Hodgson to make nine changes when England faces Costa Rica

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England’s performance against Costa Rica will help decide who finishes first in Group D, but for the Three Lions, Tuesday’s match in Belo Horizonte will be the last 90 minutes of their 2014 World Cup.

As a result, manager Roy Hodgson is ready to overhaul his lineup. According the FA’s web site, nine new players will called into the lineup for tomorrow’s match against Costa Rica, while left back Luke Shaw and midfielder Ross Barkley will get their first senior-level starts.

“When you’re at a World Cup and don’t realize your expectations and hopes and have to leave the tournament, that final game is inevitably the one that leads you into the future,” Hodgson said, explaining his change in approach. “We have a lot of time to think about the future. We have a long qualification campaign ahead. Euro 2016 is a long time away.”

Form reporting by The Guardian:

The manager has named a radically changed selection for the game at Estádio Mineirão, with Luke Shaw and Ross Barkley to gain their first competitive starts and Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Ben Foster drafted into the defence.

Frank Lampard will captain the side on his 106th and potentially final appearance, with the veteran midfielder echoing his manager’s calls for the team to show their character, as well as potential, against the group leaders.

Adam Lallana, James Milner, and Jack Wilshere are also expected to be in tomorrow’s XI.

There are a number of other good quotes from Hodgson in the links, above. According to The Guardian’s post, the England boss was “emotional” as he reflected on his team’s premature demise, describing “how painful it is to build up your hopes and to see a lot of good preparation proved to be to no avail …”

From that pain comes a brand new team, with only Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge retaining from the XI that started against Italy.

According to Hodgson, the lineup will be:

G – Ben Foster
RB – Phil Jones
CB – Gary Cahill
CB – Chris Smalling
LB – Luke Shaw
M – Jack Wilshere
M – Frank Lampard
M – Adam Lallana
M – Ross Barkley
M – James Milner
F – Daniel Sturridge

Talent-wise, there’s no reason this team can’t beat Costa Rica, but as the Ticos showed over their first 180 minutes, talent is only one part of a successful equation. Regardless of what happens on Tuesday, the Costa Ricans are moving on, while England’s going home.

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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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

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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

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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