Stephen Hawking dissects England’s chances in the World Cup

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Stephen Hawking is the man.

Not just because his theories regarding black holes and gravitational singularity theorem in the framework of general relativity have changed the way we understand science but because, apparently, the 72-year-old loves his soccer.

So much so, in fact, that he spent a chunk of his Wednesday discussing England’s World Cup chances. Unfortunately for fans of the Three Lions, however, things look bleak.

After analyzing data since the 1966 World Cup — take that Michael Cox! — Hawking concluded that the heat, altitude and distance from home could all be detrimental to England’s chances.

According to Hawking the 5 degree celsius rise in temperature in Brazil reduces England’s chance of winning by 59%, while Roy Hodgson’s men are twice as likely to win playing at 500 metres below sea level. “Like all animals, the England team are creatures of habit,” he said. “Being closer to home reduces the negative impact of cultural differences and jetlag. We do better in temperate climates, at low altitudes with kick-off as close to the normal three o’clock as possible.”

Other conclusions Hawking came to (from Paddy Power):

1) Daniel Sturridge would lead England in goals scored due to his current form and Wayne Rooney having never scored before in a World Cup.

2) England are more likely to win wearing a red strip because they are seen as more aggressive and dominant.

3) The presence of WAGS is irrelevant.

4) England play better in a 4-3-3 than 4-4-2.

5) England is more likely to win with a European referee, under whom the side has won 63% of its matches. “European referees are more sympathetic to the English game and less sympathetic to ballerinas like (Liverpool’s Uruguay forward Luis) Suarez,” said Hawking.

6) With penalties, a run up of more than three steps gives a player a better chance of scoring, left and right footed penalties have the same chance of going in and bald/fair haired players are more likely to score than dark-haired players.

So who does Hawking have winning it all?

Brazil, of course. “You would be a fool to overlook Brazil. Hosts have won over 30 per cent of the World Cups.”

 

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

Adam Davy/PA via AP
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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images
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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

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


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE