“Now, when I am not a part of the team they are playing with less pressure. People are expecting less. When I was there everyone expected that the team would win the World Cup or the Euros. My impression is that that has changed now and that they will play without any pressure whatsoever and have nothing to lose. … [Read more...] about Zlatan Ibrahimovic: my Sweden career is over even if they reach World Cup
Proteas 2011 world cup squad
The away leg is crucial for us. We were unbeaten away from home in the group stage, including wins away to Austria and Wales and a credible draw with Serbia. I can see us heading back to Dublin with a 1-0 win. As for the home tie, we only lost once in the group stage against eventual group winners Serbia. Martin O’Neill’s tactics ensure we are difficult to beat and that will continue through these play-offs with a 1-1 draw in Dublin securing our progression to our first World Cup since 2002. As long as we avoid conceding any free-kicks that invite Eriksen to demonstrate his set-piece skills, we should be fine over the two legs. Ryan O Hanlon … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: fans from around Europe preview the play-offs
After a year with Palmeiras in Brazil, Gareca took charge of Peru shortly before the 2015 Copa América. They had reached the semi-finals in 2011, inspired to dour effectiveness by the Uruguayan Sergio Markarián (a fuel distribution manager who was so embarrassed by Uruguay’s 4-0 defeat by Holland in 1974 that, aged 30, he quit his job and retrained as a football coach), but had fallen away in the two years that followed. Gareca, though, restored the rigour and, with Paolo Guerreiro banging in four goals, led them to the semis again. … [Read more...] about Ricardo Gareca edges Peru to the brink of a rare World Cup qualification
Jonathan Wilson: Gareca edges Peru to brink of rare qualification 9) Modric and company must seize their final opportunity A World Cup without Messi would have been sadly bereft – but what about one lacking Luka Modric? The Real Madrid playmaker is now 32 and, when you consider the gifts of the Croatia team-mates he works with, it beggars belief that his place at Russia 2018 hangs in the balance. Croatia’s supporters can be rightly furious at the mismanagement that has seen it come to this, although the appointment of Zlatko Dalic in time for the crucial 2-0 win in Ukraine last month appears to have come in the nick of time. Now Dalic – who replaced the disliked Ante Cacic and will work without a contract until, and unless, qualification is secured – must hope Croatia discover their old verve against Greece. Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic are among those who, like Modric, may not be around when Qatar 2022 arrives and few would dispute that next … [Read more...] about World Cup play-offs, final qualifiers and friendlies: 10 things to look out for
USA struggled throughout their campaign and fell 2-1 down to Trinidad & Tobago in their final game. That meant a Panama win over Costa Rica would see them into their first World Cup, and Román Torres struck with only two minutes left. USA dropped to fifth in the table, missing their first finals since 1986, after Honduras fought back to beat Mexico and claim a play-off place, in which they lost out to Australia over two legs. … [Read more...] about World Cup 2018: which teams have made it to Russia?