World Cup Today: England, Uruguay among four fending off elimination

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WORLD CUP TODAY: THURSDAY, JUNE 19

A pair of elimination games feature on Thursday’s World Cup docket after Wednesday saw reigning champions Spain bounced, Chile and the Netherlands punch tickets to the knockout rounds and Croatia cruise past Cameroon.

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MATCH 21: COLOMBIA VS. IVORY COAST
Location: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília
Time: Noon ET
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Cheater’s guide: Ivory Coast is a win away from exorcising the demons of consecutive group stage exits at World Cup, while Colombia was impressive in absolutely demolishing a reputable Greek defense. Certainly both teams would appreciate the comfort of a win.

What they’re saying:
Ivory Coast head coach Sabri Lamouchi on their opener: “”We didn’t start the game very well by conceding through a lapse in concentration. After that, we got into a lot of good positions. For us it was really important to start well this tournament. To have a player like Didier Drogba in your squad, as a starter or a sub, changes a game. The players are very happy with the victory, but we are not yet qualified.”

History:
First meeting.

Premier League players:
Colombia: None.
Ivory Coast: Wilfried Bony (Swansea City), Cheick Tioté (Newcastle), Kolo Touré (Liverpool), Yaya Touré (Manchester City)

RELATED: World Cup news, analysis from Soccerly

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source:  MATCH 23: URUGUAY VS. ENGLAND
Location: Arena de São Paulo, São Paulo
Time: 3pm ET
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Cheater’s guide: Another “elimination” game, will one of these clubs join the ranks of Spain as perceived giants to go out after just two matches. Uruguay gets Luis Suarez back but will be without Maxi Pereira and Diego Lugano, while England will be missing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

What they’re saying:
England’s Steven Gerrard on his message to the team: ” I have had that feeling of going out of a major tournament. I know what that feeling is about and that is the feeling I don’t want come Friday morning… There is no hiding place for a player when you go out of a tournament. You go home earlier than you expect. It can be tough as a player and it can take an awful long time to get over it.”

History:
This will be the 11th meeting between the two nations, with England holding a 4-3-3 edge.

Premier League players:
Uruguay: Luis Suárez (Liverpool), Gastón Ramírez (Southampton)
England: 22 of England’s 23 players are on Premier League clubs. The full squad list can be found here.

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source: Getty ImagesMATCH 22: JAPAN VS. GREECE
Location: Arena das Dunas, Natal
Time: 6pm ET
SOCCERLY PREVIEW | SOCCERLY MATCHCENTER

Cheater’s guide: The loser of this match is out of the World Cup, and a draw would hurt both teams’ chances dramatically considering both lost their openers. Greece’s normally-stingy D was humbled by Colombia 3-0, while Japan was “Drogba’d” in blowing a 1-0 lead to the Ivory Coast.

What they’re saying:
Japan star Keisuke Honda on their 0-1 start: “Nobody feels good about losing and obviously it was a shock. But it’s not a shock that we lost, the thing that shocks me is we lost because we could not play to our strengths. We gave our opponents’ front line too much respect. Mentally we were weak but that is not a problem that can’t be fixed. A little bit more spirit can turn things around … of course we still have an opportunity to get through the group phase.”

History:
Japan won the only meeting, 1-0, at the 2005 Confederations Cup.

Premier League players:
Japan: Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Maya Yoshida (Southampton)
Greece: None

Fernandes scores first goal, says Ronaldo backed Manchester United move

Bruno Fernandes Ronaldo
Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)
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It’s probably not a surprise that a young Portuguese player would fancy Manchester United given the heroics of Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford early his career.

Bruno Fernandes admits that those images danced through his head well before he signed with the Red Devils in January.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s also not a shock that United would turn to their former player for a take on the playmaker before buying him from Sporting Lisbon.

Fernandes says he’s grateful that CR7 endorsed BF18. From Sky Sports:

“I know some people asked Cristiano what he thought of me and what I was like as a player and a person,” Fernandes said. “I know he spoke highly of me and gave me a good reference, so I sent him a message after to thank him for his kind words.”

Fernandes has 19 caps and two goals for Portugal, while Ronaldo has a few more with 164 and 99.

He now has a goal and an assist in four appearances for United. Ronaldo finished with 118 goals and 69 assists in 292 appearances for the Red Devils.

Here’s the finish:

Eden Hazard suffers fracture ahead of Man City in UCL, El Clasico

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Eden Hazard is set to miss the Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League first leg against Man City with a broken fibula.

Hazard had only returned to the lineup for two matches following a three-month absence with an ankle injury.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The 29-year-old has made just 15 appearances for Real since arriving in a big-money move from Chelsea, scoring once with five assists.

He has never appeared in less than 30 league matches over the course of his career, five times missing one or zero matches.

Of course, all of his absences show that Real is very comfortable playing and winning without Hazard. Zinedine Zidane’s men lost Sunday to drop behind Barcelona in La Liga, but that was just its second loss of the league season.

Real will be taxed in depth like its rivals, with Wednesday’s visit from Man City followed by an El Clasico at the Bernabeu on March 1. Barcelona hosts Napoli on Tuesday.

Whether you like the playmaker or despise him, there must be some sense of sympathy for his latest ailments (even if Man City and Barca fans will likely offer a Jerry Seinfeld-esque, “That’s a shame”).

Watch Live: Manchester United, Wolves host bottom three battlers

Manchester United Watford live stream link
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A pair of Premier League basement dwellers face stiff tests in their bids to win another season in the top flight.

Manchester United hosts Watford on NBCSN while Wolves welcome Norwich City on CNBC as both home sides aim to improve the health of their top four hopes in 9 a.m. ET kickoffs.

[ WATCH: Man Utd-Watford | Wolves-Norwich ]

Lineups notes from both matches:

LINEUPS

Manchester United

Watford


Wolves

Norwich City

Three Serie A matches suspended due to virus deaths in Italy

coronavirus
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ROME (AP) Three Serie A soccer matches scheduled for Sunday in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto were suspended late Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the virus from China.

On orders from the Italian government, the games called off were: Inter Milan vs. Sampdoria, Atalanta vs. Sassuolo and Hellas Verona vs. Cagliari.

Three other matches in Genoa, Turin and Rome on Sunday are going ahead as scheduled.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

A dozen towns in northern Italy effectively went into lockdown on Saturday after the deaths of two people infected with the coronavirus from China, and a growing cluster of cases with no direct links to the origin of the outbreak abroad.

“The government is working on urgent measures to decisively confront and contain the cases of coronavirus contagion,” read a letter from Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora to Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago shortly before midnight local time on Saturday. “Those measures also include the sports world in order to prevent risks and to better take care of the health of those involved in the events and competition.

“Following measures taken by the cabinet for protective reasons and maximum precaution, on orders of the government I’m asking you to suspend all sports events of every level and discipline planned for the Lombardy and Veneto regions on Sunday.”

The secondary contagions prompted local authorities in the Lombardy and Veneto regions to close schools, businesses and restaurants and to cancel sporting events and Masses.

The mayor of Milan, Italy’s business capital and the regional capital of Lombardy, shuttered public offices.

A 78-year-old man infected with the virus died in Veneto. A postmortem on a 77-year-old woman in Lombardy came back positive, though it wasn’t clear if illness from the virus caused her death.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf