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Sterling relishes World Cup stage as England’s number 10

London (AFP) – Fresh from the best season of his career, Raheem Sterling has been handed the responsibility and role he craved by England manager Gareth Southgate to deliver on his abundant potential at the World Cup. Sterling scored 23 goals in all competitions as Manchester City romped to the Premier League title in record-breaking fashion and lifted the League Cup. Yet in keeping with his career so far, there was still a feeling that more is to come if his finishing can match the quality of his skill and movement. “The moment he is going to be able to

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Putin welcomes teams and supporters to World Cup

Moscow (AFP) – President Vladimir Putin on Friday welcomed football teams and fans from across the world to the World Cup, which begins in Russia next week, assuring that everything effort had been “to ensure that all of our guests… feel at home”. “To all football fans and the greatest football teams on the planet, welcome!” Putin said on Russian television six days before the four-yearly tournament gets underway. “It is with immense joy and a great honour that we receive representatives of the great football family. We want this event to be a celebration, filled with passion and emotions.

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Pogba can and can’t do everything, says Deschamps

Décines-Charpieu (France) (AFP) – France coach Didier Deschamps sprang to the defence of star midfielder Paul Pogba ahead of Saturday’s final World Cup warm-up against the United States. Speaking to France Football, Pogba had said he feels unfairly judged after he was jeered by French fans during the 3-1 victory over Italy a week ago. Deschamps insisted the Manchester United player has a lot to offer, though. “People talk a lot about Paul. He’s a midfielder, he’s not a number 10, nor a forward,” said Deschamps on Friday. “He has the ability to score goals and create them, which he

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Jeers for Gundogan annoy Germany boss Loew

Leverkusen (Germany) (AFP) – Joachim Loew has slammed Germany fans who booed Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan during Friday’s 2-1 World Cup warm-up victory over Saudi Arabia. The Germans broke a five-match winless streak as striker Timo Werner scored and Omar Hawsawi netted an own goal before Taisir Al-Jassim banged home a saved penalty attempt for Saudi Arabia on 85 minutes. However, head coach Loew was unhappy with the boos and jeers from German fans when Gundogan came on for the final 30 minutes in Leverkusen. “The fact that a national player is booed like that helps nobody,” Loew told

The post Jeers for Gundogan annoy Germany boss Loew appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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Ghana football chief resigns after corruption suspension

Accra (AFP) – Ghanian Football Association (GFA) president Kwesi Nyantakyi resigned on Friday just hours after world football governing body FIFA hit him with a 90-day suspension over corruption claims. In a statement carried on the GFA website, Nyantakyi apologised “unreservedly” for “a series of errors of indiscretion” after FIFA launched an ethics investigation into his activities. Nyantakyi was accused in an explosive documentary called ‘Number 12’, aired on Wednesday by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, of soliciting bribes amounting to several million dollars. The football chief said “scammers” had “deceived me into thinking they were genuine persons interested in

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Werner shines as nervy Germany end winless streak

Leverkusen (Germany) (AFP) – Timo Werner impressed as Germany gave themselves a pre-World Cup boost on Friday by breaking their five-match winless streak with a nervy 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in their final warm-up game.  First-half scores by striker Werner and an Omar Hawsawi own goal sealed the win as Germany were only rarely threatened by Saudi Arabia, who play hosts Russia in the opening World Cup match in Moscow on Thursday. Werner was in the thick of the action for the 62 minutes he played of the friendly. The scoreline flattered the Arabians, who converted a late penalty

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Juventus sign Perin to fill Buffon-sized hole

Rome (AFP) – Juventus have moved to replace goalkeeping great Gianluigi Buffon with the acquisition of Mattia Perin from Genoa, the Italian champions announced on Friday. The 25-year-old Perin has signed a four-year deal and will cost Juve 12 million euros ($14.1 million) over three instalments. The Italy international will provide competition for Poland’s Wojciech Szczesny next season as Juve seek an eighth straight Serie A title. Buffon — who was the Juve captain — took his final bow in May after 656 matches for Juve during a 17-year stay in Turin following a then world record 52 million euro

The post Juventus sign Perin to fill Buffon-sized hole appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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Neymar’s Brazil look strong as Germany, Argentina confront issues

Moscow (AFP) – Neymar’s acclaimed return ahead of the World Cup supplied Brazil with an immeasurable boost, but holders Germany and Argentina arrive at the tournament battling inconsistent form and disrupted preparations. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar’s swashbuckling display in a 45-minute appearance against Croatia last weekend largely dismissed lingering concerns over his fitness after more than three months out with a fractured foot. The 26-year-old admitted he was only at “80 percent” but promised he would be raring to go come Brazil’s first game at the finals against Switzerland on June 17. “For the first match back I actually expected

The post Neymar’s Brazil look strong as Germany, Argentina confront issues appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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A sterile aesthetic in American soccer fandom

Editor’s Note: Spencer Abel examines the aesthetic of soccer support in today’s stadiums and reflects on the broader interest for soccer in America.  The aesthetic of soccer has a persuasive power that’s able to knock the reason out of a spectator. In American soccer, that aesthetic is blunt. Catching a full 90 minutes of soccer in the United States often leads to confusion and a possible existential crisis. Despite MLS having been in operation for 24 years, many stadiums function as part-time homes for soccer teams. NYCFC plays at Yankee Stadium, the New England Revolution plays in the shadow of

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Kane commits himself to Tottenham for long-term

London (AFP) – England captain Harry Kane gave a huge boost to Tottenham Hotspur on Friday by signing a new six year contract through to 2024 with the Premier League club. The 24-year-old striker scored a personal best 41 goals this season and had been mentioned as a possible target for European champions Real Madrid with other clubs also lurking in the wings. Some had speculated Kane would want a move away so he could win some silverware as despite Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino gaining plaudits for the attractive style of football they play they are yet to win a

The post Kane commits himself to Tottenham for long-term appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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Premier League agree historic winter break

London (AFP) – England’s Premier League has agreed to introduce a winter break in a historic move to give players a rest during an increasingly crowded season, the Football Association (FA) announced Friday. The break — which falls well short of  those taken in mainland European leagues — will give the 20 Premier League teams a weekend off football in February beginning in the 2019/20 campaign. Five matches will be played one weekend with the second batch of five the following weekend. The FA’s part of the bargain — also agreed with the English Football League responsible for the divisions

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Alex Iwobi is emerging as Nigeria’s most important player

Alex Iwobi is undoubtedly a polarizing player. The Arsenal and Nigeria midfielder/forward suffers regular scrutiny by both rival fans and supporters of the north London outfit. In fact, he may be the player in the Arsenal team with the lowest approval rating amongst their own fanbase. Yet despite these issues, the 22-year-old player has become a very important asset to the Nigeria national team. Despite the fact that with zero wins in their last five matches leading into this summer’s World Cup, Iwobi has clearly been their top performer. This is especially relevant considering the African team has solid players

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Roma swoop for Atalanta’s Cristante

Rome (AFP) – Rising Atalanta midfielder Bryan Cristante has joined Roma in a loan-purchase five-year deal that could eventually cost up to 30 million euros, Roma said on Friday. The complicated deal includes an initial one-year loan for five million euros, a compulsory purchase for another 15 million with a possible ten million more in performance related clauses. “Roma have acquired one of the most promising central midfielders in Italian football,” a Roma statement said. “In the future we hope he will become one of the pillars of Roma and the national team.” The Italy international himself was also upbeat

The post Roma swoop for Atalanta’s Cristante appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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Moscow students make rare protest against World Cup

Moscow (AFP) – Construction of the World Cup fan zone outside Moscow’s top university is fuelling a rare protest in Russia as students worry thousands of partying football fans will destroy one of the capital’s few green spaces.  The row pits students at Moscow State University against a recently re-elected President Vladimir Putin whose administration does not easily brook dissent and has gone all out to ensure the month-long football extravaganza goes off without a hitch. The area will have concerts and entertainment for up to 25,000 fans as well a giant interactive screen for those without tickets to watch

The post Moscow students make rare protest against World Cup appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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World Cup restrictions weigh heavy on ordinary Russians

Moscow (AFP) – Keen to prevent a repeat of ugly scenes from previous tournaments, authorities in Russia have imposed draconian measures during the World Cup, cracking down on everything from alcohol to kebabs.  Here are some of the new restrictions that affect Russians as well as international fans during the tournament, which runs from June 14 to July 15. – Sale of alcohol – On matchdays and the day before, the sale of alcoholic drinks and all drinks in glass bottles will be banned in fan zones, around stadiums and in other busy locations such as parks and railway stations

The post World Cup restrictions weigh heavy on ordinary Russians appeared first on World Soccer Talk.

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