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  1. Senegal's forward Mbaye Niang (L) scores a goal during the Russia 2018 World Cup Group H football match between Poland and Senegal at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow on June 19, 2018. ? AFPMOSCOW: Senegal recorded the first African win at the 2018...
  2. When Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat-trick against Spain the other day, many were talking about him with admiration and astonishment, that how he can be so fit at the age of 33? For he has performed at the top level and is yet to hit the barriers that ageing brings along, especially in football. These days, footballers are retiring at 33 on average, but Cristiano keeps putting in the performances expected from a 23-year-old. Ronaldo has the total ability to steal headlines and the spotlight from almost everyone around him, and with all this comparison of age being discussed, why are we missing those old and wise defenders for teams at the World Cup who are indeed making a mark. Portugal © Reuters Cristiano Ronaldo might be the torch bearer for the Portuguese, but other experienced stars are also making a mark on the team. One look at this Portuguese defence will show a contrast between their age and that of the rest of the group (barring Ronaldo's). Unbelievably enough, Portugal's first choice defenders, Pepe and Jose Fonte are 35 and 34 respectively, while the next in line if one of them is injured or needs replacement, is Bruno Alves, who himself is 36 now. Their fourth option is the 21-year-old Ruben Dias, who is only going to play if anything is to happen to the first three, ageing, hugely experienced defenders. France reached the World Cup final in 2006 with a similarly, old defensive line, and if recent examples are of any significance, Portugal themselves won the Euro two years back with the same defence. We are talking about a country with a top football league where there are plenty of top-class players, even in defence; yet they have stuck to a set of defenders for more than 10 years now. For the Portuguese, age is only a number. Brazil © Reuters Next on the list is Brazil. Like the Portuguese, everyone seems to focus a lot on their attacking talent, while thoroughly forgetting that defence is equally responsible for winning games. Brazil has some quality central defenders in their ranks, in the Brazilian League as well as in the many European clubs they ply their trade at. Despite that, for a long time, Brazil has always preferred experience over the power of youth in defence. At the World Cup in Russia, Brazil's starting central defenders are Joao Miranda and Thiago Silva, both 33, who are set to lead their nation at the tournament. In their career for the national side, they have matched their young attacking colleagues on every front and are set to be tested further by teams at the World Cup. There's no age to stop doing the Samba, apparently! Spain © Reuters The Spanish team was ripped apart by a 33-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo in their first game in Russia, but that does not put an end to their hopes at the World Cup. If the Spanish attackers are revered for their talents, it is their defence that possesses the required leadership skills. The Spanish guard is led by the ageless, fearsome and robust Sergio Ramos and Barcelona's towering star Gerard Pique, 32 & 31-years-old respectively, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Both have been in the team since Spain started their domination on World Football back in 2008, but today they are mentally and physically much stronger, ready to lead this side to glory with possibly the pair's last attempt at the World Cup trophy. They say in Spanish, 'With Age Comes Ageless Beauty', and their beauty is in the way they play and make their teams play football on the field. Mexico © Reuters Mexico sent shock waves that shook Germany right through its core, created seismic activity back home and made a statement of intent at the World Cup in Russia, after a stunning win over the World Cup holders. Hirving Lozano might have been the talking point after scoring the solitary goal that downed the Germans, but the real deal was the two Mexican central defenders in Hugo Ayala and Hector Moreno. The duo, forged a stunning partnership at the back to kill off any potential German attacks on their goal. The defensive duo is heading into the twilight off their career with Ayala 31 and Moreno 30, who are not any closer to their younger days. But these players are showing the hunger and agelessness that only a few seasoned footballers have demonstrated in the history of football. If Mexico is to advance any further at this World cup, these two are going to play a crucial role with their desires and experience on the field. These Mexican defenders would rather die on their feet than live on their knees.
  3. The FIFA World Cup 2018 is in full fervour and we're all glued to our screens just like how we had imagined. It's the World Cup after all and even if India is not among the qualifiers, we're still as enthusiastic as every other ardent football fan out there. But India is not totally disconnected from the World Cup so to speak. We have some adorable representatives making their way into the World Cup, and we couldn't be more proud! Meet 10-year-old Rishi Tej and 11-year-old Nathania John Kandathil, who are the designated Official Match Ball Carriers (OMBC) for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and they're both from India! Rishi already became the first Indian ball-boy in a World Cup match, when Belgium played Panama in Sochi. The 10-year-old carried the football onto the pitch during the pre-match ceremony between Belgium and the World Cup first-timers Panama, where the Red Devils beat Panama 3-0. © Twitter 64 kids were selected across the world to be a part of the OMBC programme, a campaign organised by KIA Motors (FIFA's official partners), which is actually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for enthusiastic football-loving kids across the world, to watch some great matches and walk alongside the biggest names in the football world. "I am so excited, you cannot measure it even. It is like I am still dreaming. In Russia, I want to live every moment. During the match, I just don't want to enjoy but analyse how they play," - Rishi Tej (as told to a popular publication). © Twitter The Bangalore boy admitted having not slept well at all after his selection was finalised. And that's absolutely understandable! Imagine sitting with your favourite sportsmen while representing your country, all at the same time! Tamil Nadu's Nathania is the only girl to make it, after a tough competition against 50 boys, impressing the selection committee with her on-point football skills. Her big day is yet to come though. She'll walk along the big players, with the official match ball in her hand, on June 22, when Brazil will play against Costa Rica. Exciting times are ahead of her and I am sure she's kicked about it. You can definitely watch her during the starting ceremony. © Twitter Sunil Chhetri, the Indian football team captain conducted trials for the selection last month for the OMBC programme & he had a lot to say. “I am overwhelmed to see the kind of talent these little kids have. They are not only just passionate about the game but are also well-versed about its nuances. I shall envy the kids who eventually go over to Russia to watch the game's greatest players in action. It will be a life-changing experience. I must thank Kia Motors for giving me the opportunity to interact with these kids and be part of such a wonderful initiative,” - Sunil Chhetri (quoted by a popular news network). © Twitter Great to see India's 1st ever Official Match Ball Carrier at the @FIFAWorldCup thanks to @KiaMotorsIN. Super initiative. Well done Rishi Tej from #bengaluru. @chetrisunil11 @squareConsult #football #lifetimeopportunity #worldcupâ â #FifaWorldCup18 pic.twitter.com/mXUkw0Oium — Vishal Jhunjhunwala (@vj2w) 18 June 2018 Well, all we want to say is three cheers to KIA Motors for organising such a heart warming initiative which will witness kids who love football, across the globe, participate in the World Cup and witness one of their biggest dreams come true! As for now, we're super proud of both Rishi and Nathania for making it to the World Cup and connecting India to the biggest Football tournament in the world.
  4. The sight of Brazil's David Luiz consoling a weeping James Rodriguez of Colombia after the latter's quarterfinal defeat became one of the most touching moments of the 2014 World Cup. Colombia's brilliant form in Brazil caught the eye, and some of their then underestimated stars have gone on to become world beaters ever since. Colombia enters the World Cup in a frame where they are considered the dark horses of the tournament. The presence of some well-established stars as well as some of the rising ones, Colombia could be on the verge of a turning point in their history. This Colombian team is brimming with talent and the South Americans as they have all the ingredients to be the summer's surprise package. History © Reuters Colombia will be playing their sixth World cup in their history and their best ever performance in one was at Brazil 2014 when they lost in the quarterfinals. Colombia first in a World Cup back in 1962. Their next came only in 1990, but Colombia then went on to participate in the subsequent two editions, crashing out in the group stages on both occasions. Taking their immediate history into consideration, Colombia will be a lot more confident from their performances in Brazil and come to Russia with plenty of optimism. The fact that their core players will be playing in back-to-back World Cups, the South Americans can bank on their previous experience and hope to kickstart their tournament in style. Current Form © Reuters Like all other South American teams, barring Brazil, the CONMEBOL qualifiers were really bizarre considering no team hit top form. Brazil displayed supreme form and qualified with ease, but the others reached Russia at the back of some terrible way and taking advantage of their rivals' bad luck. Colombia was no different, especially in games against the top three of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. Against the three teams, Colombia took only two points from six games, which was disastrous. However, against the other teams, they only lost once, winning seven games and drawing four. James Rodriguez is still regarded as Colombia's talisman, top scoring during the qualifiers with six goals. Expectations At The World Cup © Reuters One look at Colombia's group and we can see there are no 'Marquee' teams present there. That does not change the fact that this is a highly competitive and, from an alternate point of view, the group of death. In Group H, there are teams of high calibre, capable of inflicting tremendous amounts of damage when offered the chance. If we have to read through this group from the outside, Poland and Colombia are the clear favourites for the next round; but Senegal and Japan pose a real threat to dethroning this established order in one way or another. Colombia is taking an experienced, stylish squad full of flair football. Their style of togetherness and Jose Pekerman's extensive work on them for the last few years will bring them the desired results. As of now, it looks like Colombia are one of the dark horses of this World Cup and will take on their opponents actively. Considering they win their opening round to Japan, they would need another win to secure passage into the next round; however, a defeat would dent their hopes badly. Squad Goalkeepers: David Ospina (Arsenal), Camilo Vargas (Deportivo Cali), José Fernando Cuadrado (Once Caldas) Defenders: Cristian Zapata (Milan), Dávinson Sánchez (Tottenham), Santiago Arias (PSV Eindhoven), Óscar Murillo (Pachuca), Frank Fabra (Boca Juniors), Johan Mojica (Girona), Yerry Mina (Barcelona) Midfielders: Wílmar Barrios (Boca Juniors), Carlos Sánchez (Espanyol), Jefferson Lerma (Levante), José Izquierdo (Brighton Hove & Albion), James Rodríguez (Bayern Múnich), Abel Aguilar (Deportivo Cali), Mateus Uribe (América), Juan Fernando Quintero (River Plate), Juan Cuadrado (Juventus) Forwards: Radamel Falcao (Mónaco), Miguel Borja (Palmeiras), Carlos Bacca (Villarreal), Luis Fernando Muriel (Sevilla).
  5. If you're a fan of Apple's iPhone SE and have been eagerly waiting for the new version, we may have some bad news for you. According to a new report, the iPhones with a 5.8-inch screen, a 6.5-inch screen, and a 6.1-inch screen may be the only new iPhones to launch this year. The iPhone 9 may just be the cheaper alternative. The report cites Olixar, a case maker, who has had accurate predictions in the past. © YouTube What this means is that, fans of the smaller form factor of the iPhone SE may not be getting a smartphone as predicted before. Oliver has been accurate in the past, as it has used forecasts about the iPhone to move ahead in manufacturing with cases for different and newer iPhone models. However, this doesn't mean that the iPhone SE 2 has been cancelled indefinitely, as there is a high chance the phone's launch has been moved to 2019. The first iPhone SE had an incremental upgrade on the 2013 iPhone 5s and was launched in 2016. The follow-up, if launched in 2019 would be a full three years after its predecessor. © Pexels Apple has shown interest in launching cheaper products for a wider audience, as the company recently announced a cheaper iPad for students. We can expect Apple to take a similar step for the iPhone sometime in 2019 to capture price-sensitive markets like India and China. In 2013, Apple had also introduced a cheaper and more colourful iPhone 5c which was a major success in India. We can only know for sure about Apple's plans this September. Were you interested in buying a new iPhone SE? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. Source: Forbes
  6. The noise of the Swedish fans singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" after the second-leg of the World Cup qualifying play-off at the San Siro was one of the highlights of the entire qualifying campaign. The chant was a clear depiction of sentiment, excitement and adrenaline as Janne Andersson's men had just beaten the Italians in the two-legged encounter (0-1 agg). Midfielder Jakob Johannsson's deflected strike in the first leg was the difference as the second leg in Italy ended in a goalless draw. The result meant that Sweden had reached their first World Cup since 2006 at the expense of the Azzurri. Just minutes after the final whistle in Milan, Eurosport's pitch-side setup was side crashed by the jubilant and exuberant Blågult players as they channelled their high spirits into an animated spectacle. It was a night to remember for the Scandinavian side, who achieved this feat without their talisman Zlatan IbrahimoviÄ. The La Galaxy forward had announced his retirement from international football after a disappointing campaign at the Euros in 2016, but that seems to have had a unifying impact on the team. History © Reuters Sweden's involvement in the World Cup always brings the '94 campaign into discussion, much to the delight of their fans. On the back of an extraordinary run in the European Championships two years earlier, where they defied odds by reaching the semi-finals, the Swedes carried that form on to the world stage. Captained by Jonas Thern, the side lost only one game throughout the tournament. The Blågult were denied off a place in the World Cup final by a neat finish from Brazilian playmaker Romário in the semi-finals. The Seleção went on to win the final against Italy on penalties, but it was the Swedish team, with the attacking exploits of Kennet Andersson and Martin Dahil, and the artistry of the baby-faced midfielder Tomas Brolin, that lit up America. Tommy Svensson's men finished the tournament in third place, behind only Brazil and Italy, and Andersson's goal-scoring fireworks saw him finish the tournament with five goals - the same as Romário, Roberto Baggio and Jürgen Klinsmann. Current Form © Reuters Sweden's last two friendlies against Chile and Denmark ended in defeat and a goal-less draw, respectively. They face Peru in their final pre-tournament game on the 9th of June before jetting off to Russia. The recent games suggest that, although, the team is well drilled and organised defensively, options going forward are limited. Aside Emil Forsberg, whose in-game intelligence and creative ability to pick an accurate pass and make the right decisions in the final third of the field often comes to Sweden's rescue in crucial games, there isn't much technical prowess in the attacking side of their game. The RP Leipzig winger's stakes rose sky high after a stellar 2016-17 season in the Bundesliga but a long-term injury lead to depleted production this past domestic campaign. His coming to form will be vital to Sweden's hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the World Cup. Expectations At The World Cup © Reuters In their last World Cup outing back in 2006, Sweden were knocked out in the second round where two goals in the opening 12 minutes from Lukas Podolski sent Germany to the last eight of the competition. Die Mannschaft may well play a big part in deciding their fate once again as the Swedes are part of the group that features the defending champions themselves, South Korea and Mexico. But, the quest for a place in the last 16 lies heavily on the outcome of their clash against Mexico. The El Tricolor have an incredibly consistent record in the group stages of the World Cups as they are one of the only three teams to make every knock out stage since 1994. Having breezed through the CONCACAF fifth round qualifying with just one loss in the entire campaign, Mexico present a formidable task for Sweden. It will take some tossing away from Mexico for the second spot, however a convincing win for the Swedes in their opening encounter against South Korea could change the scenario. Sweden's chances of making past the group stages of the World Cup are bleak, but their collective fight and togetherness, which was key in their qualifying run, could spring a surprise or two. Squad Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea) Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnador), Martin Olsson (Swansea), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Filip Helander, Emil Krafth (both Bologna), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United) Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa), Viktor Claesson (Krasnador), Marcus Rohden (Crotone), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse) Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain), John Guidetti (Alaves), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren).
  7. The FIFA World Cup is well and truly underway. The quiet Swiss, a country with a population of a little over 3 lakh, and CONCACAF's most recognized team shed away all preconceived images and showed that they rightfully belong on the world stage, even pushing aside the established guard a bit. Hirving Lozano, top scorer for PSV in 2017-18, scored the lone goal for Mexico against the World Champions, film director and Iceland goalkeeper Hannes Halldorsson saved a Lionel Messi penalty, and the Swiss showed their eagerness in a dogged battle against the Samba Boys. Here's what the underdogs did right against the big guns this weekend: Germany vs Mexico Reuters Hirving Lozano was Mexico's top goal scorer during their qualifying campaign and became the first player to score in 60 years against Die Mannschaft in their first World Cup Game as defending champions. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio was spot-on with his tactics: exploiting the tired legs of Sami Khedira and Germany's overtly possession based game. Everyone was questioning Loew when he dropped Sane, the PFA Young Player of the Year for the World Cup. But a player missing out on selection is Emre Can, having come off a decent season at Liverpool. Can tracks back quickly and would have played in a deeper role alongside Kroos. The Mexicans used the counter attack to perfection, with right back Joshua Kimmich missing for the goal. The Germans were way too confident in possession, with Mexico waiting to pounce. They had a chance also when Hernandez and Vela were through, only for them to miss. Germany switched to a 3-6-1 formation, leaving large gaps in midfield for the Mexicans to exploit. Khedira is a spent force in midfield, and ironically, will be replaced by Can at Juventus in the summer. Ozil was seen tracking back, raising larger questions of the German defence. El Tri are now top of the group, and should be looking to win atleast one game against Sweden or South Korea. Brazil vs Switzerland Reuters Appointed coach in June 2016, Tite led Brazil to top CONMEBOL qualifying with 41 points. But Brazil's opening group E match against Switzerland saw Tite on the opposite side of a masterclass. Tite had instilled the faith and physicality of this Brazilian squad, with Casemiro, Paulinho and Fernandinho forming the crux of the side. They tackle, use their body well and break up attacks quickly, leading to quick counters for the speedy wingers. Switzerland did the same with Valon Behrami doing an excellent job in midfield. He completed 41 out of his 44 passes, and fouled Neymar the most. The world's most expensive player was fouled 10+ times. Having led through a superb Coutinho strike, the Swiss kept their calm and scored an almost easy goal when the time came. Center half Zuber rose to meet a corner, with Alisson helpless. Even the normally attacking Swiss left back Rodriguez was seen in his own half, with the Swiss disciplined in their midfield. Brazil have now failed to win their opening match for the first time since 1978, a run stretching back 40 years. Argentina vs Iceland Reuters Their first ever World Cup, a meteoric rise from 131 in October 2012 to a present of 22, Iceland are winning hearts all over. Coach Hallgrimsson is a professional dentist and goalkeeper Hannes Haldorsson has an IMDB page to his name. In their first ever World Cup game, they thwarted 2014 runners up Argentina. Iceland let Argentina dominate possession and were effective on the counter. Argentina led through a superb Sergio Aguero strike, but a porous Argentine defence saw Alfred Fimbogason equalize after a rebound. They absorbed pressure, kept the midfield disciplined, not being awed by Argentina's possession. Messi, after the penalty miss had 11 shots on target, 2 lesser than Luigi Riva, who had 13 in 1966 and 1970. Iceland would look to repeat the glory of Euro 2016, where they reached the quarterfinals. Argentina on the other hand, need to gear up against Croatia and Nigeria. Coach Sampaoli has a tough two weeks ahead of him.
  8. It sure speaks a lot about the grit and determination of Serbia, who have been going through some civil and military tensions, to have qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as group winners. And it is important to remember that before this they were not even able to make it to qualifying for three other major European tournaments. In this turmoil, the team's coach Slavoljub Muslin was sacked for being too defensive. HIstory Facing internal strife over the Yugoslavian wars in the 90's, and after the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro, Serbia has played as an independent nation since 2006. So far they have qualified for the 2010 and 2018 World Cup. Football has been a national passion for the small country and its national team is nicknamed as the Orlovi (the Eagles). While being a part of the erstwhile Yugoslav national teams, it achieved considerable success, finishing fourth at the 1930 and 1962 World Cups respectively. Source: Reuters Interestingly, both FIFA and UEFA have accorded the Serbian national team the standing of a direct and sole successor of the Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro teams. Current Form Showcasing spectacular performance in the Sep 2017 qualifiers, Serbia held on to their lead over the Republic of Ireland when centre-back Nikola Maksimovic was sent off. Again in Oct 2017, after a bitter 3-2 defeat to Austria, just three days later, Serbia rose like a shooting star with the help of Aleksandar Prijovic's goal against Georgia and secured its position in group E. This season, Serbia will clash first against Costa Rica. A face off with Switzerland, and Brazil will follow on the 22nd and 27th of June respectively. The reins of the aggressive Serbian team are presently held by the caretaker coach Mladen Krstajic, aged just 43 years. Stars in their own right Serbia has a strong line-up of players. Dusan Tadic is surely bankable whereas Aleksandar Mitrovic who played only as a reserve at his club side Newcastle, has taken everyone by surprise by scoring six times in the qualifiers. The goalkeeper in the form of Vladimir Stojkovic is a blessing for the side and their captain Branislav Ivanovic is equally promising with his on-ground management. Nemanja Matic provides the assurance in his central position in midfield. Source: Reuters The back four will have to brace to face the attacking teams as they will be without the injured centre-back Matija Nastasic. The Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic along with Dusan Tadic, can be a lethal combination for Serbia as an attacking force. Expectations Much depends upon the centre forward Aleksandar Mitrovic and there is no clear replacement for him yet. Similarly, the newbie who scored the winning goal against Georgia and Andrija Pavlovic need somebody to look up to. If the defence is taken care of and Dusan Tadic is supported well Serbia can look to surge ahead albeit a tough game with Costa Rica. Going for the knockouts is going to be a daunting challenge indeed. Source: Reuters Serbia World Cup Squad GOALKEEPERS: Vladimir Stojkovic (Partizan Belgrade), Predrag Rajkovic (Maccabi Tel Aviv), Marko Dmitrovic (Eibar). DEFENDERS: Aleksandar Kolarov (AS Roma), Branislav Ivanovic (Zenit St. Petersburg), Dusko Tosic (Guangzhou R&F), Antonio Rukavina (Villarreal), Milos Veljkovic (Werder Bremen), Milan Rodic (Red Star Belgrade), Uros Spajic (Krasnodar), Nikola Milenkovic (Fiorentina). MIDFIELDERS: Nemanja Matic (Manchester United), Luka Milivojevic (Crystal Palace), Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Lazio), Marko Grujic (Liverpool), Adem Ljajic (Torino), Dusan Tadic (Southampton), Filip Kostic (Hamburg SV), Andrija Zivkovic (Benfica), Nemanja Radonjic (Red Star Belgrade). FORWARDS: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle United), Aleksandar Prijovic (PAOK Salonika), Luka Jovic (Benfica).
  9. Team Costa Rica had acquired the nickname 'The Gold Shorties' in the late forties and they have been regular at making their presence felt at all important football tournaments. Their expedition through the 2018 World Cup qualifying phase has had its fair share of ups and downs. Looking at the erratic performance the team has shown in the 2018 qualifiers, critics say that Costa Rica seems to have lost that golden touch they exhibited in Brazil 2014 and that their “golden generation” has already seen its best years pass. For 2018, the team qualified by beating USA and Trinidad & Tobago who were not competitive enough to reach even the play-offs. History With its long standing football culture and tradition, Costa Rica is unarguably a strong national football team that has had a lineage in the history of Central America. In the list of its achievements are three CONCACAF Championships (1963, 1969 and 1989) and a reputation of leading the pack with an impressive eight championships in the Copa Centroamericana. With an all-time highest Elo ranking in Central America, Costa Rica has the distinction of playing in four FIFA World Cup editions. Source: Reuters Finishing first in a group of all former World Cup champions-Uruguay, Italy, and England in 2014 would be remembered as Costa Rica's best performance in history. Current Form Undoubtedly, Costa Rica has had a superb start to the final qualifying round after beating Trinidad & Tobago (2-0) and USA (4-0). But apart from these two victories, defeat against Mexico and a draw with Honduras turned out to be a dampener on their winning streak. Placed in Group E, Costa Rica will play their first game against Serbia on followed by Brazil five days later, and finally with Switzerland five days after that. The talented midfielder Oscar Ramírez, aged 52, who was part of the Costa Rica squad that secured a place in the knockout stages at Italia 90, is now at the helm of the team's affairs as their coach. Source: Reuters Team Costa Rica is to a large extent, a repeat of the squad that made the world sit up and take notice at Brazil in 2014. Prominent names include Giancarlo Gonzalez, Oscar Duarte, Celso Borges, Yeltsin Tejeda, Christian Bolanos and Marcos Urena. Among these are also European-based stars such as Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell. Keeping in mind their poor performance in friendlies against Spain and Hungary, the team should improve upon their faults in formation and coordination. Expectations Being in the best of form is a concern with Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz owing to their injuries. It is expected that players such as Jimmy Marin, Randall Leal and Gerson Torres, all aged 20, would reverse the run of bad form. It could be expected that Costa Rica qualify for the knockout stage in second place behind Brazil. They have to focus on scoring really well in their matches against Serbia and Switzerland. Costa Rica will be one of the few teams that rely on five at the back, so that the goal defended by their star player, Keylor Navas gets full cover. Source: Reuters Costa Rica World Cup Squad GOALKEEPERS: Keylor Navas (Real Madrid), Patrick Pemberton (Liga Deportiva Alajuelense), Leonel Moreira (Herediano). DEFENDERS: Cristian Gamboa (Celtic), Ian Smith (Norrkoping), Ronald Matarrita (New York City), Bryan Oviedo (Sunderland), Oscar Duarte (Espanyol), Giancarlo Gonzalez (Bologna), Francisco Calvo (Minnesota United), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps), Johnny Acosta (Aguilas Dorados). MIDFIELDERS: David Guzman (Portland Timbers), Yeltsin Tejeda (Lausanne-Sport), Celso Borges (Deportivo La Coruna), Randall Azofeifa (Herediano), Rodney Wallace (New York City), Bryan Ruiz (Sporting Lisbon), Daniel Colindres, Christian Bolanos (both Saprissa). FORWARDS: Johan Venegas (Saprissa), Joel Campbell (Real Betis), Marco Urena (Los Angeles FC).
  10. Iceland have just pulled off a real underdog story. Up against the might of Argentina led by Leo Messi, they pulled off a more than respectable 1-1 draw at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. It might seem like a one off, but, on closer inspection, they might just be about to pull off a miracle. Source: Reuters The footballing world fell in love with Iceland at Euro 2016 as they topped their group which also included, Croatia who are in their current World Cup group too. Subsequently, they beat England in the Round of 16 in one of the biggest upsets in international football. It's clear that their status as a smallest nation in Russia has no bearing on what this team can achieve. Source: Reuters Over the years, Iceland have invested heavily in football infrastructure and created a conducive footballing environment for stars to flourish. Moreover, their manager Heimir Hallgrimsson has created a team not reliant on any one individual. The evidence of this was there for all to see. The defensive pairing of Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kari Arnoson, put in tackle after tackle and had countless defensive headers, as the entire team valiantly defended against the Argentine onslaught. Their star player, Gylfi Sigurdsson was everywhere on the pitch, dribbling past the Argentine midfield and delivering crosses, one of which found Alfred Finnbogasson who scored the equaliser barely minutes after Argentina scored. Finally, their Man of the Match was their goalkeeper, Hannes Halldorsson, who made one heroic save after another all throughout the game. His crowning moment came in the 64th minute when he saved Leo Messi's poorly placed penalty. Source: Reuters From thereon, the Argentinian players looked like they were losing hope and the Icelandic team kept looking for a fruitful counter attack. As the final whistle blew, the crowd roared for a team which had produced a performance worthy of the World Cup. If this performance is anything to go by, Iceland are destined for much bigger things this WC and anyone writing them off should do so at their own peril.
  11. Peru's last notable World Cup performance came in 1978 – a time when none of the current squad members were even born. Peru will be looking to finish 2nd in their group after France and give teams like Australia and Denmark a very tough fight. History Reuters Peru has its name in the history books. It was one of the only 13 nations invited to take part in the first ever FIFA World Cup, held in 1930 in Uruguay. It is quite surprising, therefore, that they have managed mere 6 appearances in World Cups thereafter. In fact, it is astonishing that after the inaugural tournament in 1930, their second appearance came 40 years later – in 1970! In spite of being an early footballing nation, Peru has failed to produce a team that can take them all the way to the World Cup. But being fair to them, the South American continent is full of giants like Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, and Chile. Playing qualification games against these nations has always proved to be tough. The South American giants play with an attacking flair that is difficult to neutralize, and if your team can't hold the ball during attack, it may be prone to counters, as Peru have been in the past. Peru's best performances at the World Cup were during two of their last three outings – in 1970 and in 1978. In both these campaigns, they reached the quarter finals. They are still remembered for the 1978 tournament, where they defeated Scotland 3-1 in a game that was one of their best performances in the World Cup. Current Form Reuters Peru have Brazil to thank for their World Cup qualification. Brazil's 3-1 hammering of Chile in the last game of CONMEBOL qualifiers, and Peru's 1-1 draw with Colombia saw them tie points with Chile. Peru had lost fewer games (6), as compared to Chile's 8, which meant that Peru grabbed the 5th place, and clung on to their hopes of qualifying for the World Cup. They had to play a qualifier against New Zealand over two legs - once in New Zealand and once in Peru to seal their World Cup fate. After a boring 0-0 draw where New Zealand played defensively, Peru was able to break their defence with a 2-0 victory during their home leg. One of the most relief inducing news updates for Peruvian fans and the Peru team is that they head into the World Cup with their captain Paolo Guerrero. Guerrero was almost on the verge of missing this World Cup after having been banned for allegedly consuming cocaine. However, just 2 weeks before the World Cup squads were announced, the court dramatically ruled in Guerrero's favour, thereby ensuring that Peru have the services of an experienced campaigner who had plied trade for Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV. Peru have been brilliant in defence, conceding just 7 goals in 8 games that they played in 2017. They are currently on a string of 5 wins, having won 2-0 against New Zealand, 2-0 against Croatia, 3-1 against Iceland away, 2-0 against Scotland, and 3-0 against Saudi Arabia away from home. Expectations At The World Cup Reuters Their defensive capabilities, possession-based football, presence of talismanic captain Paolo Guerrero, and recent run of victories will surely make them the 2nd favourites after France to qualify from Group C. In fact, it is the only one in group C that can contain France's counter attacking play, or even upset them. This Peru side is also being hailed as the strongest Peruvian team to take part in the World Cup. The players then, will be surely looking to better the 1978 record wherein they reached the Quarter finals! Apart from their captain Guerrero, experienced campaigners Jefferson Farfan who played for PSV Eindhoven and FC Schalke 04, and Andre Carrillo who played for Portuguese sides FC Porto and Sporting CP will have the onus of carrying their team over the line. Squad Goalkeepers: Pedro Gallese (Veracruz), Carlos Caceda (Deportivo Municipal), Jose Carvallo (UTC) Defenders: Aldo Corzo (Universitario), Luis Advincula (Lobos Buap), Christian Ramos (Veracruz), Miguel Araujo (Alianza Lima), Alberto Rodriguez (Atletico Junior), Anderson Santamaria (Puebla), Miguel Trauco (Flamengo), Nilson Loyola (Melgar) Midfielders: Renato Tapia (Feyenoord), Pedro Aquino (Lobos Buap), Yoshimar Yotun (Orlando City), Paolo Hurtado (Vitoria Guimaraes), Christian Cueva (Sao Paulo), Edison Flores (Aalborg), Andy Polo (Portland Timbers), Wilder Cartagena (Veracruz) Forwards: Andre Carrillo (Watford), Raul Ruidiaz (Morelia), Jefferson Farfan (Lokomotiv Moscow), Paolo Guerrero (Flamengo).
  12. The Video Assistant Referee or VAR technology has been one of the most talked about points leading up to the World Cup. FIFA passed the order to include VAR as part of the World Cup, even though this technology hasn't been used in many top football leagues yet. Not that the tech has received positive responses from associations or its fans It is still presumed to be at its initial stage and this World Cup is more of an experiment. Some blame it for killing the spirit of the game and fear it will break the rhythm of some high profile, intense games of football at the tournament. Source: Reuters VAR was promoted to eradicate cheating or wrong decisions which were costing teams precious points in meaningful games. The technology has hardly done anything to curb bad choices; instead it has stirred up controversies when it's been put to use. To be fair on the tech there was hardly any excitement when it was announced that VAR would be used at the World Cup and when it was finally used in the France-Australia game, it disappointed and possibly robbed the Australians of a hard-earned point. It looked like Australian defender Josh Risdon clipped France forward Antoine Griezmann just inside the penalty area, but the referee waved play on. Moments later VAR was called for and controversially decided to award France the penalty. Sure, replays showed there was contact on Griezmann, but nearly three minutes were wasted in making the decision itself. VAR is controversial because it could kill the tempo of a more high profile game, like the final. With France opening the scoring with that penalty, VAR didn't cause any more stirs during the game, although technology was to come in handy later on. Soon after the first goal, Australia was awarded a penalty and Mile Jedinak scored to equalise against France. Paul Pogba then emerged to be the star for France as he grabbed a late winner, after some brilliant short passing moves and the Manchester United midfielder clipping the ball over goalkeeper Ryan. Source: Reuters Technology again aided the match-winning goal after it was unclear if Pogba's shot had cleared the line. But goal-line technology, the less controversial cousin of VAR provided an accurate analysis of the shot and the referee awarded the goal to France. Ironically, Pogba who has been heavily criticised for his recent dip in form was aided by technology against Australia to prove his doubters wrong. He was also involved in the first goal as it was his pass to Griezmann that led to the initial penalty. As for VAR, it has a long journey to go in Russia. Many decisions ruled with the help of VAR might be accurate in some regards, but it sure is killing the game's tempo and momentum of teams who are on an offensive spree. Slowly it could become a highly dependable source for necessary decisions and effectively rule over the outcome of many forthcoming essential matches at the World Cup in Russia.
  13. Bollywood and Hollywood movies have their individual concoctions of action, drama and a unique display of emotions and sentiments. But there also are a lot of movies that teach us to never give up and triumph over any difficulties that life throws at us. These movies tell us, that irrespective of the many odds, how a person can remain steadfast in his convictions. It not only gives us life lessons but at the same time, changes the way we look at life for the better. 2018 has been an amazing year so far for both Bollywood and Hollywood in terms of putting out great content. While some movies have already hit the screens, some are yet to roll out. Either way, if you have missed out on these movies, then you are missing something that is definitely worth your time. Right from '102 Not Out', 'Raazi' to the upcoming 'Incredibles 2', here's a list of movies you should watch out for to get an entirely new perspective on life. 1. 102 Not Out '102 Not Out' is not your usual father-son love story and that's what makes it extraordinary. Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor came together after 27 years and that was the reason enough to get us excited for this one. Dattatreya, (Amitabh Bachchan), a 102-year old father, is an eccentric man and nothing can stop him from living life to the fullest. While Babu, (Rishi Kapoor) is his 75-year-old son who has simply lost interest in life. Fed up with Babu's surly attitude Dattatreya threatens to send him to an old age home unless he accepts a list of challenges. Unknown to Babu, the list is made in a manner that will make him re-look the gift of 'Life'. (c) Sony Pictures The movie teaches us two wonderful things that we often forget: · “Zinda hai tab tak marna nahi hai.” · “Aulaad nalayak niklay to use bhool jana chahiye…sirf uska bachpan yaad rakhna chahiye.” It's not just a happy entertainer but a movie that teaches us the value of life and our parents. 2. Raazi Based on Harinder Sikka's novel 'Calling Sehmat', 'Raazi' is inspired by a true story set in 1971, before the Indo-Pak war. This is an emotional and inspiring tale of an Indian girl who marries a Pakistani Army officer in order to extract intelligence details that were used during the war. In the movie, Sehmat (Alia Bhatt) becomes a spy who knows that eventually, she would risk everything, from love, family to even her life. Witnessing her story makes us wonder if we could ever do something like that for our country. This unsung story of a spy actually teaches us the true meaning of determination and selflessness. 3. Pad Man Akshay Kumar is on a roll and he, as always, came through with 'Padman'. Directed by R Balki, the movie is a life-inspiring story of Arunachalam Muruganantham (played by Akshay Kumar), a social entrepreneur from Coimbatore, who invented low-cost sanitary napkins in India. Despite all the difficulties, opposition and humiliation, he doesn't give up. It's a courageous story that tells the society that menstruation isn't a taboo. Akshay Kumar's character, throughout the movie, tells us that if one is confident and determined, he/she can change the world. 4. Incredibles 2 How can we ever forgetting meeting the Parrs – Bob, Helen, Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack in 2004? The crazy family instantly won our hearts in 'The Incredibles' and now they are all set to make a comeback with 'Incredibles 2', From Mr. Incredible's super strength to Elastigirl's stretchy flexibility, the movie left everyone stunned. What makes this simple story so special is the fact that it's about a family that sticks through thick and thin. And adding more to the cast this time is Kajol, who is doing the Hindi voiceover for the same, which gives many Indians more reason to watch it. 'Incredibles 2' is all set to release on 22nd June. 5. Padmaavat The Badass character of Alauddin Khilji (Ranveer Singh) in 'Padmaavat' gives a strong message of courage and the determination to succeed. Even though he is playing the villain in the movie, there is a lot in his character that will teach you, keeping aside the negative aspect of course. You might hate him, despise him but he will make you fall in love with him. We don't agree with his violent methods, but his manipulation and diplomatic techniques can come in handy for many. You don't have to go overboard but can always use it in an intellectual way without hurting anyone. Also, how one should take their sexual preferences in their stride is one thing you just can't miss. 6. RAID Based on a true story, 'RAID' is an inspiring tale for anyone who wants to make a difference and make his country a better place. Amay Patnaik, played by Ajay Devgn, is a fearless IT officer who carries out a non-stop raid at the mansion of the most powerful man in Lucknow, played by Saurabh Shukla. For those who don't know, the story is actually about a real-life high profile raid back in the 1980s during the rule of prime minister Indira Gandhi. 7. Sanju This upcoming Hindi biographical film is clearly the most talked-about movie of the year so far. There is no one who is likely to miss this film based on the life of actor Sanjay Dutt. Ranbir Kapoor will be seen donning Sanju's role. The movie unfolds certain chapters of Sanju's life that none of us know about. The movie will teach us that even if your life is falling apart you can always have a fresh start. 'Sanju' is all set to hit the screens on 29th June 2018. 8. Veere Di Wedding The biggest USP of 'Veere Di Wedding' is that all the four beautiful women are giving it back, not only to the society, but also to all the ridiculous norms it proposes for them. It gives out a strong message to all the women out there to celebrate life and wear their vulnerabilities and failures like a badge of honour. There are many life lessons one can learn from this bold movie. No matter what your gender is, you can't miss this one! 9. Hichki 'Hichki' revolves around the life of Naina Mathur (Rani Mukherjee), who is suffering from a neurological condition called Tourette Syndrome since childhood. But for those who thought that a disease can break you, wait till you watch her inspiring journey. She might be 'suffering' but that does not stop her from chasing her dream to be a teacher. The movie, in every frame, gives you a small lesson that you can inculcate in your life. It talks about how a certain disorder can make your body functionally weak but that should not stop you from achieving your dreams. 10. Bohemian Rhapsody Chronicling the journey of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, the much-awaited movie is one thing you just can't miss. The film shows the journey of a man who was not afraid to showcase his flamboyant personality and be true to his nature, fighting stereotypes and not caring about the societal norms. As the first major rock star to die of AIDS, Mercury's death represented an important event in the history of the disease. Mercury's life has various chapters and each has a lesson you can't miss. The movie will hit the screens on 24 October 2018.
  14. Be it the La Liga, the Champions League, or the World Cup, every tournament invariably becomes about these two – Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It has been 10 years since these two have dominated the world stage by winning all the Ballon D'Or trophies between them. The world has never been fixated on and divided by just two players so much. Yes, we still have the Pele vs Maradona debate but their careers hardly overlapped in terms of playing years. Source: Reuters Cup after cup, Messi has been carrying the expectations of not just his own nation, Argentina, but of millions of fans who worship him and consider him to be from another planet. It's an open secret that if Leo manages to lift the World Cup, he will stamp his authority as the greatest player of all time. However, the World Cup has eluded Messi. He came within touching distance of lifting it in 2014, but an extra time stunner by Goetze saw Germany lifting the cup. Source: Reuters Last night, people from around the world witnessed the brilliance of Ronaldo, when he struck 3 goals, taking his hat-trick tally to 51. What's more special is that he managed to score the goals against a formidable Spanish squad and, arguadbly, the world's best goalkeeper De Gea. He lit up the World Cup and gave an open challenge to Messi after stroking his chin while celebrating the first goal. It was an inkling that he's the G.O.A.T. – Greatest of all time. Source: Reuters They are such fierce competitors that both of them up their game after seeing the other perform. Will Messi be able to give the world reasons to celebrate ecstatically, just like Ronaldo did last night? Or will the pressure weigh too heavily on him as Argentina face World Cup debutants Iceland up first? We hope for the former! Messi vs Ronaldo at the World Cups The legends are almost neck-to-neck as far as records are concerned - Messi: Games: 15 Goals: 5 Assists: 3 Ronaldo: Games: 14 Goals: 6 Assists: 2 (Updated after last night's Spain vs Portugal game) Argentina play debutants Iceland today at 6:30 pm IST
  15. World Cup openers are supposed to be fiery encounters that not only get the fans adrenaline high, but also make the neutrals well up with emotions. The Russian goal fest against Saudi Arabia did get the World Cup 2018 started on a good note, but it was never supposed to be a great display of footballing talent. When it comes to a hotly contested match, all eyes will be on Portugal vs Spain – one of the most anticipated games of the group stages. It is the kind of game that we'd have loved to open the World Cup with. Source: Reuters While Portugal will be looking to capitalize on Spain's coach crisis, the Spanish armada will want to brush aside any disheartening vibes that have been building up over the past couple of days. They would be looking for a chance to show the world that the hallmark of a true champion is standing up during times of crisis. The Iberian derby will see the presence of some of the greatest players in modern football, with 5-time Ballon D'Or winner Ronaldo captaining the Portuguese side and many Real Madrid and Barcelona stalwarts such as Iniesta, Ramos, and Isco playing for the Spaniards. Source: Reuters Spain's interim coach Fernando Hierro, who was a Real Madrid star himself, will certainly have plans to stop Ronaldo, but when it comes to the midfield battle, the Spaniards have a clear edge. The current Spanish midfield is being hailed as the golden generation of midfielders, and one that will give the coach selection dilemma. Previous Encounters The Iberian derby has taken place 35 times, and Spain have by far been the better team with 21 wins as compared to Portugal's 6. In their last game at the FIFA World Cup 2010, Spain edged past Portugal 1-0. Source: Reuters Likely Formation Spain will line up 4-3-3. Portugal are expected to line up 4-4-2.
  16. At the turn of the century, Portugal managed to escape years of footballing anonymity and has since appeared in every major international tournament. Having boasted the likes of Luis Figo, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo in their starting XI's over the years, one would imagine that Portugal can always be a safe bet to perform at the grandest stage. However, it's one of the teams that's caused punters and bookkeepers to lose a lot of money. Simply because, there has been no pattern to their success. Source: Reuters History Successes in the earlier part of the century were followed by ignominious World Cup exits in 2010 and 2014. However, just when everyone had lowered their expectations of them, they sprung up with the biggest surprise of all by winning Euro 2016, cruelly denying France a victory on home turf. A script eerily similar to the Euro 2004 final, when Portugal found themselves on the receiving end. Under lowered expectations, Portugal had well and truly left a mark on the world of football. As pundits continued to decipher the shock victory, a consensus had emerged that the Portuguese manager had built a strong and rigid defense, given that the attack was marshalled by a well-known entity called Cristiano Ronaldo. Source: Reuters Current Form Santos' men carried their momentum and proved to be an extremely tough opposition to beat as they lost just twice in 2017. However, since the turn of the year, the cracks have begun to appear in the Portuguese defense. Out of 4 matches played in 2018, Portugal have won just once, against Egypt, thanks to two injury time goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, drawn twice, and lost once to Netherlands, having conceded three goals in that match. Source: Reuters If their Euro 2016 win exuded confidence in the neutrals, their recent run of form dampens the mood. Critics will rightly point to an ageing defense, consisting of Jose Fonte, Pepe and Bruno Alves, who are 34, 35 and 36 respectively and past their best years. Portugal's defense, although well organised from a tactical perspective, may well serve as its Achilles' heel. Expectations Assessing Portugal's chances at the World Cup seems as hard as ever. While, the attacking aspect seems to have taken care of itself, it is the defense that should give Santos sleepless nights. Compared player to player, Spain are a superior side on paper, while Morocco and Iran, will be no pushovers in Group B. Source: Reuters However, given the wealth of talent and title winning experience in squad, Portugal are likely to get through this group, and anything less than a run till the quarter finals will be considered disappointing. Squad Given their recent success, one would imagine that Fernando Santos would stick to the same youthful side of 2016. However, surprisingly, Santos has axed 10 players from that squad with the biggest casualties being the Young Player of the Tournament in 2016 Renato Sanches, Andre Gomes, Eliseu and Nani (who has 100 caps btw), all of whom have had indifferent, if not miserable domestic seasons. Source: Reuters They have deservedly been replaced by the likes of Bernardo Silva, Gelson Martins, Goncalo Guedes and Andre Silva. Their selections clearly depict that Santos is not afraid of making bold decisions and is ready to put his faith in youth and form. Moreover, Santos is likely to rely heavily on Bernardo Silva, who offers creativity, slick one touch passing and long range shooting from midfield, something Portugal have been accused of lacking in the last two years. Above all, it is Silva's ability to operate from both, midfield and forward positions which makes him so indispensable to this squad. He comes on the back of two title winning campaigns with Monaco and Manchester City, and it is this match winning mentality which Portugal will need if they are to succeed in Russia. Source: Reuters In spite of all the youth, Portugal will look towards their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo to lead the team. Come the end of the year, he will be taking part in his yearly ceremony at the Ballon D'Or. But, few would've expected him to be there at the turn of the year. As critics continued to write him off, Ronaldo, yet again, proved them wrong with a spectacular run of form in the La Liga and the Champions League and finished the season with 44 goals and yet another Champions League. If Portugal are to succeed, he must serve as their inspiration on the pitch. As for anyone doubting his leadership qualities, one only needs to be reminded of his performance from the dugout in the Euro 2016 final when he cheered, screamed and encouraged the players on the pitch to step up in his stead, after injury had forced him off.
  17. Morocco have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 20 years. Their most recent accomplishments include an Arab Cup win in 2012 followed by appearances in the 2013 and 2017 editions of the African Cup of Nations. Neutrals would be tempted to rule them out as bystanders. However, on a closer look, that might not necessarily be the case. There has been little debate about the “Group of Death” in this World Cup, Morocco's steady rise in recent years means that they could well be the giant killers of this group. The man who has led this revolution at Morocco, is little known French manager called Herve Renard. In 2004, Herve Renard was sacked as the manager of Cambridge United after the club found themselves bottom of the League Two table. The club was subsequently relegated from the Football League and for Renard, a career in footballing abyss seemed imminent. Since then, he has led a Zambia to a surprising win at the 2012 African Cup of Nations. Reuters Several uninspiring managerial stints later, he led the Ivory Coast to the 2015 edition of the African Cup of Nations and in doing so, became the first manager to win the AFCON with different teams. Clearly, he's been doing something right all along. Known for his affable personality, Renard has acquired a reputation as a hard task master who focuses on each and every detail. His focus on fitness, and organizing a defence, often produces teams that are hard to beat as the players playing under him often outperform their own abilities. Combine this with his penchant for innovative in-game tactics, and we have a French Marcelo Bielsa. Since he took over the reins as the head coach in February 2016, Morocco stayed unbeaten in 2016. After a disappointing exit in the 2017 AFCON, Morocco have lost just 2 of their last 13 matches, a run which has included admirable wins against South Korea and Serbia. Moreover, Morocco stayed unbeaten in their world cup qualification group which included the might of Ivory Coast. Reuters However, a more pressing statistic is that, in those 13 games, the Moroccan team conceded only 6 goals and kept 6 clean sheets. Clearly, Renard has brought discipline to this defensive unit. It is this defensive rigidity which may serve as a huge asset against the likes of Spain, as the Moroccan defence spearheaded by their captain Mehdi Benatia, will look to block that final ball. Apart from Benatia, the defence consists of Romain Saiss, who comes on the back of a championship winning season with Wolves, and Nabil Dirar from Fenerbahce. Between the three of them, they have 113 international caps and plenty of experience of European football at the domestic level. Their midfield will be spearheaded by Younes Belhanda and Mbark Boussoufa, who will serve as the creative outlet going forward. Reuters However, the player who is turning most heads is Hakim Ziyech. The 25 year old had a spectacular year with Ajax, where he contributed 9 goals and 15 assists. He is renowned for his technique and free kick taking ability, which has interested many European clubs, specifically Roma. If the Moroccan defence lives up to its billing, it is Ziyech who may chip in with an unlikely winner. Spain and Portugal may still be the runaway favourites to qualify from Group B, but no one is likely to bet heavily on Morocco being pushovers. A disciplined defensive showing against the Iberian giants may well open up the way for a threatening counter attack and lead to an unlikely goal. It may sound like an optimistic call, but Morocco, under Renard, may just spring surprises and bagging that second qualification spot. Squad Goalkeepers: Mounir El Kajoui (Numancia), Yassine Bounou (Girona), Ahmad Reda Tagnaouti (Ittihad Tanger) Defenders: Mehdi Benatia (Juventus), Romain Saiss (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Manuel Da Costa (Basaksehir), Badr Benoun (Raja Casablanca), Nabil Dirar (Fenerbahce), Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid), Hamza Mendyl (Lille, France) Midfielders: M'bark Boussoufa (Al Jazira), Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord), Youssef Ait Bennasser (Caen), Sofyan Amrabat (Feyenoord), Younes Belhanda (Galatasaray), Faycal Fajr (Getafe), Amine Harit (Schalke) Forwards: Khalid Boutaib (Malatyaspor), Aziz Bouhaddouz (St. Pauli), Ayoub El Kaabi (Renaissance Berkane), Nordin Amrabat (Leganes), Mehdi Carcela (Standard de Liege), Hakim Ziyech (Ajax).
  18. Something seems amiss when one talks about the prospects of an Asian team at World Cup. With the exception of South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, Asian teams have failed to leave a mark at the world's biggest stage. Iran, being one such traditional Asian powerhouse, has always dominated weaker opposition within the AFC, but have been nothing more than bystanders at the World Cups. In 2014, Iran found themselves in a group with Nigeria, Bosnia Herzegovina and Argentina. After a hard-fought draw with Nigeria, Iran looked like salvaging a draw against Argentina until Lionel Messi produced a moment of magic in the dying minutes of the game. Finally, they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in the final group game against Bosnia Herzegovina. As expected, Iran finished last in the group and bowed out of the World Cup. With Iran placed in the “Group of Death” this time, their fate is likely to be no different. However, if recent form is anything to go by, Iran may not bow out as meekly as they did the last time. In 34 matches in the last 3 years, the Iranians have lost just thrice. They were unbeaten throughout their qualification campaign and qualified with relative ease. However, this does not tell the full story. A majority of these 34 matches came against the vastly inferior opposition. Since the turn of the year, Iran have played 5 matches and lost twice, against Tunisia and Turkey, who can be said to be of comparable quality to the Iranian side. © Reuters The signs are ominous that the Iranians show signs of crumbling when faced with superior opposition. And it is this mental block which their manager Carlos Queiroz will need to address, if they are to be anything more than bystanders in this group. Queiroz has led the Iranians for 7 years without a trophy or any significant achievement during his reign. And this time, he is up against his home country in the group and may have a point to prove against the Portuguese, who unceremoniously sacked him as their manager in 2010. Given the limitations of the Iranians, Queiroz has assembled a disciplined side with the right mixture of youth and experience. If they are to stand any chance of qualification, Queiroz needs to ensure that the experienced lot step up to the challenge. © Reuters This Iranian side, however, presents a stark contrast to the previous sides that have appeared at the World Cup. 12 of 23 players currently ply their trade with European clubs. That hasn't always been the case, and, in recent years, the upcoming Iranian players have shown a willingness to move out of the Middle East and test themselves at the highest level. Masoud Shojaei, the Iranian captain, may have had an indifferent season with AEK Athens, but his team will look upon him to provide creativity in the final third, if they are to better their 2014 goal tally of 1 goal. Ashkan Dejagah, the only player with Premier League experience was the bright spark in a Fulham team that got relegated in 2014. © Reuters He possesses a bullet right foot and will look to cut it on his right and curl the ball into the top corner. Up front, however, lies the Iranians' biggest assets in Sardar Azmoun and Reza Ghoochannejhad. Azmoun, who plays with Rubin Kazan in Russia, already has 23 goals in 32 international caps. Ghoochannejhad was the scorer of Iran's sole goal in Brazil in 2014, and Iran will once again look towards him to spearhead the attack. Even the most optimistic of pundits will not fancy Iran to progress from this group. Carlos Queiroz knows the size of the task that lies ahead of him. However, if the stars of this Iranian side were to step up, Iran could make things very interesting in this group. Squad Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Seyed Hossein Hosseini (Esteghlal), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo). Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (Ostende), Voria Ghafouri (Esteghlal), Steven Beitashour (Los Angeles FC), Seyed Jalal Hosseini (Persepolis), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Alsaad), Mohammad Ansari (Persepolis), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Omid Nourafkan (Esteghlal), Saeid AGhaei (Sepahan), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal). Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Ahmad Abdolahzadeh (Foolad), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds), Mahdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Notthingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiacos), Ali Karimi (Sepahan), Soroush Rafiei (Al-khor), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis). Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiacos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (Heerenveen), Kaveh Rezaei (Charleroi).
  19. The FIFA World Cup 2018 kicked off – literally – last night with Russia kicking Saudi Arabia's ass. As we all know, something so huge like the freaking World Cup will give us a steady supply of hilarious memes and this year, it was kicked off by none other than Vladimir Putin himself. Side note – How many kicking puns is too many kicking puns? Coming back to yesterday's game, Russia had an incredible 5-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in a Group A game in Moscow. Team Russia winning the first game in Russia? Obviously, Putin was all smiles at the game as he watched from a VIP box with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Just twelve minutes into the match, the Saudi back line got caught out of place after a corner kick, leaving a wide-open opportunity for Russia's Yury Gazinsky to score the first goal of the tournament. What a time to get your first international goal! Gazinsky scores the first goal of the FIFA #WorldCup to put Russia ahead 1-0. #RUSKSA pic.twitter.com/d0RKDcA97R — FOX Sports (@FOXSports) June 14, 2018 But, turns out there was something better than the goal that happened during the aftermath of that moment. Thankfully, someone was able to capture the interaction between the Russian president and the Saudi crown prince, starting with a shrug, followed by a sympathetic handshake. Naturally, it caught the eye of the people on Twitter and we got immediate reactions. No one can confirm what the actual conversation was. Putin: Sorry bro, u can't buy everything with money. Evantino: Maybe u should call Amercia to help you. Salman: Guys , let's make a deal please #worldcuprussia2018#WorldCup #Ùأس_اÙعاÙÙ #Ùأس_اÙعاÙÙ_2026 #CoupeDuMonde2018 pic.twitter.com/pico6N4dmd — Why So Serious (@WhySoSerious_jk) June 14, 2018 This could totally be true. Prince Salman: Hey Vlad, thanks for rigging America's elections! Putin: Of course! Want me to rig yours too? Prince Salman: We don't have elections for this very reason! ð Putin: Same here! ð#WorldCup #WorldCupRussia2018 pic.twitter.com/oIWqPWfPGi — Rahat Kukreja (@RahatKuk) June 14, 2018 With love, from Putin. The #HANDSHAKE with love from Russia. Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman! pic.twitter.com/vlBdbF4hdG — Hossain Sagar (@HossainSagar1) June 14, 2018 Yes, dawg. Putin shake that hand like.... "We still building the pipeline right dawg?"ð¤£ð¤£ð¤£ð¤£ — senator_forde (@Kerwyn_Forde) June 14, 2018 A bet has been made. Putin: "I bet you half my gas reserves Trump signs a free trade agreement with me first." Crown Prince: "You are on." Gianni: *thinking* my heroes. pic.twitter.com/TMDe65997o — Caiphus Kgosana (@CaiphusK_11) June 14, 2018 Did they figure it out? Putin and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia coming up with some new ways to keep that oil price high pic.twitter.com/87ubhxRXKI — Justin (@justinbo25) June 14, 2018 True. ð¤ Twitter when it sees this handshake...#WorldCup pic.twitter.com/YqyucAfc99 — The Sportsman (@TheSportsman) June 14, 2018
  20. Ranbir Kapoor's vibe, life, and style are on a major high right now. While on one hand his much-awaited movie, 'Sanju' hits theatres at the end of this month, on the other, his Rs. 48,000 jogger pants caused major heartbreak in our HQ. Seems like Ranbir got a whiff off his trending joggers and at a recent promotional event for the movie, he decided to ditch anything black and opt for a concoction of colours! © Viral Bhayani Oh, Ranbir, seeing you in black had almost become a habit, but then you surprise us with this. Whatever said and done, this is easily Ranbir's bravest yet. We haven't seen the man wear so many colours ever. This is probably the point where we should thank his stylists, The Vainglorious — who seem to have been dressing every top A-lister out there. © Viral Bhayani Wearing a yellow ochre round neck T-shirt, Ranbir pairs it with dark grey slim fit trousers (yep, those aren't jeans) and those elegant Brogue boots. He finished off his look with an off-white jacket (that looks super comfy btw) that has grey panels on the sides and beneath the sleeves. © Viral Bhayani Each of these pieces are worthy on their own. The bright color of the T-shirt, the fit of the trousers, the ease of that jacket and the elegance of those boots. But once they are put together, well let's just say that's how a Style Icon is born. © Viral Bhayani All in all, we can't wait to see what Ranbir wears next whether it is on the streets of Bandra or at movie events! Ranbir's wardrobe choices will always get us talking.
  21. From playing gully-cricket to EA sports '07, we screwed up somewhere. The kind of f*ck up which can't be easily reversed. There are numerous ways in which digital world has helped us but it has also made us dull-witted and superficial. We have become the generation who survives on likes and shares. Here are some of the peculiar fads which the youth are following: The 'Intellectual' Selfie Check out your timeline, people. You'll see many intellectual quotes like “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” And what are they associated with? A selfie! A selfie with pouted lips or half a face! We have just one question. WHY? It's one thing to post a relatable quote with a beautiful landscape that you clicked but posting some deep (copied) thought with your portrait is, sorry to say, stupid. It's hard to know if this trend came first or the word 'lame.' Best Hubby (Ever) Hashtag Not being a male chauvinist but the fairer *** is the guilty one here. Maybe he's your knight in the shining armor, a great guy, as good as a man can be, but ladies, best is a comparative degree and you simply can't claim that he's the #BestHubby. (Actually, you can. But in order to do that you would have to try every other man, then the hashtag is all yours). Similar is the case with #BestHubbyEver. Ever in the hashtag means you've tried something similar before but this one is the best among all. If it's not your first marriage, then you're good to go. Otherwise, just tell him how great he is in person and not with such senseless hashtags. Wishing Parents/Loved Ones on Social Media Again, why? Find your phone, dial the number, say “Happy Birthday Mom. God has already blessed you with a child like me so, I'm not sure what can I wish for. Still, May God give you what you want,” and stop right there! There's no need to open Facebook, post a vintage picture and tell the world how much your mom means to you. There's no point in showing off your 'love' to your digital friends. It's quite a personal thing, don't you think? Likes For Likes Hashtag People, it's just…desperate! It's one thing if you're making a living out of Instagram by being some kind of blogger or a marketer but posting it for sheer attention is not normal. Such behavior is desolate if you ask us. It's fine to share your pictures on social media but thriving this much for likes, comments and shares is ill-flavored. For your own stature, please stop! If you found yourself guilty of any of the things that we mentioned, there's still time. Use social media for entertainment, not to boost your superficial egos. You don't need the world's validation, be happy from inside.
  22. The World Cup kicked off in Russia on Thursday as the hosts got the ball rolling against Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow after an opening ceremony attended by President Vladimir Putin and headlined by performances from Robbie...
  23. Election Commission of Pakistan has issued an 86-point code of conduct for political parties, candidates, election and polling agentsISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday issued an 86-point code of conduct for the...
  24. After a heavy dosage of T20 cricket through the IPL, the Indian sports enthusiasts now gear up for some scintillating football action on arguably the biggest stage - FIFA World Cup - which is slated to begin from 14th June. With 32 nations vying for the top prize, the month-long tournament has plenty in store to satiate the large appetite of football fanatics. While the quadrennial event is looked upon as a great opportunity for participating nations to build on their rich footbaling history, it also acts as a pivotal platform for the young and rising stars to make a mark on one of the biggest sporting extravaganza. Whether it's a goalkeeper, defender or a midfield maestro, every player will be eager to step up for their respective sides on the world stage. Though every player - in their own respective roles - will be key to their success in the upcoming tournament, it's needless to say that it will once again be the forwards - including the strikers and wingers - who might end up deciding the fate of their teams. Arguably the most important players in a football team, forwards can single-handedly turn the tide in their favour during a game. A good goalkeeper and robust defence can surely make an impact for their team, but for that moment of magic to change the outcome of a match, it's the ferociously attacking forwards a coach will look to for inspiration and a potential result. And, the coveted tournament in Russia this month could very well witness the same. With some of the biggest strikers in attendance, the upcoming tournament is surely going to see a tough battle for the Golden Boot honour. From Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, here's a look at the top 15 forwards who are expected to shine at the mega stage: Timo Werner (Germany) Reuters From being one of the breakthrough stars in the 2016/17 Bundesliga to becoming Germany's first-choice striker for the upcoming World Cup, Tim Werner has undoubtedly come a long way to prove his mettle in the No 9 position for his respective clubs and country. The 22-year-old began his professional journey with VFB Stuttgart at the age of just six. By the time he was 17, Werner had already become the youngest ever UEFA Europa League debutant in 2013. A few months later, he went on to become the youngest Stuttgart player ever to score in the Bundesliga and the youngest ever to net a brace in the history of the German league. After Stuttgart's relegation, Werner moved to RB Leipzig where he developed into a more rounded striker and established himself one of their driving forces in the league. A strong finisher who can move pretty fast on the counter attacks, Werner also has a knack for getting in behind defences and creating spaces in deep-lying positions which has allowed him to become Germany's first-choice striker ahead of the likes of Mario Gomez and Sandro Wagner. And, the fact that Werner walked away with the Golden Boot honour in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, highlights his ability to deliver on the big stage. Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Reuters Given his astronomical feats and envious exploits, Cristiano Ronaldo clearly needs no introduction in the footballing world. Labelled as one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game, Ronaldo boasts of the 2016 Euro trophy, five Champions League titles and a record-tying five Ballon d'Ors. Today, aged 33, the mercurial forward might not be the goal-scoring machine he once was, but his presence on the field is still good enough for his side to turn the tide in their favour during crunch matches. For a man who began his career as a trickster, Ronaldo, over his career, has become a menacing force for his opponents. A versatile attacker, Ronaldo was ostensibly right-footed, but, with training and hardwork, he has managed to become very strong with both feet. Whether with or without the ball, Ronaldo ranks amongst the world's fastest footballers. Harry Kane (England) Reuters With mercurial Gareth Southgate as their coach, England will be desperately looking to make amends for their poor showing in Brazil where they couldn't even get out of the group stages four years ago. And, if there's anyone who can make it happen for them, it's got to be their captain Harry Kane. A leader, key player and England's undoubted talisman; Kane has been on a rampage this year scoring goals at will in both Premier League and the Champions League. He's good with both his feet, absolutely menacing in the air and not afraid to fire a long-range shot to find the back of the net. His consistency to score also earned him the Golden Boot in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 Premier League seasons. It's needless to say that England's success in Russia will heavily rely on Kane. The Tottenham Hotspur star was pivotal in his side's road to Russia. He scored winning goals against Slovenia and Lithuania before securing a late equaliser against Scotland - all those goals alone accounting for seven qualifying points for the Poms. After impressing at the club level, Kane now finds himself staring at a much-needed opportunity to make a mark on the biggest stage. Thomas Muller (Germany) Reuters For a man who has 90 international caps and 38 goals for Germany, Thomas Muller clearly needs no introduction to football. Aged 28, Muller has already played in two World Cups (2010 & 2014) where he scored a total of 10 goals (combined). And, that probably explains why he is guaranteed a spot in the ever-competitive German team when they begin their title defence in Russia. Irrespective of his unconventional brand of football, Muller presents a potent goalscoring threat, especially at major tournaments. While he may lack physical strength for a forward, Muller adequately makes up for it with his pace, technique, awareness, tactical intelligence and positioning. Majority of Muller's goals have been attained through his ability to find gaps in the opposition defence. Given the fact that he clinched Golden Boot (2010) and Silver Boot (2014) awards in the last editions, Germany will hope that Muller's knack for making the big tournaments his own by consistently scoring goals continues in Russia. For someone who describes his own role as Raumdeuter (an interpreter of space), Muller will surely not surprise anyone if he walks away with the Golden Boot award, yet again. Lionel Messi (Argentina) Reuters After losing a third final in three years with his national team, Lionel Messi sent shockwaves across the footballing world by announcing his retirement in 2016. Ofcourse, being an emotional decision, Messi's retirement didn't last long and he returned to play for Argentina to the sheer joy of his fans. Two years later, everyone's asking the same question: "Can Messi win the elusive World Cup trophy this time?" Whether Argentina comes out on top or not in Russia, Messi doesn't really need to win a World Cup (though it'll be great if he does) to prove how great a player he is. Despite his short stature, Messi's lower centre of gravity has given him greater agility to move quickly and evade opposing tackles. His dribbling skills are phenomenal and when he's not busy finding the back of the net, Messi can be found setting up his teammates for crucial goals. The road to glory in Russia will require something similar or maybe more from Messi. But, for all his might, Messi is undoubedly one of those star players whose presence on the pitch alone is capable of aiding any team. "This is Messi's Argentina, not mine," coach Jorge Sampaoli's comments further highlight just how important he is for his team. Sergio Aguero (Argentina) Reuters On the back of great passing ability, tactical intelligence and vision, Sergio Aguero has undoubtedly established himself as one of the best strikers in the world. Though he's naturally a right-footed player, Aguero is more than capable of striking with his left foot. He can finish well both inside and outside the area with enough power and accuracy in his shots. However, the last year hasn't been too exciting for someone as talented as Aguero. His troublesome knee injury denied him enough game time at Manchester City, further denting his form during the World Cup qualifiers. Struggling to nail down a starting place, Aguero failed to improve Argentina's wayward finishing in the qualifiers, scoring just one goal in eight appearances. But, despite all that, Aguero will still be pivotal in Jorge Sampaoli's tactics in Russia. And, the fact that the 30-year-old is still chasing his maiden world finals goal in his third consecutive appearance in the tourney, might just fuel his hunger to make an impact this year. That also explains why Sampaoli still sees Aguero as Lionel Messi's ideal strike partner, just as he was at the U-20 World Cup, thirteen years ago. Robert Lewandowski (Poland) Reuters For someone who is often regarded as one of the best centre forwards in the world, it's not hard to guess that Poland's play will pretty much revolve around Robert Lewandowski. The undisputed superstar of the Polish team and arguably one of the highly-anticipated players in the upcoming tournament, Lewy will be seen carrying the hopes of his nation when they travel to Russia. An outright attacker, Lewandowski is a clever dribbler, great in the air, capable of scoring with either foot and very difficult to shrug off the ball. Making full use of those traits, the 29-year-old etched his name in the history books when he went past Wlodzimierz Lubanski's 48-goal mark to become Poland's all-time leading scorer after a hat-trick over Armenia in 2017. Given his exploits, it's not really surprising to see Lewandowski being hailed as his country's biggest sporting idol. And, going into the mega event, Poland's number nine will be expected to rise to the occasion and drive his team to great heights in his maiden appearance at the FIFA World Cup. Neymar (Brazil) Reuters Back in 2014, a young Neymar carried the burden of Brazil on his shoulders as his nation played host to the FIFA World Cup. While his performance was still better than his compatriots, Brazil's dismal show including the shambolic drubbing against Geermany, was an outing the Selecao would surely want to forget. Four years on, Brazil is completely a different team and Neymar is full of experience which puts them in contention for the coveted World title. It's needless to say that going into this year's World Cup, Neymar will once again be the main man for Brazil. And, the fact that their coach Tite has managed to provide Neymar the star status and a position of responsibility withhin the team, promises a better showing this time around. He might have failed to score in the qualifiers prior to Tite's arrival in the dugout, but Neymar seems to have made amends with six goals and eight assists to his name under their new coach. For a man who is capable of playing as a central striker, second striker and even a winger; Neymar has rightly earned the label of a 'true phenomenon'. Playing as a left-sided forward, Neymar offers pace and energy, while his playmaking skills are second to none. In Russia, Brazil will expect their star man to lead from the front, and we won't be surprised to see this man deliver on the biggest stage. Mohamed Salah (Egypt) Reuters Whether you've followed football lately or not, the name Mohamed Salah would really have been hard to miss this season. Arguably the most globally-acclaimed player in the Egypt squad, Salah has won over Europe with his goal-scoring ability lately. For a man who began playing with Arab Contractors, Salah has undoubtedly come a long way to become a key figure at Liverpool on the back of a prolific 2017/18 season. A quick, hard-working and tactical player, Salah has a good technique and great eye for goal. He is predominantly known for his speed, dribbling skills and ball control. A versatile forward, Salah primarily plays as a winger on the right flank - a position that allows hum to cut into the centre onto his stronger left foot and either shoot for goal, or initiate quick exchanges with other players to create a scoring opportunity. All of those attributes were in full display during Egypt's qualifying games for the World Cup. The 25-year-old scored five goals for his national team in six games during the final round of qualifiers. Two of those goals came in the crucial meeting with Congo which sealed Egypt's qualification. As the tournament begins, Salah will once again be expected to lead from the front and help the Pharaohs secure their first-ever berth in the knockout stage. Eden Hazard (Belgium) Reuters Finishing fifth in the Premier League, Chelsea might have been forced to endure a forgetful outing in 2017/18 season, but there's no denying to the plethora of talent Eden Hazard brings to the table. A natural-born footballer, Hazard is a player whose impeccable football skills are capable of filling stadiums and inspiring youngsters to take up the game. For a man who is capable of playing either as an attacking midfielder or a winger, Hazard looks comfortable on the ball and has established himself as an elusive dribbler. Seemingly immune to pressure, the 27-year-old offers dazzling skills and can play the game with remarkable calm and ease. After a bit of an underwhelming FIFA World Cup debut in 2014, Hazard will be eager to make the most of his second chance to shine at the biggest stage the sport has to offer. And, despite the presence of big stars in his team, expect Hazard to make a mark in Russia.
  25. Going through a crude mixture of data, econometrics, and machine learning, Goldman Sachs has predicted that Brazil will win the FIFA World Cup in Russia this year. Goldman Sachs arrived at the answer by firing up machine learning to run 2,00,000 scenarios, mining team data and individual player attributes that enabled them to project-specific match scores. This process has enabled them to project-specific match results after which they have simulated over 1 million variations of the tournament draw to calculate the probable winner. © FIFA This isn't the first time their AI has tried to predict a tournament winner. Goldman Sachs had also predicted back in 2014 that Brazil would lift the World Cup. Unfortunately, Brazil lost to Germany in the semi-final, leading to a final clash between Germany and Argentina, which the former won 1-0. According to the study, France has better chances of winning the cup than Germany but its semi-final match with Brazil is likely to dash all its hopes. Russia although being the host and in a fairly easy group, they are forecasted to crash out of the tournament in the group stages itself. © FIFA In the other semi-finals, Germany will finally put an end to Cristiano Ronaldo's campaign to win a World Cup as the Die Mannschaft have better odds against Portugal. Argentina and Spain are expected to underperform, both crashing out in the quarterfinals. The authors of the study have added a disclaimer as well stating, "But the forecasts remain highly uncertain, even with the fanciest statistical techniques, simply because football is quite an unpredictable game. This is, of course, precisely why the World Cup will be so exciting to watch." © Kremlin A separate AI run by researchers from the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany predict that Spain has the best chances of winning at 17.8 percent after 100,000 different simulations. The predictions are based on the standard decision tree model, which suffers from a problem known as overfitting. Overfitting refers to a model that models the training data too well. Overfitting happens when a model learns the detail and noise in the training data to the extent that it negatively impacts the performance of the model on new data. Source: Goldman Sachs