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2018 World Cup preview: Germany

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Getting to know Germany: The reigning World Cup champions head into Russia as one of the clear favorites to hoist yet another title, despite having a significantly different squad than four years ago. Joachim Low and his side do benefit from getting star goalkeeper Manuel Neuer back just in time for the tournament, which gives Germany extra assurance in front of net.

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Although familiar faces like Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose are long gone from the international picture, Germany boasts one of the fiercest attacks in the competition with Red Bull Leipzig striker Timo Werner and Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller, while relying on an experienced center back pairing of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng to keep opposition at bay as the Germans aim to capture their fifth World Cup victory.

For more on Germany’s history, click this link.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

What group are they in? Low and Co. will be paired with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden in Group F, as the Germans will be expected to be heavy favorites to not only top the group but do so in style.


Game schedule – Group F – Full 2018 World Cup schedule, here

Sunday, June 17: Germany v Mexico, Moscow 11 am, ET

Saturday, June 23: Germany v Sweden, Sochi  2 pm, ET

Wednesday, June 27: South Korea v Germany, Kazan 10 am, ET


Projected lineup (4-2-3-1)Check out the 23-man squad list in full

Neuer

Kimmich ——– Boateng ——- Hummels ———- Hector

Kroos ——- Khedira

Muller —- Ozil —- Draxler

Werner


Star player: Timo Werner — For all the success that Germany has had throughout the years, have they ever had a full-on superstar in their squad? The beauty of this team is they have an embarrassment of riches in a variety of positions, however, Werner is the guy to watch in this tournament. Despite only boasting 13 caps heading into the World Cup, Werner has seven international goals and will be expected to build on that goal total in Russia.


Manager: Joachim Low — In terms of managers at the World Cup, there’s Joachim Low and then there’s everybody else. That’s not a slight on the other 31 coaches heading to the World Cup, but Low’s track record speaks for itself. Since taking over Germany, the worst the country has finished at a major competition is fourth. That encompasses World Cups, European Championships and the Confederations Cup, which Germany ironically enough won last summer with many of its stars in preparation for Russia.


Secret weapon: Marco Reus — When healthy Reus is arguably one of the top attackers in the Bundesliga. The problem recently for the Borussia Dortmund man is that he hasn’t be able to keep a clean bill of health. Heading into Russia, Reus is fit though, making him a viable option for Low to turn to off the bench.

(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Prediction: Between Germany’s track record at major competitions and the current squad Low has coming into this summer, the European giants are on pace for yet another lengthy run at the World Cup. They should breeze through Group F, before benefiting from being on the “easier” side of the bracket if everything holds true. A semifinals clash with Spain appears very likely, which could shape up to be the match of the tournament, and potentially decide the de facto World Cup champion.

Report: Spurs to extend stay at Wembley

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Tottenham Hotspur are reportedly hanging around at Wembley Stadium for another few months.

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Their home game against Manchester City next Monday (Oct. 29) was their last scheduled Premier League encounter at their temporary home, but a report from The Times states that their Nov. 24 game against Chelsea and the Dec. 5 clash with Southampton will both move to Wembley instead of being at their new stadium at White Hart Lane.

Spurs were meant to play the first game in their new 62,000 capacity home on Sept. 15 against Liverpool but issues with the “critical safety systems” saw the grand-opening delayed and it appears the new venue may not open until the festive period at the earliest.

Per the report, Spurs must tell the FA over the next few days if they want to move the games to Wembley and make plans for that to happen.

“The club must tell the FA by Thursday if they want to move the fixtures. They have until early November to inform the governing body if they also want to stage the league game against Burnley at the national stadium on December 15. They have agreed an option to use Wembley until Christmas and are scheduled to host Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers within three days over the holiday period. Tottenham have said that nothing has yet been decided and they have still to inform the FA of their plans.”

With their home UEFA Champions League group stage games in November already confirmed to take place at Wembley, it seems likely that Spurs will continue to take their time and make sure everything is spot on at their new home before moving in. At this point, why rush? January seems like the perfect time to make the move into the new stadium and start afresh in 2019.

Champions League predictions: Week 3

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The third round of games in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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Manchester United host Juventus, Liverpool head to Red Star Belgrade, Man City travel to Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham play at PSV Eindhoven as the four Premier League clubs enter the pivotal double-header matchweeks.

[ MORE: United v Juve headlines UCL Tuesday ]

Below are the score predictions for the UCL games on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Tuesday

Group E
Ajax 2-1 Benfica
AEK Athens 1-3 Bayern Munich

Group F
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Manchester City
Hoffenheim 2-1 Lyon

Group G
Real Madrid 4-1 Viktoria Plzen
Roma 3-0 CSKA Moscow

Group H
Young Boys 1-3 Valencia
Manchester United 2-2 Juventus

Wednesday

Group A
Club Brugge 1-3 Monaco
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Group B
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Barcelona 1-2 Inter Milan

Group C
Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Napoli
Red Star Belgrade 1-3 Liverpool

Group D
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-2 FC Porto
Galatasaray 1-0 Schalke

Mesut Ozil lauds Arsenal’s “sexy football”

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Mesut Ozil and Arsenal put on a “sexy” second half display to beat Leicester City 3-1 on Monday, as the Gunners extended their winning streak to 10 games in all competitions and seven in the Premier League.

Ozil, 30, captained Arsenal and put in a silky display as he scored an equalizer right on half time, then orchestrated a thorough dismantling of Leicester’s defense in the second half.

First, his perfect through ball found Hector Bellerin who crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 2-1, then moments later Ozil’s clever flick sparked a flowing move into life as he then dummied a ball into the box before using the outside of his left foot to audaciously flick it into the path of Aubameyang to wrap up the win.

Arsenal’s playmaker took to social media after the game and gave a pretty accurate assessment of what went on.

“I think we played some sexy football tonight. Proud captain of this team and this club!” Ozil said.

Unai Emery handing Ozil the captains armband seems to be a bit of a masterstroke, with the German star having a tough time off the pitch over the past few months due to his ongoing dispute with the German FA after retiring from the international game following their 2018 World Cup failure.

Ozil had a slow start to the season at Arsenal and was subbed off by Emery regularly but it appears he is know the heartbeat of the Gunners attack once again and he looks hungry to lead the team who are currently on the crest of a wave. Ozil has now scored four times in his last six games for the Gunners and after signing his new contract in the summer the former Real Madrid star looks settled under Emery.

It is still too early in the season to see whether or not Ozil and Arsenal are set to mount a serious title or top four challenge but the early signs under Emery are encouraging.

Yes, defensively they are coughing up plenty of big chances and Leicester could feel aggrieved to not be handed a penalty kick but going forward Arsenal are in fine form and Ozil is the main man behind the “sexy football” which looks sharper, quicker and more dynamic under Emery.

Bolt unlikely to agree to terms with Australian club

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Usain Bolt’s search for a professional contract may go on a bit longer.

According to the Central Coast Mariners, the Australian club he’s been training with, they have extended Bolt a contract, but conceded a deal is “unlikely” “without the financial contribution of an external third-party,”

Reports across Europe state that Bolt is looking for a $3 million contract from any team he signs with, and the Mariners appear unable to meet those demands. “We are looking at ways to do this as the club does not have the luxury to be able to do this in the Hyundai A-League,” the club said in a statement. According to a report by the Guardian, the Australian football governing body has contributed $100,000 from its marketing fund for the contract, but would add no more than that.

Bolt scored twice in a friendly last week, and he’s been training with the club for the past few weeks, but the club announced that while talks are ongoing, Bolt will not travel with the team or attend training “to ensure that there is no distraction to the Hyundai A-League squad in preparing for this weekend’s match versus Melbourne City.”

The A-League side said in the statement that while Bolt is improving, the former sprinter requires further training to become a viable professional player. “Usain has made great progression during his time on the Central Coast and we feel that he will improve further with more individual intensive training and competitive game time.”

However, the club’s head coach wasn’t so complimentary. “Do you think he’ll get in our front three? We’ve got a very good front third,” Mike Mulvey said. Central Coast sports former Leeds United, Fulham, and Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack up front, alongside 26-year-old Australian international Tommy Oar and 24-year-old Connor Pain who has one cap for the international side.

Bolt doesn’t exactly have a ton of time to improve his game, already at 32 years of age and with a full Olympic-medal-winning professional sprinting career on his legs.

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