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WEEKEND BIG 5 PREVIEWS: Wenger’s Top 4 Battle, Who Will Win Title Decider Between Barca And Atletico? PLUS Milan Derby



England Premier League
12:30 Burnley vs Everton
15:00 Leicester vs Bournemouth
15:00 Southampton vs Stoke
15:00 Watford vs West Bromwich Albion
15:00 Tottenham vs Huddersfield
15:00 Swansea vs West Ham
17:30 Liverpool vs Newcastle United
13:30 Brighton vs Arsenal
16:00 Manchester City vs Chelsea
20:00 Crystal Palace vs Manchester United

Burnley vs Everton
The big talking point: Our eyes! Our eyes! This promises to be a horrendous watch.

What will happen: If Burnley are ever to end their long, winless run, it will happen here: against the side that don’t do away wins. Or goals. Or football with any semblance of ambition.

What won’t happen: No easy decision in goal for Sean Dyche, who will again have to make a decision over the Tom Heaton/Nick Pope issue. Pope has played so well since coming into the side, but if Heaton doesn’t get back in he can forget about the World Cup – and that’s tricky, because he’s actually Dyche’s longest-serving player.

Leicester vs Bournemouth
The big talking point: Bournemouth’s comeback against Newcastle last week, which was another indication of their growing health.

What will happen: Shinji Okazaki is ready to return so could go straight back into the starting XI to help out Jamie Vardy. For Bournemouth, Adam Smith was very impressive as a substitute last weekend so should be restored to Eddie Howe’s side.

What won’t happen: A visiting clean sheet. This is a bad, bad match-up for Bournemouth, who are not really equipped to nullify the Vardy/Mahrez access. Key to their problem is an inability to track runners who go beyond them – remember what Liverpool did them a few months ago – so this should be a fairly comfortable home win.

Southampton vs Stoke
The big talking point: Relegation, unfortunately. These two teams are in desperate trouble and, while both have shown marginal improvement lately, they really need to start winning. Stoke are in the relegation zone. Southampton are only outside of it on goal difference.

What will happen: In light of Guido Carrillo not really hitting the ground running, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Manolo Gabbiadini back in the side at St Mary’s. He scored a late equaliser at Turf Moor last weekend and Mauricio Pellegrino can’t afford to ignore anyone who’s capable of providing goals.

What won’t happen: We don’t fancy Southampton here – no win from them. Stoke aren’t substantially better than they were under Mark Hughes, but they do seem freer and better defensively. Conversely, Southampton look deeply inhibited whenever they play at home and this looks, at a glance, like the kind of game destined to be settled by some Shaqiri excellence or something similar.

Swansea vs West Ham
The big talking point: Has the Carvalhal bubble burst? Swansea were comfortably second best at Brighton a week ago and the long, unbeaten stretch of form which led them into that fixture hasn’t lifted them out of the relegation zone.

What will happen: Manuel Lanzini completed almost an hour on his comeback against Liverpool last weekend, and although he made little impression, his return does make West Ham a far more dangerous side. Lanzini is their most gifted attacking player. You could make an argument for Marko Arnautovic, but Lanzini is really the one with all the craft and whom, if fit, Swansea will have to be most wary of. Expect the result to be determined by his level of performance.

What won’t happen: Both sides are carrying long injury lists: Renato Sanches, Leroy Fer and Wilfried Bony will all be missing for Swansea – and will be for some time – while Patrice Evra has been added to a West Ham absentee list which already includes Pedro Obiang and, of course, Andy Carroll.

Tottenham vs Huddersfield
The big talking point: Given what it experienced on Wednesday, the Wembley pitch will most likely be atrocious by the time Saturday arrives. A leveller, perhaps?

What will happen: David Wagner will do what he’s done against every big side: Huddersfield will sit deep, volunteer the ball back to their opponent and will likely be brutalised by Mauricio Pochettino’s forward line.

What won’t happen: There’ll be no Toby Alderweireld, as there won’t be against Juventus next week. The Belgian broke down in training on Tuesday with another hamstring injury.

Watford vs West Brom
The big talking point: Alan Pardew’s job security. It’s astonishing that he’s still there actually, given that he lost at home to Huddersfield last weekend. This must surely be a last chance.

What will happen: P45 time. West Brom are absolutely useless. Only Swansea have scored fewer goals and their defence isn’t nearly good enough to win points the hard way. A greatly improved Watford should have few problems here, then, and relegation will soon become a virtual certainty for the Baggies.

What won’t happen: Still no Daniel Sturridge for West Brom – who didn’t see that coming? – but Watford are suffering, too, with Gerard Deulofeu the latest first-team player to be ruled out. He’ll be gone for a while, too.

Liverpool vs Newcastle
The big talking point: As it has been for the last 20 years, this fixture is on television again. The pre-game montage surely writes itself by now.

What will happen: Liverpool will sweep this struggling Newcastle team aside within 20 minutes, leaving the commentators just over an hour to reminisce sadly about Rush, Barnes, Rush, Barnes… Collymore closing in.

What won’t happen: There will be no return to Anfield for Jonjo Shelvey, who’s injured, while loan signing Islam Slimani is also out and will have wait longer for his Newcastle debut. Jordan Henderson and Gio Wijnaldum are both doubts for Liverpool.

Brighton vs Arsenal
The big talking point: You do have to wonder what those two, back-to-back defeats against Manchester City have done to Arsenal. Wembley crushed them, but the repeat performance at the Emirates seemed to be a new low altogether. They are a team who look completely lost.

What will happen: Crucially, that lost team are about to face one with a new sense of purpose. Brighton have not lost a game of any sort since January and have won three home games in a row in all competitions (West Ham, Coventry, Swansea).

What won’t happen: There’ll be no comfort for Arsenal here. Teams who have suffered like they have benefit from soft fixtures in which they can gently regain their equilibrium. This isn’t that; Brighton may lack quality, but they’re too organised to go quietly – and, worse, because of what’s happening below them they’re likely now within touching distance of their Premier League safety.

Manchester City vs Chelsea
The big talking point: We already know where Manchester City will finish this season, but Chelsea’s situation is more tenuous. Last weekend they slipped out of the top four and, with Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester United all benefiting from easier games, they really need to take something from this. Otherwise, they could conceivably be five points off fourth place by the end of Sunday.

What will happen: Can anyone really make a case for City not carrying on where they left off against Arsenal? Too many parts of the Chelsea side are misfunctioning – midfield, attack – for them to be a real problem. Especially away from home… especially with Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling due to be fit and available again.

What won’t happen: Let’s just say that Antonio Conte won’t be substituting Eden Hazard again if he finds himself in a winning position. Of all the tactical decisions made this season, that one, made at Old Trafford on Sunday, is among the strangest.

Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
The big talking point: It’s the potential effect of Manchester United’s win over Chelsea. United weren’t overly impressive, but a lot of good things happened within that 90 minutes. Romelu Lukaku gave an excellent contribution, Paul Pogba arrested his form’s decline, and Jose Mourinho’s substitutions were highly effective. Will that carry over?

What will happen: Yes, probably. Palace did not play well against Tottenham. They were obdurate enough, but the “oh, aren’t they defending bravely” narrative missed the four or five good chances which Spurs passed up. On another day, that scoreline would have looked very ugly. They’ll need to be much better to get anything from this.

What won’t happen: Timothy Fosu-Mensah has been pressed into centre-back duty in recent weeks, but he’s ineligible to face his parent club – which will probably mean a recall from Damien Delaney. Roy Hodgson has all sorts of issues elsewhere, though: there’ll be no Wilfried Zaha, Mamadou Sakho, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Bakary Sako and possibly no James Tomkins either. Bare bones.

German Bundesliga
14:30 Wolfsburg vs Bayer Leverkusen
14:30 Hamburger SV vs Mainz 05
14:30 Schalke 04 vs Hertha Berlin
14:30 Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hannover 96
14:30 Augsburg vs Hoffenheim
17:30 RasenBallsport Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund
14:30 FC Cologne vs VfB Stuttgart
17:00 Freiburg vs Bayern Munich

Freiburg can keep it tight in Black Forest tussle
Freiburg v Bayern Munich

Bayern are cruising towards a sixth consecutive Bundesliga title, not just because of their excellence, but because of the failure of their rivals to mount any sort of challenge. Take last weekend as an example: Borussia Dortmund only drew with Augsburg, while Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig all lost.
The champions also failed to win last weekend, as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Hertha Berlin. It was the first time since May 2015 that the Bavarians had failed to score in a competitive home match. Jupp Henyckes’ men didn’t play particularly badly, but they didn’t take their chances against a Hertha team that played with dogged determination.
Now Bayern a trip to a Freiburg side that continues to punch well above its weight. Christian Streich’s Breisgau-Brasilianer have lost just once in their last 12 matches, and at home they have suffered just one defeat in their last 16 Bundesliga outings. The Schwarzwaldstadion is a tough place to go – the crowd are on top of you, it’s usually freezing cold, and Streich has an uncanny knack of getting more out of his players than can reasonably be demanded.
Last season it took a wonder goal right at the death from Robert Lewandowski for Bayern to win at Freiburg, and on the road FCB have been winning, but not always by a big margin. They have won by two goals or more in just three of their last nine Bundesliga away matches.
Freiburg will make life tough for Bayern, and former Bayern striker Nils Petersen is in the form of his career. He has 12 Bundesliga goals this term, his best ever tally.

Koln can use the crowd and Leipzig win to drag themselves up
FC Koln v Stuttgart

Stuttgart have won their last three matches 1-0, and VfB are suddenly a healthy seven points clear of the bottom three. Striker Daniel Ginczek and Mario Gomez have led the line well as a burly pairing, and young defenders Benjamin Pavard and Timo Baumgartl have excelled. Korkut, who had a hitherto unimpressive record as a coach, has hit the ground running with his hometown club.

However, their winning run may come to an end in Cologne this weekend. Koln produced one of the most extraordinary results of last weekend, as they came from behind to beat RB Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena. For 40 minutes, Koln were hopeless, but by the end of the match they fully deserved their victory. Attacking midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt got the winner on his first appearance since 2018, and there’s no doubt that the easing of the Koln injury crisis is boosting their chances of picking up results.

I have to admit this is more of a gut feeling than anything statistically solid, but I saw the fire in Koln last week, and the fact they are only bottom on goal difference will ignite the crowd ahead of Sunday’s game.

I really fancy Koln to win this and drag themselves closer to safety, so despite Stuttgart’s revival, that’s what I’m backing. Koln have won four of their last eight Bundesliga matches, and the crowd can get them over the line against a team with just one away win all season.

Spanish La Liga
12:00 Villarreal vs Girona
15:15 Sevilla vs Athletic Bilbao
17:30 Leganes vs Malaga
17:30 Deportivo La Coruna vs Eibar
19:45 Real Madrid vs Getafe
11:00 Levante vs Espanyol
15:15 Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
17:30 Real Sociedad vs Alaves
19:45 Valencia vs Real Betis

Who Will Win Title Decider Between Barcelona And Atletico Madrid?
After Barca’s draw at Las Palmas, the Catalans are just five points ahead at the top now, but should an in-form Atletico Madrid take all three points from the Camp Nou, they’ll be just two points in it.
If Ernesto Valverde’s side are victorious, the gap rises to eight, but the way the two teams are playing, there’s no guarantee that will happen.
For Barcelona to do win, they’ll need to contain Messrs. Costa and Griezmann, and that’s no easy task, particularly in relation to the Frenchman, who has scored seven in his last two games.
The battle between these two sides is always an absorbing one, and Diego Simeone will feel he has the best chance of his tenure of finally leaving the Camp Nou with all three points – a feeling he is yet to experience as Atleti coach.
With an extra week to wait until the Champions League return against Chelsea, Valverde can afford to play all of his big guns, so it’ll be no surprise to see Messi, Suarez, Dembele and Coutinho all starting.
How the Uruguayan loves these games against his countryman Diego Godin, and neither will hold back here. A red card is almost assured because neither side will give an inch. Too close to call.

Zidane to rotate again
He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, but Zinedine Zidane has to rotate again for the game against Getafe.
Coming just a few days before the trip to PSG, the Frenchman has little choice because he can’t afford any more injuries at what is a crucial point of the season.
Modric, Kroos and Casemiro will hope to be back against the Parisiens, but Marcos Llorente and Mateo Kovacic will continue to deputise.
Cristiano Ronaldo is available, but it’s likely that Zidane will hedge his bets and bench the Portuguese, only bringing him on if absolutely necessary.
The starting XI should actually be the same as that which lost at Espanyol, and if Getafe were to add their name to a growing list of teams who have conquered Los Blancos this season, the coach will have to take it on the chin.
Jose Bordalas’ side have lost just one in the last six in a run which has included games against Sevilla, Barcelona and Celta Vigo.
A compact but hard-working 4-4-2 gives the visitors enough in both attack and defence to cause their hosts more league problems, and keep an eye out for Angel Rodriguez up against Raphael Varane.
It could be the battle of the afternoon.

Valencia will be wary of Betis goal threat
Though they’ve already missed one chance to leapfrog Real Madrid into third, Valencia will be hopeful of keeping the pressure on with a win against Betis.
However, Marcelino will be wary of the goal threat the green-and-whites possess.
Four against Sociedad and Levante, and three against multiple opponents evidences the way in which Quique Setien likes his staff to play, although it must be said that sometimes they’re left open by playing in such a manner.
It’s the reason why they’ve shipped five against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Eibar.
If Geoffrey Kondogbia and Dani Parejo can boss the midfield up against Fabian Ruiz and Javi Garcia, Simone Zaza, Luciano Vietto and Rodrigo Moreno will get chances.
That’s because Marc Bartra is still finding his feet at the back for Betis, his partnership with Aissa Mandi still in its infancy.
A strong left side in Coquelin and Gaya, should ensure that if Betis want any goalscoring success, it will need to come down Valencia’s right side.

Bragging rights up for grabs in Basque derby
What a game in prospect at the Anoeta as Real Sociedad welcome Alaves.
Fortunately for both Basque sides, they sit a healthy eight and nine points respectively above the bottom four, and though they’ll go for the win, a draw isn’t necessarily a disaster.
It’s difficult to predict a winner here because although La Real ship an awful lot of goals, they’ve scored a fair amount too. In fact, only Valencia, Real Madrid and Barcelona have scored more.
Alaves won three on the spin before being outclassed by Real Madrid recently, but they’ve certainly shown the heart that was missing earlier in the season before Abelardo took over.
Man for man, Sociedad have the better players, with respect, but that means nothing if they’re not willing to put in a shift.
Far too many of their stars have gone missing this season, though Mikel Oyarzabal and Sergio Canales can generally be exempt from blame. Eusebio needs his midfield trio of Illarramendi, Zubeldia and Zurutuza to get hold of this one by the scruff of the neck.
For Alaves, John Guidetti continues to be eager to prove a point, whilst the spine of the team (Garcia, Torres, Laguardia, Ely) remain solid.

Seedorf still not off the mark
The former multiple Champions League winner, Clarence Seedorf, hasn’t had the best of starts at Depor. In fact, it’s been a downright disaster.
Not only has he not inspired his staff to a victory, but he’s yet to see them score. There can’t be too many instances of teams not getting a new manager bounce to this degree.
What it does show is that the mess at the club is a lot deeper than anyone imagined, but they’re not cast adrift as yet. Games are running out for them, but a couple of wins would work wonders. Sadly, it won’t come against a dogged Eibar side.
Eneko Boveda was once again the weak link against Getafe last time out, and only Fabian Schar in Depor’s defence can emerge with any real credit.
Adrian Lopez and Zakaria Bakkali aren’t providing enough service out wide for Lucas Perez or Florin Andone to thrive on, and as such, they look a little disjointed.
Eibar, meanwhile, have always played for each other and as a decent unit. They’ve had to, to survive against the odds in the top flight season after season.
It’s that togetherness that will send them back to the Basque Country with all three points. Another solid performance, as against Villarreal on Wednesday will be just the ticket. Kike Garcia will target Boveda from the off and with Fabian Orellana back to his best, don’t be surprised if this is over before half time.

Italy Serie A
14:00 SPAL 2013 vs Bologna
17:00 Lazio vs Juventus
19:45 Napoli vs Roma
11:30 Genoa vs Cagliari
14:00 Udinese vs Fiorentina
14:00 Torino vs Crotone
14:00 Benevento vs Verona
14:00 Atalanta vs Sampdoria
14:00 Chievo vs Sassuolo
19:45 AC Milan vs Inter

Milan Derby on as Juve set to pile the pressure on Napoli
Lazio v Juventus

This is set to be one of the weekends that could decide the Serie A season, as Napoli host Roma and Juve travel to the Olimpico to take on Lazio.
Lazio certainly have it in their power to cause issues for Max Allegri and his team: they have beaten the Champions twice already this season, in the Super Cup and then in Turin in October, and I can see why they’re being supported to win this weekend, and give Napoli the chance of a seven-point lead.
Lazio also have a centre-forward who is both in great form and loves playing against Juve. Ciro Immobile is heading for that Capocannoniere crown and has now scored six times in his last four games. If you also consider the fact that he has scored four already in his two games against Juventus this season, you can understand why he’s potentially primed to succeed again.
Juventus can welcome back both Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuaín to fitness, although neither is likely to start here, and that shadow of next week’s huge Champions League game against Tottenham looms large over this game.
Juventus, though, have made a habit of getting the job done this season. Their tenacity in clinging to Napoli’s coat tails has been quite extraordinary, and last weekend’s snowstorm which caused the Atalanta abandonment will have helped them. They’ll be fresh, and Lazio could well be shattered after losing their Cup semi-final in midweek against Milan. This is a mightily quick turnaround.

Napoli v Roma
Napoli are on a 10-match winning streak in Serie A, but Roma are being dismissed here, and I’ll have to support them on the Asian Handicap to cause problems for Maurizio Sarri’s team.
Roma’s lost to Milan last weekend because of their trip to Shakhtar a few days before, and they haven’t suddenly turned into a bad team. They’re very well coached by Eusebio Di Francesco, and they know Napoli well enough to stop them.
Of course, Sarri’s team are free scoring and great to watch, as they proved in their rout of Cagliari on Monday night, but they are heavily reliant on their front three of Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Dries Mertens, all of whom are starting to look a little tired. That’s fine when you’re playing a Cagliari team that allows you to play, much tougher when you’re in an intense game against Roma.
Fiorentina, Inter, and most famously, Juventus, all stopped Napoli here, and Sarri’s much vaunted defence will be tested by the in-form Cengiz Under, who has now scored five goals in his last five games, and by Roma’s organisation at both ends of the field.

Milan v Inter
The bet of the weekend, though, comes on Sunday night at San Siro. Yes, there’s a danger that Milan might be tired after their Cup semi-final in midweek, but they at least have a day’s extra recovery, and they’re a team on a roll.
Gennaro Gattuso has done a remarkable job in guiding the team to a 13-match unbeaten run, and they have now kept clean sheets in each of their last six games. They face an Inter team which has looked disjointed and clueless in recent weeks, and their two recent wins flatter them. They were fortunate at home against Bologna, and outplayed for some time by Benevento.
Mauro Icardi returns to the side for this and that of course improves Inter, but he can’t win the game on his own, and I expect Inter to be dominated in the midfield and comprehensively outplayed by the better team.
Milan look really good value at 2.60, and that is unquestionably the bet of the weekend.

French Ligue 1
16:00 Troyes vs Paris Saint Germain
19:00 Metz vs Toulouse
19:00 Saint-Etienne vs Dijon
19:00 Amiens vs Rennes
19:00 Angers vs Guingamp
14:00 Caen vs Strasbourg
16:00 Montpellier vs Lyon
20:00 Marseille vs Nantes

Table-toppers to stand firm at the back
Troyes v PSG (18th v 1st)
PSG have their all-important Champions League last-16 second leg against Real Madrid next Tuesday so their priority this weekend will be picking up all three points with the minimum of fuss.
Unai Emery’s visitors will post a professional performance while trying to save themselves to some degree for the crucial clash against Zinedine Zidane’s side at Parc des Princes next week.
PSG are one of Europe’s most formidable attacking sides but this weekend their strength may be their defence. Neymar is definitely out and fellow injured front player Kylian Mbappe – a doubt for the Real match – will almost certainly play no part in the game, either.
PSG have kept clean sheets in two victories over Marseille in two different competitions – Ligue 1 and the French Cup – over the past seven days. On both occasions their back four and goalkeeper looked excellent.
On the back of those performances Paris will be confident of keeping a clean sheet against limited hosts.
Troyes have the joint-third-worst scoring record in the division and have failed to find the net in five of their 10 games against professional opposition in all competitions since the start of the year.

Goals on the cards in basement battle
Metz v Toulouse (20th v 16th)
Bottom club Metz have to go for broke to try to move out of the relegation positions and that should lead to an open contest against Toulouse this weekend.
Frederic Hantz’s hosts have improved over the past three months but remain rooted to the foot of the table and time is running out.
Their urgent need for points and goals was evident in their 2-2 draw at Guingamp last weekend: Metz produced some highly effective attacking football but were also open at the back at times.
Similar strengths and weaknesses ought to be on show this weekend, and Toulouse are also capable of contributing to a high-scoring encounter.
Last weekend there were defensive deficiencies in Toulouse’s performance but they showed character and also quality in attack to score two late goals to earn a 3-3 home draw against Monaco.
Strikers Andy Delort and Yaya Sanogo combined for Toulouse’s late equaliser and the visitors have everything to play for as they remain relegation contenders.

Marseille home form the key to victory
Marseille v Nantes (3rd v 6th)
Marseille will have a point to prove when they host faltering Nantes at Stade Velodrome on Sunday night.
The gap that separates Marseille from PSG was laid bare this week when Marseille lost 3-0 on two occasions against their fiercest rivals. First they were beaten by that scoreline in Ligue 1 last Sunday night, and then suffered a similar fate in the French Cup on Wednesday.
But Marseille’s longer-term confidence should be unaffected as they have an excellent home record against all but the very best sides in Ligue 1.
Marseille are W9-D3-L1 at home and an even better W9-D1-L1 at home against non-top four sides.
Rudi Garcia’s men are also capable of winning comfortably: seven of their nine home wins have come by a margin of two or more goals, and the same applies to 10 of their last 12 victories home or away in all competitions.
Having excelled during the first-half of the season Nantes have lost their way since the turn of the year.
Their 1-0 home defeat to struggling Amiens last weekend was their fifth loss in their last eight games in all competitions.
Given how they’re playing it’s hard to see Claudio Ranieri’s visitors putting up much resistance.

15:00 Barnsley vs Norwich
15:00 Brentford vs Cardiff
15:00 Millwall vs Sunderland
15:00 Bolton vs Preston
15:00 Derby vs Fulham
15:00 Aston Villa vs Queens Park Rangers
15:00 Nottingham Forest vs Birmingham
15:00 Bristol City vs Sheffield Wednesday
17:30 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Reading

Dutch Eredivisie
17:30 PSV Eindhoven vs FC Utrecht
17:30 Excelsior vs AZ Alkmaar
19:45 SC Heerenveen vs Willem II
19:45 NAC Breda vs Feyenoord
11:30 PEC Zwolle vs VVV-Venlo
13:30 Vitesse vs Ajax
13:30 Sparta Rotterdam vs ADO Den Haag
15:45 Twente vs FC Groningen

Turkey Super Lig
10:30 Kasimpasa vs Osmanlispor FK
13:00 Istanbul Basaksehir vs Goztepe
16:00 Karabukspor vs Galatasaray
10:30 Genclerbirligi vs Alanyaspor
13:00 Konyaspor vs Yeni Malatyaspor
16:00 Antalyaspor vs Sivasspor
16:00 Fenerbahce vs Akhisar Belediyespor

Belgium Jupiler League
19:00 Royal Excel Mouscron vs Lokeren
19:00 Waasland-Beveren vs Genk
19:00 Zulte-Waregem vs Anderlecht
19:00 Royal Antwerp vs Eupen
19:00 Club Bruges vs Kortrijk
19:00 Gent vs Oostende
19:00 Sporting Charleroi vs St.Truiden
19:00 Standard Liege vs KV Mechelen

Portugal Liga NOS
16:00 Feirense vs Boavista
18:15 Benfica vs Maritimo
20:30 Estoril vs Braga
11:45 Tondela vs Chaves
16:00 Moreirense vs Pacos de Ferreira
18:00 Vitoria de Setubal vs Rio Ave
20:15 Vitoria de Guimaraes vs Belenenses

Russia Premier League
11:00 CSKA Moscow vs Ural
13:30 Zenit St. Petersburg vs Amkar
16:00 FC Krasnodar vs FC Rostov
08:00 SKA-Khabarovsk vs Tosno
11:00 FC Ufa vs Dinamo Moscow
13:30 Lokomotiv Moscow vs Spartak Moscow
16:00 Arsenal Tula vs FK Akhmat




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DAY 11 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Senegal Are Unbeaten In Their Three Previous Games With Japan, England Play Panama For The First Time PLUS Colombia & Poland



Sunday 24 June
England vs Panama (Group G) – Nizhny Novgorod – 3pm
Japan vs Senegal (Group H) – Ekaterinburg – 6pm
Poland vs Colombia (Group H) – Kazan – 9pm

Midfielder Dele Alli returned to training with England, but is likely to miss Sunday’s World Cup Group G game against Panama.
The Tottenham player, 22, suffered a thigh injury during Monday’s 2-1 win over Tunisia.
Pictures of assistant manager Steve Holland’s training notes seemed to indicate Ruben Loftus-Cheek would replace him in England’s starting XI.
Alli has trained alone for the past three days and manager Gareth Southgate said the player was “unlikely” to be fit for England’s second group game.
He started training with the main group on Saturday but was withdrawn after warm-ups to work individually.
World Cup debutants Panama were beaten 3-0 by Belgium in their opening match.
Coach Hernan Dario Gomez has already confirmed that he will field the same XI against England.
Harry Kane’s last-minute intervention got England off to a flying start and gave them a win in their opening game of a major tournament for the first time since the 2006 World Cup, when they beat Paraguay. At times against Tunisia it wasn’t pretty, or perfect, but with a bit more luck, composure and favourable decisions they would have won with ease.
The Panamanians played to type in their opening game with Belgium. Los Canaleros (The Canal Men) were aggressive, robust, but ultimately hugely outclassed. The Belgians knew they had been in a game, though, and complained afterwards about some of the tackles that were flying in.
“I don’t know what people are complaining about,” captain Roman Torres said. “Football is like that – you always have to impose yourself, you have to mark out your territory.”
Their coach Hernan Dario Gomez was in charge of Colombia when they lost 2-0 to England at France 1998. His opposite number in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday, Gareth Southgate, was on the bench.

This will be the first meeting between England and Panama.
Panama are the 38th different nation England have faced at a World Cup.
England have only lost their first meeting against a nation at the World Cup in five of their previous 37 matches (v USA, Spain, Uruguay, Hungary and Italy).

They have only won their opening two games at a World Cup twice before, in 1982 and 2006.
England’s victory over Tunisia ended a run of four World Cup matches without a win (D1, L3).
They are unbeaten in their last 11 internationals (W8, D3).
Kane became the first England player to score a brace in a World Cup match since Gary Lineker against Cameroon in 1990.
The last England player to score more goals in the group stage of a World Cup tournament than the two Kane has already scored was Lineker in 1986 (three).
The Three Lions’ 2-1 win over Tunisia was the first time they had scored more than once in a World Cup match since a 2-2 draw with Sweden in 2006.

In their 3-0 loss to Belgium, Panama suffered the biggest defeat by a World Cup debutant since Ukraine lost 4-0 to Spain in 2006.
The last side to lose by three or more goals in both of their opening two World Cup matches on their tournament debut were Greece in 1994, who lost 4-0 to Bulgaria and Argentina.
They received more yellow cards (five) than they had shots on target (two) against the Belgians.
Panama have lost four of their last six internationals (W1, D1) and have only won one of their last eight (D2, L5).
They have failed to beat any of the previous 10 European sides they have faced in their history.

Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda suffered a bruised thigh after coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 win against Colombia, and will be monitored.
Forward Shinji Okazaki was a doubt prior to the opening match because of a calf problem but played the final five minutes, so should be in contention.
However, Okazaki is unlikely to displace Yuya Osako, who impressed as a lone striker in their last match.
Senegal also won their first game and they may be unchanged.
Stoke’s Mame Diouf started against the Poles but didn’t register a single shot, and was withdrawn after an hour.
Should Senegal opt for a change up front, Moussa Konate and Moussa Sow are alternative options.
Japan and Senegal are the pacesetters in Group H with a win apiece after both capitalised against opponents who hit the self-destruct button.
The Japanese had a numerical advantage for 87 minutes in their opener following Carlos Sanchez’s dismissal for Colombia.
Senegal, meanwhile, were gifted their second goal against Poland, with the quick-thinking Mbaye Niang tapping into an empty net after a calamitous back-pass from Grzegorz Krychowiak.
Japan’s win was the first at a World Cup for an Asian team against a South American side. Opponents Senegal have also been flying the flag for their continent, as they were the only African side to avoid defeat in the opening round of games.
Another Senegal victory will leave them on the brink of the last 16 – progress would be confirmed if Colombia fail to beat Poland later in the day. Conversely, Japan will go through if they win and the Poles fail to record a victory.

Senegal are unbeaten in their three previous games with Japan, all of which were friendlies.
The Senegalese have won the last two encounters, keeping clean sheets in both games (2-0 in 2001 and 1-0 in 2003).

Victory would see Japan become the first Asian side to win their opening two games at a World Cup.
The only previous occasion Japan have won consecutive games at a World Cup came at the 2002 tournament, which they co-hosted.
On that occasion they beat Russia and Tunisia in their second and third group games.
Japan have won two of their three World Cup games against African opponents, although they lost the more recent encounter, a 2-1 defeat by Ivory Coast in 2014.
The Japanese played 377 passes in the second half against Colombia, compared to just 218 in the first half (despite their opponents playing virtually the entire game with 10 men).
Keisuke Honda has been directly involved in six of Japan’s last eight World Cup goals, scoring three and assisting three.
Honda has not scored in his last 15 international games, a run stretching back to September 2016.

Senegal have the best win rate of any African side to have played at a World Cup, winning three of their six matches (50%).
Only two African nations have won their opening two World Cup matches – Cameroon in 1990 and Nigeria in 1998.
This will be the first time Senegal have faced Asian opponents in a World Cup game.
They have conceded five times in their last nine games in all competitions, with just one of those goals coming in the first half.

Colombia’s James Rodriguez could start Sunday’s World Cup Group H match against Poland after coming on as a substitute in the defeat by Japan.
Poland forward Dawid Kownacki may start the game after he impressed against Senegal as a second-half substitute.
Centre-back Kamil Glik has returned to full training after shoulder injury but remains a doubt for Sunday’s game.
That means Thiago Cionek, his replacement against Senegal, is likely to keep his place.
Poland had huge support inside the Spartak Stadium and are the seeded team in Group H – but they were disappointing in all areas during their opening defeat by Senegal.
Leading striker Robert Lewandowski struggled to make his mark during his World Cup debut, and his side must now produce the goods on Sunday.
Their 2-1 defeat came hours after Japan had beaten 10-man Colombia 2-1.
Poland have never qualified for the second phase after losing their opening game, and they could face an even bigger challenge should Rodriguez return to Colombia’s starting XI.
Colombia, for their part, played 87 minutes of their opening match with 10 men after Carlos Sanchez was shown the second-fastest World Cup red card in history.

This will be the first competitive meeting between Poland and Colombia – the South Americans won the most recent friendly 2-1 in Chorzow in 2006.
Colombia have won only two of their nine previous World Cup games against European opponents (D2 L5), though these victories have come in their past four such meetings against Switzerland in 1994 and Greece in 2014.
None of Poland’s nine World Cup games against South American opponents has finished as a draw, with the Eagles winning four and losing five.

Poland have lost seven of their past nine World Cup matches (W2), failing to score in six of those losses.
They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their past nine World Cup matches, since beating Portugal 1-0 in 1986.
Despite failing to score against Senegal in Poland’s opening match, Lewandowski has netted 21 goals in his last 16 appearances for his national team.

Only once before have Colombia lost both of their opening two games in a World Cup tournament, doing so against Romania and the USA back in 1994.
None of Colombia’s 19 games at the World Cup have ended goalless.
Juan Quintero became the first Colombian player to score in two different World Cup tournaments in their opening defeat against Japan (2014 and 2018).
Sanchez’s red card in their opening match against Japan was the first dismissal at the 2018 World Cup and was also Colombia’s first ever sending off in the competition.


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DAY 10 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Will Sweden Kick Out Defending Champions Germany, Belgium Are Unbeaten In Their Last 10 World Cup Group Games PLUS Mexico & Tunisia



Saturday 23 June
South Korea vs Mexico (Group F) – Rostov-on-Don – 3pm
Belgium vs Tunisia (Group G) – Moscow (Spartak) – 6pm
Germany v Sweden (Group F) – Sochi – 9pm
Mexico head coach Juan Carlos Osorio admitted a flu bug hit the Mexico camp before their game with Germany, which affected his substitutions.
But Osorio is expected to stick with the same starting line-up for his team’s second game in Group F.
South Korean keeper Jo Hyeonwoo, a surprise call-up, should keep his place after a solid performance in the 1-0 defeat by Sweden.
The South Koreans may look to reshuffle their attacking 4-3-3 formation.
South Korea will be desperate to stop their World Cup losing streak, which now stands at three games after losing their opening match in Russia.
But after failing to keep a clean sheet in 12 of their previous 13 World Cup matches, keeping Mexico out could be as hard to come by as a goal at the other end.
The South Koreans have not scored in their last two games, but they have never gone three consecutive matches without scoring a goal in the competition.
Mexico will be buoyed by their impressive victory over defending champions Germany in their opening game, and Osorio’s side – and resolute defence – will be tough to beat.
Hirving Lozano scored El Tri’s winner against the Germans and the striker is in red-hot form, following 17 goals and eight assist in 29 appearances for PSV in the Dutch top flight last season.
South Korean midfielder Ki Sungyueng will move to joint-sixth on his country’s all-time appearances list if he picks up his 104th cap on Saturday.

The only previous World Cup meeting between South Korea and Mexico was in 1998, with the Central Americans running out 3-1 winners in the group stages.

South Korea
South Korea have failed to keep a clean sheet in 12 of their last 13 World Cup matches, conceding in each of the last seven games in a row.
In their opening group game versus Sweden, South Korea had more yellow cards (2) than shots on target attempted (0).
The South Koreans are winless in their last seven World Cup matches (D2 L5), losing their last three in a row.
They have failed to score in each of their last two World Cup games – they have never gone three consecutive matches without scoring a goal in the competition.
This will be just the Koreans’ third World Cup meeting with a Concacaf side, following that 3-1 defeat in 1998 and a 1-1 draw with the USA in the 2002 group stages.

Mexico have won all three of their World Cup games against Asian opposition (7 goals for, 2 against).
Mexico have lost just two of their last 18 World Cup group stage matches (W9 D7).
The El Tri have not won back to back matches at the World Cup since 2002, when they beat Croatia and Ecuador in their first two group matches that year.
Rafael Marquez was aged 39 years and 124 days in his substitute appearance against Germany – he was the oldest outfield player to appear in a World Cup match since Roger Milla (42 years, 38 days) played for Cameroon versus Russia in 1994.
Rafael Marquez appeared in the opening match for Mexico, making him the third player to play in five separate World Cup tournaments (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018) after Mexico’s Antonio Carbajal and Germany’s Lothar Matthäus.

Sweden defender Victor Lindelof is expected to start against Germany on Saturday after missing Monday’s 1-0 win over South Korea because of illness.
Leeds United centre-back Pontus Jansson is likely to be replaced by the Manchester United defender, who returned to training on Thursday.
Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus is expected to start for Germany, having been on the bench against Mexico.
Coach Joachim Low is set to change his side after Sunday’s 1-0 defeat.
Defending champions Germany made a dreadful start to their bid to win back-to-back World Cups with a shock defeat by Mexico in their opening Group F game.
Hirving Lozano’s first-half goal in Moscow was decisive, with Low unimpressed by Germany’s frailty in defence. They were uncharacteristically disjointed and must avoid defeat to ensure they don’t go out in the group stages for the first time since 1938.
In contrast, Sweden marked their first appearance in the World Cup for 12 years by beating South Korea thanks to a penalty from Andreas Granqvist. At 33, the captain became the oldest player to score on his World Cup debut since Martin Palermo, who was 36 when he scored for Argentina in 2010.
They overcame a 60-year drought too because they hadn’t won their first match at a World Cup since 1958, when the tournament was held in their own backyard.
Since then, Sweden have qualified for seven World Cups – reaching Russia by defeating Italy 1-0 in a two-legged play-off, after beating the Netherlands to second place in their qualifying group.
Victory on Saturday will send them through to the knockout stages for the first time since 2006.

Germany (or West Germany) are unbeaten in their past 11 games against Sweden (winning six, drawing five), whose last win came against West Germany in April 1978 (3-1).
The two most recent matches between these sides have produced a total of 16 goals – with a 4-4 draw in Germany in October 2012 before Sweden lost 5-3 at home in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Germany (or West Germany) have won three of their four World Cup games against Sweden (in 1934, 1974 and 2006), with their only defeat coming in 1958 when Sweden – as host nation – reached the final.
That was Sweden’s only competitive win against the Germans (with three draws and eight defeats) – their other 11 victories against them came in friendlies.

Defeat against Mexico in Moscow was only the second time a German side had lost their opener at a World Cup, also losing against Algeria in 1982. However, they reached the final of the competition that year.
West Germany lost back-to-back matches at the 1958 World Cup, to Sweden in the semi-final and France in the third-place match, while East Germany lost back-to-back matches to Brazil and the Netherlands in 1974 – but no German side has suffered successive defeats at the finals since.
Thomas Muller has scored 10 goals from just 14 shots on target at the World Cup.
But Muller was the only outfield Germany player to not register a single shot in their defeat by Mexico and he has not had a shot in his past 239 minutes of World Cup football.

Sweden have faced the reigning champions at the World Cup twice before and won both times – in 1950 against Italy and 1958 against West Germany.
Their 1-0 win against South Korea was their first in their opening match at a World Cup since beating Mexico 3-0 as hosts in 1958.
They also last won consecutive World Cup matches back in 1958 en route to the final.
Sweden’s goal against South Korea was their first in 402 minutes of international football, since Ola Toivonen scored against Chile back in March.

Belgium centre-backs Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen are again expected to be missing with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
As a result, Dedryck Boyata will continue alongside Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen has been ruled out of the World Cup because of the shoulder injury that forced him off after 16 minutes against England.
Oussama Haddadi is expected to play instead of Ali Maaloul at left-back.
The first 45 minutes of Belgium’s opening game with Panama was certainly not easy on the eye. A ponderous, disjointed display against the World Cup debutants saw Romelu Lukaku touch the ball just seven times in the first half.
Captain Eden Hazard let rip at his team-mates during the break, with Lukaku firmly in his sights.
“It’s not easy playing with a man missing,” said Hazard of the Manchester United striker. “At half-time, I told him we needed him. He’d been hiding out a bit up front. But once he got in there, involved in the game, like magic, he scored two. I hope he understands that now.”
The constructive criticism had the desired effect and Belgium are now targeting a victory that will see them secure their place in the last 16 if England avoid defeat to Panama.
Tunisia, meanwhile, will be eliminated with a game still to go if they are defeated and England don’t lose.

This will be the fourth meeting between Belgium and Tunisia, with both nations winning one game and sharing one draw.
Belgium’s Dries Mertens scored the only goal the last time the two sides met in a friendly in 2014.
This is their second meeting at a World Cup – they previously drew 1-1 in the 2002 group stage.

Belgium are unbeaten in their last 10 World Cup group games and have won the previous five.
They have made it past the opening group stage in six of their last seven World Cup appearances, with the only exception coming in 1998.
They haven’t lost their second group stage game at any of their last seven World Cups.
Each of Belgium’s last 11 World Cup goals have come after half-time.
Only Jan Ceulemans (six) has scored more goals in major tournaments for Belgium than Romelu Lukaku (five, level with Marc Wilmots).
Lukaku has scored 15 goals in his last 10 internationals.

Tunisia have failed to win their last 12 World Cup games since winning their first-ever match against Mexico in 1978. It was the first match won by an African side at the World Cup.
The last team to have a longer winless run in the World Cup was South Korea (14 games between 1954 and 1998).
They have scored with their only shot on target so far at this World Cup, which was a penalty.
They are in a first World Cup since 2006, but have yet to reach the knockout stage in four previous attempts.
Tunisia have only kept one clean sheet in 13 World Cup games, 0-0 with West Germany in 1978.


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DAY 9 WORLD CUP PREVIEW/STATS/H2H: Can Nigeria Set Up A Cracker Against Argentina By Beating Iceland, Costa Rica Looking To Upset Brazil PLUS Serbia & Switzerland



Friday 22 June

Nigeria vs Iceland (Group D) – Volgograd – 3pm
Brazil vs Costa Rica (Group E) – St Petersburg – 6pm
Serbia vs Switzerland (Group E) – Kaliningrad – 9pm
Switzerland midfielder Valon Behrami is receiving treatment for a muscle problem but is still likely to play.
Head coach Vladimir Petkovic could name the same side that drew 1-1 with Brazil, with Haris Seferovic continuing as a lone forward.
Serbia’s Luka Milivojevic may be available despite picking up a minor knock in the win over Costa Rica.
Head coach Mladen Krstajic is not expected to make major changes but he could hand winger Filip Kostic a start.
Serbia are the lowest ranked team in Group E but come into this game in pole position after their 1-0 win over Costa Rica, while the Swiss earned a creditable 1-1 draw with joint-favourites Brazil in their opening game.
The Brazilians were frustrated by Switzerland’s physical approach and also filed a complaint about Steven Zuber’s equaliser after he appeared to push Miranda before nodding home.
“Sometimes there’s a lack of recognition and that’s a pity because we played very well,” grumbled Switzerland boss Vladimir Petkovic in the aftermath of that game.
“I hope that people will take notice of us and take us seriously.”
One team that has definitely taken notice is Serbia. “We know everything about Switzerland,” stated their head coach Mladen Krstajic after their first match, which was also his first competitive game in charge of the side.
If Krstajic can mastermind a second win then the Serbs would reach the knockout stage for the first time as an independent nation.

Switzerland have never faced Serbia before.
However, Switzerland and Yugoslavia have met 13 times, with the Swiss winning six of those meetings (D5, L2).
Yugoslavia won the last time these sides met, claiming a 2-1 friendly victory in Basel in September 2001. Current Serbia head coach Mladen Krstajic scored the winner that day.
Their only previous World Cup meeting was a 3-0 group stage win for Yugoslavia in 1950.
Switzerland’s last win over Yugoslavia was a 2-0 friendly victory in October 1983.

Serbia (as Yugoslavia) have qualified for the knockout stage on three of the last four occasions when they’ve won their opening World Cup fixture.
A win for the Serbs would send them into the last 16 for the first time since 1998 (as Yugoslavia).
Their last four World Cup wins have all been 1-0.
Serbia have lost five of their last six World Cup group games, winning the other.
Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored 14 goals in his last 17 starts for Serbia.
Branislav Ivanovic made his 104th appearance against Costa Rica and became his country’s most-capped player, surpassing the record of Dejan Stankovic (103).
Aleksandar Kolorov’s goal against Costa Rica was the first direct free-kick scored by a player from Serbia or Yugoslavia at a World Cup since Sinisa Mihajlovic scored one in a 1-0 victory over Iran in 1998.

Switzerland are on a seven-game unbeaten run (W4, D3).
They have only lost one of their last 23 games (W16, D6), a 2-0 defeat to Portugal last October.
Steven Zuber has scored four goals and registered two assists in his last six international starts.
Stephan Lichsteiner is in line to make ninth World Cup appearance in this game, which would be a Swiss national record.
Against Brazil, Valon Behrami became the first Swiss player to appear in four different World Cup finals (2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018).
Costa Rica have scored from just one of their last 31 shots at the World Cup.

Nigeria’s vice-captain Ogenyi Onazi could return to the side after being dropped for the opening defeat by Croatia.
Oghenekaro Etebo scored an own goal in that match and could make way, while Ahmed Musa is also in contention.
Iceland could be without Johann Berg Gudmundsson, who sustained a muscle injury against Argentina.
Rurik Gislason came on for Gudmundsson in that game, and may replace him in the starting line-up.
Nigeria have the youngest squad on average at this World Cup, but the biggest concern heading into a crunch game with Iceland is that age-old problems remain. While it would be convenient to blame Nigeria’s defensive frailties in the defeat by Croatia on the relative inexperience of their squad, a weakness at set-pieces has long been the Super Eagles’ Achilles heel.
Since making their World Cup debut in 1994, 14 of the 27 goals they have conceded have come from a set-piece (52%), the worst percentage of any nation during that period, including an own goal from a corner in their group opener.
Conversely, organisation is very much Iceland’s strength, as their impressive draw with Argentina demonstrated. Expertly drilled and rigidly disciplined, they frustrated the South Americans while giving up few clear-cut chances on their World Cup debut.
Worryingly for Nigeria, Iceland also looked threatening with a direct, long-ball orientated game that could cause a discombobulated defence no end of trouble. A second defeat for Nigeria, and they are out. Howevr, a win for them will set up a final group cracker with Argentina who lost yesterday to Croatia.

In their only previous meeting, Iceland triumphed 3-0 in a 1981 friendly.

All five of Nigeria’s wins at the World Cup have come against European sides.
The Super Eagles have won just one of their last 13 World Cup games (D3, L9), with that victory coming against Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014.
They have failed to progress from the group stage on both previous occasions they have lost their opening game.
Nigeria are currently on a World Cup losing streak of three games, their worst run since losing four matches between 1998 and 2002.
They have failed to score in six of their last 11 World Cup matches.

Iceland drew their first ever World Cup game against Argentina. The last side to avoid defeat in their opening two matches were Senegal in 2002.
Alfred Finnbogason has scored in his last three appearances for Iceland, though they’ve failed to win any of those matches (D2, L1).
After recording eight shots in the first half against Argentina, Iceland failed to register an attempt on goal in the rest of the match.
Kari Arnason won 13 aerial duels against Argentina, the most by any player in the opening round of matches.

Forward Neymar will be in Brazil’s starting XI for Friday’s Group E clash with Costa Rica despite hobbling out of a training session on Tuesday.
The Paris St-Germain forward, who broke a bone in his right foot in February, felt pain in his right ankle but took part in another session on Wednesday.
Costa Rica will look to emulate Switzerland’s efforts against Tite’s side, who had to settle for a point.
Los Ticos now face an uphill task to progress after losing 1-0 to Serbia.
Brazil began the World Cup as one of the favourites, but opened up in underwhelming fashion by drawing with Switzerland, despite going ahead through Philippe Coutinho’s wonderful, curling effort.
However, the five-time champions, appearing in their 21st consecutive tournament, will not worry about qualifying for the knockout phase just yet.
Unbeaten in their last 13 World Cup group games, winning 10 and drawing three, Brazil have topped their first-round group in every World Cup since 1982 and last failed to progress past this stage in 1966.
While Costa Rica will not have given up on progressing to the knockout stages for a second consecutive finals, manager Oscar Ramirez will need to retune his team offensively.
Penalty shootouts excluded, Costa Rica were one of only three sides to remain unbeaten in the 2014 World Cup but have toiled in front of goal at the finals, scoring just once in their last four World Cup games.
They sprung a surprise by progressing in a group consisting of Uruguay, Italy and England four years ago – but have it all to do now in Russia.

Brazil have won nine of their 10 previous internationals against Costa Rica, losing only in a friendly in March 1960.
This is the third meeting between Brazil and Costa Rica at the World Cup, with the former inflicting Costa Rica’s first-ever defeat on them at the tournament in 1990 (1-0), before a 5-2 victory in 2002

Philippe Coutinho’s goal against Switzerland was his 11th for Brazil – five of those have come from outside the box.
Brazil are winless in three World Cup matches (D1 L2), their worst run since June 1978, when they went four matches without a win.
Brazil conceded from the first shot on target they faced at the 2018 World Cup – from their last 13 shots on target faced at the World Cup, they have conceded 10 goals.
Brazil’s Neymar was fouled 10 times in their opening match against Switzerland – it was the most a player has been fouled in a World Cup match since 1998, when England striker Alan Shearer was fouled 11 times against Tunisia.

Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s only previous World Cup victory against South American opposition came in the 2014 tournament (3-1 vs Uruguay).
Costa Rica lost their first match against Serbia, ending a five-game unbeaten run at the World Cup finals – they haven’t lost back-to-back World Cup games since June 2006, when they lost four in a row.
Against Serbia, striker Marco Urena had just 14 touches in 67 minutes for Costa Rica, with three of those in the opposition box – his replacement, Joel Campbell, had 24 touches and four in the opposition box.


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