Diego Costa’s fluke goal edges Spain past Iran®closer to knockout ® rounds

KAZAN, Russia — Three quick thoughts from Spain’s 1-0 World Cup group-stage win over Iran at the Kazan Arena on Wednesday:

1. Costa’s fluke edges Spain closer to last 16

It has been a World Cup of strange bobbles, ricochets and bounces, and this time it was Spain’s turn to profit. Diego Costa knew little about the early second-half goal that broke Iran’s resistance, which had threatened to turn a frustrating night into a hugely damaging one. But they all count and, while Iran could point to another hard-luck story after Saeid Ezatolahi’s effort was ruled out for offside, the 2010 winners did enough to move to the brink of the knockout stage.

As expected, Spain’s control of possession was near total. The problem was that Iran are a notoriously tough nut to crack and it was, in fact, Carlos Queiroz’s side whose rapid counters produced the biggest early threat. One break brought a good run from the left-sided Vahid Amiri and another might have yielded more had Mehdi Taremi, on the opposite flank, not hesitated when sent behind the defence.

Those spurts became rarer and Spain began to create half-chances. From the best, David Silva hooked a tumbling volley over on the half-hour mark. Silva saw another shot blocked and one more deflected wide; he seemed to have got the memo that, against opponents so determined not to be pulled apart, there was merit in having a crack from range.

By the time the interval arrived, though, the only major ignition point had been a scuffle when Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand went down dramatically after a tap from Costa.

Beiranvand was more constructively involved in the opening moments of the second half, pawing away a 20-yard shot from Sergio Busquets. Spain had emerged looking a much bigger threat, Gerard Pique also seeing a header scrambled away, although Iran themselves came within inches of scoring when Karim Ansarifard brushed the side netting.

Suddenly a goal, at one end or the other, seemed likely. It came in fortunate fashion for Costa, who looked to turn onto an Andres Iniesta pass and saw Ramin Rezaeian’s clearance cannon in off his shin.

Now Iran had to commit men forward and they wheeled away in delirium when Ezatolahi drilled past David De Gea from close range. Their joy was cut short — eventually — by an offside flag; a VAR check confirmed the decision and Spain survived. Eight minutes from time Taremi thudded a free header over at the far post and Iran’s luck was conclusively out.

2. Vazquez flop leaves selection debate rumbling on

This was hardly vintage fare from Spain and, in the buildup to their deciding group game against Morocco, the debate over Fernando Hierro’s best starting lineup will rumble on. Here he opted for energy and speed in the form of Lucas Vazquez, who started on the right flank. With Dani Carvajal back from injury and supporting from full-back, the plan seemed to be that Spain would operate at a high tempo against opponents who would pack their defensive ranks and, perhaps, eventually tire.

Vazquez’s selection in place of Koke was a particular source of controversy. Nobody doubts the 26-year-old’s directness and willingness to put the yards in; the issue is that he lags behind the likes of Koke and Marco Asensio in creative terms and, while his delivery from crosses can be incisive, more nuance might be needed to break the lines.

That proved to be the case, Vazquez enduring a virtually anonymous first half as Iran — operating with virtually a six-man back line — squeezed the life out of the game. Spain’s driving force was Isco, on the opposite wing, who produced some delightful touches and probed menacingly. Silva was tireless too, making a vital contribution to Costa’s goal, but the team’s balance does not seem quite right and the question over that final attacking midfield spot remains.

As well as Koke and Asensio, Thiago Alcantara and perhaps Saul Niguez can lay their own claims and the time will come when Spain need to know they are getting a reliable end product. Vazquez’s selection made sense in terms of shape and dynamism; in practice he offered little and, with an already eliminated Morocco likely to give up chances on Monday, the time may have come for Hierro to try Plan C.

3. Iran’s World Cup far from over

An evening that looked relatively risk-free for Iran ended in frustration and more than a pang of regret, but “Team Melli” showed more than enough to suggest they can still make the round of 16.

There was a sense from the outset that Queiroz regarded this as something of a free hit: He left captain Masoud Shojaei and star wide man Alireza Jahanbakhsh out of his starting XI and it seemed no coincidence that both picked up yellow cards in the win over Morocco. Monday’s meeting with Portugal in Saransk will be decisive to their fortunes and the risk of losing either player appeared too great.

Iran’s plan was, on the face of things, quite simple: They would let Spain have the ball, defend with 11 behind it and, on the rare occasions when they could retain it for any period of time, look to break sharply. By the midway point in the first half, their setup essentially resembled a flat back six when defending their own box. If they lived dangerously once or twice, then on the whole they looked comfortable and it is worth remembering that this, after all, is what Iran do best.

They are a coiled spring, adept at soaking up pressure and — led by Sardar Azmoun, who plays his club football in this stadium for Rubin Kazan — posing a genuine threat when committing men forward. It is a formula that almost thwarted Spain and should be good enough to trouble Portugal in a match that is now win or bust.

They will, at least, be able to count once more on a marvellous travelling support that made a deafening noise inside the Kazan Arena and almost caused an earth tremor when they thought Ezatolahi had brought them level. It was not to be but, for Iran, this World Cup is nowhere near over yet.

Portugal vs Morocco, the World Cup has two faces: Cristiano Ronaldo and Sepp Blatter

In the 84th minute, it’s Morocco’s turn for a sloppy clear and Ronaldo — unheard from for a very long stretch — is fouled inches outside the box. His free kick bangs off the wall.

Fayçal Fajr replaces Karim El Ahmadi, and Morocco is out of subs.

Minutes later, Joao Joao Moutinho is off and Adrien Silva is on for Portugal, which is likewise out of subs. Silva draws a yellow card for an errant takedown minutes later.

Another sub for Morocco

Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez enters for Morocco, replacing Younes Belhanda in the 75th minute. The latter had a good stretch in the second half.

Amrabat is now attacking the left side of the field, it appears. Interesting.

The frazzled Portuguese

Ahead of a Morocco close-in free kick in the 67th minute — Ziyach sent it well over the bar — Portugal’s players seemed to be pleading with Coach Fernando Santos to make some changes in the back to fend off this relentless attack. He responded by sending in Bruno Fernandes for Joao Mario (Fernandes started Portugal’s World Cup opener ahead of Mario).

Meanwhile, Ayoub El Kaabi is on for Morocco, replacing Khalid Boutaib up top.

Portugal sub

Gelson Martins comes in for Bernardo Silva in the 59th minute.

More sloppiness from Portugal

The favorites continue to do themselves no favors, lethargically giving the ball away at midfield numerous times over the first 10 minutes of the second half. Morocco continues to press after the miscues, and in the 55th minute, Younes Belhanda sent a rocket that Patricia had to reach to stop.

Two minutes later, Patricio has the save of the game, again on Belhanda, who headed a free kick toward the goal. Patricio dives with all of his height to save it.

Halftime: Portugal 1, Morocco 0

The score line says Portugal is winning, but that’s far from apparent on the field. Amrabat’s ability to race the ball past the Portugal defense on the right side is giving the favorite all sorts of troubles. All the Atlas Lions need is one clean cross and we’re talking about an entirely different game.

Almost 2-0

In the 39th minute, Ronaldo chips the ball to an advancing Gonçalo Guedes, who had gotten a step on the defense in the box. El Kajoui is able to make the save, however.

Less than a minute later, Morocco’s Mehdi Benatia gets a yellow card after being repeatedly warned. The crowd seems eminently, loudly pro-Morocco, and they’re not happy with the calls. Morocco has been whistled for 10 fouls, 5 for Portugal.

More from Morocco

Take away the goal and it’s been all Morocco, whose attack is best described as frantic.

Mehdi Benatia shoves Ronaldo to the turf from behind in the 25th minute and gets a stern lecture from referee Mark Geiger. Ronaldo writhed around for a bit clutching his ankle, but he’s back.

Morocco Coach Herve Renard also gets a talking-to after vehemently protesting the lack of a call when Nordin Amrabat is taken down by Raphael Guerreiro in — or at least very near to — the box. No review, play on.

Morocco not backing down

Apart from some questionable marking of the world’s greatest player — Ronaldo got another good attempt not long after his goal — Morocco isn’t laying down, forcing Rui Patricio to get down and made a save off a header in the 11th minute. They’ve had a number of okay chances already.


In the fourth minute, who else: Ronaldo heads it in after a short corner kick is delivered right to his skull. Nifty step around the defender in the box to get free, and he’s done it again. It’s his 85th career international goal, moving him past Ferenc Puskas of Hungary for the most by a European player.

Opening thoughts

Everyone still is talking about Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick in last week’s mesmerizing 3-3 draw with Spain, but let’s not forget that one of those goals shouldn’t have happened: Spain goalkeeper David De Gea let one through that he usually would have stopped late in the first half, when Spain was dominating. A save there, and the run-up to Wednesday’s clash with Morocco could have had an entirely different theme. As it stands, Portugal doesn’t want anything less than a win here.

Nordin Amrabat will play for Morocco even after he bonked heads with Iran’s Vahid Amiri in last week’s dispiriting 1-0 loss, suffering a concussion. With matches looming against Portugal and Spain, the Atlas Lions desperately needed to come away with at least a point against Iran, a hope that was dashed when Aziz Bouhaddouz headed the ball into his own net well into extra time in the second half. Morocco now needs at least a draw with Portugal to have any chance at the knockout round, a tall task.

The lineups

Portugal: Patricio, Cedric, Pepe, Fonte, Guerreiro, Silva, Moutinho, Carvalho, Mario, Guedes, Ronaldo.

Morocco: Mohamedi, Dirar, Da Costa, Benatia, Hakimi, El Ahmadi, Boussoufa, Belhanda, Harit, Boutaib, Ziyech.

Of note: Joao Mario replaces Bruno Fernandes on the left side of Portugal’s midfield. For Morocco, Manuel Da Costa — son of a Portuguese father and a Moroccan mother — replaces Romain Saïss in the center of its defense.

FIFA World Cup™ 2018 : Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia: What time is kick-off

It’s the World Cup 2018 Group A meeting between Uruguay and Saudi Arabia.

When is it?

Wednesday June 20, 2018.

What time is kick-off?

4pm (BST).

What TV channel is it on?

The match will be broadcast live on BBC1, though you can follow all the build-up, live minute-by-minute commentary and post-match analysis right here. Just bookmark this page and come back on Wednesday afternoon.

Where is the game being played?

The match is at Ростов Арена, or Rostov Arena if you prefer, in the city of Rostov-on-Don where, you may have guessed this, FC Rostov play.

What is the team news?

Neither side have any injuries to speak of, though Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Saudi Arabia manager, is expected to make a number of changes from the starting XI that got thumped 5-0 by hosts Russia in the opening game of the tournament.

Uruguay squad: goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera, Martin Silva, Martin Campana; defenders: Diego Godin, Sebastian Coates, Jose Maria Gimenez, Maximiliano Pereira, Gaston Silva, Martin Caceres, Guillermo Varela; midfielders: Nahitan Nandez, Lucas Torreira, Matias Vecino, Rodrigo Bentancur, Carlos Sanchez, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Cristian Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez; forwards: Cristhian Stuani, Maximiliano Gomez, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez.

Saudi Arabia squad: goalkeepers: Mohammed Al Owais, Yasser Al Mosailem, Abdullah Al Mayouf; defenders: Mansoor Al Harbi, Yasser Al Shahrani, Mohammed Al Breik, Motaz Hawsawi, Osama Hawsawi, Omar Hawsawi, Ali Al Bulaihi; midfielders: Abdullah Al Khaibari, Abdulmalek Al Khaibri, Abdullah Otayf, Taiseer Al Jassim, Houssain Al Mogahwi, Salman Al Faraj, Mohamed Kanno, Hattan Bahebri, Salem Al Dawsari, Yahya Al Shehri, Fahad Al Muwallad; forwards: Mohammad Al Sahlawi, Muhannad Assiri.

What’s the latest news on the two teams?

As Uruguay fans whipped up a fervent atmosphere on the eve of their team’s World Cup game against Saudi Arabia, supporters expressed their gratitude towards coach Oscar Tabarez whilst admitting their concern over the form of Luis Suarez.

Suarez, who on Wednesday will make his 100th appearance for the national team, missed a glut of chances in the 1-0 win over Egypt in their opening Group A game, when Jose Gimenez’s late header saved his blushes.

“Suarez hasn’t got going yet but we hope he starts to show who he really is from now,” said Fabian Vuissa, 30, from Montevideo as he queued to get into a fan zone in Rostov.

Fellow Uruguay supporter Juan Martin Di Pascua, 22, draped in a national team flag, said: “It makes us a bit worried as he’s the key for the team along with (Edinson) Cavani so I pray to God he starts playing well again soon.”

Despite only 3.4 million people to choose from, Uruguay have long punched above their weight in international soccer, lifting the first ever World Cup in 1930 and producing the infamous ‘Maracanazo’ by beating hosts Brazil to win it again in 1950.

Behind Di Pascua, a throng of fans belted out a chant recalling that inaugural World Cup triumph, singing: ‘We’re going to do it again, we’ll be champions again, just like the first time.’

He added: “Football is a huge part of our culture, it’s something we live, it’s football, football and football. While other nations treat it as a sport, for us it’s a passion.”

Uruguay failed to qualify for three out of four World Cups between 1994 and 2006 but the nation’s hopes have been reignited by coach Tabarez, a former school teacher affectionately known as El Maestro.

He led them to the 2010 World Cup semi-finals, their best result since 1970, and if his side beat Saudi Arabia in Rostov they will secure their passage to the last 16 for a third successive World Cup for the first time.

“Tabarez changed Uruguayan football, he returned the mystique to the national team, that folklore,” said Hugo Mena, who made a 48-hour journey from the city of Chuy near the border with Brazil to reach Russia.

“He changed the mentality in the team and gave the players a new sense of responsibility and commitment.”

Di Pascua added: “Before Tabarez arrived, the team was practically dead. We’re grateful for everything he’s done.”

What are the odds?

Uruguay to win: 1/7
Draw: 13/2
Saudi Arabia to win: 19/1

How to Watch Morocco vs Portugal Live stream: 2018 World Cup, TV Channel

Portugal faces off with Morocco in their second match of Group B play at the 2018 World Cup in Russia on Wednesday.

Portugal was powered by Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat trick in its opening match of group play, with his late free kick securing a dramatic 3-3 draw vs. Spain.

Morocco wasn’t nearly as fortunate in its opener, conceding a 95th-minute own goal from Aziz Bouhaddouz to suffer a 1-0 loss to Iran. If Morocco is to have any hope at getting out of the group, it needs what appears to be an improbable result against the reigning European champion. But as this World Cup has shown thus far, the unexpected has come to be expected.

Here’s how to watch the match:

Time: 8 a.m. ET

TV: FOX Sports 1, Telemundo

​Live Stream: Watch live on fuboTV. Sign up now for a free seven-day trial.

SI TV is also now available on fuboTV. Watch Planet Futbol TV, SI’s soccer show starring Grant Wahl and Luis Miguel Echegaray, weekly on Fubo TV or anytime, anywhere here.

Japan 2018 World Cup™ Starts With a Wild Win Over ® Colombia

Japan wore down a Colombian team reduced to 10 men and won, 2-1, on Tuesday in Saransk.

The game started terribly for Colombia, which had lined up without its star, James Rodriguez, who is nursing a leg injury.

Yuya Osako raced past the Colombian defense in the 6th minute and was in alone on goal. David Ospina made the save, but it rebounded to Kagawa who was following the play. His own shot was blocked, but Carlos Sanchez of Colombia used his hand to do so.

That meant a penalty, and a red card for Sanchez. Colombia played the remaining 84 minutes down a man. And Kagawa converted the penalty to put Japan on top.

Colombia fought back gamely despite its lack of numbers and got an equalizer in the 39th minute. Falcao fell to the ground rather easily, not for the first time, and drew a free kick call. Japan’s wall jumped, but Juan Quintero’s shot was low. It slid under the leaping wall, then just trickled into the corner of net.

In the second half, Colombia’s shortage of men began to tell and the team tired. With a half-hour to go it got a boost from the arrival of James Rodriguez, who looked close to 100 percent. But it was Japan who went ahead.

Substitute Keisuke Honda took a corner, which Yuya Osako leaped highest for and headed off the post and into the net. That left Japan to mostly play an effective keep-away game for the final 20 minutes.

Japan became the latest side to pull off an upset at the World Cup, joining Mexico, Switzerland and Iceland in earning surprising results. This scoreline was particularly unexpected in light of the fact that Japan had changed coaches shortly before the tournament, and because no Asian team had ever previously defeated a South American side in 17 World Cup meetings.

Group H, which also includes Poland and Senegal, was said to be the most evenly matched at the World Cup. But many still ranked Japan the weakest of the teams. After this win, Japan is in pole position to qualify.

Andrew Das: That’s an enormous result for Japan, and it really scrambles the group — and perceptions. Japan is in its sixth straight World Cup but has long been seen as a rider more than a driver. It has advanced to the round of 16 only twice — on home soil in 2002 and again in 2010 — but promptly went right out. This victory, over a good Colombia team many thought could win the group, just put Poland and Senegal on notice.

Here’s how Japan beat Colombia:

90’ + 4: Colombia Pressing

Colombia is doing everything it can to push the ball forward. A couple desperation shots make it interesting, but no real threat.

90’: Stoppage Time

Five minutes of stoppage time. Colombia throws everyone forward. But Japan clears the ball away again. Tick. tick. tick.

89’: Colombia Still Battling

A series of throw-ins leads to a series of headers from Colombia, who are absolutely frantic at this point. None of those headers leads to a shot on goal, however.

87’: Frustration Sets In

Yellow for James Rodriguez for a challenge from behind. That’s not what Colombia wants, especially now that it looks like it will need 4 or 6 points from its last two games.

85’: Time Running Out for Colombia

Japan is killing the game off effectively. Time is Japan’s friend and Colombia’s enemy. When Colombia finally does get the ball it passes it away.

81’: Japan Keeps It

Japan regained possession and started an extended game of keepaway. Twenty passes, 30, maybe 40.

79’: Colombia Goes on the Attack

Falcao got the ball on a break, but two Japanese defenders closed him down and Japan dealt with the ensuing corner. Then James got a clear shot on goal, but it was deflected over by a diving Osako. Another corner and Colombia is pouring it on.

73: GOAL! Japan Takes the Lead

Japan was dominating and got their goal. It’s striker Yuya Osako with the header off the Honda corner. Osaka finds the inside of the post. Textbook score and Colombia finally paid for its lack of numbers. Now it will be up to James and Falcao to come up with something for Colombia.

72’: There’s Honda

Honda fired at goal almost immediately, drawing a save, although the shot would have been just wide.

69’ Kagawa Off

Japan’s penalty scorer, Kagawa is out. Keisuke Honda is in. Honda scored in both the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.

Colombia counters, bringing on Bacca for Izquierdo.

67’: Colombia Scrambles to Survive

Japan zipped the ball into and around the Colombia penalty area for an endless stretch. Nervous moments for Colombia, which hasn’t been able to clear, much less mount a scoring challenge of its own.

61’: Rodriguez Busy Right Away

James Rodriguez got right into the action, passing, dribbling and showing no obvious signs of injury.

60’: Free Kick Goes Wide

A free kick for Japan, and Yoshida jumped the highest. But he headed wide. The attack continues …

59’: James Rodriguez Checks In

James Rodriguez! Colombia’s superstar checks in, injury and all. This could be a huge moment for Colombia, which has struggled this half.

57’: Japan Fires Away

Inui got free on the left, and he fired a curler that drew a diving save. Colombia’s goalkeeper, David Ospina, is holding his own, but it’s all Japan right now.

54’: Japan’s Numbers Starting to Show

Another run by Japan. Osako forced a save on a close-in shot. Japan’s advantage in numbers is really telling the story.

51’: Corner to Japan

Yoshida got it with his back to goal but was muscled off the ball. Japan the better start here.

49’: Japan Looks to Run

Japan comes out running. Nagatomo puts a good ball in the box, but it’s dealt with easily by Colombia’s defense.

46’: Second Half Begins

The second half kicks off. Halftime talking points centered on the Colombia goal. Did Falcao dive to earn the free kick (Kind of?) Did the wall make a huge mistake by jumping? (Clearly.)

Halftime: 1-1 After a Busy First Half

An eventful half ends. Colombia has the momentum, but may start to tire in the second half with 10 men. And will the Colombians bring out James Rodriguez at some point?

For a game with so much incident and so many momentum swings, the stats ended up curiously even. Possession was 52-48 in favor of Japan, shots were even at 5-5, corners were 2-1 Japan.

Andrew Das: Japan’s early lead was a surprise, since African and Asian teams have won only one game at the World Cup. That was Iran, but Japan over Colombia would be much bigger than that.

43’: Who’s the Favorite Now?

Colombia, the prematch favorite, which just used its attacking might to equalize? Or Japan with a man advantage? It’s close.

39’: GOAL! Colombia Levels

Juan Quintero of Colombia tied it up! It was a much more dangerous free kick, just outside the box. The wall jumped, but the shot went low, slid under them, then just trickled into the corner just as Japan’s keeper fell on it.

Andrew Das: Japan protested, but goal line technology proves its value again. Though anyone with two eyes could see that was across the line. All square.

36’: Falcao Busy

Besides working hard, Falcao is also spending a lot of time on the ground. He pirouetted in a fall to win a free kick. But the forest of Japanese defenders foil it. Update: Falcao fell down again.

33’: Falcao, Just Short

Falcao broke for goal onside and between two defenders, then leapt athletically to get a toe on a pass. But it went right to the keeper, again. Falcao is working hard and in the absence of James Rodriguez is going to be the focal point of Colombia’s comeback bid. Of course, Japan knows this and will keep him well covered.

31’: Japan Wastes a Good Chance

Osako stole the ball near the Colombian goal with an open look, but launched a ball to nowhere. Was that supposed to be a shot or a cross? Either way a possible chance wasted.

26’: Japan’s Advantage

11 may not seem like a whole lot more than 10. But at this level, the man-advantage is enormous. It will mean more space to work in, more time on the ball, more comfort in defense. Japan will enjoy this advantage.

24’: Can Columbia Press for 70 Minutes?

Colombia is pressing a deliberate Japan to try to get possession. This is going to really tire the team out over the next 70 minutes.

22’: Japan Slows Down

Japan is advancing the ball at a glacial pace. You can’t blame them. They have the lead and have superior numbers. Why push anything at this point?

18’: Cuadrado Loses One-on-One

Juan Cuadrado is a dangerous player on the wing, and he tried to show off some of that skill one-on-one against Nagatomo at the end line. But the Japanese defender is up to the challenge and dispossesses him.

14’: Japan Threatens Again

Japan took advantage of their superior numbers and developed an opportunity against an overstretched defense. But Takashi Inui went wide.

Colombia then makes some noise on the counterattack, but it leads nowhere.

12’: Falcao Makes a Run

Colombia’s Falcao beat the defense and got to a through ball with a sliding shot. Right to Japan’s goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima though.

10’: Short-Handed Colombia in Trouble Now

Colombia must attack now and must do it with 10 men. This is a dire situation, especially with 80 minutes to go.

5’: GOAL! Japan Scores on Penalty Kick

Disaster for Colombia. Osako raced past the Colombian defense and was in alone on goal. Ospina made the save and it rebounded to Kagawa who was following the play. His shot was blocked, but Carlos Sanchez used his hand! Red card for Sanchez. The penalty is taken by Kagawa. Low and steady into the net.


Japan in blue, Colombia in yellow. With James Rodriguez out, Colombia will turn to its captain, Falcao, for its goals. Falcao is 32, but playing in his first World Cup. He was injured in 2014 and Colombia missed the three Cups before that. He has 29 goals for Colombia in his career, the record.

World Cup 2018 ® Senegal beat Poland 2-1

Senegal has beaten Poland in a dramatic game that saw the African team take the lead in the first half and win 2-1.

Poland struggled to put passes together and get their shots on goal but they were rewarded at the end of the second half, while down two goals, with a late header to take the game to 2-1.

Robert Lewandowski had a relatively quiet game and much like Euro 2016, was unable to make his way onto the score sheet and begin the tournament with a goal.

Here are five key takeaways from the match:

Both sides attack

Throughout the game, both sides were very attacking, trying to play a high ball into their forwards. This could be either as a cross or as a long pass but both sides failed to optimise on their chances.

Senegal is the only African team to win so far

Senegal is the only team from Africa to have won a game in World Cup so far.

They are also the only team to score in open play. With this win and what is happening in their group, they may make it to the last 16.

Lewandowski struggles to score in big tournaments

It is Robert Lewandowski’s first World Cup and this was his first game of the tournament, but the striker failed to score and struggled to get his shots off.

This is not the first time that he has struggled to make an impact at the beginning of a major tournament as he was unable to score during Euro 2016 until late in the competition.

The official ranking is not important in the World Cup

Poland is ranked 8th in the FIFA rankings but that did not guarantee them the win. When it comes to the World Cup anything is possible and this game shows the magic of the tournament.

Both Poland and Colombia may struggle to get out of the group stages

The two teams that were set to win the group may struggle to get out of the group stages.

After Colombia lost to Japan earlier today, Senegal will be going into their next game with confidence, hoping to build upon their win.

Poland, meanwhile, will need to win their next game in order to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Sweden vs South Korea Start time, TV Channel, Live Stream

South Korea’s coach Shin Tae-yong said Sunday he deliberately made his team wear different numbered shirts in recent friendlies to confuse World Cup opponents who cannot tell his players apart.

Sweden vs South Korea match will take place in Nizhny Novgorod. FIFA World Cup 2018 Sweden vs South Korea will kick off at 5:30 pm IST on Monday. Sweden vs South Korea will be broadcast on Sony Ten 2 SD and HD, Sony Ten 3 SD and HD, Sony ESPN SD. They are the official broadcasters of the tournament. FIFA World Cup 2018 Sweden vs South Korea match live streaming will be available on Sony Liv.

He said all but star player Son Heung-min and captain Ki Sung-yueng were given different shirts in games against Bolivia and Senegal in Austria earlier this month to outwit anyone checking up on his team.

The astonishing claim came just 24 hours before his side open their World Cup campaign against Sweden, a seemingly tame encounter which has been spiced up by claims of spying as well as the Korean coach’s shirt subterfuge.

In his press conference, Swedish coach Janne Andersson was forced to apologise after it was claimed one of his scouts had been caught spying on Monday’s opponents at a closed training session in Austria.But the claim by his Korean opposite number added an extra layer of intrigue to the Group F clash.

“All of the others played in numbers a little bit confusing, that’s why we switched the numbers,” Shin Tae-yong told reporters.

“It’s very difficult for Westerners to distinguish between Asians, that’s why we did that.”

The plan may have backfired on the Koreans though as they lost to Senegal 2-0, and drew with Bolivia 0-0 in their final warm-up games for Russia.

Asked about claims that Sweden had spied on his team, Shin Tae-yong was calm, saying: “I don’t think that’s bad”, adding that all teams needed to know about their opponents.

There have been counter-claims that the Koreans also spied on the Swedes in the run-up to Russia.

The row centres on Swedish scout Lasse Jacobsson who reportedly covertly watching the Koreans prepare for the World Cup.

Jacobsson had apparently rented a house in the town of Leogang, near Salzburg to ‘spy’ on Sweden’s first opponents.

“He heard about a practice session, he didn’t understand that it was a closed session, he didn’t understand and he watched from a distance,” said Andersson, attempting to downplay the incident.

“It’s very important we show respect to all our opponents in all circumstances… if someone could interpret it in another way we regret it.”

He added: “It’s been made a mountain out of a molehill.”

The claims reflect the growing realisation for both teams that Monday’s match is vital as they have been drawn against world champions Germany and Mexico in a tough-looking group.

Andersson also said he had a full squad of players to choose from and pretty much knew which team he would pick, but refused to reveal more details.

Skipper Andreas Granqvist said at the same press conference that the players could not wait to start the match.

“I am really looking forward to this World Cup, we are raring to go, all of us,” he said.

“We are looking forward to the match… we have had excellent preparations.”

FIFA World Cup 2018: Belgium vs Panama

Roberto Martinez can’t wait to lead an outstanding Belgium side into the World Cup as they prepare to take on Panama in their opening game on Monday. A team who sit third in the FIFA rankings and who boast what is frequently labelled a golden generation featuring the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne have come to Russia with a considerable weight of expectation on their shoulders.

They are strongly fancied to progress to the knockout phase as winners of Group G, despite being drawn alongside England, and so it would be a major upset if they slipped up in Sochi against a side making their World Cup debut.

“I would like to see that the team can play a game and not play the World Cup, to see a team where they enjoy the responsibility that they carry,” Martinez said at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on Saturday. “I’m excited. I see the players work, I see them in training, and they are just desperate to perform for the fans back in Belgium.”

Belgium’s results under Martinez have been excellent, with last Monday’s 4-1 friendly win over Costa Rica in Brussels meaning they are unbeaten in 19 matches going back almost two years, to the very start of the Spaniard’s reign.

“I think we know how strong we are and I hope we can show it in this tournament,” said the Napoli forward Dries Mertens, who along with his teammates trained in the shadow of the Sochi stadium on Saturday. The prospect of facing England in Kaliningrad on June 28 is a mouthwatering one.

All going to plan for these sides, first place will be up for grabs. Then there are Martinez’s past links to the Premier League and the presence of Thierry Henry and Englishman Graeme Jones on his coaching staff. The majority of his squad either play or have played in England, but for now Martinez is only thinking about Panama. “Getting to the World Cup has been a great result for Panamanian football. I am not expecting an easy game,” he said.

Defensive worries

The Belgians came to Russia’s Black Sea coast early from their base near Moscow to adapt to the warmer, and more humid, conditions here that could suit the Panamanians better. Improving on quarter-final exits at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 has to be the aim, but Belgium’s preparations have not been aided by defensive injury problems.

Both Thomas Vermaelen and Vincent Kompany are struggling for fitness, and Martinez can make a change to his 23-man squad as late as Sunday. However, Los Angeles FC defender Laurent Ciman left Russia on Saturday having been with the squad as a standby option.

Barcelona centre-back Vermaelen will not play against Panama due to a hamstring problem, while Manchester City skipper Kompany is not expected to be available before the match against England due to a groin complaint. However, Martinez believes the 32-year-old’s experience is invaluable, even if he is unable to play against Panama or against Tunisia in Moscow next weekend.

“Vinny Kompany has been in this sort of situation for a long time now, and the decision is to use his know-how, and his experience, around the group. He did it with his club this season after not playing for four months, he performed against Chelsea in one of the most demanding games of the season. He is a player who with his experience can perform straight away.”

Belgium v/s Panama: When and where to watch 

When is FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match?

FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match will take place on Monday, June 18, 2018 (India).

Where is FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match?

FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match will take place at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia.

What time does FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match start (time in IST)?

FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama will kick off at 8:30 pm IST on Monday.

Which TV channels will broadcast FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match?

FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama will be broadcast on Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 2 HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD in English Commentary and Sony Ten 3 and Sony 3 HD in Hindi Commentary. They are the official broadcasters of the tournament.

How and where to watch online live streaming of FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match?

FIFA World Cup 2018 Belgium v/s Panama match live streaming will be available on Sony Liv.

Belgium v/s Panama Probable XIs

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois, Jan Vertonghen, Dedryck Boyata, Toby Alderweireld, Thomas Meunier, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Kevin De Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku.

Panama: Jaime Penedo, Roman Torres, Michael Amir Murillo, Erick Davis, Fidel Escobar, Gabriel Enrique Gomez, Armando Cooper, Anibal Godoy, Edgar Yoel Barcenas, Jose Luis Rodriguez, Gabriel Torres.

Brazil tie Switzerland 1-1 in disappointing performance from 2018 World Cup favorites

Brazil tied Switzerland 1-1 on Sunday in the final game of Day 4 of the World Cup. It’s a massive result for a Switzerland side that looked completely outmatched for the first 45 minutes of the game, then gained a little composure, scored a goal off a set piece, and then defended beautifully to see out the match. Brazil will be disappointed to not pull out 3 points in the first match of a a tournament they expect to compete for, if not win outright.

The first 45 minutes was almost all Brazil, as the attacking trio of Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and Willian seemed to move about the pitch as they pleased. Paulinho had a beautiful chance to score early, when he found the ball at his feet inside the six yard box, but dragged his shot wide. The break came when Phillippe Coutinho collected a cleared ball at the left edge of the box, gathered it, and fired in a curling right hand shot off the post and in the top right corner, one of the most beautiful goals we’ve seen at this World Cup.

But Brazil’s party was rudely interrupted early in the second half, when Switzerland earned a corner kick, played it in, and found Steven Zuber — with the aid of a shove on the back of a Brazil defender — alone for an easy header in the net.

From there, it was all hands on deck for the Swiss defense, who kept out several clear Brazil chances and earned a valuable point.


The last World Cup game on Sunday will feature a Group F matchup between Brazil and Switzerland. The game will take place at the Rostov Arena in Rostov-On-Don, Russia at 2 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Go.

Brazil, another favorite in this year’s World Cup, is hoping its star attacker Neymar will be fully healthy from a foot fracture he suffered when playing with Paris Saint-Germain.

Brazil vs Switzerland start time, TV channel, Live streaming info

  • Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • Location: Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don, Russia
  • TV: FOX Sports 1 (English), Telemundo (Spanish)
  • Streaming: Watch the game on Fox Sports Go (English) and Telemundo Deportes en vivo (Spanish) for free if you sign in with your TV provider. It’s also on subscription services like Fubo and Hulu.
  • Odds: Brazil -1.25 (full odds at OddsShark)
  • For listings from more countries, check out Live Soccer TV.

Neymar will lead the line for Brazil

Brazil is maybe the deepest and most complete team in this World Cup, and they’ve built their attack around Neymar, the country’s most famous player and perhaps most gifted attacker. The PSG star will operate most likely out on the left wing, but what’s so good about this Brazil team is that they have a lot of options to build an attack depending on what the opponent throws at them. Neymar’s an important piece, but this team has lots and lots of really good players.

Switzerland will look to lock down the midfield with Granit Xhaka

Xhaka, the Arsenal man, is a tough-nosed midfielder who can run box to box and will be important for a Swiss side that looks to gum things up and hold the Brazil side in check. Will he and they be able to do that? Possibly! Unclear! But he’s talked ahead of the tournament about not being afraid of Neymar, and after Mexico shocked Germany this morning, perhaps Sunday will be the big day of upsets at the World Cup.

Where and when to watch FIFA World Cup 2018 matches

Fifa World Cup officially kicks off with its first match between Russia and Saudi Arabia tonight (June 14).

RTM has confirmed it will be airing 41 matches (28 live and 13 delayed) across TV1 and TV2. More matches may be added.

Meanwhile, Astro will air all 64 matches. All Malaysians can watch 29 live matches and 12 delayed matches for free through the Astro Go app.

To watch all 64 matches, Astro has two World Cup dedicated channels in HD (Astro Ch 823 and 824) and two in SD (Astro Ch 821 and 822). The fees vary according to the various packages available. Find out more here.

The pay TV service has also introduced the Stadium Astro VR app which allows viewers to experience the prestigious football event in virtual reality.

Below is a guide to where and when to watch these matches during the group stages (we will update other stages – round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals – at a later date).

The timings shown here are for the live telecast of the matches only (delayed telecast times are as indicated). It does not include timings for re-runs of the matches.

Group Stages (in Malaysian time)

June 14

Russia vs Saudi Arabia – 11pm – TV2 & Astro

June 15

Egypt vs Uruguay – 8pm – TV2 & Astro
Morocco vs Iran – 11pm – Astro

June 16

Portugal vs Spain – 2am – TV1 & Astro
France vs Australia – 6pm – TV2 & Astro
Argentina vs Iceland – 9pm – Astro
Peru vs Denmark – midnight – TV2 (delayed, 12.30am) & Astro

June 17

Croatia vs Nigeria – 3am – TV1 & Astro
Costa Rica vs Serbia – 8pm – TV2 & Astro
Germany vs Mexico – 11pm – Astro

June 18

Brazil vs Switzerland – 2am – Astro
Sweden vs South Korea – 8pm – Astro
Belgium vs Panama – 11pm – TV1 (delayed, 11.30pm) & Astro

June 19

Tunisia vs England – 2am – Astro
Colombia vs Japan – 8pm – TV2 & Astro
Poland vs Senegal – 11pm – Astro

June 20

Russia vs Egypt – 2am – TV1 & Astro
Portugal vs Morocco – 8pm – Astro
Uruguay vs Saudi Arabia – 11pm – Astro

June 21

Iran vs Spain – 2am – TV1 & Astro
Denmark vs Australia – 8pm – TV2 & Astro
France vs Peru – 11pm – Astro

June 22

Argentina vs Croatia – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro
Brazil vs Costa Rica – 8pm – TV1 (delayed, 8.30pm) & Astro
Nigeria vs Iceland – 11pm – Astro

June 23

Serbia vs Switzerland – 2am – Astro
Belgium vs Tunisia – 8pm – TV2 & Astro
South Korea vs Mexico – 11pm – TV1 & Astro

June 24

Germany vs Sweden – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro
England vs Panama – 8pm – Astro
Japan vs Senegal – 11pm – TV1 & Astro

June 25

Poland vs Colombia – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro
Uruguay vs Russia – 10pm – Astro
Saudi Arabia vs Egypt – 10pm – TV1 (delayed, 10.30pm) & Astro
Spain vs Morocco – 2am – TV1 (delayed, 2.30am) & Astro

June 26

Iran vs Portugal – 2am – Astro
Denmark vs France – 10pm – Astro
Australia vs Peru – 10pm – Astro

June 27

Nigeria vs Argentina – 2am – TV1 & Astro
Iceland vs Croatia – 2am – Astro
South Korea vs Germany – 10pm – TV1 & Astro
Mexico vs Sweden – 10pm – Astro

June 28

Serbia vs Brazil – 2am – TV1 & Astro
Switzerland vs Costa Rica – 2am – Astro
Japan vs Poland – 10pm – Astro
Senegal vs Colombia – 10pm – Astro

June 29

England vs Belgium – 2am – TV1 & Astro
Panama vs Tunisia – 2am – Astro