The final two knockout round berths in the 2018 World Cup will be sorted by the time Belgium and England meet for the Group G crown in Kaliningrad on Wednesday.
[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]
So while that’s the marquee match-up, it’s also difficult to determine how much it will mean to either side.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
Sure, Belgium wants to win the group, as does England. The Premier League-heavy rosters will want bragging rights, particularly amongst the Spurs factions of each side (Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Eric Dier of England, and Mousa Dembele and Jan Vertonghen of Belgium).
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But will the group winner be facing Senegal, Colombia, or Japan? The lineup cards will be turned in by the time England or Belgium knows, with Senegal facing Colombia with the former on four points and the latter on three. And Japan has four points heading into a match-up with pointless Poland.
2018 World Cup schedule – Thursday, June 28
Senegal vs. Colombia: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Japan vs. Poland: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
England vs. Belgium: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Panama vs. Tunisia: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Struggling, short-handed Sporting KC needed a star show to kickstart its summer, and Johnny Russell was ready to go.
Maybe the 29-year-old Scotsman was feeding off the buzz of his old club Derby County preparing for the Championship Playoff Final, but Russell scored thrice as Sporting took care of Seattle 3-2 in Washington on Sunday.
[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]
The right winger scored his fifth, sixth, and seventh goals of the MLS season as Sporting won its first match since March 30.
Russell scored 35 goals with 34 assists in 205 matches with the Rams, but has destroyed that mark with KC. He now has 19 and 16 in 55.
Seattle loses ground on LAFC in the race for the Supporters’ Shield, while KC is now within four points of the playoff places.
Reports out of Northeast England say Newcastle United supporters who want owner Mike Ashley out at all costs have new hope.
United Arab Emirates billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan is said to be in talks with Ashley about a takeover of the St. James’ Park-based club, though there’s a lot of work to do for a deal to be complete.
[ MORE: USWNT wins final match before World Cup (video) ]
One report goes as far as to say Ashley has agreed to accept $444 million for the Premier League club.
Sheikh Khaled, 61, was educated at American colleges Boston University and Michigan State. He’s the cousin of Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and was turned down with a $2.5 billion bid for Liverpool last season.
From The Chronicle:
NUFC have confirmed some talks with Sheikh Khaled. But say there is still “some way” to go on a deal. Newcastle United refusing to make any further comment at this time.
Takeover talks are nothing new at Newcastle, and there does seem to be some heat to these reports, but Ashley and his crew have spun these stories of interest in the past. And with Magpies supporters waiting for news on Rafa Benitez‘s new deal, some will be way of a smoke screen for an inability to reach an agreement with the celebrated Newcastle manager.
TORONTO (AP) Chris Wondolowski scored his 149th and 150th MLS goals in the San Jose Earthquakes’ 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday night.
The MLS career goals leader scored both from close range.
[ MORE: Kante to miss Europa League final ]
Wondolowski got a yard’s separation from Drew Moor and deftly redirected in Cristian Espinoza’s cross in the 37th minute to tie it at 1. The go-ahead goal in the 81st minute was a virtual replay, with Espinoza finding Wondolowski in space.
The San Jose striker has six goals in two games. He scored all four goals in a 4-1 victory over Chicago last weekend to surpass Landon Donovan’s league record of 145 goals and up his career total to 148.
Richie Laryea opened the scoring for Toronto (5-6-2) in the 28th minute
San Jose (5-6-2) won for the first time in six road games this season.
Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak believes that other clubs — namely those who have fallen miles back of the back-to-back Premier League champions — are “jealous” of the club’s success.
[ MORE: Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante to miss Europa League final with new injury ]
The root of the perceived jealousy is, of course, Man City’s seemingly unlimited spending power which dwarves that of just about — if not — every other club in the PL. There’s a growing sense around the league — and around the world — that clubs like City, just to name one, are doing the game a disservice by distorting the transfer market and building an infallible super-team with the aid of unprecedented financial resources.
Mubarak believes that these feelings also stem from other clubs’ failed dealings in the transfer market: spending comparable — if not more — money on players who don’t justify that price tag the same way some of City’s big-money buys have done — quotes from the BBC:
“With success, there is a certain level of jealousy, envy, whatever you call it. That’s part of the game.
“It’s not easy for our competition, we know that. But the reality is, we didn’t buy the most expensive player in the Premier League [Paul Pogba], we didn’t buy the most expensive goalkeeper [Kepa Arrizabalaga], we didn’t buy the most expensive midfielder, we didn’t buy the most expensive striker [Romelu Lukaku].
“People make decisions, they’ve got to live by them. This is a well-run club.”
City’s financial dealings have regularly been in the headlines of late, as they are believed to have circumvented FFP rules by lying about sponsorship deals so as to balance a larger expenditure on transfer fees and player wages with revenue generated by the club.