Aleksandr Golovin agrees to a move to AS Monaco amidst Chelsea interest

Aleksandr Golovin - AS Monaco

Russia’s next big star and midfielder Aleksandr Golovin has joined the French club AS Monaco after his rumoured move to London this summer.

The former CSKA Moscow midfielder has been announced by the French club after days of negotiation between the two clubs.

The 22-year-old, who starred for his country in the recently concluded FIFA World Cup has signed a five-year contract with the Ligue 1 club.

This all happened after, in the last week, his friend and fellow teammate Sergey Chepchugov had hinted a move to Chelsea.

Chelsea’s head coach Maurizio Sarri had stated his interest on capturing the midfielder after his impressive performance in the World Cup. However, now it appears that the former Napoli boss is looking at elsewhere to strengthen his midfield.

Vasilyev has his say on Golovin:

Monaco’s vice-president Vadim Vasilyev, earlier admitted that there was competition for his signature from “very large European clubs”.

Vasilyev, further told the club’s website: “We are very happy with the arrival of Aleksandr Golovin at AS Monaco.”

The vice-president, further complimented the midfielder with the club following him for a long time now much earlier to his stint in the World Cup.

Playing time might have been the reason that Golovin picked Monaco over Chelsea. The midfielder played his part in all of Russia’s encounter this summer, with the hosts eventually falling out to Croatia in the quarter-finals.

Golvin’s excitement knew no bounds:

“I am very happy to sign at AS Monaco,” Golovin said. “This is a new adventure for me that I approach with a lot of ambitions. I am now very much looking forward to meeting the staff and my new teammates and to get going.”

“Despite the competition of very large European clubs, Aleksandr has chosen the sporting project of Monaco, which will offer him the best conditions to continue his progress.” concluded the vice-president as he welcomed the Russian to Monaco.

The midfielder has already been a vital cog to his previous suitors at CSKA with Golovin scoring against Arsenal in the Europa League.

FIFA World Cup: Quarter-finals; Team of the Round

Team of the Round of 8

Another step closer to the finals of the FIFA World Cup as the quarter-finals ended yesterday. A few shock results and a few obvious ones transpired. There were a lot of underwhelming players and those who failed to show up on the big stage.

But here, we look at the players who showed up and performed marvelously in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

(GK) Thibaut Courtois – Belgium 

The Chelsea stopper gave his best performance in the World Cup yet. Courtois made 9 saves, all of them match-saving, and helped his team beat Brazil to reach the semi-finals.

(RB) Mario Fernandes – Russia 

Even though he missed the penalty which ultimately led to Russia’s exit from the quarter-finals, Fernandes had been one of the best players on the pitch. The CSKA Moscow man scored the late equalizer in extra-time to help Russia reach the penalties.

(CB) Harry Maguire – England 

Harry Maguire has been one of England’s most consistent performers and a fan favourite in the World Cup. When England failed to create a lot of chances in the first 30 minutes, the Leicester City defender rose up and managed to score the opener against Sweden.

(CB) Raphael Varane – France 

Varane certainly stepped up for France when they needed him most. His opening goal against the Uruguayans was sensational. Overall, the Real Madrid defender put on a fine performance for his country. 

(LB) Ashley Young – England 

Young has been another crucial player for England. The Manchester United man proved exactly why he belongs in the team as he floated a fitting corner which was met by Maguire and into the goal.

(CM) Luka Modric – Croatia 

The Croatian skipper stepped up for his country yet again as he outperformed every player on the pitch. The Real Madrid playmaker registered the highest number of touches (139) in the game. Modric also provided a vital assist to give his team the lead in extra-time.

(CAM) Kevin De Bruyne – Belgium 

De Bruyne put in a decent performance against Brazil and was the scorer of an absolute screamer in that match. The Manchester City playmaker has been crucial for Belgium in their World Cup campaign and will remain so in their semi-final tie against dangerous France.

(CAM) Jesse Lingard – England 

Jesse Lingard has been yet another consistent performer for the Three Lions. The Manchester United man was a constant threat against the Swedes, registering the most amount of take-ons and shots in the game, also registering an assist in the process. 

(LW) Eden Hazard – Belgium 

Eden Hazard has been unquestionably phenomenal for the Red Devils in this World Cup. The Chelsea superstar also became the first player to win all 10 of his take-ons in a World Cup match since 1966.

(RW) Antoine – Griezmann 

With a goal and an assist for Les Blues against Uruguay, Greizmann was undoubtedly the premier performer in the quarter-finals of this World Cup. The Atletico forward will be key to whether or not France lift the World Cup. 

(ST) Mario Mandzukic – Croatia

Juventus striker, Mario Mandzukic did not get a goal against Russia but he did provide a truly vital assist. The 32-year old played the whole of 120 minutes of the game and worked tirelessly for his side to help them reach the semi-finals against England.

FIFA World Cup, Highlights: Russia(3) 2 – 2 (4)Croatia

Russia(3) 2 – 2 (4)Croatia

Arguably one of the best knockout matches in this World Cup, Russia’s encounter against Croatia had everything right from goals to defensive clearances like no other day. The two teams fought to their extreme self, putting men behind the ball in the middle of the park.

The Hosts’ remarkable World Cup came to an end as Croatia went past them, firing all guns in an epic encounter. Last time Russia went to a penalty shoot-out, they won the encounter against Spain and the last time Croatia went, Rakitic put them through to the next round.

In Russia’s first quarter-final appearance since 1970, when they were still called as the Soviet Union, Villarreal’s forward and Russian striker Denis Cheryshev gave them a lead in the 30th minute of the encounter. But it took eight minutes, and beautiful counter for Croatia to score, with Andrej Kramaric’s header tieing them back at 1-1 in the game.

Early in the second half, Manchester United target and Inter’s winger Ivan Perisic missed an open chance to put the Europeans on the lead, with a low drive that hit the post. Zlatko Dalic’s side began dominating in the midfield, with the Russian counterparts looking tired and fatigued chasing after the likes of Brozovic and Luka Modric.

The entire 90 minutes:

The entire 90 minutes flew right by the two sides, with a couple of injury scare for the Croatian team. In the 89th minute of the encounter, goalkeeper and star player Danijel Subasic clutched his right leg, in what looked like a hamstring injury. However, by then Croatia had already made their third and final change in the normal time.

With the match hanging in balance, it was when the sides would take the risk of putting the ball across the net with both the defences looking shaky. Domagoj Vida’s header in the latter stages of the first half of the extra time found its way across the group of many Russian players to find the net giving Croatia a 2-1 lead in the encounter.

Dalic’s side were determined to put one more past the Russian defence in the extra-time with chances coming thick and fast for the Europeans. However, there was no more addition to the goals after the first half of the extra-time.

Mariooooo with the equalizer:

For Russia, the encounter was clear that they had to score once again if they stand a chance at making a comeback into the game. Mario Fernandes had other plans when he planted his header across the net to give Russia a crucial goal at 2-2. At 2-2, with momentum towards the hosts, Russia seemed to be taking the game home.

The Brazil-born defender, however, missed his penalty in the shootout with the Croatians only requiring to score in the final kick of the shoot-out.

Who better than midfielder Ivan Rakitic to score the final goal and give the win for the Croatians. Rakitic was an absolute beast for the European side, and once again proved that his combination with Modric makes all the difference for the Croatians.

FIFA World Cup: Russia VS Croatia, Match Prediction

Russia VS Croatia

Russia VS Croatia, Kick off time: 11:30 pm (IST)

While one side was always expected to be in the last 8 stage of the tournament, the other sprung open cans of surprises to reach the final 8. The two sides that we are talking about are Russia and Croatia, two sides who have dominated the other teams in the midfield.

For the hosts, reaching the last 8 stage in the tournament is the biggest achievement in their limited footballing career, with Russia defeating the likes of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and surprising 2010 World Champions Spain before getting to the last 8.

Croatia ranked 20 in the FIFA rankings have more than a chance at stepping their foot onto the next stage of the tournament, while a 70th ranked Russia look to carry on their fairytale run.

Stanislav Cherchesov and his men know how handful the Luka Modric led Croatian side is, with them beating the likes of Denmark, Argentina, Nigeria, and Iceland before facing the hosts in an epic encounter.

Russia, on the other hand, have had it tough in their final two encounters with a defeat against Uruguay before they faced Spain in a tough encounter. Against Spain, however, the hosts showed their caliber and tackled the Spaniards with their pressing style of football against Spain’s vertical passing.

Spain found it brutally tough to go past the Russian wall, and with a similar set up against Croatia, the Luka Modric side might find it tough to go past the hosts.

However, if we compare the number of superstars who can lead the team to a victory on either of the sides, then Croatia might just find themselves in the best of positions.

Team News:

Russia left winger Yuri Zhirkov could be ruled out of the match with a damaged tendon in his calf. Aleksandr Samedov sweats it out before he is fit for the game against Croatia.

On the other hand, Croatia have a fully fit squad that their coach can choose from, after their penalty win over Denmark.

Russia Probable playing XI (4-4-3): Igor Akinfeev; Mario Fernandes, Ilya Kutepov, Sergey Ignashevich, Fedor Kudryashov; Roman Zobnin, Daler Kuzyaev; Aleksandr Samedov, Aleksandr Golovin, Denis Cheryshev; Artem Dzyuba

Croatia Probable playing XI (4-4-3): Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic

Match Prediction:

Croatia have to up the ante, with their dismal performance in the second half of their encounter against Denmark where they were utterly disappointing.

Russia, on the other hand, have had the Spanish attack at bay, with their masterclass defence and would be looking to thwart the Croatian attack come this Saturday.

With the past clearly not favoring either of the two sides, the prediction is slightly towards the Croatian side who can play some masterclass football and will win the game 2-1.

Where to watch?

TV Channels (India) – Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3 and Sony ESPN – 11:30 PM 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: Matchday 17th: As it happened….!

Spain

Spain are out…!

Russia sends shockwaves all over the world by knocking out 2010 World Cup winner’s Spain in a match that ended in a penalty shootout. Spain completed 1115 passes in the match with a passing accuracy of 90 percent, sadly their only goal of the match came as an own goal by Sergi Ignashevich. They passed, passed, passed, and passed away is one of the few chants people are chanting right now. Spain took 9 shots on target finding the net once while Artem Dzyuba converted Russia’s only shot on target of the match from the spot kick ending the match in a 1-1 draw.

Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev saved Koke and Iago Aspas’s penalties, helping the hosts reaching the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in history. By winning the shoot-out 4-3 Russia become the fifth consecutive nation as host winning the penalty shootout since 1998.

Soon after the match was finished one of Spain’s greatest footballer Andres Iniesta who scored the winner in the final of 2010 World Cup final, announced his retirement from the international football. “It is a reality that is my last match with the national team, at the individual level a wonderful stage is over,” he said. Former Barcelona midfielder played 131 matches for the La Roja scoring 13 goals and won Euro Cup in 2008 and 2012 besides FIFA World Cup in 2010. Gerard Pique followed his former club mate and decided to put an end to his controversial international career.

Croatia are through…

Croatia knocked out Denmark in the other match of the day as the Vatreni make it to their first World Cup quarter-finals since 1998 in France when they went on to finish 3rd. Denmark started the match on a high note when Matthias Jorgensen finds the net in just 58 seconds but couldn’t hold on to the lead for long as Mario Mandzukic equalized for Croatia in the 4th minute. It was for the first time when both the matches of the day were decided by penalty shootout since 21st June 1986 (France vs Brazil & Mexico vs Germany). The Croatians had the last laugh winning the shootout 3-2.

Kasper Schmeichel winning hearts…

Denmark might have a bad day but their goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had one of the best days of his football career. The Danish saved a total of three penalties in the match one of which coming into the extra time in 116th minute keeping Denmark’s hopes alive till the shootout. He might not have helped his side win the match as his father did in 1998 World cup but certainly Peter Schmeichel would be proud of his boy’s performance.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Stunning performance by hosts, Russia

Stunning performance by hosts, Russia

We’re a little more than three weeks into the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and so far Russia has surprised experts and fans alike. Other Teams at the World Cup had played in the Qualifiers to be at the grandest stage of football whereas Russia on the contrary, is here because of being the host nation. They were placed in Group A alongside Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and two times World Cup winner Uruguay.

Only a little was expected from the least ranked side (79th) in the World Cup but to a surprise, Russia thrashed Saudi Arabia 5-0 in the opening match of World Cup. A victory against the 77th ranked side wouldn’t have surprised the experts but it was the players’ hunger for goals that announced their arriving. Egypt were the second favorites in the Group A alongside Uruguay to advance to the Knock-out stages. The match between Egypt and Russia became decisive for both the teams to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Till the time Egypt’s talisman Mohammed Salah scored his first goal in FIFA World Cup, Russia had sailed past them with 3-1.

They lost their last match against Uruguay 0-3 but the result didn’t matter much as both the teams had already qualified for the next round. Finishing second in the group means the host had to face one of the World Cup favorites and 2010 World Cup winners Spain in the round of 16.

Expectations were low at best!

A fighting farewell from Russia was all expected from them and had someone told you that Russia will get past Spain, you would have laughed. The host surprised everyone surpassing the test against La Roja holding them to 1-1 with their solid defense, stretching the match into Extra Time. Even an extra 30 minutes wasn’t enough for the Spaniards to put the ball past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. Furthermore, the Russian hero denied Koke and Iago Aspas to win the penalty shootouts 4-3,  stunning the world by knocking out Spain. The hosts created history by reaching the quarterfinals for the first time.

Russia will now face Croatia in the quarterfinals. The Croatians had beaten Denmark in a highly dramatic penalty shootout 3-2 after their respective round of 16 fixture ended even 1-1. Even though Croatia is a much lower rank team than Spain but they had stunned Argentina 3-0 in their group stage matches. Neither of the teams was favorite to be at this stage of the World Cup but they are here with determination, focus and for the pride of their respective countries.

Can Russia produce another stunner on 7th July or will it be the end of the road for them?

Let us know in the Comment section Below ⬇️

FIFA World Cup, Highlights: Spain(3) 1 – 1 (4)Russia

Spain(3) 1 - 1 Russia(4)

Russia wins 4 – 3 in penalties, The Hosts are the hero…!

Russia stunned 2010 FIFA World Cup champions in the round of 16 after the 1-1 draw went into the penalty shootout. Russia was trailing behind by an own goal from Sergei Ignashevich in the 12th minute when he was desperately trying to block Sergio Ramos run. Artem Dzyuba made no mistake in converting the spot kick into the equalizer minutes before the end of first half.

Spain did a total of 1129 passes in the whole game with 90 percent accuracy, and a total of 23 shots but none effective enough to get past Russian goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev. The game was stretched into the extra time and Russian defense stood strong enough to get the game into the penalties. Igor Akinfeev became the national hero by denying Koke and Iago Aspas from the spot kick while his counterpart David de Gea failing to save even one of the four taken.

It was the 5th time when any host nation went into the penalty shootouts since 1998 and the host has emerged the winner on all the occasions.

Spain entered the tournament as a favorite but their early exit came as a bit of shock to the world as the La Furia Roja even failed to qualify in the knockout stage in 2014 World Cup.

Russia created history by entering into the quarterfinals of FIFA World Cup for the first time. Russia will face Croatia, beaten Denmark in their previous match in penalty shootouts, in the quarterfinals. It will be interesting to see how they react to each other as both the teams are here with a determination and defeating big names like Spain and Argentina.

Not only does Russia’s victory send them through to the last eight of the tournament, it throws the entire draw on their side wide open. Croatia, England, Denmark, Colombia, Sweden, and Switzerland will all be eyeing their chances to advance deep into the competition.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia VS Spain Combined XI

Russia VS Spain Combined XI

The Hosts Russia take on Spain in an exciting Round of 16 games to Kick things off on this Super Sunday! Spain are definitely favourites going into this encounter but count the Russians out at your own peril. So let’s try to compile a playing XI from both teams. 

GK-David De Gea(Spain)

Here’s a statement you won’t hear very often, David De Gea barely makes this team. Only because his competition Igor Akinfeev faced no shots on Target in his first to games and then conceded 3 against Uruguay when he was tested. 

RB- Daniel Carvajal(Spain)

It’s hard to believe that Carvajal was injured prior to the World Cup, he’s been sensational at Right-Back for La Roja.

CB- Sergio Ramos(Spain)

The Spanish Captain hasn’t been at his best in Russia but certainly makes the cut ahead of the Russian Defenders.

CB- Gerrard Pique(Spain)

https://twitter.com/TheKingSR4/status/1010444353771319297

Who better than Pique to partner Ramos at the back?

LB- Jordi Alba(Spain)

One of the top Left-Backs in the World, the Barcelona man walks straight into the team.

CDM- Sergio Busquets (Spain)

CM- Andres Iniesta (Spain)

The 2010 World Cup Final immortalized Andres Iniesta. The Former Barcelona man has been one of the best Midfielders of our time and still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

CM- Aleksandr Golovin (Russia)

The First Russian on the list, Chelsea Summer target Aleksandr Golovin has been in top form for the hosts and all eyes will be on him ahead of the clash against Spain.

LW- Dennis Cheryshev(Russia)

Cheryshev was an unknown commodity before the World Cup. Cheryshev is now a key player for Russia and here’s some trivia for you, he is also a former Real Madrid player.

ST- Diego Costa(Spain) 

Diego Costa is Back! After a turbulent Season that saw him join Atletico Madrid in January after a forced 6 Month sabbatical. Spain Will be hoping their Target man can take them all the way

RW- Isco (Spain)

Isco has spent a lot of time on the bench at Real Madrid but has been a star man for Spain. The Versatile Midfielder can play anywhere in Midfield and can even be deployed on the Wings. He’s a key player for La Roja’s chances at the World Cup.

FIFA World Cup: Spain VS Russia, Match Prediction

Spain vs Russia

Spain vs Russia, Kick-Off Time: 7:30 P.M. (IST)

Spain would feel much confident after getting through their group as the toppers, with Portugal getting knocked out of the tournament after losing against Uruguay earlier in the day. Hosts Russia come into the game in a lost form, after their loss against Uruguay on the final game of their group stage.

The 2010 World Cup Champions opened the tournament with a thrilling 3-3 draw against the current European champions Portugal in a pulsating match. Furthermore, in their next group game, Fernando Hierro’s side managed to get a 1-0 win against Iran before they drew once again in their final game.

Spain have struggled defensively, and also offensively whenever they have needed to get the goals. What is impressive about this Spanish side is that they have enough midfielders in the team who can change the course of the game, unlike Russia.

Hierro would be instructing his team to maintain a high back-line and tell his midfielders to try to win the loose balls in the middle of the park. Mistakes have been numerous from the Spaniard players, with De Gea making two fumbles in three matches, with Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos involving in a mix-up leading to the Moroccan goal.

Russia, on the other hand, began the tournament on a high with a 5-0 against Saudi Arabia, before they defeated Egypt 3-1 in a pulsating contest. The hosts finished off their group stage with a bitter loss against Uruguay 3-0. If Russia have to get past the Spanish midfielders, they have played much better than they played against Uruguay.

Team News:

De Gea will start between the sticks for the Spanish side, with Pique and Ramos forming the central defence. On either of the wings will be Carvajal and Jordi Alba. In the midfielder, a familiar trio of Busquets, Iniesta, and Koke would start.

On the wings, Spain would start with Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio and Isco on the other while Costa would start up front.

SPAIN (4-3-3): De Gea; Carvajal, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Busquets, Koke, Iniesta; Asensio, Isco, Costa.

Russia, on the other hand, would go with the same playing XI that played their part in the 3-0 loss against Uruguay.

RUSSIA (4-2-3-1): Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Gazinskiy, Zobnin; Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev; Dzyuba.

Prediction:

Spain would win the match against Russia by 2 goals in a pulsating encounter.

Where to watch?

TV Channels (India) – Sony TEN 2, 3 & Sony ESPN – 7:30 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, Highlights: Uruguay 3 – 0 Russia

Uruguay 3 - 0 Russia

Uruguay claimed the top spot in Group A with a comfortable 3-0 victory over hosts Russia.

Russia’s remarkable campaign in the group stage has been one of the major wonders in the World Cup so far, but the hosts were brought back down to earth in by Uruguay as they were utterly beaten on Monday.

In a flying start, Uruguay was ahead in the 10th minute as Suarez curled a low free-kick into the bottom-right corner after Yuri Gazinskiy’s dire foul on Rodrigo Bentancur.

Cheryshev looked set to continue his excellent form as Russia responded in force but his own goal increased Russia’s misery in the 23rd minute. Matters were made worse for Russia in the 36th minute, Smolnikov picking up his second booking after lunging in on Cavani, just eight minutes after being yellow carded for a foul on Matias Vecino.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Russia was not hesitant in coming forward following the restart, an encouraging move breaking down when Mario Fernandes failed to tee up Aleksey Miranchuk in the area.

Russia showed greater grit after the interval, with Artem Dzyuba wasting a chance for a consolation, but the damage was already done by the time Cavani got his first goal of the tournament in the 90th minute.

No party for the hosts

This was the first time Russia had faced a strong opposition at this competition, and for many, the fashion of this defeat will mark them out as vulnerable in the next round.

Right from the outset, and even at the end when there was very little hope of a comeback emerging, there was much of the same extraordinary vocal support from the stands. But on the pitch, there was very little of the productivity we saw from Russia’s players in their opening two victories.

Almost every set-piece was delivered too long, and there were so many key careless passes like Yuri Gazinskiy’s to begin the passage of play that led to Suarez scoring from a free-kick or Mario Fernandes’ when for once early in the second half Uruguay looked like they might be opened up.

Perhaps the fact that Russia, the lowest ranked team here at 70 in the world, started this game having already qualified affected their approach. Possibly it was the oppressive heat. Midfielder Aleksandr Golovin, one of their best performers here so far, was also rested.

What is certain is that now, having finished second, Russia will play their next match at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium against Spain on the 1st of July in the first knockout match of the World Cup.

Uruguay can rely on Suarez

There was very little ambiguity about who would win this game after an early period in which Russia was blown away.

Suarez seemed set to impress after his weak opening match performance against Egypt, and it was his clever low free-kick that set the tone for what was a very comfortable victory. There was an abundance of noise from the stands – so Uruguay goalkeeper Fernando Muslera will have had many calmer games in terms of volume – but he had little work to do as he became his country’s all-time leading appearance maker at the World Cup. At his 14th match at the competition, and on the occasion of his 100th cap, Uruguay simply out-performed Russia, and of course were for much of the game a player better off. 

There was ultimately a goal for Cavani right at the finish. For a long time, it looked like it would not come as the Paris St-Germain striker endured a mostly frustrating match. He missed three big chances before eventually, things fell into place as the rebound from an Akinfeev parry landed kindly at his feet.

The Uruguay fans stayed long after the final whistle to cheer their team. For them, it is three wins from three, but their next match will be an extremely more severe test.