How Michael O’Neill raised Northern Ireland’s game – in South America World Cup 2018: fans from around Europe preview the play-offs 2) Yellow card peril adds risk to Republic’s challenge in Denmark People do the strangest things when on the verge of glory. Claudio Caniggia missed the 1990 World Cup final for an entirely senseless handball on the halfway line during the semi-final win over Italy. Louis Saha was ruled out of the 2006 final because he managed to pick up a yellow card for a pointless foul during his five minutes on the pitch in the semi. And David Meyler will miss Saturday’s first leg of the Republic of Ireland’s play-off against Denmark after getting booked for crunching into Wales’s goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey near the halfway line in the sixth minute of stoppage time in Cardiff last month. That could prove a costly rush of blood because, that lapse aside, Meyler’s emergence as a fine midfield anchor has been one of the … [Read more...] about World Cup play-offs, final qualifiers and friendlies: 10 things to look out for
1976 european cup final
The construction of St Petersburg’s spaceship-like new stadium has been a remarkable saga. It has run nearly a decade over schedule and has been plagued by allegations of corruption, the deaths of workers and the use of North Korean slave labour. Indeed, it has taken so long to build that parts of it are already rusting a couple of months after opening, while a giant leak appeared inside during the opening game. The pitch was re-laid after concerns were raised that it would vibrate too much, and Cristiano Ronaldo complained that the grass was too long. … [Read more...] about Russia passes Confederations Cup test but hosts need a team to rally behind
Italy will miss the World Cup finals for the first time since 1958 after a 1-0 aggregate loss to Sweden. The azzurri slumped to a one-goal defeat in Stockholm and could not find a way through at the San Siro. Switzerland also held onto a one-goal lead in their second leg with Northern Ireland after winning 1-0 in Belfast thanks to a highly controversial penalty. … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: which teams have made it to Russia?
Ricardo Gareca is scathing about football in his homeland. “Argentina has the best players in the world,” he said this week, “but they have not made a team and that is the problem they have today.” That’s why the side Gareca manages, Peru, lie above Argentina in the Conmebol standings and it’s why Peru stand on the brink of their first World Cup qualification in 36 years. Gareca has, above all else, made a team. … [Read more...] about Ricardo Gareca edges Peru to the brink of a rare World Cup qualification
The Roma midfielder, Daniele De Rossi, meanwhile, has said that Italy must be angry against Sweden to win the two-legged play-off. “Losing this play-off would be a black mark on my career,” he said. “The experience [we have got in the team] counts for a lot but we also have to be angry, furious, lucid and organised. … [Read more...] about Zlatan Ibrahimovic: my Sweden career is over even if they reach World Cup