Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney both out for Manchester United against Chelsea

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After sending star striker Wayne Rooney away on a ‘hot-weather break’ to help with his recuperation from a groin injury, Manchester United manager David Moyes has confirmed that both Rooney and Robin van Persie will miss United’s clash with Chelsea on Sunday.

During the Red Devils’ struggles this season, Rooney and RVP have often been out injured at separate times and haven’t been able to use their potent partnership to terrorize opposition defenses. Over the last two season the duo have been pivotal for Man United, with the club boasting a 78 percent win rate in the 32 games they’ve played together, while United have won just 55 percent of the 55 games where Rooney and RVP have not been partner up front.

Now they’re both out for the crunch game at Chelsea, but Moyes revealed Rooney is making good progress.

“Well he has come back fresh, but not ready for Chelsea,” Moyes told reporters on Friday. “He is training and out on the grass doing some running. He’s looking quite good, he’s had a break and done a lot of strengthening work around his groin, hopefully enjoyed a few days in the sunshine and hopefully he will benefit on it. But not for this game.”

Could Rooney return next week for United’s League Cup semifinal second leg vs. Sunderland?

“Possibly. I don’t want to be a date on it just now, because I don’t want to say he will be fit for whatever game, and then he isn’t,” Moyes said. “We’ve just got to take it bit by bit. But I’ve watched him running today and he looks well, he is in really good condition and has kept himself right. Overall we are pleased, we just hope we can get him back as quickly as we can because he’s an important player.”

Moyes also confirmed that Robin van Persie is still on the sidelines, but could return to training next weekend as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

“I’m hoping Robin will be able to come back out training at the start of next week,” Moyes said. “If I could get Robin back training with us, it would be a great boost for us all. He is a really important player and a player we’ve missed But he’s getting closer now and most of them are getting closer to fitness, so let’s hope it’s not too long until we get them back.”

This season Van Persie has only played in 11 of United’s 21 Premier League matches, scoring seven times, while Rooney has scored nine times in 17 PL games. Needless to say, a United side without RVP and Rooney leading the line is one that doesn’t frighten many opponents.

The sooner Moyes’ two superstar strikers return, the better.

Petkovic: Time to “take Switzerland seriously” after Brazil draw

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While much of the talk about Sunday’s 1-1 draw between Brazil and Switzerland will focus on the former, the Swiss would like their share of credit for frustrating — and matching — one of a handful of favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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Switzerland manager Vladimir Petkovic is chief among those who believe it’s time those on the outside “start taking notice of us and taking us seriously.” As for the insinuations that his side roughed up Neymar, who suffered 10 of the 19 fouls committed by Switzerland, most of them were “very clean” — quotes from the BBC:

“Sometimes if there is a lack of recognition that is a pity because we have played very well. We showed and demonstrated that this team always believes in itself and can achieve results.

“Most of the duels (with Neymar) were won in a very clean way. It was one of the key ingredients to neutralize Neymar.”

“I’m very proud and pleased with the discipline with the way we played. We worked collectively and cohesively.”

“When we are able to play forward and press higher up we were able to do it well and it is an excellent starting position for the rest of our group matches.

“We had real difficulties in the first 40 minutes, I said ‘let’s remain calm, focused and believe in ourselves, push up higher up the pitch and create opportunities to score.'”

Having secured a point in far and away their toughest group game, Switzerland now have eminently winnable games against Serbia (Friday) and Costa Rica (Wednesday, June 27) remaining. Four points from those two games would just about guarantee progression to the knockout rounds.

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.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

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.