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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.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

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.

England announce 23-man World Cup squad

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The English national team have announced their squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Unlike plenty of teams who have released preliminary rosters for the tournament, Gareth Southgate has gone straight for his final 23-man squad.

There is a place for Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold, while the likes of Adam Lallana, Joe Hart, Jack Wilshere and Ryan Bertrand have been out.

With Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out through injury, Southgate has had to get a little creative with his selections but, for the most part, he’s chosen to go with youth as he’d previously discussed.

“I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about. It is a young group, but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance,” Southgate said. “We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop. The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.”

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling will likely be the stars for the Three Lions this summer, while the likes of Loftus-Cheek and TAA being included show a clear pathway to the senior team for youngsters.

Below is a look at the squad in full, plus a pretty cool video to announce the squad from England’s media team as they traveled around the country.


England’s 23-man World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope
Defenders: Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kieran Trippier, Gary Cahill, Harry Maguire, Phil Jones, John Stones, Danny Rose, Ashley Young, Fabian Delph
Midfielders: Dele Alli, Eric Dier, Jordan Henderson, Jesse Lingard, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Raheem Sterling
Strikers: Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jamie Vardy, Danny Welbeck

Reserves: Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livermore, Adam Lallana


Zidane: Ronaldo, Isco, Carvajal to be fit for UCL final

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Liverpool will have to face a full-strength Real Madrid side in the upcoming UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Dani Carvajal are all expected to be fit and ready to go against Liverpool, according to Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane. The trio have picked up knocks in recent weeks, including Ronaldo, who was substituted at halftime of Sunday’s El Clasico against Barcelona with an ankle injury.

[READ: Liverpool’s Joe Gomez out for season]

“Isco trained as normal and we’ll see what happens there,” Zidane said. “Carvajal needs a little more time but he trained alone today and he is doing well physically. They will all feature in the Champions League final. I am 150 percent sure about that.

On Ronaldo, Zidane said, “When what happened with Cristiano Ronaldo happened, and it was something minor, the best we could hope is that the player recovers as soon as possible and that’s that. It is football, you can’t control it…he got injured but is doing well, walking as normal. It is great that he can walk already and that shows his drive and ambition to get back and play every game. It would be perfect to have him back for the Villarreal game (on May 19). It is a knock, but he didn’t damage his fibula. His ankle is ok.”

The inclusion of the trio will certainly give Zidane a selection headache, but it also makes Liverpool’s chances of winning decrease slightly, as it will have to go up against the three-time defending Champions League winners with a fit Ronaldo and one of Europe’s top creative midfielders in Isco.

Having Carvajal on the backline as well gives Real Madrid a reliable defender to mark either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah.

Gomez undergoes ankle surgery, out for CL final, World Cup

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The injuries keep coming for Liverpool.

Already missing three starting-caliber midfielders due to injury, the club reportedly lost defender Joe Gomez for the season, after the 20-year-old underwent ankle surgery. He reportedly played through the injury for the club against West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City in recent weeks.

(Update: Liverpool confirmed the news, stating Gomez will be back for preseason training with Liverpool in July.)

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Liverpool has yet to confirm the news, but if true, it’s another blow to Jurgen Klopp‘s side as they head into the home stretch. That leaves Liverpool with just Nathaniel Clyne at right back, though Ragnar Klavan‘s return has given Klopp some depth at centerback behind Dejan Lovren and Virgil Van Dijk.

It’s also another injury blow to Gareth Southgate, who could have taken Gomez to the World Cup as a backup centerback or outside back, such is Gomez’s versatility. Gomez earned man of the match honors in November in a friendly match against Brazil.

PL Preview: Merseyside Derby a chance for Liverpool to build momentum

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  • Everton has not beaten Liverpool in a PL derby since 2010
  • Liverpool is 16 games unbeaten vs. Everton across all competitions
  • Sadio Mane has a goal in each of his last 2 visits to Goodison Park

Everton’s run-in to the season seems to be a formality, but for Liverpool, there’s plenty to play for. Then, of course, we remember that this is a derby, so there’s plenty to play for on either side.

Liverpool has the opportunity to jump Manchester United into second place with a game in hand should they earn all three points at Goodison Park on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET. However, a loss or draw would open the door for Tottenham to pull level or even go ahead.

[ WATCH LIVE: Everton vs. Liverpool live on NBCSports.com ]

If you needed proof the Reds are looking to keep the momentum rocking from the 3-0 win over Manchester City in Champions League, they are looking to push Mohamed Salah towards availability despite a groin injury before halftime of the big midweek victory. Salah needs just one more goal to become the first African to reach the 30-goal mark in the history of the Premier League, and the Reds are one of the most electric teams in the English top-flight with Salah on the pitch.

For Everton, their best motivation might be the long drought of victory against their Premier League neighbors. The Toffees have not downed Liverpool in Premier League play since October of 2010, a run of 14 games, while they have gone 16 across all competitions without a win. It is the longest unbeaten streak for Liverpool in club history against Everton.

INJURIES

Everton: Probable – Gueye (hamstring). Out – Eliaquim Mangala (knee), James McCarthy (broken leg), Mason Holgate (ankle), Gylfi Sigurdsson (knee).

Liverpool: Questionable – Mohamed Salah (groin). Out – Emre Can (back), Adam Lallana (thigh), Joel Matip (thigh), Joe Gomez (ankle).

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s availability: “We’ve tried everything to make him available. There are 23 hours to go so let’s see what happens.”

Everton manager Sam Allardyce on timing of the game: “It’s a good time to play a derby for us in between the two Champions League games [for Liverpool]. But Jurgen [Klopp] has a very strong squad and they haven’t let him down all season. If he changes his squad it will still be strong and fresh. We have to stand on the front foot, be brave and be clinical if we get an opportunity.”

Prediction

It’s a derby, and these players know what’s at stake, but it’s just hard to imagine that Everton can match Liverpool’s motivation for a result in this match. Even with the midweek match, the Reds will keep focused and be fresh enough, and if the game is tight, Salah might be available off the bench to provide a late spark. Liverpool takes it 2-1 in a hard-fought match.