Paulinho confirms he’s on his way to Tottenham

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If you read between the lines last week, tonight’s news comes as no surprise. With Corinthians and Tottenham having agreed to a fee in excess of $25 million (£17 million), the player was left to decide, a choice Paulinho put off until after the Confederations Cup. But with Brazil having claimed first on Sunday, the 24-year-old midfielder having claimed the Bronze Ball, the time had come. Was he off to England?

His words:

“The other interest we got was from Inter Milan but the only offer came from Tottenham,” he said. “The proposal came, we sat down, analysed it and decided. It was a big decision to go to a big club. There comes a certain point when you need new challenges.”

And with that, Paulinho’s on his way to London, skipping Wednesday’s Recopa Sudamericana because of “contractual requirements.” At what was reported to be an emotional press conference held by Corinthians, the Spur-to-be didn’t say goodbye. “See you soon,” was his farewell, telling the club to which he promised to return “Corinthians will be in my heart for the rest of my life.”

For now, though, his life is in North London, where he could be a perfect fit for a Spurs team that suddenly has a number of midfield options. If the speculated switch to a 4-3-3 (from a 4-2-3-1) formation happens, André Villa-Boas would have an enviable midfield of Sandro behind Paulinho and Moussa Dembélé, with the likes of Lewis Holtby, Jake Livermore, and potentially Tom Carroll as depth options. Should Spurs solve their problems at striker, where they’re currently relying on Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe, the team could make a real run at the Premier League’s big three: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea.

No, they won’t be true contenders; just dark horses. And we’ve yet to see what Arsenal’s going to do with this hypothetical war chest their new sponsorships have reportedly given them. But a Spurs team with a healthy Sandro and Paulinho’s box-to-box presence complementing Dembélé would be better situated to snare the top four spot that eluded them last season.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 2

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Layla Anna-Lee has a new show and, well, it’s unbiased. At least occasionally…

In the second episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, Layla Anna-Lee looks at the best moments from the first set of matches in the 2018 World Cup.

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There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.

Brazil waste Coutinho’s stunner, draw Switzerland in opener

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Brazil started brilliantly and raced out to an early lead, but the five-time World Cup winners — and one of a handful of favorites in 2018 — disappointed in the end as they settled for a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in the two sides’ Group E opener.

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Philippe Coutinho opened the scoring after 20 minutes, turning home a stunning strike from distance, off the inside of the post, to settle any early nerves and give Tite’s Selecao a 1-0 lead (WATCH HERE).

It wasn’t Brazil’s first golden scoring chance of the game, though, as Coutinho and Neymar combined down the left wing to send the latter into space inside the penalty area. Neymar played a first-time cross into the six-yard box, but Paulinho‘s scuffed effort from close range was tipped around the post by Yann Sommer.

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A bit of complacency and real lack of urgency washed over Brazil as soon as they went ahead, affording Switzerland every opportunity to get back in the game.

Vladimir Petkovic’s side needed just five second-half minutes to draw level, thanks to some shoddy set-piece defending by Brazil. Steven Zuber took up a spot at the near post, virtually unmarked inside the six-yard box, and headed past Alisson.

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The game’s most controversial moment came just after the 70-minute mark, when Gabriel Jesus was bear-hugged inside the penalty area. Wrapped up from behind, the Manchester City forward was blatantly prevented from getting to the ball after a quick passage of smooth build-up, but referee Cesar Arturo Ramos Palazuelos was unmoved and no video review was enacted.

By the full-time whistle, Brazil had piled up 21 shots (just four on target) compared to just six from Switzerland (two). Despite on-target efforts from Neymar and Renato Augusto inside the game’s final five minutes, a winner wasn’t on the cards and the sides were forced to split the points.

Up next for Brazil is a clash with Costa Rica on Friday, while Switzerland will face Serbia the same day. The Serbs topped the Costa Ricans in Sunday’s first game, putting them top of the group after after the first of three rounds in Group E.

Video: Coutinho’s curler has Brazil flying early

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It took 20 minutes for the Selecao to get on the board, but Brazil looks every bit as good as advertised.

Tite’s side struck nearly halfway through the opening stanza when Barcelona star Philippe Coutinho curled his shot from distance off the inside of the post against Switzerland.

The Brazilians came close on several occasions prior to Coutinho’s opener, but the 26-year-old made good on the misses with his first career World Cup tally.

El Tri may have caused small earthquake back in Mexico City

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It was impossible to ignore the magnitude of Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany on Sunday, and it apparently caused waves all over the world.

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Although a large contingent of El Tri fans were present in Moscow, Russia for the team’s win over the defending World Cup champions, it wasn’t comparable to the scenes back home.

Supporters were reportedly so enthused by the match that it’s quite possible they started a minor earthquake in Mexico City.

The earthquake reading came at 11:32 am ET, right around the time when Hirving Lozano gave El Tri the lead over their Group F opponent.