FIFA PROBES EMPTY SEATS
FIFA is to investigate why Egypt and Uruguay are playing in front of thousands of empty seats at this afternoon’s game in Yekaterinburg.
‘WE ARE READY FOR A TOUGH GAME’
Ruben Loftus-Cheek says preparations for Monday night’s World Cup opener against Tunisia are well underway
“We’ve just started to go over tactics, meetings and analysing the first game,” said the Chelsea man, who was on loan at Crystal Palace last season.
“I expect there will be a lot more of that in the next couple of days.
“Any game in the World Cup is a tough game. The atmosphere brings a lot out of both teams.
“We’re ready for a tough game and an aggressive start from them, so we need to be ready.”
‘I’M JUST GOING WITH THE FLOW’
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has played down concerns about racism in Russia at a press conference today – but admitted the subject has been discussed in England team meetings.
Left-back Danny Rose told his family to stay in the United Kingdom rather than travel to the World Cup because of fears about abuse.
Midfielder Loftus-Cheek said: “That’s Danny’s choice.
“I’m not thinking about it too much – if it happens we’ll deal with it, but looking ahead I’m just going with the flow.”
Asked if the issue had been discussed as a group, the 22-year-old added: “Yes, we’ve had a few meetings on it to get a vision as a group, how they think about it and what way to go.”
‘READY TO GIVE EVERYTHING’
England midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is speaking to the media and says the team have not yet been told who is starting against Tunisia on Monday.
Asked if he thought he would get the nod, he said: “I am not thinking about that too much right now.
“It is just train well, eat the right foods, sleep well and, when the time comes, if I do start, I will be ready.
“If not, I will be ready to come off the bench and give everything.
NO INJURIES FOR FRANCE
France coach Didier Deschamps has eased fears that injury might end right back Djibril Sidibe’s World Cup before it started.
Sidibe’s injured knee was the worst of a few knocks sustained by France players during preparations for Saturday’s match but Deschamps said everyone in the squad was fit to face Australia at the Kazan Arena.
“All 23 players are available,” said Deschamps. “Djibril Sidibe was injured in his last match and his knee reacted.
“We have had to manage it with the medical staff but he’s here today with us.”
EGYPT 0-0 URUGUAY
They have played almost 20 minutes in Yekaterinburg – no goals yet and Egypt star Mo Salah has started on the bench.
Marcus Rashford missed England’s training sessions on Wednesday and Thursday but took a full part today. Great news for the England camp ahead of Monday’s game with Tunisia.
ENGLAND MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
The Russian media have also been covering the England camp in Repino and Gareth Southgate’s men have been getting good reviews.
The reporters have been impressed by how open the camp is and by the fact every player has signed autographs and posed for photos with fans.
It was doom and gloom in Russia ahead of the tournament – with regard to the hosts’ footballing prospects at least.
That has all changed now though and Thursday’s 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia has delighted the Russian media. Sport Express really went to town, with six pages of coverage under the headline – ‘Thank you boys. Let’s go again!’
TRUMP PROMISES ‘GREAT WORLD CUP’
We are just starting to get into the heart of the 2018 World Cup – but it is never too early to look forward to 2026!
The tournament will be going to North America and the US President is already looking forward to it.
‘BIGGEST GAME IN OUR HISTORY’
Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson says no one wants to miss out on his side’s World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday.
The World Cup debutants will come up against Lionel Messi and co in Moscow and Hallgrimsson has plenty of selection dilemmas.
“Everyone wants to play!” he said.
“This is the biggest game in the history of Icelandic football and it (selection) is a headache which our training team has to work on.”
EGYPT v URUGUAY BLOG
So, big news ahead of this one – Mo Salah will only be on the bench for Egypt. Looks like they are easing him back into action after he suffered a shoulder injury during the Champions League final.
The game kicks off at 1pm and you can click here for minute-by-minute coverage – or keep it here, where we will continue to concentrate on the World Cup news lines, including Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s press conference at around 1.30pm.
— Egypt National Football Team (@Pharaohs) June 15, 2018
— Selección Uruguaya (@Uruguay) June 15, 2018
NO STARTING ROLE FOR SALAH
The Egypt coach said yesterday that star man Mohamed Salah was fit to face Uruguay today.
But it looks like Salah will be coming off the bench after he was not included in the starting line-up announced on the Twitter feed.
There was also no place in the line-up for Essam El Hadary, the goalkeeper bidding to become the oldest player ever to appear in a World Cup, with Mohamed Elshenawy preferred.
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah will not start for Egypt in their World Cup opener against Uruguay, the Egyptian federation has announced.
KHAZRI SET TO FACE ENGLAND
Tunisia’s Wahbi Khazri is hopeful of playing some part against England on Monday but does not expect to manage 90 minutes.
The Sunderland winger, who impressed last season on loan at Ligue 1 outfit Rennes, has not played since suffering a thigh injury in April.
But he has been taking a full part with the national side in recent days and expects to be available for action against the Three Lions – and his former Black Cats team-mate Jordan Pickford.
“I’m already training with my team-mates,” Khazri told safc.com.
“I feel pretty good – I’m happy to go back to work and play. I may not be able to play the 90 minutes, but what really matters is that I can help the national team.”
AGE NO EXCUSE
A youthful France side will get their World Cup underway when they take on Australia tomorrow – and PSG forward Kylian Mbappe says their lack of experience should not be a factor.
He told L’Equipe: “We have a young team, yes, but if you look at it, you see we play at Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Juventus, Manchester.
“Take any big European team, there’s at least one Frenchman.
“Of course we are young but several players already have plenty of experience. Youth is an excuse without being an excuse.
“I don’t like to talk about our age. Either you can, or you cannot.”
Peru boss Ricardo Gareca says captain Paolo Guerrero is ready for the World Cup after his drugs ban was temporarily lifted.
The South Americans play their first match at the finals since 1982 when they take on Denmark in Group C on Saturday evening and Guerrero has been cleared to play at the tournament, after a Swiss court granted a temporary lifting of his suspension.
Gareca said: “Paolo I think is very, very fit.
“Whatever happened before, I think that now he is training at a very high level and he is ready, he really is ready to play.”
RAMOS: NO ISSUES IN SPAIN CAMP
The biggest news story of the tournament so far was Spain’ssudden sacking of manager Julen Lopetegui after it emerged that he was set to take charge at Real Madrid.
Fernando Hierro has taken over and, ahead of tonight’s eagerly-awaited clash with Portugal, defender Sergio Ramos insisted there were no problems within the camp.
BARNES: DEFENCE KEY FOR ENGLAND
Former England winger John Barnes believes the defensive players hold the key to World Cup success despite the media focus on Gareth Southgate’s attacking options
Marcus Rashford takes part in England training for the first time since the squad arrived in Russia for the World Cup.
WORLD CUP PREVIEWS
Don’t forget to check out our previews as the World Cup cranks up a gear today with no less than three matches (four tomorrow!).
POSSIBLE ENGLAND LINE-UP
It has been a 3-5-2 formation all the way for England boss Gareth Southgate of late and this is how we are expecting the team to line up when they play Tunisia on Monday night.
BIELSA TAKES CHARGE AT LEEDS
Marcelo Bielsa has managed Argentina and Chile at World Cups in the past – and now he is taking charge at Leeds.
The experienced boss has signed a two-year deal with the Championship side, with a club option for a further year. Good luck Marcelo!
TRIPPIER: WE ALL BELIEVE
Tottenham full-back Kieran Trippier is set to start for Englandagainst Tunisia on Monday and he says the squad are confident they can have a successful campaign in Russia.
WILL MO CELEBRATE IN STYLE?
Mo Salah turns 26 today and it could be a memorable birthday for the prolific Liverpool forward!
Salah has been passed fit after he was injured in the Champions League final and, alongside his Egypt team mates, he will be locking horn with the tough Uruguay defence in Yekaterinburg this afternoon
LINGARD EXPECTED TO START
Just three days to go until England kick-off their World Cup campaign and we’ve now got a good idea of the team Gareth Southgate is likely to pick against Tunisia on Monday.
We expect Jordan Pickford to start in goal, with Kyle Walker, John Stones and Harry Maguire as the three centre backs. Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young are likely to be wing backs, with Jordan Henderson in a holding role.
That leaves Jesse Lingard, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling to support captain Harry Kane.
RUSSIA PROVE DOUBTERS WRONG
The big news from day one of the World Cup – Russia are not that bad!
The hosts came into the tournament in apparent disarray but ran out 5-0 winners over Saudi Arabia and are now eyeing a place in the knockout stages. The ‘moustache of hope’ campaign we reported on yesterday is doing the trick!
Here we go again! Hope you are well and ready for a really busy day of World Cup action as the tournament really gets into overdrive.
It is just three days until England kick off their campaign and we will have all the latest from the camp this morning, with Marcus Rashford expected to return to training.
And, after Russia kicked things off with a 5-0 win yesterday, there are no less than three matches today – Egypt v Uruguay (1pm), Morocco v Iran (4pm) and Portugal v Spain (7pm). It should be a great day – hope you can keep it here!