THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

World Cup big guns limber up in Russia as atmosphere builds

WORLD CUP: The World Cup big guns limbered up yesterday (June 11) ahead of the tournament opener in Russia while brash underdogs Australia warned Euro 2016 finalists France to brace for an early shock.

FootballWorld-Cup
By AFP

Tuesday 12 June 2018, 04:08PM


A World Cup poster in Nairobi, Kenya, shows Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentinian Lionel Messi, German Mesut Özil and Brazilian Neymar. Photo: Simon Maina / AFP

A World Cup poster in Nairobi, Kenya, shows Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentinian Lionel Messi, German Mesut Özil and Brazilian Neymar. Photo: Simon Maina / AFP

As the atmosphere built before Thursday’s (June 14) 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.

World champions Germany, seeking to equal Brazil’s record of five World Cup wins, will land in Russia today (June 12), 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 (June 10).

Neymar, 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.

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”.

Socceroos 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 (June 16).

“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.

A 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 (June 15).

But Salah did some light running in Grozny yesterday, 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 today 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.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Cherng Talay goes on water rations

Phuket has a Water Board, right? Is it normal that a low ranking Village Head can make these decis...(Read More)


Truck driver charged for Patong Hill wipeout

It was quite overdue there, on Patong Hill. During the rainy months the brakes did hold wonderful we...(Read More)


Truck driver charged for Patong Hill wipeout

Ah. Brake failure is it? Sure there wasn't a power pole jumped out in front of you? Good that...(Read More)


Truck driver charged for Patong Hill wipeout

Did you notice the "SAFETY ⊕ FIRST" sign at the back of the runaway truck ?...(Read More)


Cherng Talay goes on water rations

The last months there was a lot of rainfall. We are now still in January. Many more dry months to co...(Read More)


Hotels urged to cut plastic use

Khun P. As you well know, S'pore is not always a 'role model'. No country is. I didn...(Read More)


Cherng Talay goes on water rations

Wonder if all the new condos erected by a certain Singaporean company (after filling in the salt ...(Read More)


Patong seaweed ‘safe’ says expert

What a relief. It only smells, is harmless, but can cause the skin to itch. Is this safe seaweed n...(Read More)


Cherng Talay goes on water rations

And stop any building/construction of hotels, guesthouses, apartments and house too? Obviously ther...(Read More)


Patong seaweed ‘safe’ says expert

Yes, the seaweed is safe. The water that allowed it to grow, isn't....(Read More)