IT’S COMING HOME!
Justin Rose has given his thoughts on England’s chances, how they should approach the Belgium game and he has a cheeky message for Martin Kaymer after Germany’s exit.
PUNT IT LIKE PUTIN
Russian president Vladimir Putin joined FIFA’s president Gianni Infantino and Brazil legend Ronaldo for a kick-about in Red Square.
LO CELSO: WE HAVE SUFFERED
Argentina midfielder Giovani Lo Celso says his team-mates have suffered to reach the last 16, and must now enjoy their time in the knockout rounds.
‘WE MUST WAKE UP’
Ahead of Saturday’s mouthwatering Last 16 clash against Argentina, France defender Presnel Kimpembe says Les Bleus must ‘wake up’ after some below-par performances at the 2018 World Cup.
‘LINGARD WAS A QUIET LAD’
Ahead of tonight’s showdown with Belgium in Kaliningrad, the vice-principal of Jesse Lingard’s former school says the England midfielder was quiet as a pupil in comparison to the dance celebrations we see today.
SUSPENDED SANCHEZ RETURNS FOR COLOMBIA
Carlos Sanchez returns for Colombia alongside Mateus Uribe as coach Jose Pekerman changes up his midfield for his side’s decisive Group H encounter with Senegal in Samara on Thursday.
Sanchez, who was shown a red card in the opening minutes of Colombia’s opener against Japan, returns from suspension and replaces Wilmar Barrios. Uribe comes in for the injured Abel Aguilar in the only two changes from Colombia’s 3-0 win against Poland.
Senegal boss Aliou Cisse has recalled captain Cheikhou Kouyate to the midfield in place of Alfred N’Diaye, whilst Keita Balde and Lamine Gassama are also called up in three changes to the team who drew 2-2 with Japan.
BOATENG: WORLD CUP HAS BEEN A DISASTER
Jerome Boateng has apologised to Germany’s fans for their disastrous World Cup campaign, and said the team are on ‘the bottom of the world’.
AZMOUN QUITS IRAN DUTY
Iran striker Sardar Azmoun has announced his retirement from international football, saying he had decided to quit the national team because insults aimed at the 23-year-old had ruined his mother’s health.
Iran were knocked out of the World Cup with a win, a defeat and a draw in their three Group B matches, and Azmoun, Iran’s top scorer in qualifying, did not replicate his best form in Russia, where he failed to score a single goal.
“Playing in my national team has been a great honour for me and I will be proud of myself to the end of my days,” Azmoun said in a post on social media. “Unfortunately… I have come to the decision to say goodbye to my national team.
“This is one of the most painful and significant life decisions for a youth of 23, who faced great hardships to get here.”
Who could England face?
Brazil on the rise?
What went wrong for Germany?
World Cup: Russia Report
Akinfenwa recreates Platt volley!
England’s Matryoshka Dolls
WHO IS THE REF?
The referee for the England vs Belgium match is a man the Three Lions know well. Slovenia’s Damir Skomina was the referee when England lost to Iceland at Euro 2016, although they were awarded a penalty that Wayne Rooney converted.
Skomina was also in charge of Belgium’s Euro 2016 quarter-final loss to Wales where he gave a total of six yellow cards.
At this year’s World Cup Skomina was the first referee to brandish a red card, given to Colombia’s Carlos Sanchez for deliberate handball.
Prior to this tournament, Skomina also refereed the second leg of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final with Roma last month when he gave the Italians a late penalty in a 4-2 victory.
Skomina sent off England goalkeeper Rob Green in a 1-0 loss to Ukraine in 2009.
FAIR PLAY EXPLAINER
With England and Belgium neck and neck as they prepare for their final Group G game on Thursday, here is a handy explanation of the fair play rules – which may decide who finishes top of the table.
If both teams are level on points, goal difference, goals scored and head-to-head record, then the number of red and yellow cards accumulated is used.
England have two disciplinary points (Kyle Walker and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s yellow cards) and Belgium are on three disciplinary points (Kevin De Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Meunier’s yellow cards).
Teams are given one point for each yellow card, three points for a red card (two yellows) and four points for a straight red card.
Lots will be drawn to decide group winners if they are on the same disciplinary points.
GERMANY HEAD HOME
Germany’s defeated World Cup squad are on their way back home following their 2-0 defeat to South Korea on Wednesday, which saw them finish bottom of Group F.
MARADONA DISMISSES HEALTH SCARE
Diego Maradona says there is nothing to worry about after he was treated by medics at Argentina’s game against Nigeria.
GROUP H PERMUTATIONS
Group H draws to a close today with the double-header of Japan vs Poland and Senegal vs Colombia, and Sky Sports News assesses what each team needs to do to qualify.
England and Belgium fans pay attention – your teams will play one of the sides from this group in the last 16.
NO REGRETS FOR PETKOVIC
Switzerland will be without Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar in next week’s World Cup knockout match against Sweden after being booked against Costa Rica but coach Vladimir Petkovic has no regrets about having fielded them in their last group match.
Swiss captain Lichtsteiner and his defensive partner Schar both collected a second caution of the tournament in the 2-2 draw at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium and miss Tuesday’s match in St Petersburg in a blow to Swiss hopes.
“We were not sure of the scenario we needed to qualify so I wanted to field my best players and make sure that all of them play. The round of 16 was the minimum objective that we set ourselves to achieve,” Petkovic said, explaining why he fielded players already sitting on one yellow card in a game against a team already eliminated from the tournament.
AKINFENWA DOES A CAHILL
Have you seen Adebayo Akinfenwa (aka The Beast) replicate Tim Cahill’s famous 2014 World Cup goal for Australia against the Netherlands?
Well if not, you should check it out – even Cahill himself approves.
GERMAN MEDIA REACT TO EARLY EXIT
The media this morning makes for grim reading if you are a Germany fan. Newspapers and websites are understandably leading on the national team’s first group stage exit from the World Cup in 80 years.
Newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung went with the headline “Disgraced World Champions”, Kicker called Germany’s campaign an “Historic Fail”, while BILD simply said “No words”.
Meanwhile, Frankfurter Allgemeine’s website had two articles leading: the first read “Public Post-Mortem”, while the second said “Loew Must Not Be Untouchable.”
TUNISIA’S KEEPER CRISIS
Tunisia will start third-choice goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi and have striker Fakhreddine Ben Youssef act as his back-up in their final World Cup game against Panama on Thursday after FIFA rejected their request to add a replacement keeper to the squad.
Tunisia’s first and second choice keepers are unavailable after picking up injuries at the tournament and they flew Moez Ben Cherifia from champions Esperance to Moscow on Wednesday in the hope he might be allowed to be included in the squad.
However, the Tunisian Football Federation said on Thursday that this request had been rejected by FIFA and they would have to use the players currently in the squad.
GERMAN FA THANKS FANS
The German FA (DFB) have tweeted to thank fans for their support after their loss to South Korea on Wednesday saw them exit the World Cup in the first-round for the first time in 80 years.
The DFB also congratulated South Korea for their win, as well as Sweden and Mexico for qualifying from the group.
MARCELO PLAYS DOWN FITNESS CONCERNS
Brazil fans would have been concerned on Wednesday when Marcelo went off early in their win over Serbia, looking emotional as he hobbled down the tunnel.
However, he has since tweeted and dismissed concerns about the injury, saying: “Thank you all for the messages!!! Thank God it was nothing serious!!! I’ll be back in a little while!!! Very happy with the victory!!!”
BRAZIL CRUISE INTO LAST 16
Brazil’s fans have been reacting to their side’s comfortable qualification for the last 16 of the World Cup – where they will face Mexico.
WHAT NOW FOR GERMANY?
A round-up of the reaction to Germany’s stunning group stage exit from the World Cup, including the question marks now surrounding Joachim Low’s future.
Hello and welcome to day 15 of the World Cup! Today is the final day of group stage action, and we will be bringing you all the latest as we build-up to the day’s four matches.
England take on Belgium in a shootout for top spot in Group G (but does either side want it?), while Japan play Poland, Senegal take on Colombia and Panama and Tunisia search for their first 2018 World Cup wins.
We will also have reaction to yesterday’s results, as Brazil and Switzerland eased into the last-16 – where they were joined by Sweden and Mexico – while current world champions Germany were shockingly dumped out in the first-round for the first time in 80 years.