10 Jan
2020

Three things we learned from the World Cup today

first_imgHere, AFP Sport looks at three things we learned today.Germany should have heeded the warningsWhen Toni Kroos’ 95th-minute winner against Sweden hit the net, most assumed a corner had been turned and that Germany would move into the last 16 with little more fuss.Instead, they were beaten by South Korea and crashed out in the group stage of a World Cup for the first time in 80 years.Their poor performances coming into the tournament proved to be indicators, not outliers. Germany had won only once in six matches and that became seven when they lost to Mexico in Moscow. In the end, it was the victory over Sweden that was the one-off.Germany’s misery is a triumph for the Swedes, who top the group, for Mexico, who beat them so convincingly, and even Korea, who go out on a high after their storming finale. But for the reigning world champions, this was a disaster, as unexpected as it was dramatic.Joachim Low has already said he will consider his future as coach. The inquest is just beginning.Brazil make quiet progressBrazil have qualified from a World Cup group for the 13th consecutive time and while there has been little in their three games so far to set the pulse racing, they have improved with every match.A 2-0 win over Serbia was hardly spectacular but there is a solidity to Tite’s side that means Brazil head into the last 16, having conceded only one goal and with momentum their rivals lack.The opening draw with Switzerland set alarm bells ringing and the anxiety was real in the final minutes against Costa Rica when the score was still goalless. But two late strikes in Saint Petersburg put them in control of Group E and against Serbia, they finished the job.Neymar played 90 minutes again as he continues to regain sharpness and the striker’s grin at the full-time whistle said it all. Their rivals may be stuttering but Brazil are quietly hitting their stride.Bottom half full of surprisesSweden’s progress as group winners adds to a surprising bottom half of the draw, which now includes Spain, Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. In the top half, meanwhile, sit France, Argentina, Uruguay, Portugal, Brazil and Mexico.Japan and Belgium are currently on track to complete the bottom section, Senegal and England the top, but that could change on Thursday.What is clear is the top half boasts more of the established favourites even if the likes of France, Argentina and Portugal are yet to really convince. In contrast, the likes of Croatia and Sweden have less pedigree but are showing better form and cannot be underestimated.Belgium and England play for first place in Group G on Thursday. It will be intriguing to see how eager each side is to win.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Germany midfielder Toni Kroos cuts a lonely figure after defeat to South Korea © AFP / BENJAMIN CREMELSAINT PETERSBURG, Russian Federation, Jun 27 – Germany’s defence of their World Cup crown ended in the group stage after they suffered a stunning defeat to South Korea on Wednesday.The four-time champions’ exit amounts to one of the greatest shocks in the tournament’s history, allowing Sweden and Mexico to go through while in Group E, Brazil and Switzerland advanced.last_img read more

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26 Dec
2019

England lose World Cup third place play-off to Belgium

first_imgLINE-UPSBelgium: Courtois, Alderweireld, Kompany, Vertonghen, Meunier, Chadli (Vermaelen 39), Tielemans (Dembele 78), Witsel, De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku (Mertens 60)Subs not used: Mignolet, Casteels, Boyata, Dendoncker, Fellaini, Carrasco, T. Hazard, Januzaj, BatshuayiEngland: Pickford, Stones, Jones, Maguire, Trippier, Rose (Lingard 45), Dier, Delph, Loftus-Cheek (Alli 84), Sterling (Rashford 45), KaneSubs not used: Walker, Henderson, Vardy, Butland, Welbeck, Cahill, Young, Alexander-Arnold, PopeFrance take on Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT from 4pm. 5 MOMENT OF THE MATCHIt had the feel of a testimonial match with both teams undoubtedly still hurting from missing out on a place in the World Cup final but there was a magical Belgian counter-attack which lit up the spectacle.Had Pickford not kept out Meunier’s volley it would have been a genuine contender for goal of the tournament and we’ve seen many brilliant strikes at Russia 2018. Belgium were deserved winners of the third place play-off 5 England came close to equalising when Harry Kane fired a shot just wide of the post after good work by Raheem Sterling.After the break, Kane just failed to get on the end of Jesse Lingard’s cross as England searched for a goal.Eric Dier’s lovely dinked effort was cleared off the line by Tottenham team-mate Toby Alderweireld midway through the second-half as Gareth Southgate’s men knocked on the Red Devils’ door more and more.England fans rave about Eric Dier during third place play-off 5 5 Meunier’s goal got England off to the worst possible start center_img 5 Clearly suffering from their semi-final blues, England started poorly and were behind inside four minutes when Meunier got in front of Danny Rose to tap home a deflected cross from the left.The Three lions nearly went two-down moments later but Jordan Pickford did well to save a deflected strike from Kevin De Bruyne. Meunier was the star performer of the game It was a disappointing way for England to finish their World Cup campaign Dier came the closest to scoring for England However, Roberto Martinez’s side were always a threat on the counter and a wonderful move was nearly rounded off with a spectacular goal but Meunier’s volley was well stopped by Pickford.Belgium did get their second on 82 minutes when Hazard latched onto De Bruyne’s incisive through ball before stroking the ball into the net to kill the tie.STAR MANHow different it could have been for Belgium if Meunier was playing in their semi-final defeat to France, but the PSG man was suspended.Today he was eligible to play and got the ball rolling for his side with an early goal. Meunier was a nuisance for England all day and could have had a second goal but Pickford saved his stinging volley. England were unable to finish their successful World Cup campaign with a flourish after going down to a 2-0 defeat to Belgium in the third place play-off at St Petersburg.Strikes from Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard either side of half-time sealed Belgium’s best ever performance at a World Cup finals.last_img read more

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18 Nov
2019

Antetokounmpo Leads Bucks Past Timberwolves 134-106

first_imgMINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The start to the game was unusual. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s final stat line was not.After waiting out a long delay, Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 15 rebounds as the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 134-106 on Monday night.Antetokounmpo, the reigning NBA MVP, has posted a double-double in all seven games this season.“Once you go out there, you have a mindset that you’re going to play a game, you’re going to go hard,” Antetokounmpo said. “Once you cannot go hard, you’ve got to almost switch mindsets.”The game was delayed 50 minutes so one of the baskets could be fixed before tipoff. During pregame warmups, the rim the Bucks were shooting on was discovered to be crooked.“I was making shots,” Antetokounmpo joked. “So I was happy. Once they said the rim is crooked, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s why I was making a lot of shots.’ Yeah, it was disturbing, because everybody was ready to go. We had to wait, like, probably, what was it, an hour?”Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), of Greece, drives as Minnesota Timberwolves’ Gorgui Dieng, right, of Senegal, watches in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov 4, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)If the Bucks were thrown off by the delay, it didn’t show. Milwaukee shot 53.8 percent from the field.Khris Middleton added 26 points to match his season high, and Eric Bledsoe set a season best with 22. Bledsoe also had nine rebounds and six assists.“There’s just no excuses,” Middleton said. “We just had to stay professional and be as ready as we could.”Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 25 points. Minnesota played without center Karl-Anthony Towns, who served the second game of his two-game suspension for his part in an altercation with Philadelphia big man Joel Embiid last week. Robert Covington added 15 points.The Bucks outscored the Towns-less Timberwolves 62-38 in the paint.“They’re a good team,” Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said. “You know, the credit goes to them. They overwhelmed us a little bit in the third quarter.”Milwaukee broke open the game with a 38-point third that included a 22-6 run.Antetokounmpo scored 11 points and grabbed five rebounds in the period.“We didn’t make shots. We got stagnant,” Covington said. “We didn’t come out with the urgency that we know we needed to. Just too much playing catch-up.”The Bucks were up seven at halftime thanks in part to coach Mike Budenholzer winning a coach’s challenge with 0.2 seconds left in the second quarter. That overturned an offensive foul on Antetokounmpo and resulted in a layup for him.Donte DiVincenzo scored a season-best 17 off the bench for Milwaukee.“A little bit of a strange night between the beginning and different things during the game,” Budenholzer said. “I thought the guys had a great focus. I thought the third quarter was really good.”TIP-INSBucks guards Wesley Matthews and Pat Connaughton returned to action. Connaughton (right shoulder strain) sat out Saturday’s win over Toronto, while Matthews injured his ankle Saturday and played only nine minutes.Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng made his second consecutive start in place of the suspended Towns. Backup point guard Shabazz Napier left in the fourth quarter with a strained right hamstring. He is day-to-day.KILLING TIMEThe Bucks spent the delay in the locker room, telling stories about odd events they’d experienced in their careers or watched on TV.“The first thing that came to mind for me was back when prime Shaq was breaking backboards every other game,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said.UP NEXTBucks: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, the second stop on a four-game road trip. Milwaukee is in the middle of playing nine of 11 away from home.Timberwolves: At the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Grizzlies have won 27 of 37 meetings in the last decade.___By JOE ZIEMER Associated PressTweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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