France captain Yannick Noah's odd choice of Jeremy Chardy and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the opening singles rubbers backfired spectacularly as Croatia built a 2-0 lead inside the huge Stade Pierre Mauroy -- home to Lille's soccer club. World number 12 Coric gave Croatia a flying start with an emphatic 6-2 7-5 6-4 win over an erratic Chardy and the 33-year-old Tsonga, out for most of the season after knee surgery, was then pummelled 6-3 7-5 6-4 by world number seven Cilic. Chardy, ranked 40th, and Tsonga, now down at 259, were both trusted ahead of world number 32 Lucas Pouille. Zeljko Krajan's team need one of the three remaining rubbers to emulate their 2005 Davis Cup triumph while French hopes of extending the contest to Sunday rest with doubles pair Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. Noah has lost only one of 10 ties since returning for a third stint, against Croatia in the 2016 semi-final. The 58-year-old will step down after the final but his hopes of signing off with a fourth … [Read more...] about Tennis: Coric, Cilic put Croatia in charge of Davis Cup final
Cup final odds
As the excitement builds ahead of the final of the Asian Football Confederation Under-23 Championship, all eyes are on the two title contenders, Vietnam and Uzbekistan. Neither team has ever made it beyond the group stage of the biennial championship prior to this year. Previous winners include Japan in 2016, who lost 4-0 in this year’s quarterfinals to Uzbekistan, and Iraq in 2013 (when it was the AFC U22 Cup), who lost in the quarterfinals on penalties (5-3) to none other than Vietnam. This year, both finalists lost a match in the group stage. Vietnam lost 2-1 to South Korea, but the Koreans were subsequently defeated by Uzbekistan in the semis, while Uzbekistan lost to Qatar 1-0, who then lost to Vietnam… also in the semis. As for goal stats, Uzbekistan has so far fared better than the more defensively minded Vietnam. Vietnam Uzbekistan Goals scored 7 10 Goals conceded 7 2 Top goalscorer Nguyen Quang Hai (4 goals) Jasurbek Yakhshiboev (3 goals) Formation … [Read more...] about Vietnam vs Uzbekistan in U23 Asian Cup final: Who do you think will win?
Creative forces: Croatia's Luka Modric (right) and Antoine Griezmann of France could hold the key to the World Cup final AFP/Pierre-Philippe MARCOU, Gabriel BOUYS France will also be spurred on by trying to put behind them the bitter disappointment of losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal in Paris. It is a final few people anticipated when football's global showpiece kicked off four weeks ago. Croatia have brought joy to their Balkan nation of just four million people by defying the odds to progress to the final while reigning champions Germany, then Argentina and Brazil all fell by the wayside in Russia. They have been inspired by mercurial midfielder Luka Modric while coach Zlatko Dalic, who only took over last year with the squad in chaos, has coaxed remarkable performances from his team. Deschamps would become only the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager - he was captain when France lifted the World Cup in 1998. His France side, spearheaded by … [Read more...] about France and Croatia seek World Cup glory
Eden Hazard and a brilliant Belgian generation stand between France and a place in the World Cup final as the countries bring their historic rivalry to Tuesday's (Jul 10) first semi-final in Saint Petersburg. Eden Hazard (left) and Kylian Mbappe go head to head as neighbours Belgium and France meet in the World Cup semi-finals on Tuesday (Jul 10). (Photos: AFP/Odd Andersen, Franck Fife) Not since 1986 have Belgium made it this far at the World Cup, losing to a Diego Maradona-inspired Argentina in Mexico and then going down 4-2 to France in the third-place play-off, the last competitive meeting of the nations. In the years since, France have won one World Cup and one European Championship, and lost the 2006 World Cup final. Now, with Kylian Mbappe their new standard-bearer, they are dreaming of getting there again. Belgium disappeared from the forefront of the international scene for years before emerging once more with their current gifted crop. With Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and … [Read more...] about Hazard’s Belgium block France path as neighbours clash in World Cup semi
Liverpool fans in Kiev - but getting to the Ukrainian capital is proving too difficult, and too costly, for many supporters. (AFP/Sergei SUPINSKY) Real have seen this as their competition ever since winning the first five European Cups in a row, and this is another golden era for them, in which they are dreaming of making it a fourth Champions League in five years. Neither Atletico Madrid (twice) nor Juventus have been able to stop Cristiano Ronaldo from inflicting pain on them in recent finals. But Liverpool's own attacking quality gives them reason to believe and suggests the Olympic Stadium in the Ukrainian capital could be the scene of an unforgettable encounter. In terms of history alone, this is a dream final. Real's 12 European Cup wins puts them way ahead of the rest, but Liverpool have lifted the famous trophy five times themselves, most recently in 2005, defying all the odds against AC Milan in Istanbul. This time, under Klopp, their adventure started against Hoffenheim in … [Read more...] about Liverpool out to end Real Madrid’s dominance in Champions League final