shore up the midfield and work on putting the rock into the back of the net.

England had several great chances to even this puppy up however the guys missed by that much. This is what separates winning and losing.

In the end, Belgium was just too good.

The Guardians Dominic Fifield:” There was a collective puffing of cheeks offered up by England’s players at the final whistle, victims of Belgium’s best World Cup showing, but that sense of disappointment will pass quickly enough. Gareth Southgate’s young and talented squad did themselves proud over this tournament. No other English team has ever bettered the fourth place they have claimed, unexpectedly and joyously, on foreign soil and their achievements are to be celebrated.

The real frustration had been endured in the Luzhniki Stadium in midweek. This afterthought in St Petersburg, a game played amid Mexican waves and those familiar chants of “Rossiya”, should not tint anything that came before. Southgate will actually have been encouraged by the upbeat tempo his side whipped up after the interval, when weary legs and tired minds might have reduced the whole contest to a plod, and threatened for a while to force parity. Chances were created, opportunities were missed. Then Eden Hazard, stirred into action and fed by the irrepressible Kevin De Bruyne, danced down-field and settled the occasion.

Some will no doubt argue that England have still to prosper against top quality opposition in competitive action, if, indeed, that is what this was. Belgium have beaten them twice in this tournament and will be received by the crowds in Brussels on Sunday rejoicing in their best ever performance at the World Cup. Their celebrations at the end, from bench to pitch, reflected a sense of achievement. But, as Southgate had pointed out in the build-up, England never expected to be here. “I’m not sure anyone in our country thought we’d be playing seven matches,” he had offered.

They ended up competing well here, despite a slack opening which left them chasing the game almost from the outset. England’s second half showing demonstrated all the pride and commitment for which Southgate had called. They were the dominant team after the interval, even if Belgium retained a considerable threat on the break, as demonstrated eight minutes from time by Hazard’s smart finish inside Jordan Pickford’s post. Yet headers at set-plays would drift wide, and Toby Alderweireld would hook Eric Dier’s clipped finish from the line. The stubborn refusal to wilt, despite having shipping a goal with the game in its infancy, was still admirable and said so much about the spirit of this collective.

The introduction of Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford at half-time had clearly made an impact, but to see the group straining to respond despite weary legs and tired minds was still impressive. There was actually plenty to admire: from Fabian Delph’s versatility and fine challenge to thwart Thomas Meunier; to Kieran Trippier’s delivery which so stretched even this experienced opposing back-line at times; the substitutes’ zest and a far more impressive showing from Ruben Loftus-Cheek; and Eric Dier’s increased influence in midfield. It had been the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, one of five changes from the semi-final, who exchanged passes with Rashford midway through the second half to advance on Thibaut Courtois at an angle. His shot was clipped smartly over the goalkeeper, only for Alderweireld to slide in and scramble the effort from under the crossbar.

England’s players massed in front of their supporters after the final whistle, serenaded to the heavens for their efforts, while Belgium prepared to mount the stage to claim their bronze medals. Theirs had been the bite, their ambitions made clear by the reality the wing-backs had combined to force them ahead while the game was still settling into its rhythm. That reward had stemmed from a Courtois clearance, nodded down by Nacer Chadli for Romelu Lukaku to accept and exploit the gaps in a rejigged England midfield. His pass inside Trippier for the galloping Chadli to collect was still superbly weighted, with the West Bromwich Albion player – who would depart before the break with hamstring trouble – squaring across the six-yard box. There appeared Meunier, sprinting in ahead of a startled Danny Rose, to convert beyond Pickford.

The Everton goalkeeper would do well to paw away De Bruyne’s deflected effort, and thrillingly from Meunier’s late volley after a counter-attack crammed with back-heels and precise passing which left England gasping in the vapour trail. Twice the Manchester City playmaker split England’s back-line with subtle and perfectly weighted passes only for Lukaku’s heavy touch to kibosh the chance. The striker, four times a scorer in Russia, was substituted on the hour-mark and strode off straight down the tunnel, and was even absent in the post-match huddle out on the pitch.

His chances of claiming the golden boot had died here, with that honour surely now Harry Kane’s to celebrate, unless Kylian Mbappe or Antoine Griezmann runs riot in the final. The England captain only really had one sight of goal here, after the excellent John Stones clipped over a fine pass for Raheem Sterling, who squared neatly across the penalty area. Kane has looked as fatigued as anyone of late, and his standing duly leg gave way as he struck his shot. The effort veered wide of Courtois’s post.

Those misses left England watching the post-game ceremony from the fringes, but they have not been peripheral to this tournament. And it has been a while since the nation has had that to celebrate. Southgate and his players can look back with pride.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jul/14/england-belgium-world-cup-third-place-play-off-match-report

De Futebol England shocked the so-called Pundits with a semifinal Berth in The World Cup

No one expected England to make to the World Cup semifinals. The so-called expects told us that Three Lions were at least three years away from making a dent in the World Cup. Wrong Bucko. The guys played with heart and guile.

The Guardians Barney Rona:” Leave the flags out. Have another glass. Take another look, if you can, at those moments from Kaliningrad to Moscow when this capable England team played above itself and turned a drowsy, toxic summer back home into something else.

Let’s not have any anguish this time. England’s four and a half weeks at the World Cup deserves a little better, even after a 2-1 defeat by Croatia in Moscow that was decided deep into extra time.

And no tears even at the memory of that goalscoring start when for a few moments the planes flew backward through the sky, the cats barked, the police horses meowed and England did seem to be heading towards their first World Cup final on foreign soil.

Gareth Southgate’s team played to their limits at the Luzhniki Stadium, as they had against Colombia and against Tunisia all those millions of years ago in the midge-mists of Volgograd.

In the end England found a superior opponent here, a team with deeper gears and with a mania to run right to the end. Croatia came out like warriors in the second half, the craft and winning habits of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic starting to intrude like a firm hand on the elbow as the game ticked down.

By the start of extra time it was a case of counting who could still run. England looked done, cooked. Harry Kane limped gamely. Jordan Henderson kept on chugging about like a cavalry captain on a dying pony. Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli found weird depths of energy, running on fumes.

The Luzhniki had been full to capacity at kick-off, the light above the lip of the roof fading to powder blue. The crowd was swollen by 10,000 England fans who made it here by lay-overs and nights spent on airport benches, and who pegged out the bed-sheet bivouac at one end, the familiar pageantry of painted flags, a tour of Albion from Exeter to Hartlepool.

With five minutes gone the evening seemed to be heading their way. Alli was fouled on the edge of the box. Kieran Trippier has been getting closer all tournament. As the ball dipped and curled and bulged the net the air seemed to rush out through the roof, then rush right back in as England’s fans basked and bumped and rolled over each other in puppyish joy.

For 20 minutes this felt like England’s game. On the touchline Gareth Southgate looked calm, striding about in his waistcoat, stroking his whiskery chin and resembling once again a very clever cartoon badger who drives an old-fashioned car and plays the violin.

Raheem Sterling ran hard but lacked edge. Harry Kane missed a chance he would normally gorge himself on like a starving man. And at half-time and 1-0 up England really did seem to have one foot jammed in the door for a return to this stadium on Sunday.

Except they didn’t start again after the break. Croatia were suddenly driving the game, pressing England back on the flanks, finding holes that had previously been concealed. The equaliser came from the right, Ivan Perisic sticking a leg up above Kyle Walker’s dipped head to deflect the ball in.

On we went into a bruising, draining extra time. The goal felt like it was coming, even before Mario Mandzukic peeled off the back of John Stones and finished smartly.

And so: exit music. England’s World Cup summer is done. How will we remember those four weeks spent watching Harry and Dele and Harry from the dust of Samara to the semi-detached oddity of Kaliningrad?

Above all, this has been a dreamy, all-consuming piece of escapism. In tough times back home football has felt like a warm embrace, like a rush of chemical pleasure, like the best night out you’ve had in ages.

There will, of course, be that urge to give all this some wider meaning. It has been an odd feature of England’s progress at this tournament that so many have latched on to the idea of a moral dimension to victory, the notion that England have won matches because their methods are righteous, their hearts pure, and not, say, because Mateus Uribe didn’t hit his penalty kick two inches lower at the Spartak Stadium.

Sport is a chimera, it drags stories along in its wake. Champions are often blackguards. Losers are often nice. Sport and its storylines are just a decoration, a picture on the wall.

But it can still provide something uplifting. It is hard not to feel part of the enthusiasm for this team comes from a feeling of relief. A lot of young English people have been told for the last few years that times are hard, that their lives are set one way and that things were always, always better in the past.

Watching this England team – and yes, it is of course just a football team – has seemed to provide a different kind of script. A young, unheralded bunch of players have gone further than those before who were more obviously talented, more golden, more authentic, finding ways to succeed through teamwork and energy and a refusal to be cowed.

It is hopeful to see this, to look at Alli or Harry Maguire or Jordan Pickford and say, well, people told them that they probably couldn’t do it either.

Football isn’t real life. It is a separate world packed with hammy emotions and big fat wet notes of drama, always straining to mean a great deal more than it does. But it can provide a little inspiration along the way, another kind of story. England in a semi-final, with a likable team led by the great Gareth, has been exactly this. No tears this time. There is St Petersburg on Saturday to follow. But they are, finally, coming home.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jul/11/tears-pain-young-england-team-world-cup-croatia

De Futebol Croatia Wins in Extra Time a 2-1 win over England

England scored first off, a sublime free kick from Kieran Trippier in the 5th minute. However, Croatia came back to score two goals to break England’s hearts to win 2-1 in extra time to advance to the finals against France.

Ivan Perisic leveled this puppy in the 68th minute with a toe poke off a ball that found the back of the net to make it one all.

The heart break came in the 109th minute.  Mario Mandzukic flat out beat the keeper and the entire England defense for the pulsating 2-1 win.

The match became a little chippie in the end however Croatia proved they were slightly superior to England.

Three Lions gave it all they had.

No one expected England nor Croatia to make it the semifinals. Sure, the young lions lost in the semifinals however this World Cup is a success for the guys.

No one expect England to make it this far.

Harry Kane stepped up to the plate and he is now on the way to becoming a world class player.

England will take on Belgium in the third-place match on Saturday.

The Daily Mail:” One lapse. That is all it takes in this rarest of atmospheres. Kieran Trippier lost his header to Ivan Perisic, Mario Mandzukic ran off John Stones, and England were out of the World Cup.

It took Croatia 109 minutes of football to take the lead against England, but they edged it in the end. They were the better team in the second-half, they hit the post, Jordan Pickford made one magnificent save.

But let’s get one thing straight. England were not lucky to be here. They were not fortunate beneficiaries of a soft draw, or undeserving contenders for the 2018 World Cup. They were, in many ways, the best team here. Not in football terms, or technical terms. No-one is claiming them the match for France, or even Croatia, the finalists. But as a team, a band of brothers, a group of players amounting to more than the sum of their parts, England were outstanding.

There is no shame here, no failure. England did as well as could possibly be expected given their youth, inexperience and the absence of a playmaker in the class of Luka Modric.

Gareth Southgate, the manager, has done an exceptional job and the national team should be his to mould for another four years at least. He deserves that, and so do they, his loyal lieutenants.

Anyone who thinks England just got lucky, doesn’t know football. This game was the proof of it. They battled Croatia to a standstill, both teams exhausted, all energy and emotion spent.

They could not have given more, either of them and that a single goal separated them is fitting. Better that than to lose of penalties and see that hoodoo return. That is another curse that has been lifted at this World Cup.

Credit Croatia, too. This was a spirited performance after two knockout games that have reached penalties. When England took the lead after five minutes, and dominated the opening 30, it would have been easy to be overwhelmed.

Instead, they found a way back into the game, through Modric and man of the match Perisic, outstanding technical talents that point the way forward for Southgate and his men. But they know that, having come so close. They know there is a missing link, and the next step is finding it. Easier said than done.

Croatia were always going to be the strongest test England had faced in this competition to here, and so it proved. If England had the upper hand for the bulk of the first-half, the second – in its entirety – belonged to Croatia. This was the team England – the country, more than the team – feared.

Controlling the ball in midfield through Luka Modric, with Ivan Perisic quite brilliant coming in from the left. England looked ragged through that second 45 minutes, leggy, edgy, panicked.

In a seven minute spell, Croatia took them apart, physically and technically. Poor Kyle Walker was struck a devastating blow in the crotch from a shot by Perisic, collapsed, and when the ball did not go out of play, got up to clear the recycled cross. Then he fell again. It was a heroic moment. Whether it played a part in what happened next is hard to say.

Just three minutes later Sime Vrsaljko hit a superb deep cross from the right, and Perisic drifted off Kieran Tripper and attacked the ball. Walker went for a diving headed clearance but Perisic nipped in first and met it with a volleyed flick past Jordan Pickford.

A high boot? Possibly, but Walker was stooping, so it was a judgement call. Referee Cuneyt Cakir went with the scorer. To be fair we would have moaned like hell had he disallowed one of ours like that.

The pressure was now unrelenting. Perisic capitalised on the growing uncertainty in England’s back line and hit the far post with a shot, Ante Rebic putting a tame rebound into the arms of Pickford. This was as rattled as England had looked all tournament. Pickford came for a high ball, didn’t get it, and Perisic shot over, the goal unguarded.

And yet there were moments when England’s strengths surfaced once more. Substitute Marcus Rashford won a free-kick, which Trippier curled in only for Harry Kane to steer a free header wide. The glorious fifth minute seemed an age away as the game moved into extra-time.

It is a very select group, those that have scored for England direct from free-kicks. Even more exclusive, the little club that have done it at a World Cup. It’s David Beckham, actually. Just him. One against Colombia, most recently against Ecuador in 2006. Still if he does ever decide to form an England World Cup Free-Kick Scorers Society at least he’ll have company at their annual ball. He’ll have Kieran Trippier after Wednesday night.

Just five minutes gone, first real attack of the game. What a start it was for Trippier and England. There can be little doubt now that we are watching the best deliverer of a dead ball this country has had since Beckham. We’ve already seen his first-time crosses, his vicious perfectly flighted corners, but he has never scored a free-kick for England. No time like the present then. No time like a World Cup semi-final.

It began when Dele Alli was fouled by Luka Modric just inside the penalty area D. England had been on red alert for Modric and what he could do, so it was ironic that Croatia were suffering with the pace and movement of England’s forward midfield instead. A trio of England players stood around the ball deliberating, but the suspicion always was that it would be Trippier’s responsibility at this range.

He did not disappoint. The whole Croatia wall jumped but somehow the Tottenham man got it up, over and down to leave Danijel Subasic grasping at thin air in Croatia’s goal. The ball passed over Dejan Lovren’s head en route. Not small, Lovren. It was a quite exquisite free-kick. Beckham would have been proud of it. So, for that matter, would Cristiano Ronaldo – or Roberto Carlos.

n the bench, Gareth Southgate pumped his fists and then returned to default concentration mode. Five minutes is desperately early to take the lead in a World Cup semi-final. Better than going behind after five, obviously. But it’s an age to defend that lead – and, as against Tunisia when this campaign began, England squandered several chances to take the pressure off.

In the 14th minute, a Trippier corner was met by Harry Maguire – when are they not? – and he steered his header low towards the far post. A touch from a lurker and England would have been two ahead but no-one was there. Maybe England are so used to scoring headers direct from these dead balls, they aren’t following in.

Then the chance that amazed and frustrated in equal measure. Frustrated because it was a genuinely good chance missed by England; amazed because it was Harry Kane who fluffed it. The pass from Jesse Lingard was perfect and suddenly Kane was clear. Free of Croatia’s defence only Subasic to beat.

He tried to slot it past him and the whole stadium expected to see the ball come to rest in the goal, but no. Subasic saved and Kane scrambled desperately to be first to the rebound, now at an acute angle. He tried to whip it in, but the ball hit the near post, came out, struck Subasic and spun up in the air across goal and out on the other side. The second chance was tough. But the first? In Kane’s world that was a sitter.

Six minutes later, England could have scored again. Alli, enjoying his best game of the tournament, the provider, finding Lingard whose attempt to pass it into the net from the edge of the area was ambitious and travelled the wrong side of the post.

But this was still a huge performance from England, with Lovren struggling to contain Raheem Sterling in particular. It was clearly the plan to use his pace in running races against Croatia’s back line, and it worked. With Alli and Lingard skipping around in his orbit, England looked dangerous.

Of course, when Modric got on the ball so did Croatia, and the 10 minutes before half-time he controlled. It didn’t add up to much, though – an Ante Rebic shot comfortably saved by Jordan Pickford, and a few important interceptions by Ashley Young and John Stones. In the 19th minute, a crossfield pass by Modric picked out Ivan Perisic, whose low shot went just wide, but England’s chances were better, and clearer. Not that this stopped the jangling nerves, mind you. But it is hard to imagine what would, at this late stage.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5943381/Croatia-2-1-England-AET-Mario-Mandzukic-breaks-English-hearts.html

De Futebol France 1-0 over Belgium!

France defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the World Cup Finals.

The Daily Mail:” A game as fabulous as this should not really have been settled by something so prosaic as a header from a corner.

There is nothing wrong with corners. They have been at the heart of England’s World Cup campaign, after all. But this wonderful, intricate, skilful match deserved something more memorable to decorate it.

Instead, the whole thing came down to one of football’s oldest facets, a battle of strength and will between two big, athletic men at the near post.

This one was won by Samuel Umtiti over Marouane Fellaini and, as the Barcelona defender’s header crashed into the goal early in the second half, Belgium’s carefully constructed World Cup campaign collapsed.

So, it is Didier Deschamps’ France who await the winner of England v Croatia in Sunday’s final, but whoever they face, Les Bleus will start as favourites. Against a beguiling and dextrous Belgium side, France began slowly here but grew inexorably and purposefully into the game. By the end, they were worthy winners.

France did not start this World Cup with elan but they have got steadily better, advancing through the tough half of the draw by beating Argentina, Uruguay and now Belgium.

They are three teams of substance and three victories from which France will take confidence. Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and the mesmerising Kylian Mbappe were magnificent last night.

We should feel sympathy for Roberto Martinez and Belgium, who have brought much to this World Cup. At times in the first half they looked as though they would unlock France and, had they scored first, they may have walked away with this semi-final.

But for all their possession and neat patterns, they could not find a way to hurt France. Hugo Lloris made only two significant saves all night, one from a first-half shot by Tottenham club-mate Toby Alderweireld, the other from Axel Witsel’s drive.

Martinez may ask himself why he stuck with the bespoke system he used to beat Brazil rather than reverting to his usual back three.

In the centre of the field, Mousa Dembele was run ragged by Pogba and Kante.

He was the weak link in this Belgium XI and France exploited his flat-footedness and lack of pace on the turn.

But this was a game of fine margins. We saw the best two teams in the World Cup and one of them had to lose. The only surprise was that we did not see more goals.

For Belgium, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard ran directly with familiar poise and wit, while the French countered with bursts of their own. Belgium started fast but could not maintain it.

Pogba and Kante began breaking up possession with a surgeon’s precision and looked for the lightning feet of Mbappe or the heft of Olivier Giroud.

Early on, it was Belgium’s game. Hazard and De Bruyne found space between the blue lines and their play just lacked a smart run from Romelu Lukaku or a kindly bounce to bring them tangible joy.

Hazard shot across goal with his left foot in the 16th minute, while a curling effort from the Chelsea player looked destined for the top corner before it struck defender Raphael Varane on the back and went for a corner.

It seemed only a matter of time before Lloris got busy in the France goal and sure enough he was called upon midway through the half.

A corner from the right dropped to Alderweireld 14 yards out and the defender’s shot on the turn was pushed round his right-hand post by Lloris at full stretch.

It was a nice height for Lloris and he got two gloves on it, but it was still a good save.

So the Belgian threat was clear but so was their vulnerability. And when France won a corner courtesy of a Giroud deflected shot in the 51st minute, Umtiti lumbered up to earn his place in history.

Replays showed his header brushed Fellaini’s curls on its way in. The Manchester United player looked bereft but his pain should be eased by the knowledge he has had a good World Cup.

There had been signs before the goal that the France threat was growing. Thibaut Courtois’s foot had denied Benjamin Pavard late in the first half and Antoine Griezmann had gone close.

Dries Mertens replaced the drowning Dembele and Belgium came again courtesy of a Fellaini header. But France were emboldened by a sense of opportunity and would not let Belgium in.

They defend well, this France team. At the business end of an entertaining World Cup, it remains a fundamental skill. As does the taking of good corner kicks.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5939607/France-1-0-Belgium-Samuel-Umtiti-heads-Les-Bleus-World-Cup-final.html

De Futebol Croatia wins in a PK Shootout over Russia to advance to The Semifinals of The World Cup

Russia and Croatia engaged in another one of the wild and crazy PK shootouts. Croatia advances to the World Cup semifinals with a thrilling 4-3 PK shootout win over Russia.

England-Croatia will duke it out in one semifinal while France-Belgium will engage in war in the other semifinal match up.

The Daily Mail:” Russia’s emotional and stubborn journey through their own World Cup ended in heartbreak just before midnight on the Black Sea when they lost a penalty shoot-to Croatia at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

Croatia will now face England in the last four in Moscow on Wednesday night and on this evidence there is nothing particular for Gareth Southgate and his players to fear. Luka Modric and his team-mates will certainly present England with a different test to any they have faced so far in Russia. They will play on the front foot and attempt to take the game to England, something teams like Sweden, Colombia, Panama and Tunisia have not done.

However, Croatia will be tired after this gruelling and emotional night. They have played two lots of 120 minutes in the knockout stages, winning a shoot out against Denmark in the last sixteen, and that may take its toll in three days’ time.

For Russia, this was a tough night. They had come back from the dead with an equaliser from defender Mario Fernandes seven minutes from the end of extra-time to force penalties. But sadly it was the Brazilian-born defender who missed the crucial kick in the shoot-out.

For Croatia, Marcelo Brozovic, Modric, Domagoj Vida and, finally, Ivan Rakitic all scored their kicks with only Mateo Kovacic missing his country’s second effort.

But after Russia had recovered from the shock of Fedor Smolov missing their first kick with a successful strike from Alan Dzagoev, Fernandes dragged his team’s third one horribly wide meaning that subsequent goals from Sergey Ignashevich and Daler Kuziaev were rendered meaningless when Rakitic converted Croatia’s final kick.

Croatia had earlier looked to be on their way through after a header by Vida had been nudged in to the net by substitute and former Manchester City and Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka in the first period of extra time.

But then the Russians were awarded a free-kick for handball on the edge of the penalty area in the 113th minute and when Dzagoev whipped it in Fernandes rose to head it in to the corner. Rarely has a World Cup ever heard a noise like it.

Croatia had dominated the 90 minutes of normal time but had fallen behind when Russian golden boy Denis Cheryshev scored from 25 yards on the half hour It was fantastic strike and his fourth goal of a fairytale tournament.

Zlatko Dalic’s team struck back almost immediately through Andrej Kramaric who headed in a cross from Mario Mandzukic but the closest they came to winning the game in normal time came when the disappointing Ivan Perisic struck the post when he should have scored in the 61st minute.

How much Croatia will stretch England will probably depend on their energy reserves as much as anything.

When their goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went down with cramp in the 88th minute, it started a trend. By the end of the extra period, some of the Croatian players could barely stand. How they managed to get themselves through the shoot out only they will know.

Croatia have also lacked something of a cutting edge in the knockout stages. When they embarrassed Argentina 3-0 in the group phase, they looked as though they would prove themselves to be one of the tournament’s most expansive and dangerous teams.

However that hasn’t really happened. Croatia were not impressive against a modest Denmark team and although they dominated the ball and the territory here in Sochi, much of their football broke down when they reached the edge of the Russian penalty area.

When their goalkeeper Danijel Subasic went down with cramp in the 88th minute, it started a trend. By the end of the extra period, some of the Croatian players could barely stand. How they managed to get themselves through the shoot out only they will know.

Croatia have also lacked something of a cutting edge in the knockout stages. When they embarrassed Argentina 3-0 in the group phase, they looked as though they would prove themselves to be one of the tournament’s most expansive and dangerous teams.

However that hasn’t really happened. Croatia were not impressive against a modest Denmark team and although they dominated the ball and the territory here in Sochi, much of their football broke down when they reached the edge of the Russian penalty area.

Modric remains their most dangerous player by a distance, driving his team relentlessly forward on the back of invention and sheer hard work. His penalty in the shoot-out carried a bit of luck – striking the goalkeeper and the post before finding the back of the net – but it is hard to say he didn’t deserve it.

Beyond that, though, Croatia have looked a little blunt. Perisic – who has interested Manchester United – was poor here as was the Juventus centre forward Mandzukic. He missed a passable early chance and never really recovered. Barcelona’s midfielder Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, was only fitfully impressive.

So the English can sleep soundly at night between now and Wednesday. Not only have the avoided a politically sensitive semi-final with Russia, they face a team that should concern them but not necessarily worry them. We would all have taken that back on June 14.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5929105/Russia-2-2-Croatia-AET-Croatia-win-4-3-penalties.html

De Futebol England Wins! Up Next the Semifinals of The World Cup!

England is on to the semifinals of the World Cup. Three Lions shutout Sweden 2-0. Goals by Harry Maguire header in the 30th minute and the stake in the heart of Sweden by Dele Alli noodled home the winner in the 58th minute pushed England to the semifinals of the World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990.

The Daily Mail:”It didn’t have anything like the drama of the Colombian shoot-out, nor was it quite the spectacle when an England team beat Cameroon at this stage in 1990. And it was nowhere near as controversial as their progression from the quarter finals against Argentina in 1966,

But make no mistake. In the Samara Arena, situated on the banks of the River Volga in a far-flung corner of the sprawling Russian Motherland, an England team made history.

Few gave them any serious chance when they left for Russia last month. Now they will contest a World Cup semi final on Wednesday night in Moscow. It will be only the third time they have done so since England deigned to appear at this tournament in 1950.

A young team which seemed devoid of real ego or heavyweight stars a month ago will now forever go down as one of the best.

Gareth Southgate, a seemingly unassuming man yet deceptively determined, who was parachuted into this job amidst chaos twenty-two months ago, will join Sir Bobby Robson as the only Englishman to guide a team to this stage of the World Cup in foreign territory.

What is truly enticing is the realistic prospect that he might go one better than Sir Bobby, a man who would visit him when he was struggling to find his feet at Middlesbrough manager. He has come a long way since then, Southgate, as he bestrides the world stage now.

His team have travelled far too, scaling previously unimagined heights. Harry Kane, of course, has been the breaththough act though this wasn’t so much his day.

But Harry Maguire is a secret no more. The world is awake to his talents, which go far beyond his headed goal. And Jordan Pickford has grown, figuratively if not literally in this tournament. He may always be 6’1” but his riposte to Thibaut Courtois questions about his height have been perfectly timed.

Sweden were extraordinarily limited and initially unambitious and yet it still took three wonderful saves from Pickford to get England over the line. And that the game was devoid of tension by the end, virtually a stroll, was a credit to the goalkeeper.

Of course, all should share credit. Though Sweden were poor, they are a team that has disposed of Holland and Italy in qualifying and who got rid of Germany from the group stages.

England managers have been photoshopped into turnips by Swedes before now so the fact that this team made light work of this fixture was a testament to their mental strength.

That said, England started tentatively, like they were suffering from a collective brain freeze form the magnitude of the occasion and the failure of an opponent to engage. The early passes from Ashley Young and Dele Alli betrayed the nerves which seemed to be suffocating England.

There was no high press, nor panache. At times the game resembled a pre-season Championship friendly, with the Brazilians presumably bemused that one of these teams would be contesting a semi final and they wouldn’t.

It took 19 minutes for England to find their feet with Keiran Trippier playing nicely out from the back and finding Raheem Sterling. Suddenly Sterling was accelerating away, an injection of energy into a soporific occasion. He beat his man and then went past Sebastian Larsson and, with a shooting chance opening up, ran into Harry Kane and ceded the shot to him, the England captain shooting wide from the edge of the box.

It was an least a sign of life. Ashley Young started beating Emil Krafth down the left and on 23 minutes a move starting with Jordan Pickford found its way via Young and Kane to Sterling again, whose striker brought hopeful shouts for a handball against Emil Forsberg.

Referee Bjorn Kuipers rightfully ignored that but it was the first real sign of England’s ability to play with fluidity and pace from the back. Until then, Sterling apart, no-one had moved with anything like the urgency required to unsettle Sweden.

That said, it took a familiar route for England finally to break Swedish resistance. Their first corner kick award on 32 minutes saw Young tee it up and the usual suspects of Harry Maguire, John Stones, Jordan Henderson and Kane amassed at the back of the box.

The only variation in England’s routines was that Dele and Sterling joined them initially. As Young struck the ball, they all scattered and it was enough to confuse Sweden because, in the melee, Maguire was lost, He spun away and his eyes never left the ball. Poor Forsberg was left trying to out-jump him but it was vain task. Maguire rose, connected with his head directed the ball firmly home with a magnificent header.

It didn’t quite bring the release for which England yearned but there was a better finish to the half with Sterling twice breaking free.

On the first occasion, he was offside but when Henderson lifted the ball through on 45 minutes, he sprinted free and took a great touch down. Only the alert reactions of Robin Olsen in goal stopped him skipping round the keeper. By the time Sterling then had to turn to shoot, the familiar figure of Andreas Granqvist was there to block.

Still, these were hopeful signs.

Nevertheless it was Sweden who presented the first sign of danger in the second half. Ludwig Augustinsson swung in an excellent cross on 47 minutes and Marcus Berg rose above Young and directed his header goalwards. Only the excellence of Pickford leaping to his left prevented an equaliser and a Swedish revival.

It was an apposite warning. But also wholly out of character for the game up to that point. England were establishing a foothold. Young’s free kick on 52 minutes found Maguire at the back post – the default England set piece – and his header across was met with spectacular if imperfectly-executed bicycle kick by Sterling.

But there was a patience to England’s play and a degree more craft. So when Trippier had the chance to swing another cross in on 58 minutes he instead opted for a more subtle cut back to Lingard.

 

He, in turn, dinked the ball over the Swedish defence and there was that run from Dele Alli that Southgate has been so keen to unleash. No Swede had picked him up so his was a fairly simple task to head home. Half the team celebrated with Dele and, fittingly, half with Lingard whose cross was so precise.

Sweden had been so limited and unadventurous that it seemed as though the game might have been won in that moment.

Yet within minutes of the re-start, Sweden were breaking down the left and when Berg touched the ball back to Viktor Claesson a goal seemed inevitable, He struck it well enough but Pickford produced another outstanding save, down to his left to parry away.

Sweden, their World Cup slipping away, had sprung into life When Claesson burst down the left on 72 minutes and crossed for Berg, the centre forward took a touch and struck a rising shot which Pickford again met superbly, touching it over.

It was save that would break Sweden, never again would they truly threaten.

Their race was run. England’s, thrillingly and unimaginably, is far from done.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5928705/SWEDEN-0-2-ENGLAND-Three-Lions-World-Cup-semi-final.html