Leicester City – Maguire signs a contract extension

Leicester City - Maguire signs a contract extension

Harry Maguire has signed a five-year contract extension with Leicester City, announced the club. Maguire who played a full ninety minutes last weekend for the three lions in a 2 – 1 loss to Spain, was a subject of great interest from numerous clubs that included Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United after a spectacular World cup with England in Russia. He has certainly proven to be one of the best center backs in the country and Leicester have managed to keep him on board is in itself equivalent to a big money summer signing for them. The 25-year-old joined the club in the summer of 2017 for a reported 17 million Euros from Hull city and the defender was named the player of the season and the players player of the season in his first year at Leicester and his importance at the backline cannot be explained enough. 

Maguire said: “Ever since I came to this club, I’ve always reiterated how good they’ve been to me. They gave me an opportunity to play in the Premier League and built a great platform for me to go and perform at the World Cup, so I thank them a lot. I owe them a lot and I’m looking forward to the future. It’s massive, obviously the chairman has come and he wanted to reward me with a good contract and to add more years to the contract, so it is nice to have security behind me but now I am looking forward to the season ahead, It has been a good start that we have had and I am looking forward to getting more points on the board.” 

Maguire says he is extremely happy about the way club are progressing and wants to play a major part in their developments in the future. He says that he owes them a lot and signing a contract extension was a no-brainer for the star English defender. 

Pickford set for Everton talk | Premier League

Jordan Pickford - Everton

Sources from Sky sport say that Everton will hold talks with their number one Jordan Pickford over a lucrative improved contract to keep him at the Merseyside club. Pickford has been on an extended holiday after his heroics for the Three Lions in Russia. He was undoubtedly one of the finest goalkeepers in the World cup and this has led to him grabbing the attention of many clubs around the world. Sources say that a move away from Everton will be extremely unlikely and Everton’s player of the year last season, looks to be rewarded with a new lucrative deal that reflects that.

Pickford signed for Everton last summer for a reported fee of £30m and has been a stellar performer for them ever since, saving them from tight situations between the posts. One of the major assets of his game are his distribution skills. His ability to pick out a player at his will and with relative ease is just one of the few aspects that make him one of the best in the Premier League. Everton would be desperate to ward off any team from signing him and keep him at the club. He is surely one of Everton’s most important player and is a true leader on the pitch.

Recently, there have been many rumours that say that Pickford is a Chelsea target if in case they sell Courtois to Real Madrid, a move that looks really likely. Pickford would surely fit the bill at the new look Chelsea under Sarri. Sarri being a manger whose game style demands his keepers to be quick off their lines and have good distribution skills. They are looking at numerous options and Pickford is surely one of the obvious names on the list. As things stand, however, it looks like the English shot-stopper is going nowhere.

Courtois – Golden Glove winner | FIFA World Cup

Thibaut Courtois - Golden Glove winner

Belgian shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois starred as he played a key role to Belgium’s run into the semi-finals of the  FIFA World Cup. He has been awarded the Golden glove for his achievements ahead of the likes of Hugo Loris and Subasic. 

Courtois is the second Belgian to win the accolade after Michel Preud’homme claimed it 24 years ago at the 1994 World Cup in the United States. Until 2006, the award was called the Yashin Award in honor of the legendary Soviet goalkeeper, Yev Lashin.

Courtois pulled off some amazing performances this world cup and proved to the World that he is truly on of the best there is in this modern era. And the interest from Real Madrid is just a testament to that claim. The Chelsea star has not had the best of seasons for the club but has certainly had one of the best World cup’s in Russia. He made crucial saves and kept more clean sheets and won the award ahead of World Cup-winning goalkeeper, Hugo Loris who also had a fantastic Worldcup. 

Speaking after the third-place match, he cast a further shadow on his future at Stanford Bridge. He said he will take some time before he goes back to London and takes a call on his future. He also said controversially that Hazard must follow him wherever he goes. 

“Wherever I go, Hazard must come along. We will not let each other go. We’ll see. Now first vacation. And agree with my entourage in between.” Courtois said.

“Now I’m going to talk to my manager to see what the possibilities are.

“All options are open to me. Also stay at Chelsea, yes. People always complain that players do not comply with their contracts, but maybe I will.

“I do not think they will keep someone with my qualities on the bench, even if I do not sign. But maybe that’s possible because I like being in London.”

After winning the Golden Glove at the World cup and joining elite company in the form of Manuel Nuer, Iker Casillas, and Oliver Khan, Courtois has all the qualities in him that make him one of the best in today’s game. 

Henderson – Unsung English Hero | FIFA World Cup | England

Jordan Henderson Gareth Southgate

A couple of months ago, when reaching the Semi-Final of the World cup was just a dream that we believed was for someone else to cherish and rejoice, Jordan Henderson sat on his terrace spoke about his captaincy and how it meant that he had to do jobs that other’s didn’t want to. It was about a week before Liverpool played Real Madrid in the champions league final. We are still accustomed to our clubs excelling in the most prestigious competition for them even if, until now, we had lost the habit with England and Henderson spoke then about how he and his Liverpool teammates wanted to write their own history with Liverpool, not just follow in the footsteps of Emlyn Hughes, Phil Thompson, Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and the rest.

At that point in time, it was assumed that Henderson or Kane would be handed the captains armband for England. Henderson was tipped to be the favorite after what he had achieved with Liverpool and how he took over from Liverpool’s greatest ever captain in the form of Steven Gerrard before him. A few days before the final, Southgate called and told him that he would be handing the armband to Harry Kane,  Liverpool lost the Champions League final courtesy of a couple of Loris Karius mistakes and a sublime overhead kick from Gareth Bale. It feels like ancient history now after a World Cup that has produced so much drama.

Henderson made it clear that it wouldn’t affect him a bit if Kane was handed the armband and he remained steadfast, he remained a leader on the pitch. Kane wore the armband in Russia and was a fine, steadying presence but the biggest voice on the pitch belonged to Henderson. He is just starting to get credit for what he does but is highly underrated for what he does on the pitch.  Amid the crushing tension of the Luzhniki Stadium, as England tried in vain to achieve something they have not achieved for 52 years by reaching a World Cup final, Henderson was at the very heart of England’s excellence in the first half against Croatia. 

Henderson is more than a destructive player but he broke up Croatia’s attempts to inject some fluency into their game to the point where Modric began to look demoralized. Henderson never stopped chasing, never stopped closing down, never stopped talking to his teammates, encouraging them, chastising them, urging them on. Quiet and laid back off the pitch, he is a human dynamo on it.

Before the World cup, some spoke of the England team lacking leaders, but even if this was true then, it certainly is not true now. The way he played was a symbol of how England played in Russia being fearless and how they rose to challenge to make some memories that they will cherish forever. The end is always cruel, as Henderson knew from Kiev, but this has been a month of magic that, just like 1990, has breathed new life into the English game.

FIFA World Cup 2018 – The Three Lions Are Finally Awake


Finally, they fell. Finally, this young team led by a fine manager who together surpassed all expectations and worked their alchemy by turning a summer blighted by political discord into a summer of love, could go no further. England’s World Cup journey was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. We saw new heroes emerge, heroes of the future, heroes who would bear the torch of English football for years to come. And the biggest of them all was Gareth Southgate, whose human qualities, whose compassion, whose generosity, seemed so unexpected and so unusual in these turbulent times.

Most importantly, this team reconnected English Football with its fans in a time when it looked like all was lost. It had carried us away and made us believe that It was coming home, and because we started to believe it hurt even more when the dream died. It ended in a way that these things usually do. It ended with Trippier who has been one of the revelations of this tournament, limping off the pitch injured and sitting on the sideline, distraught. It ended with John Stones falling to the ground when the final whistle went as if he had been felled by some terrible blow, as if that whistle had the force of a cudgel. Welcome to England’s Desolation Row, where every now and again a brave, brave effort transports us into a dreamland and then falls just short.

Yes, we missed numerous chances in the first half of the game which could have sealed Croatia’s fate. And that is why at the end, it was the Croatian players celebrating in the stands with their loved ones, abandoning themselves with joy. But even in this moment of defeat, it is worth remembering what they have bought to us this summer, the way they restored the faith of the fans in much what lies beyond football. They have shown us what dreams are capable of doing and what hope. youth and optimism can do. But most importantly, they have shown England that with teamwork and Togetherness, a dream can be made a reality. 

FIFA World Cup: England VS Croatia, Combined XI

England VS Croatia, Combined XI

At the start of the tournament, if somebody told you that one of these teams will play the final, you wouldn’t think twice in saying no. Superstars of both the teams have stepped up when it mattered the most and have led their teams from the front. Modric and Rakitic have been Croatia’s leading men whereas England surprisingly have no major name among their ranks except for Harry Kane, but unlike the England of the old the team has worked together as a unit and have always found a way to get the result. As they fight to go one step closer to glory, let’s take a look at the combined eleven of England and Columbia.                             








GK: Jordan Pickford 

Jordan Pickford has come under extreme criticism from the English media recently, however, he is England’s number one and his performance against Columbia spoke a lot about his character and his capabilities and he did it yet again against Sweden in the Semi-finals, making three top-class saves and keeping a clean sheet. He is proving to be one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament thus far and will play a crucial role if the English are to go all the way.                                                                               








CB: John Stones

Stones has been England’s best defender this year at the World cup and is probably the best centre back on the show. He scored goals against Panama and was solid at the back, in short everything England needed. The last match he was yet again solid at the back as they kept a clean sheet.           








CB: Dejan Lovren

The Croat has been nothing short of top class this World Cup. Since midseason, he has continued to grow in confidence and with stellar performances for Liverpool in the Champions League and the World Cup with Croatia, he has really put a lid on all the criticism that has come his way throughout his career.








RB: Trippier

Trippier has been probably the best wing back in the competition and had created the most chances until he was rested last time out. He is key to England attacking prowess going down the right flank and will play a key role in their world cup journey as he showed yet again on his return to the team against Columbia and against Sweden on Saturday.








LB: Ashley Young   

Ashley Young has done reasonably well for the Three Lions down the left wing and his experience and attacking ability earns him a place in this team.








DM: Jordan Henderson

Apart from being in terrific form for his country, Henderson has also been extremely vocal and put in hard shifts in the centre of the park, pulling the strings for the three lions. On Saturday, he pulled off yet another superb display in the middle of the park and holds an exceptional record of not losing a single game when he plays for the Three Lions and will hope to keep up that record when they face Croatia on Tuesday.








RM: Jesse Lingard

After yet another tireless performance against Columbia, Jesse will be pumped and ready to face Sweden in the quarters. He has been the pioneers of the new look England with his superb passing ability and quick one-touch play. He is an important member of the England squad and will be vital to their World Cup hopes.








CM: Modric

He has been Croatia’s best player this world cup and has got them out of numerous tough situations and this is what the best players do that set them apart from the rest. The Croatian captain has led them from the front and will want to lead them to glory in Russia.








LM: Ivan Rakitic

He has been Modric’s partner in crime in the Croatian midfield. He has stepped up when it mattered the most and has even kept cool in situations that have put Modric under pressure. The man yet again scored the winning spot-kick that has taken his team to the Semi-finals of the World cup.








ST: Raheem Sterling

Sterling hasn’t looked at his best in Russia as of yet but there is no question of his abilities after he had a stellar season with English champions Manchester City. His pace and skills can threaten any defence in the world and Columbia will have to be wary because if he finds his feet early in the game, they will really need to rally hard to keep him at bay.








ST: Harry Kane

Was it even in doubt? The man needs no introduction. The best striker in the world in my opinion and England’s hope. Harry Kane is already leading the race for the golden boot playing one game less than the rest. He scored a hattrick in their 6 – 1 drubbing of Panama and a brace in their 2 – 1 win over Tunisia and adding another against Columbia in the quarterfinals. He didn’t turn up with a goal against Sweden on Saturday but the English team are centered around his goal-scoring prowess and will look to their captain to lead them from the front and take them all the way.

Maguire – The Rise Of A Superstar | FIFA World Cup | England

Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire’s rise to a World cup hero can be best demonstrated by fact that he turned up at Euro 2016 as a fan, a point in time when he made only 3 Premier League appearances. Asked recently by BBC Radio 5 live if he could see himself playing for England at that stage, he replied: “Definitely not. Hull went up through the playoffs but I wasn’t a regular. If I thought I’d be in this position I’d be dreaming.”

Maguire came through the ranks of the academy of his hometown club Sheffield United, playing in League one until 2013/14 and joined Hull City that summer. But only after 91 minutes of game time, he was loaned to Wigan Athletic. But he eventually managed to break into the Hull City team and after a stellar season for them, he was bought by Leicester for £17m and with then-manager Craig Shakespeare suggesting he could be a “future England captain”.

He was a key figure in the Leicester team and believes that playing against England teammate Vardy, has made him a better player overall. His aerial prowess has been made utmost use of by England with Maguire winning the second most aerial duels in the World Cup.

He made his England debut in their final qualifier against Lithuania in October, the same game Trippier made his competitive debut. With his header against Sweden, he became the first English player to score a goal at the knockout stages of the Worldcup since Rio Ferdinand in 2002.

Maguire told BBC Radio 5 live: “It’s a remarkable rise I have had over the last year or two. At the moment I’m in a bubble and maybe I’ll realize my achievement over time.”

BBC One pundit Ferdinand said: “In both boxes Harry Maguire was immense. He was a man-mountain but with the ball at his feet, he is graceful as well. He is indispensable to this team at the moment.”

This World Cup has really been a big tournament for the man from Sheffield and with top clubs from England all monitoring him, will this be his breakthrough tournament to become one of the best English centre-backs to have graced the Premier League?

Trippier – “The Bury Beckham” | FIFA World Cup | England

Kieran Trippier

England have reached the semi-finals of the Word cup for only the third time in their history but most of their stars this time around have had unusual paths to reach where there are. Gone are the academy-raised, household names of the ‘Golden Generation’ and in their place is a squad featuring players who have plied their trade at the likes of Darlington, Alfreton, Halifax, Welling, and Aldershot. Let’s take a look at one of England’s main men at Russia, Kieran Trippier.

Right back Trippier hadn’t made his Premier League debut until the age of 23 and his England debut until June last year in a friendly defeat by France. He was a part of the Manchester City academy but he didn’t make the cut to the first team there. After two spells at Barnsley and Burnley in the Championship, he joined the Clarets for a reported £450,000 in January 2012.

After making 185 appearances for the Clarets, he was bought by Tottenham for a reported £3.5m fee. But he failed to get game time. He played only six games in his first season and 12 in his second.

He got his chance and benefitted from the departure of now England teammate Kyle Walker’s move to Manchester City, but he still started only 21 games for Spurs, battling for a place with Serge Aurier.

He has benefitted majorly by Southgate’s decision to play a 3-5-2 formation and playing Kyle Walker in the middle of the defence, ‘the Bury Beckham’ has excelled in Russia in a right wing-back role, setting up 13 chances and scoring in the shootout against Colombia.

On comparisons with the England great’s crossing, he said: “Loads of people have been saying that but I’m nowhere near Beckham’s qualities. All I can do is keep doing the best I can and every opportunity I get I’ll try to put balls in like David Beckham.”

Trippier has had a great World Cup and one could only hope that this is the first step of a log and successful career for the underrated English wing back.

FIFA World Cup: England VS Croatia, Match Prediction

England VS Croatia

England VS Croatia, Kick Off Time: 11:30 pm (IST)

England and Croatia were the two most unlikely semi-finalists heading into the competition but now face each other for a place at the World Cup Final on Sunday. There are no outright favorites in this match as both teams look equally well-balanced on paper. Croatia certainly has the talent that can take them to the final, however, their major concern will be the stamina and fitness of the team after being forced into extra time and penalties in their previous two games. England on the other hand, come into the game on the back of a comfortable 2 – 0 victory against the Swedes and after their solid performances, the English fans might just have started believing that they could go all the way.

Team News:

England: England have no injury concerns. Henderson was a concern but he was seen training with the lads on Monday and is said to be fit to play. He will play a huge role in the English as he will have the responsibility of keeping Croatia’s main man Luka Modric in check. Southgate will most likely stick with the same squad that has been successful this world cup and might not take a risk by tinkering it.

Croatia: Croatia have two major injury scares. One in the form of their goalkeeper Subasic who looked like he had hurt his hamstring on Saturday.

Defender Sime Vrsaljko is also a doubt after suffering a knee injury during extra-time in the quarter-final tie and is expected to be replaced by Tim Jedvaj at right-back.

Form Guide-
England: W | W | L | W | W
Croatia: W | W | W | W | W


Prediction: England 2 Croatia 1 – The English have been so impressive at this World cup with their slick passing and excellent ball movement. They have shown that the team is capable of producing the goals even if Harry Kane doesn’t fire. Another impressive feature of the English have been their discipline at the back and their composure while defending set pieces. The Croats do have a goal in them with likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic but I don’t think they will be able to outscore the English with the attacking prowess they possess and their threat during set pieces.

Where to watch?

TV Channels (India) – Sony TEN 2, 3 & Sony ESPN – 11:30 P.M IST

In addition, you can live stream all the Matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup from 14th June to 15th July only on the Official SonyLIV App and the SonyLIV Website.

FIFA World Cup 2018: The Rise Of Aliou Cisse

Aliou Cisse

Senegal’s coach Aliou Cisse has certainly caught the attention of the world as he became the only black manager at the World cup and also the youngest at the age of 42. But Cisse as a manager, is a perfectionist, with a no-nonsense approach and he pays attention to every small detail that needs to be looked into. It’s a trait that dates back to his time as the captain of the Lions of Teranga. He was the captain that led Senegal to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World cup in Japan and South Korea which was the highlight of his mixed career. The same year, his Senegal lost the African Cup of Nations to Cameroon in the final and at the end of his career that he called quits in 2005, he had not won a single international trophy for his country and this very reason is his driving force to become a successful manager.

One could say he had a career of heartbreaks but Salif Diao, who played with Cissé between 2000 to 2005, remembers him as a fighter.

“The day we lost 2002 Afcon final to Cameroon, we were sharing rooms,” Diao says.

“Cissé was so gutted and he said to me: ‘Salif, this trophy was in my hands. I was holding it with one hand and Cameroon stole it from me’.

Diao says he also remembers Cissé vowing, “If I don’t win it as a player, I will win it one day as a coach.”

This level of determination and willpower has been a permanent feature of his career.“His determination makes him who he is and that’s why he was our captain,” says former teammate Salif Diao.

“He had the voice, he had the words that needed to be put on the table to get everyone going,” he added.

“After he gave a speech to the team, we all would put on the mask of a lion.”

Cissé was born in 1976 in Ziguinchor in the Casamance region, the same region where the current Senegal superstar captain Sadio Mane is from. He started his career in Senegal and later moved to France and England. Kara Thioune, a Senegalese journalist traveling with the Senegal national team in Russia, says Cissé is a born leader.

“He is the embodiment of a real lion. He is very proud and confident in himself. He believes that the sky is not even his limit,” says Thioune.

His coaching career started in 2012 as the u-23 Senegal coach. in 2015, he became the manager for the Senegal national team. But in the end, it was more heartbreak for Cisse as Senegal narrowly missed out on qualifying because they had received two more yellow cards than Japan.

Thioune believes Cissé’s success lies in the relationship he has forged over the years with members of the current squad.

“They respect him because he helped most of them to become the superstars that they are today,” the journalist says.

“He is like a good father who plays and jokes with his kids, but when it’s time to gets serious he becomes a soldier.”

Thioune says head coach Cissé also drills his team as if they were soldiers.

“When it’s time to sleep, they all sleep, when it’s time to eat they are expected to eat. He has a very tough code of conduct which is respected by everybody.”

But he is a fighter and his mission is to do well and pave the way for other African coaches to manage at the highest level.

He joins the late Nigerian Stephen Keshi as the only black African coaches to have led teams at the World Cup.