France v Croatia: 3 key World Cup final battles

first_img0Shares0000Creative forces: Croatia’s Luka Modric (right) and Antoine Griezmann of France could hold the key to the World Cup final © AFP / Pierre-Philippe MARCOU, Gabriel BOUYSMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 14 – France are favourites to win the World Cup for a second time in Moscow on Sunday when they take on a Croatia side forced to go through three periods of extra-time to make their first ever final.By contrast, Didier Deschamps’s side have seen off Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium, all in 90 minutes, and enjoyed a day’s extra rest to prepare after their semi-final on Tuesday as they look to make amends for defeat in the Euro 2016 final to Portugal. As the smallest country to reach a World Cup final for 68 years, Croatia cannot call on the same resources as the French but have shown incredible mental strength to battle back from falling behind in each of their three knockout games.AFP Sport looks at three key battles that could decide who are crowned champions of the world:Luka Modric v Paul PogbaPaul Pogba has done his share of defending to help France to the World Cup final © AFP / Adrian DENNISModric has been widely hailed as the world’s best midfielder for his performances in Russia and has emerged as a Ballon d’Or contender after also winning his fourth Champions League in five years at Real Madrid.That is a status Pogba aspires to, but the one-time world’s most expensive player has sacrificed some of his creative talents for the good of the team in Russia.Manchester United’s Pogba has formed a formidable partnership with N’Golo Kante at the heart of the French midfield that has helped snuff out the threat of Lionel Messi, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.Should Pogba and Kante also prevent Modric from taking control of the midfield as he did despite tired legs in the second half of Croatia’s semi-final against England, it will take France a long way towards a first World Cup in 20 years.Mario Mandzukic v Raphael VaraneMario Mandzukic scored Croatia’s semi-final winner against England © AFP / Yuri CORTEZMandzukic often saves his best for the big occasion, most recently shrugging off a knee injury to strike the winner against England in the semi-final.The Juventus forward also has a great record when facing Varane. Mandzukic scored a stunning overhead kick in the 2017 Champions League final, netted twice as the Italians beat Real Madrid 3-1 at the Santiago Bernabeu in April and grabbed the winner for Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Spanish Super Cup.Mandzukic will be used as a focal point to try and bring Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic into the game, but Varane has arguably been the best centre-back at the World Cup and has the speed, height and power to nullify Croatia’s biggest goal threat.Marcelo Brozovic v Antoine GriezmannDifference maker: Antoine Griezmann has scored three goals and set up two more in Russia © AFP / FRANCK FIFERecalled by Zlatko Dalic for the semi-final, Inter Milan midfielder Brozovic freed up Modric and Rakitic from defensive duties at the base of the midfield and always provided an out ball for his centre-backs as Croatia dominated possession.Griezmann has not shone as brightly as at Euro 2016, when he won the Golden Boot. His three goals have come from two penalties and a goalkeeping mistake by Uruguay’s Fernando Muslera.However, the Atletico Madrid star has improved as the tournament has progressed and has been France’s main playmaker, providing the assists for Varane’s and Samuel Umtiti’s goals in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.Griezmann’s energy and intelligence will see him find space to feed Giroud and Kylian Mbappe if Croatia’s energy levels run low. It’ll be Brozovic’s job to make sure he does not.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

How Liverpool could line up next season with Mario Gotze and more signings

first_img Attacking midfield: Philippe Coutinho Central midfield: Piotr Zielinski 11 11 Right back: Nathaniel Clyne 11 11 Centre back: Mamadou Sakho 11 11 11 11 Attacking midfield: Roberto Firmino 11 Goalkeeper: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – Click the right arrow above to see how Liverpool could look next season… 11 11 Liverpool might still be on the fringes of a top four battle but that isn’t stopping them planning next season’s transfers.Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has already lined up a deal to bring in Schalke’s Joel Matip but now rumours are circulating he’ll be doing all he can to land Bayern Munich star Mario Gotze.There is plenty more speculation too with the German’s defence and midfield needing some tinkering over the summer.But how might they line up should they land some of their current targets? talkSPORT takes a look.Click the right arrow above to see how Liverpool’s starting XI could look with Mario Gotze, Joel Matip and other possible signings… Left back: Jonas Hector Centre back: Joel Matip Central midfield: Emre Can Central midfield: James Milner Striker: Mario Gotzelast_img read more

Castro rues poor transition D, not his cold shooting, in loss to Globalport

first_imgLOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Gavina blows his top after yet another Kia loss: ‘I’m tired of this’ UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension And these attempts were point blank floaters and layups that Castro, who finished with 15 points, usually makes.“Everybody has off nights but I think our mistake was our transition defense because once they get the ball we let them start running,” said Castro in Filipino.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutThere were also some calls—or lack thereof—that seemed questionable for TNT but Casto would not comment on the officiating in the loss.“We can’t do anything about it, that was what the referees called so we just have to focus on the game next time around,” said Castro. LATEST STORIES View comments The KaTropa failed to stretch their winning streak to three with the loss as they dropped to 4-3. Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa MOST READ Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnessescenter_img PBA IMAGESANTIPOLO—–TNT point guard Jayson Castro had the coldest hands inside Ynares Sports Center in the KaTropa’s loss 119-112 loss to Globalport in the PBA Governors’ Cup.Castro went on a decent 5-of-12 clip from the field but missed multiple crucial shots in the fourth quarter when the KaTropa attempted to come back against the Batang Pier.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:42Police: California school shooting took 16 seconds01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Gameslast_img read more

Shoaib Akhtar gives coach Mickey Arthur eight-month deadline to improve Pakistan cricket

first_imgThe former fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar has given new coach Mickey Arthur eight months of deadline to improve Pakistan cricket or step down from the position if he fails in his assignment.However, Akhtar backed the appointment of Arthur as Pakistan’s coach and feels the Pakistan players will benefit from his past international experience with top teams.”But I think in eight months time we will know whether he will make a difference or go like others before him. Because in this period we play some very important series and either he will reshape the way we play our cricket or decide to bid goodbye,” Akhtar said.Akhtar also pointed out that coaching Pakistan is a tough job for any foreign coach because of different cricket culture in the country.’Disciplinarian and innovative'”Arthur has a reputation of being a disciplinarian and innovative coach and Pakistan cricket needs both but he has to decide when and where to draw the line,” Akhtar told a local television channel.Pakistan in the next eight months has full Test tours to England, New Zealand and Australia and also play the West Indies in a full series in the UAE.”Arthur has all the credentials to change the attitude and mindset of our players the way they play top cricket. So I am hopeful.”The fast bowler, whose colourful career included number of clashes with the establishment, said while he agreed that discipline was necessary in cricket teams but insisted players needed to be made to feel responsible for their actions as professional athletes.advertisement”Only a professional player can decide what is best for him. When I played there were some undisciplined characters in the team but on match days they only focused on cricket and when they went out to play they tried to give their best that is why our team in those days was so good,” he recalled.Referring to the decision by the new selection committee to drop batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal from the training camp being set up for the coming tour to England, Akhtar said both players had brought this upon themselves.Players need to start performing “For a long time we have all backed them, appreciated and encouraged their undoubted talent but while others who started with them have moved on to become top performers for their country we are yet to see the best from them.”Akhtar said both needed to rethink their priorities and focus on their cricket and do justice to their talent. “I believe it is important for players to be relaxed on non-match days but what matters is you perform when required.”Asked about the accusations by Arthur in 2009 about having suspicions that the fifth and final one-day international that Pakistan played a fixed game against South Africa in Lahore in 2007, Akhtar said all this was rubbish.”I played in that match and I took four wickets. I was at the non-strikers end when our wickets fell. We just played badly under pressure. Because if there had been anything fishy going on believe me I would have dealt with such players myself,” Akhtar said.He said Arthur had clarified his stance and one needed to move on and not keep bringing up the issue now.Akhtar also criticized the month-long training camp being set up before the England tour and emphasis on fitness tests.”I don’t understand this practice because it is hot and every player has his own particular fitness issues and requirements. You cannot lay down same fitness standards for a batsman, spinner and fast bowler. It makes no sense to me.”I always had a knee problem but carried on for so long in international cricket because I knew what I had to do.”(with PTI inputs)last_img read more

Facebook to release Russia ads beef up election integrity

first_imgNEW YORK, N.Y. – Facebook is slowly acknowledging the outsized — if unintended — role it played in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.Bowing to pressure from lawmakers and the public, the company said it will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators, while also pledging to make political advertising on its platform more “transparent.”“I don’t want anyone to use our tools to undermine democracy,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook video and wrote in an accompanying post . “That’s not what we stand for.”The moves Thursday come amid growing pressure on the social network from members of Congress, who pushed Facebook to release the ads after the company disclosed their existence in early September. Facebook has already handed over the ads to the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.Facebook’s reluctance to be more forthcoming with information that could shed light on possible election interference has prompted the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee to call for the company to testify in its election-meddling probe.A MORE TRANSPARENT FACEBOOKIn one of the first steps Facebook has ever taken to open up its secretive advertising system to observation, the company will now require political ads to disclose both who is paying for them and all ad campaigns those individuals or groups are running on Facebook.That’s a key step that will allow outsiders to see how many different variants of a given ad are being targeted to various groups of individuals, a tactic designed to improve their effectiveness. At the moment, there’s no way for anyone but Facebook to track these political ads, or for recipients to tell who is sponsoring such messages.Since average users “don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else,” Zuckerberg said, Facebook will “make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”The company will hire 250 more people in the next year to work on “election integrity,” Zuckerberg said.The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence panel would go farther. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner is writing a bill that would require social media companies to disclose who funded political ads, similar to rules on television broadcasters. In an interview with The Associated Press, Warner said he hoped to work with social-media companies on the bill.AND YET STILL SECRETIVEZuckerberg suggested that the company may not provide much information publicly, saying that the ongoing federal investigation will limit what he can reveal.The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have sought to bring Facebook executives before their committee for the past couple of weeks. But critics say Facebook should go further. They say the company should tell its users how they might have been influenced by outside meddlers.The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, for instance, stressed again on Thursday that the company should make the ads public, “so that everyone can see the nature and extent of the use of Facebook accounts by Russia.”Zuckerberg also warned that Facebook can’t catch all undesirable material before it hits its social network.“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we’re going to catch all bad content in our system. We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think our society should want us to,” Zuckerberg said. But those who break the law or Facebook’s policies, he added, “are going to face consequences afterwards.”Facebook won’t catch everyone immediately, he added, but it can “make it harder to try to interfere.”FACEBOOK HAS COMPANY IN THE HOT SEATZuckerberg’s move came a day after Twitter confirmed that it will meet next week with staff of the Senate intelligence committee, which has been scrutinizing the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media during the election.Warner said the committee wanted to hear from Twitter to learn more about the use of fake accounts and bot networks to spread misinformation.“Twitter deeply respects the integrity of the election process, a cornerstone of all democracies, and will continue to strengthen our platform against bots and other forms of manipulation that violate our Terms of Service,” the company said in a statement.__LoBianco reported from Washington. Associated Press Writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Chad Day contributed to this story from Washington.last_img read more