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2018 World Cup: Breakout stars

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Each World Cup there are always players who emerge to steal the show as they become superstars not only in their homeland but across the globe.

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The tournament in Russia this summer will be no different.

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Below is a look at some of the potential “breakout stars” you should keep a close eye on throughout the tournament.


Hirving “Chucky” Lozano (Mexico and PSV Eindhoven)
The El Tri star had a stunning first season in Holland, winning the Eredivisie title and lauded for his speedy attacks out wide. Chucky scored 17 goals in 29 league games and bagged 19 in 34 games in all competitions for the Dutch giants as big clubs across Europe keep a close eye on him. Lozano has already scored seven goals in 26 games for Mexico since making his debut in 2016 and big things are expected from the 22-year-old speedster this summer.


Trent Alexander-Arnold (England and Liverpool)
At just 19 years of age the Liverpool right back has been thrust into the spotlight for club and country in recent months. At the start of the 2017/18 season TAA hadn’t even played a league game for Liverpool but Jurgen Klopp put his faith in the youngster and injuries to Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez have him a chance to shine at Anfield. He grabbed that chance with both hands and played well in the UEFA Champions League final as well as being called up to the England squad for the first-time ever for the World Cup. He will battle with Kieran Trippier for the right wing-back role and his attacking talents mean he is a real threat, even though he’s a little raw defensively.


Leon Goretzka (Germany and Bayern Munich)
After a fine season for Schalke which sealed a move to Bayern Munich (official on July 1), Goretzka rode the positivity surrounding him after his fine displays in the Confederations Cup last summer for Germany. At 23 years of age he is ready to contribute for Die Mannschaft across midfield and his well-time runs from deep make him so tough to track. Goretzka has scored six goals in 15 games for Germany and is a key man for Joachim Low.


Daniel Arzani (Australia and Melbourne City)
The youngster player at the World Cup, Arzani is just 19 years old and has a bright future ahead of him. Bert van Marwijk sprung a bit of a surprise but selecting the Iranian born winger who is able to take on players easily and has something a little different compared to Australia’s other attacking options. If he gets the chance to dazzle on the big stage then Australia could have a new soccer hero to take over the reins as Tim Cahill gets set to depart the game.


Timo Werner (Germany and RB Leipzig)

SOCHI, RUSSIA – JUNE 25: Timo Werner of Germany leaves the pitch after winning the FIFA Confederations Cup Group B match between Germany and Cameroon at Fisht Olympic Stadium on June 25, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Lukas Schulze – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

A lethal predator in the box for Leipzig and Germany, Werner also made his name in the Confed Cup last summer and has scored seven goals in 13 games for Germany since making his debut in 2017. Werner, 22, has scored 21 goals in each of his last two seasons with Leipzig and despite a slight dip in form in 2017/18 Germany are counting on him to finish off the countless chances he will provide. When you think of Werner as a player, think Miroslav Klose but a little quicker.


Jesse Lingard (England and Manchester United)
Yes, he is a little older than most of the other entries in this list but he is pushing Dele Alli all the way to be a starter for England in midfield. He may well end up playing alongside Alli in a more attacking lineup for the Three Lions and Lingard’s penchant for popping up with big goals in big games at club level will give Gareth Southgate faith he can deliver the goods for England.


Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (Serbia and Lazio)

The 23-year-old has been linked with moves to Manchester United and Lazio and the two-way midfielder will be given the keys to Serbia’s hopes. Milinkovic-Savic can pick a pass and stride forward in attack but is also able to sit back and do his defensive work. If he has a good World Cup you expect his transfer fee to rise beyond $175 million. Lazio’s recent resurgence has been led by his displays in central midfield.


Rodrigo Betancur (Uruguay and Juventus)
In his first season at Juventus he made 27 appearances in all competitions and won a Serie A and Italian cup double after joining from Boca Juniors. Betancur, still just 20 years old, is able to play anywhere in midfield but will probably start on the left a three-man Uruguayan midfield. Betancur is calm on the ball and snaps into tackles which fits in nicely with La Celeste’s playing style.

La Liga roundup: Casemiro’s brace earns injury-riddled Real Madrid win (video)

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Casemiro’s heroic performance against Sevilla highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla

Real Madrid’s goalscoring hero on Saturday wasn’t Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, or even Sergio Ramos.

With two crucial goals in the second half, Casemiro single-handedly earned three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, days removed from cathartic Spanish Super Cup win against arch rivals Atletico Madrid.

With Bale, Hazard, Ramos injured, Benzema on the bench far from match-fit, and Federico Valverde suspended, Los Blancos were in dire need of someone to lead the way, and place pressure on struggling co-leaders Barcelona, who are now under Quique Setien’s tutelage.

By the time the first 45 minutes came to a close, the overall impression was that it would take a miracle for the home side to earn much-needed three points.

That all quickly changed in the second half as the Brazilian midfielder chipped Tomas Vaclik after a picture-perfect backheel from Luka Jovic. Madrid were edging Julen Lopetegui’s side, and Casemiro foreshadowed what was to come.

With the score level, the Brazilian leaped inside the box and headed home a lofting ball from the right flank, catching Sevilla’s defense completely off guard.

Casemiro’s brace came just five minutes after Luuk De Jong‘s left-footed goal in the 64th minute.

League leaders with 43 points, Madrid prepares for their Copa del Rey bout against third-division side Unionistas midweek. Sevilla, on the other hand, host Levante in the same tournament.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Osasuna 0-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-1 Alaves

16-year-old Cherki scores 2 as Lyon advances in French Cup

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PARIS (AP) Two goals and two assists from 16-year-old forward Rayan Cherki helped Lyon win 4-3 at Nantes and reach the last 16 of the French Cup on Saturday.

But the run of Reunion Islanders JS Saint-Pierroise ended with a 1-0 loss away to Epinal, which scored deep into extra time.

Cherki put Lyon ahead in the first minute, deftly rounding goalkeeper Alban Lafont and then clipping the ball beyond a defender. He made it 2-0 in the ninth, slotting the ball through Lafont’s legs after being set up by right winger Bertrand Traore.

New signing Renaud Emond headed in Moses Simon’s cross from the left to pull a goal back for Nantes in the 16th. Cherki then showed great awareness to release forward Martin Terrier with a fine pass from midfield in the 37th for 3-1.

Cherki shaved the crossbar with a shot in the 60th and won a penalty in the 67th after robbing the ball off Thomas Basila. He generously allowed striker Moussa Dembele to take it, but Lafont saved Dembele’s attempt.

Two minuter later, Cherki threaded the ball down the right to Dembele, who slotted in, and the irrepressible Cherki set up another chance for Terrier.

Lyon’s defense remains vulnerable and Simon set up Imran Louza’s goal before heading in late on to ensure a tense finish.

Saint-Pierroise had caused an upset in the previous round by knocking out second-division Niort and the players again traveled 6,000 miles (around 9,700 kilometers) from the small island in the Indian Ocean, located off the east coast of Africa.

Saint-Pierroise, the former club of France midfielder Dimitri Payet, was looking to become the first club from the Reunion Islands to reach the last 16 and almost forced a penalty shootout, despite having forward Jean-Michel Fontaine sent off in the 15th minute.

But substitute Adel Berkane rifled home a half-volley for fourth-tier Epinal with two minutes left in extra time.

Also, there were wins for first-division sides Nice, Lille, Saint-Etienne and Strasbourg.

Lille won 2-0 at fifth-division Gonfreville thanks to goals from forwards Loic Remy and Victor Osimhen, while coach Patrick Vieira’s Nice side held on to beat third-tier Red Star 2-1.

Saint-Etienne won 3-2 at Paris FC, a team fighting relegation in the second division.

Paris FC led 2-1 with goals from former Paris Saint-Germain forward Jeremy Menez and ex-Rennes winger Jonathan Pitroipa. Teen forward Charles Abi equalized for Saint-Etienne with 20 minutes left before veteran right back Mathieu Debuchy netted the winner.

Strasbourg won 5-1 at fourth-tier Angouleme.

On Sunday, Rennes plays at fifth-tier Athletico Marseille and PSG travels to face second division league leader Lorient.

Rennes beats PSG in last year’s final.

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

‘I’m very happy for this’: Jimenez becomes Wolves all-time leading PL goalscorer

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Raul Jimenez has carved his name in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ history books.

“I want to say thank you to all my teammates, to the staff, to the coach, because without all of them, I can’t achieve this goal,” Jimenez said following Wolves’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory against Southampton on Saturday.

Just minutes earlier, in front of a fervent stand of Wolves supporters at St. Mary’s Stadium, Jimenez scored his 23rd Premier League goal for Midlands side, becoming the club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League era. The Mexican surpasses Steven Fletcher‘s record of 22 goals, which stood since 2012.

“I’m very happy for this, and I want to keep scoring,” he added.

With Wolves disputing Europa League qualifying matches in August, the 28-year-old began to build early on what is now a monstrous campaign – 19 goals and 9 assist in throughout all competitions. Half a year down the road, there are no signs of Jimenez’s magic running out. In fact, his brace against the Saints is clearest indicator of why that’s the case.

With his divine hold up play, well-calculated pressing and hunger for redemption, Jimenez emotionally inspired Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side comeback. And in the 65th minute, his trademark penalty overturned a two-goal deficit, turning emotional to physical inspiration.

“[Coming back] was very important for us after a very bad first half,” he told Wolves reporters following the match.

Jimenez was full of praise for his team’s collective grit. He lauded his team’s “fantastic” second half – full of pressing and chances created. The tactic alterations implemented by Nuno Espirito Santo influenced Adama Traore’s run that led to Jimenez’s third and winning goal.

“In the end, we know that it depends on us – what we want to do, what we want to achieve. So, we need to keep going until the last minute. Keep trying to score, keep going with our football that makes us Wolves.”

We now know that Jimenez is Wolves’ all-time Premier League goalscorer, too.

Lampard calls for Chelsea to finish chances: ‘We know where we need to strengthen’

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Chelsea’s dramatic last-gasp loss to Newcastle United was, in a way, a blessing in disguise for Frank Lampard and company.

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The Blues conceded their first first loss since Boxing Day, dropping crucial points in the league’s top-four race. With plenty of chances to score at hand, the visit to St. James’ Park is one of sheer frustration.

But at the same time, the London side learned an invaluable lesson: Chelsea are in dire need of a new striker before the January transfer window comes to a close. Chelsea registered 19 shots (4 on target) on Saturday but squandered most, while Newcastle’s netminder Martin Dúbravka did his job and saved a few.

“We know we have problems at the top of the pitch in terms of we don’t get enough goals,” Lampard said following his team’s 1-0 loss, via the BBC.
“If you don’t score you are always liable for a sucker punch and they got it.”

“If we are looking for people to bring in to the areas to win games when you are controlling it, it is scoring goals.”

From RB Leipzig’s Timo Werner to Lyon’s Moussa Dembele, Chelsea has been linked to a striker all winter long. With Olivier Giroud a signature away from sealing a move to Inter Milan, a replacement is necessary.

Sure, Tammy Abraham‘s return to Stamford Bridge is an outright success – 13 goals and two assists in 22 league appearances – but rotation is visibly needed. Michy Batshuayi replaced Abraham, but failed to show any promising signs. The 26-year-old has scored just once in 13 matches this season.

“We can’t work anymore in training on finishing,” the 41-year-old manager added. “You need to have that killer instinct in front of goal. We need to score more goals from front-line areas if we are going to get to where we want to be.”

Lampard gave no indicator that his side are on the brink of landing a new goalscorer up top. With the transfer window open for just 13 days, however, Chelsea are going to have to get intentional on their search.

“It’s quite clear from what I am saying now that we know where we need to strengthen but we shall see.”