DELPH HEADING HOME
Not through injury but in preparation for the arrival of his and his wife’s third child.
The Manchester City player did not feature against Tunisia but came on as a substitute in the 6-1 drubbing of Panama and played the whole of the 1-0 defeat to Belgium last night.
IRAN STAR RETIRES OVER INSULTS
Iran’s Sardar Azmoun has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 23 after claiming the insults directed at him during the World Cup have affected his ill mother.
Azmoun scored 11 goals in 14 games to help his country qualifying and played the full 90 minutes in all Iran’s group games in Russia as they beat Morocco, lost to Spain and drew with Portugal.
“My mother had overcome a serious illness and I was happy.
“Unfortunately because of the unkindness of some people, and the insults that me and my team-mates in no way deserved, her illness has become severe.
“This has put me in a difficult position where I must pick one or the other – and as a result I pick my mother.”
ENGLAND BOYS BACK ON THE BIKES
No official training session for England today as they only returned to their Repino training base from Kaliningrad at around 6am local time in the St Petersburg area of Russia.
They did not escape entirely, however, as they were put through their paces in the gym.
FIFA DIRECTOR DEFENDS FAIR PLAY POLICY
FIFA‘s director of competitions Colin Smith has defended the policy of using ‘Fair Play’ criteria to rank teams when they are level on points, goals and head-to-head records.
Senegal became the first team in World Cup history to exit the tournament because of their inferior disciplinary record to Japan in Group H but there have been no complaints about it from the African team and FIFA seems quite relaxed about its new rule.
“We want to avoid the drawing of lots as we believe teams should go forward based on what happens on the pitch.
“This is the first time we’ve used it at a World Cup, so obviously we’ll review it but as things stand we don’t see any need to change it.”
BALLACK QUESTIONS LOW CONTRACT
Former Germany captain Michael Ballack has questioned the decision to hand head coach Joachim Low a new contract on the eve of the World Cup.
Defeat to South Korea on Wednesday saw the reigning champions suffer a shock early exit from the finals, finishing bottom of Group F after three below-par performances.
It is only the second time that Germany have been knocked out in the first round – the last coming in 1938 before the introduction of the group stage.
Ballack, who won 98 caps during his illustrious career, admits he was surprised to see Germany play so badly in Russia.
“The result from Wednesday in Kazan was a total shock for me,” he said.
Continued success can lead to mistakes. It can be difficult for critics to be heard when things are going so well.
“But then, once you start to fail, the critical voices start to be noticed and everyone is shouting about it. In German football, there is an apocalyptical mood right now.
“There is no explanation as to how a team with this quality can end at the bottom of this group. How can this group of players struggle with all these basics of football?”
CAHILL: BELGIUM A TASTE OF WHAT’S TO COME
England defender Gary Cahill says the defeat to Belgium offers a more accurate reflection of the quality of teams in the tournament.
Victories over Tunisia and Panama secured their progression to the knockout stages of the competition but last-16 opponents Colombia are more similar to Belgium in terms of quality.
“The Belgium game was a reminder to us of the standard of teams we are coming up against from now on,” Cahill told the London Evening Standard.
“No disrespect to Panama, but that was a different test. The way they [Belgium) moved positions and kept the ball – it was a good benchmark for what is to come.
“We made eight changes – nine if you include the substitution at half-time. Things were always going to be a little bit disjointed.
“The first half was good, the second was a bit stretched, but nevertheless we just move on to the knock-out phase. Now this is the business end.”
NO CONCERNS OVER STONES
Despite coming off at half-time of England’s defeat to Belgium, John Stones is not currently considered to be an injury doubt for the last-16 clash with Colombia.
The Manchester City centre-back had an ice pack on his calf after coming off in Kaliningrad but England manager Gareth Southgatehas insisted he always planned to replace him with Harry Maguire in England’s backline.
Southgate said he had ‘no concerns’ over the defender ahead of Tuesday’s match with Colombia at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
MEXICO COACH’S ROOM WITH A VIEW
Mexico face Brazil in the last 16 of the World Cup and one family in Liverpool will be supporting them and in particular their Head Coach Juan Carlos Osorio.
SEMI-FINALS FOR ENGLAND?
Despite the 1-0 defeat to Belgium, Le Tiss feels England have the potential to make it to the semi-finals of the World Cup, although he warned about getting too carried away by the idea they have an easy passage to the final four of the competition after coming second in Group G.
“It was disappointing yesterday but I think you have to put that in reality. I think it was a no-lose situation last night. We have fallen into the bottom half of the draw which is on paper a little easier but football isn’t played on paper.
“If you go out and beat Colombia you are going to get a team in Switzerland or Sweden who will cause problems. We have had trouble with the Swedes down the years and Switzerland have got some talented players.
“It is not going to be easy but certainly if you are looking at the game we have a reasonable chance to get to the semi-finals of the tournament. That would be amazing.”
COLOMBIA NOT JUST ABOUT RODRIGUEZ
Colombia forward James Rodriguez – who won the Golden Boot at the last World Cup in 2014 – limped off injured in their 1-0 win over Senegal and he is now a doubt to face England in Moscow on Tuesday.
That may seem to offer a boost to England but Matt Le Tissier insists the South Americans are still a force to be reckoned with, even if Rodriguez misses out.
“He is obviously one of their more talented players but they have still got some other very good players and will be a dangerous side whether they have James or not.
“I don’t think this is a team that can be taken lightly. Everybody needs to be 100 per cent at it and I am sure they will be.
“It is difficult for players when they know the situation to find that extra 5 or 10 percent that you might find if it was a knockout game.”
SECOND STRING FAILED TO IMPRESS
Matt Le Tissier says England‘s second-string side failed to make the most of their chance to impress against Belgium.
“I think what last night showed is probably that the team Gareth has picked over the first two games is quite clearly the strongest.
“There weren’t too many players who played last night that can say to Gareth, ‘you can’t leave me out, look at how I played’.
“Unfortunately there weren’t too many who showed their colours.”
LE TISS HAS HIS SAY
Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier has given his thoughts on last night’s England game.
He thinks Gareth Southgate was right to shuffle his pack for the 1-0 defeat to Belgium in Kaliningrad, although he is concerned they may have lost a little momentum by doing so.
“We are only going to be able to tell if he called it right if we get past Colombia. If we progress to the quarter-finals everybody will look back and say it was absolutely the right thing to do.
“However, if it doesn’t quite go so right against Colombia then there will probably be questions asked. I probably still think it was the right thing to do.
“I think going into the game with a fresh squad, no injuries at all, the key players should all be fit and firing. I think it was the right thing to do but obviously it is disappointing to lose the momentum after those first two victories.”
DID SOUTHGATE GET IT RIGHT?
England manager Gareth Southgate made eight changes to his starting line-up for the Belgium game but was that the right decision?
REST DAY FOR ENGLAND
England’s players are on a rest day today, having not returned to their Repino base until 6am local time following their game against Belgium in Kaliningrad.
ENGLAND SETTLE FOR SECOND
The arguments may have raged over whether it was better to top Group G or settle for second and it is the latter for England, who now play Colombia in the last-16 on Tuesday.
Hello there and welcome to day 16 of the World Cup. This may be the first rest day of the tournament but there will be plenty to discuss as we prepare ourselves for the last-16 which gets underway tomorrow.