With a year to go, Russia has two main concerns: hoping the home side has a respectable tournament, which on the showing here may be a big ask, and successfully presenting a friendly, competent Russia to the world. It will not be the first time that Russia has tried to impress on the sporting stage: the 2014 Winter Olympics were positioned as a message to the world, and to Russians themselves, that the country was finally back on its feet following the long period of decline after the Soviet collapse. … [Read more...] about Russia passes Confederations Cup test but hosts need a team to rally behind
2018 davis cup schedule
1) Fortress Windsor Park to inspire Northern Ireland again Northern Ireland and Switzerland last met in a competitive fixture in Belfast in 1964, when a home team featuring Pat Jennings, Terry Neill and George Best triumphed 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park. The current Northern Ireland side boast no players of such high quality, but the indomitable team spirit forged by the manager, Michael O’Neill, in recent years makes them an extremely tough nut to crack at the best of times, particularly when playing in Belfast. Fortress Windsor Park is once again the venue as Northern Ireland resume hostilities with the Swiss in the first leg of a far more significant qualifier on Thursday. For all their delight at being pitted against Switzerland, Northern Ireland fans will be aware their Swiss counterparts will also have been yodelling with delight at the draw. The Swiss boasted a 100% record in their qualifying group until being consigned to the play-offs on goal difference … [Read more...] about World Cup play-offs, final qualifiers and friendlies: 10 things to look out for
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
Poland were seeded third in Group E but saw off Romania and second-placed Denmark to reach their first World Cup since 2006. Serbia also emerged from pot three to take an automatic place, edging through with victory over Georgia in their final Group D match. Republic of Ireland headed to the play-offs after their 1-0 win in Cardiff meant they leapfrogged Wales. … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: which teams have made it to Russia?
For things to go well against Italy, goalkeeper Robin Olsen must have two good games. Emil Forsberg is doing well at RB Leipzig and he will hold the key offensively. Marcus Berg hasn’t had the blossoming club career everyone expected – he is currently playing for Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates – but he has had an excellent qualifying campaign for us, scoring eight goals. He’ll need to find the net again if we are to make it to Russia. Christian Bojesson … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: fans from around Europe preview the play-offs