Tuesday, June 19, 2018 06:21:28 PM
AFP, Moscow :
Neymar's acclaimed return ahead of the World Cup supplied Brazil with an immeasurable boost, but holders Germany and Argentina arrive at the tournament confronting inconsistent form and disrupted preparations.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar's swashbuckling display in a 45-minute appearance against Croatia last weekend largely dismissed lingering concerns over his fitness after more than three months out with a fractured foot. The 26-year-old admitted he was only at "80 percent" but promised he would be raring to go come Brazil's first game at the finals against Switzerland on June 17.
"For the first match back I actually expected less from him! I would have been happy with a quieter performance," Brazil coach Tite said of Neymar. "What he did was really extraordinary."
Brazil's form under Tite, appointed midway through a faltering qualifying campaign, suggests it will be difficult to stop the five-time world champions from adding another title in Russia.
A reinvigorated Selecao have won 16 of 20 matches with the former Corinthians boss at the helm, a 1-0 loss to Argentina last year in Melbourne the only defeat since he took charge.
Spain, unbeaten since Julen Lopetegui was named coach after Euro 2016, are back among the genuine contenders after a catastrophic 2014 World Cup and another early exit the European Championship.
"Spanish football has lived through an extraordinary, historic period in 2008, 2010 and 2012, but after that the team has not found the same consistency or success," Lopetegui told AFP.
"We have to grow again as a team. We have the biggest ambitions but we are also very aware that we arrive at this World Cup feeling humble and wanting to prove ourselves."
Spain cruised through a qualifying section featuring Italy, and delivered a further warning to their World Cup rivals with a 6-1 demolition of Argentina in March.
But they will be tested immediately in Russia when they launch their group stage campaign against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal on June 15.
Manuel Neuer's comeback following eight months out with a foot injury has given Germany a much-needed shot in the arm, with Joachim Loew's side struggling to hit their stride ahead of their title defence. An unconvincing 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia on Friday halted a five-match winless run, although Ilkay Gundogan was booed by Germany supporters after meeting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and calling him "my president". "The fact that a national player is booed like that helps nobody," Loew told broadcaster ARD, insisting the incident be put in the past.
"He took a picture, okay, but he has addressed it with the press and underlined his support for German values.
"The topic has to be ticked off."
Argentina's build-up was jolted by the cancellation of a controversial friendly against Israel in Jerusalem, a fixture set to be their final outing ahead of the World Cup.
The sold-out game had been due to take place on Saturday but was hotly opposed by Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of the city, annexed by Israel, as the capital of their future state.
With goalkeeper Sergio Romero already ruled out, Argentina's plans were further complicated by the loss of Manuel Lanzini to injury, but team manager Omar Souto believes all is in place for a successful competition. "I have been at five World Cups and this is the best set-up because it has everything… there's never been a place like this for the national team," he told AFP, with Argentina due to arrive at their Bronnitsy training base, 40km southeast of Moscow, later on Saturday.
· Pogba worry for France? -
A hugely talented France squad head to Russia with high expectations, but Didier Deschamps is still struggling to find a system that will enable him to unlock the full potential in his team.
Paul Pogba, who will have a huge role to play if France are to succeed, was jeered by a smattering of home fans after an underwhelming performance in a recent 3-1 win over Italy.
"People talk a lot about Paul. He's a midfielder, he's not a number 10, nor a forward," said Deschamps.
"He has the ability to score goals and create them, which he does often.
He's a complete midfielder: he can do everything but he can't do everything." Unburdened by modest expectations, England's youthful side will go into the tournament riding a 10-match unbeaten run that stretches back nearly a year. Gareth Southgate admitted he faces a selection dilemma after Marcus Rashford starred in a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, but a reasonable draw could allow them to reach a first World Cup quarter-final since 2006.
INCESSANT rainfall in the last few days has triggered floods in the country's East and South East districts. Thousands of people of Moulvibazar, Habiganj, Feni and Chattogram districts have been marooned as floodwater crawled to inundate their homestead and damage crops and livestock. The New Nation recently reported that Khowai, ...
AFP, Germany :Roger Federer claimed his 98th ATP title on Sunday with a 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) defeat of Milos Raonic in the grass-court Stuttgart Cup final.The Swiss great, who will be chasing a ninth Wimbledon triumph next month, beat his Canadian opponent for the 11th time in 14 meetings while ...
AP, Geneva :The U.N. human rights chief is urging the Trump administration to end new policies separating migrant children from their parents after entering the United States from Mexico, saying they've affected nearly 2,000 kids in the last six weeks.Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says it's "unconscionable" that any country would seek ...
AP, Washington :The emotional policy of separating children from their parents is also starting to divide Republicans and their allies as Democrats turn up the pressure.Former first lady Laura Bush called the policy "cruel" and "immoral" while GOP Sen. Susan Collins expressed concern about it and a former adviser to ...
EID UL FITR is an important religious event celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm). The Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The ...
AFP, Bangalore :Afghanistan were handed a bruising introduction to Test cricket by India on Thursday as they capped their astonishing rise from war and refugee camps to joining the sport's elite.Afghan skipper Asghar Stanikzai called it a "very proud moment" as he strode onto the field at Bangalore's M. Chinnaswamy ...
A jubilant-sounding President Donald Trump declared Wednesday that his "deal" with Kim Jong Un has ended the North Korean nuclear threat, as his top diplomat said he hoped to see "major disarmament" of the country by 2020.Despite the lack of detail, or binding terms in the joint statement agreed with ...
AP, Geneva :The U.N. human rights chief called Thursday for an independent, international investigation into reports of rights violations in the disputed region of Kashmir, laying blame for civilian deaths and injuries on the actions of both India and Pakistan.In its first report on the region, the office of Zeid ...
A ceremony marking the adorning of rank badge of new Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat was held at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Thursday.In the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Chief of Army Staff General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Huq and Chief of Naval Staff ...
Los Angeles prosecutors said on Wednesday that their sex crimes team was reviewing a case against Rocky actor Sylvester Stallone. Los Angeles District Attorney's office spokesman Greg Risling did not give details but said the case was presented by police in the California beach city of Santa Monica.Representatives for Stallone, ...
NEWS media reported that nearly 40 percent of the garment factories, most of which are small and not members of any trade bodies like the BGMEA or the BKMEA, are yet to pay the workers' salaries or festival bonus although Eid-ul-Fitr is knocking at the door. Most of the 4.4 ...