Leeds 0-2 Man Utd: Two late goals give Red Devils all 3 points as Rashford and Garnacho on targets

Manchester United picked up a comfortable 2-0 win against Leeds United at Elland Road in the English Premier League today. The final scoreline was a fair reflection of the balance of play, with the visitors dominating possession and looking the stronger of the two teams throughout.

(Written by ChatGPT.)

The match got off to a lively start, with both sides looking to attack from the first whistle. Junior Firpo of Leeds received the first yellow card of the match in the 18th minute for a challenge on Luke Shaw, followed shortly by Fred who received a caution for a foul on Marcus Rashford. Weston McKennie of Manchester United also received a yellow card in the 40th minute.

The first goal of the match came in the 80th minute when Marcus Rashford, assisted by Luke Shaw, headed the ball home. Marcel Sabitzer made a key pass in the build-up to the goal. The second goal came just five minutes later when Alejandro Garnacho scored with a right-footed shot, assisted by Wout Weghorst.

Manchester United dominated possession with 68% compared to Leeds’ 32%, and also had more shots, with 11 compared to Leeds’ 6. However, Leeds had a higher shot accuracy, with 6 shots on target compared to Manchester United’s 3. Leeds also had more corners with 5 compared to Manchester United’s 2, but the visitors had more dangerous attacks, with both teams finishing with 2 each.

The confirmed lineups saw Leeds United line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Illan Meslier in goal and a back four of Ayling, Koch, Wober, and Firpo. The midfield consisted of Adams and McKennie, while Summerville, Harrison, and Gnonto started in the attacking positions, with Bamford leading the line. Manchester United lined up in a similar formation, with De Gea in goal and a back four of Dalot, Shaw, Maguire, and Malacia. The midfield consisted of Sabitzer and Fred, while Sancho, Fernandes, and Rashford started in attacking positions, with Weghorst leading the line.

In conclusion, it was a well-deserved win for Manchester United, who dominated proceedings and looked in control throughout. Leeds will be disappointed with their performance but will look to bounce back in their next match.


THAT’s why Richarlison is Brazil’s No.9! Winners, losers & ratings as Spurs striker lights up World Cup in Serbia win

The much-maligned forward scored a sensational second goal as the favourites announced their arrival in Qatar with a 2-0 win.

It’s fair to say we can end the debate about who should be Brazil’s No.9 right here – the shirt belongs to Richarlison.

The Tottenham man was the hero, scoring twice as the five-times World Cup winners began their 2022 campaign in style, beating Serbia 2-0 in Doha’s Lusail Iconic Stadium.

After watching Argentina, their great rivals, fall victim to one of the great World Cup shocks against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Tite’s men knew they would have to be fully focused if they were to avoid a similar fate.

They were, defending ruggedly, and then ruthlessly taking advantage with two goals in the space of 11 second-half minutes, Richarlison first reacting quickest to fire home after Vinicius Junior’s shot was saved, and then adding a second with a spectacular overhead kick soon after.

A win over Switzerland on Monday, then, would see the Selecao safely into the last 16, and you’d back them to get it. Twenty years on from the last of their World Cup triumphs, Brazil look like they have a side which can go all the way once more.

Below, GOAL takes a look at the winners & losers from Thursday’s game…

The Winners


He may not be prolific at club level, but there’s something about that famous yellow jersey which brings out the best in Richarlison. There has been plenty of debate as to who should be wearing the No.9 shirt for Brazil, but we won’t be hearing any complaints now. Gabriel Jesus has his fans, and many were surprised at Roberto Firmino’s omission from the World Cup squad, but here Richarlison delivered a masterclass, proving to the world why Tite has so much faith in him. His record this season for Spurs is modest – two goals in 15 appearances in all competitions, and none in 10 Premier League outings – but he’s got 19 in 39 caps for his country now, nine in his last seven, and here he demonstrated all of his penalty-box prowess. The reaction for the first goal was outstanding, quicker than the Serbian defender to convert after goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic, once of Manchester United, had pushed out Vinicius Junior’s low strike. Then came the encore, Richarlison controlling Vinicus’ astute pass with one touch before adjusting his body superbly to find the corner with a spectacular, acrobatic finish. It was pretty much his last act. He was replaced by Jesus soon after, with Tite eager not to take any risks with his damaged ankle. No wonder. Brazil are going to need him if they are to experience the Joy of Six in Qatar.

Vinicius Junior:

We all know Brazil’s history in this tournament, and we all know how much joy they have given the world with flair players down the years. So while the pre-match focus fell largely on Neymar, what a treat it was to see the youngest member of Brazil’s front four take his first steps on the big stage, and look entirely at home while doing so. Vinicius, at 22, is already some player, already a Champions League and La Liga winner, and already one of the most exciting young forwards in world football. Here, we saw why.

He had a hand in both of Richarlison’s goals, his shot parried for the first and his cute pass expertly finished for the second. He might have had a couple himself, but skewed one effort wide and was denied by a brave stop from Milinkovic-Savic on another occasion. He’ll feel he should have done better with both opportunities. But every time he got the ball, which was not often enough if truth be told, he looked like he would make something happen. He is the kind of player to get you off your seat, and the best thing is, he’s only going to get better and better.


Amid all the attacking talent on display, here was another reminder that if you win the midfield, you usually win the game. Brazil won the midfield comfortably, and much of that was down to Casemiro, who is beginning to purr after a low-key couple of months following his move to Manchester United. The 30-year-old bossed proceedings, his ability to read the game and cover space making it almost impossible for Serbia to launch counter-attacks. His passing was crisp and accurate – one pass into Vinicius in the first half was simply beautiful – and he very nearly rounded off a fine display with a 25-yard screamer in the second half. Alas, the crossbar intervened on that occasion, but this was a world-class performance from a world-class performer.

The Losers

Aleksandar Mitrovic:

This was not a night for Serbia’s all-time record goalscorer to look back on with any great fondness. Mitrovic has been in stunning form for club and country for more than 18 months now, but he was feeding off scraps tonight, as Brazil’s defenders dominated and Serbia showed little-to-no attacking desire. The Fulham man finished without having taken a shot at goal, and having failed to register a single touch in the opposition penalty area. Credit Thiago Silva and Marquinhos, who both cruised through the game, but Serbia will need from their main man if they are to keep their hopes alive against Cameroon next week.


Of Brazil’s four forwards who started the game, three know they will be starting against Switzerland on Monday. The other is Raphinha. It’s not that the Barcelona man was terrible, but when the big chances came his way, he fluffed his lines. He strangled an effort late in the first half and hit the goalkeeper early in the second. Then came an errant touch to squander another opening. It didn’t ultimately cost his side, but only because Vinicius and Richarlison came to the party. They delivered, and the former Leeds man didn’t. The likes of Jesus, Antony and Gabriel Martinelli will have their eye on his shirt, for sure.


A nation holds its breath. Shortly after Brazil went 2-0 up here, their star man sank to the turf, a grimace on his face. Not another World Cup injury, surely? It wasn’t quite the tears of 2014, when his tournament was ended prematurely by a back problem, but Neymar certainly didn’t look amused as he made his way off the field, to be replaced by Manchester United’s Antony. Brazil fans will hope his departure was purely precautionary – the game was won and Tite has plenty of talent on his bench – but he had ice on his suspected sprained ankle as he sat on the bench. The early signs are not good. Neymar’s tournament may already be over…

Cristiano Ronaldo: I feel betrayed by Manchester United, have no respect for Erik ten Hag and never heard of Rangnick

Cristiano Ronaldo says he feels “betrayed” by Manchester United for trying to force him out of the club and says he has “no respect” for boss Erik ten Hag because he “doesn’t show respect for me”.

In an interview with broadcaster Piers Morgan, Ronaldo criticised Ten Hag, the club and former interim boss Ralf Rangnick.

The 37-year-old was suspended by Ten Hag after refusing to appear as a substitute during the 2-0 win over Tottenham Hotspur in October.

Ronaldo has missed United’s past two games because of illness despite Ten Hag insisting last week the striker was likely to be available for the trip to Fulham, which the Dutchman’s side won 2-1 on Sunday.

“I don’t have respect for him [Ten Hag] because he doesn’t show respect for me,” Ronaldo said in a fragment of the interview that will air in full on Wednesday on “Piers Morgan Uncensored.”

“If you don’t have respect for me, I’m never gonna have respect for you.”

Ronaldo and his representatives were actively looking for a move away from Old Trafford in the summer, but the Portugal international insists it was United and Ten Hag who pushed him toward the exit. “Manchester United tried to force me out,” he said.

“Not only the manager, but the other two or three guys who are around the club [at the senior executive level]. I felt betrayed. I don’t care, people should listen to the truth. Yes, I felt betrayed. I feel that some people didn’t want me here, not only this year but last season too.

During the interview, Ronaldo also claimed to have “never heard of” Rangnick before he was appointed caretaker manager last season and accused United of failing to move forward in the time between his departure to Real Madrid in 2009 and his return to the club in 2021.

“I followed my heart,” Ronaldo said. “He [Ferguson] said to me, ‘It’s impossible for you to come to Manchester City,’ and I said, ‘OK, Boss.’

“The progress was zero. Since Sir Alex left, I saw no evolution in the club. Nothing had changed. He [Ferguson] knows better than anybody that the club is not on the path they deserve to be.

“He knows. Everyone knows. The people who don’t see that. It’s because they don’t want to see; they are blind.”

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Kane leads England 26-men World Cup squad as Bellingham, TAA, Maddison in; Sancho left out

Gareth Southgate has named his final 26-man squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker, Ben White.

Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice.

Forwards: Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, James Maddison, Marcus Rashford, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Callum Wilson.

More to follow…

FIFA World Cup 2022: Which team do you support most? Who’s your favourite player? Tell us your thoughts and show your support

The 2022 World Cup gets underway in just three weeks with Qatar and Ecuador kicking off the tournament on November 20.

Players are now sweating over their fitness ahead of the first-ever winter World Cup with injuries mounting up due to the congested fixture schedule.

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We will keep the focus more on the top favorites clubs and players, and on base of the survey result, we will give you the best user experience during the FIFA World Cup 2022!

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· World Cup fixtures and full schedule

· World Cup team-by-team guide

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Who’s qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar? Every team at a glance…

The World Cup 2022 final stage, which runs from November 20 to December 18, will feature 32 teams split into eight groups. We already know what’s in store after April’s draw in Doha: England and the United States will face Wales in Group B, while former world champions Spain and Germany have been pitted against one another in a muscular-looking Group E.

Which team do you support most? Who’s your favourite player to watch? Tell us your thoughts and show your support by clicking here.

World Cup teams and group draw in full

Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Group B: England, Iran, USA, Wales
Group C: Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Poland
Group D: France, Australia, Denmark, Tunisia
Group E: Spain, Costa Rica, Germany, Japan
Group F: Belgium, Canada, Morocco, Croatia
Group G: Brazil, Serbia, Switzerland, Cameroon
Group H: Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay, South Korea

Key dates

Group stage: November 20 to December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9-10
Semi-finals: December 13-14
Final: December 18

Every team at a glance

Group A


How they qualified: Hosts
FIFA world ranking: 51
Fixtures: Ecuador (November 20), Senegal (November 25), Netherlands (November 29)
Manager: Felix Sanchez (Spain)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 0 / tournament debut
In a nutshell: Scrutiny will continue off the pitch for all of these reasons but expect little of the tournament debutants — ranked 51st in the world — on the field. Winger Akram Afif, who has had spells in Spain, is a standout performer among a crop of unheralded, Qatar-based players.
Casually drop into conversation: Qatar are the current AFC Asian Cup holders, scoring 19 goals and conceding just one during the 2019 tournament.


How they qualified: CONMEBOL fourth place
FIFA world ranking: 46
Fixtures: Qatar (November 20), Netherlands (November 25), Ecuador (November 29)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 3 / Round of 16 – 2006
Manager: Gustavo Alfaro (Argentina)
In a nutshell: Relieved to be there. Their participation was in jeopardy but FIFA dismissed a Chile complaint that they had fielded an ineligible player during qualification. Enner Valencia, once of West Ham but now at Fenerbahce, is the old head who showed an enduring eye for goal on the road to the finals.
Casually drop into conversation: Ecuador have played just 10 matches at the World Cup to date, with four wins, one draw and five defeats.


How they qualified: CAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 20
Fixtures: Netherlands (November 21), Qatar (November 25), Ecuador (November 29)
Manager: Aliou Cisse (Senegal)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 2 / 2002 quarter-finals
In a nutshell: Reigning African champions, who booked place at Qatar at the expense of Egypt. Sadio Mane, who converted a spot-kick as Mohamed Salah fluffed his, brings stardust to a squad full of Premier League faces. Where, though, will the forward be playing his club football by the time the tournament comes around?
Casually drop into conversation: Senegal are the third Africa Cup of Nations title-holder to qualify for the World Cup in the 21st century, after Cameroon in 2002 and Nigeria in 2014.


How they qualified: UEFA Group G winners
FIFA world ranking: 10
Fixtures: Senegal (November 21), Ecuador (November 25), Netherlands (November 29)
Manager: Louis van Gaal (Netherlands)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 10 / Runners-up – 1974, 1978, 2010
In a nutshell: Should be fun. Booked their spot as group winners after ignominy of failing to reach Russia, can call on Virgil van Dijk after his Euro 2020 injury absence, and have Louis van Gaal making mischief at the helm. The ex-Manchester United boss has spent the summer seemingly delighting in any chance to rile his former employers and has dismissed FIFA’s assertion the tournament will “develop the game” in Qatar as “bullshit”.
Casually drop into conversation: The Netherlands have won 11 of their last 14 matches at the World Cup, penalty shoot-outs excluded, and their last defeat in a group game was back in 1994 against Belgium (0-1).

Group B



How they qualified: UEFA Group I winners
FIFA world ranking: 5
Fixtures: Iran (November 21), USA (November 25), Wales (November 29)
Manager: Gareth Southgate (England)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 15 / Champions – 1966
In a nutshell: Familiarly breezed through qualifying after progress of reaching the semi-final in Russia and final of Euro 2020. England’s core squad of players have become used to going deep in tournaments but The Southgate Debate rumbles on. As does The Grealish One.
Casually drop into conversation: England set the best goal difference in the group stage of European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring 39 goals and conceding only three (+36).


How they qualified: AFC third round Group A winners
FIFA world ranking: 21
Fixtures: England (November 21), Wales (November 25), USA (November 29)
Manager: Dragan Skocic (Croatia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / group stage – 1978, 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018
In a nutshell: Upwardly mobile. Strikingly pipped South Korea to top spot in qualifying and breaking new ground after reaching a third successive World Cup finals.
Casually drop in conversation: Iran are one of 20 teams to have featured at each of the last two World Cups in 2014 and 2018 — of those teams, they have had the fewest shots (47), the fewest shots on target (10) and scored the fewest goals (3) in the group stages across those two tournaments combined.


How they qualified: CONCACAF third round third place
FIFA world ranking: 15
Fixtures: Wales (November 21), England (November 25), Iran (November 29)
Manager: Gregg Berhalter (USA)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 9 / Third – 1930
In a nutshell: Back at the finals after watching the 2018 tournament from the sidelines. High-pressing and full of bright young things. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic will hope to serve reminders of his talent, while Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira has staked a claim for the starting striker’s spot.
Casually drop into conversation: The USA have reached the knockout stage in three of their last four World Cups (2002, 2010, 2014). 


How they qualified: UEFA play-off Path A winners
FIFA world ranking: 18
Fixtures: USA (November 21), Iran (November 25), England (November 29)
Manager: Rob Page (Wales, caretaker)
In a nutshell: Gareth Bale’s retirement is on hold. Wales are back on the world stage for the first time since 1958, emboldened by a ‘Red Wall’ of reinvigorated Welsh supporters since the country’s unlikely run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016. “Misfits for their clubs, immortals for their nation,” neatly sums it up.
Casually drop into conversation: Wales’ gap of 64 years between tournaments is the biggest by any nation in the competition’s history.

Group C

lionel-messi-argentinaCan Messi deliver the big prize for Argentina? (Photo: Getty Images)


How they qualified: CONMEBOL runners-up
FIFA world ranking: 4
Fixtures: Saudi Arabia (November 22), Mexico (November 26), Poland (November 30)
Manager: Lionel Scaloni (Argentina)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 17 / Champions – 1978, 1986
In a nutshell: Undefeated in qualifying and among the favourites after a Copa America triumph last summer that brought with it the sense of a psychological burden eased. Lionel Messi’s international fate will dominate the narrative but Angel Di Maria, Paolo Dybala, Rodrigo De Paul and Lautaro Martinez can deliver in a side with the sort of blend and balance that makes them genuine contenders.
Casually drop into conversation: Argentina have qualified for their 18th World Cup, with Qatar 2022 being their 13th in a row — the third-longest ongoing run, after Brazil (22) and Germany (18).

Is this World Cup Messi’s best chance yet?

Saudi Arabia

How they qualified: AFC third round Group B winners
FIFA world ranking: 49
Fixtures: Argentina (November 22), Poland (November 26), Mexico (November 30)
Manager: Herve Renard (France)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / Round of 16 – 1994
In a nutshell: Among the rank outsiders but steadily improving at international level and qualified automatically from an Asian group that included Japan and Australia. Winger Salem Al-Dawsari, who had a stint at Villarreal, remains a key man and they will hope to benefit from playing close to home.
Casually drop into conversation: Saudi Arabia have failed to score in nine of their 16 matches at the World Cup (56 per cent) — the highest such ratio of any Asian side to play five or more games in the competition.


How they qualified: CONCACAF third round runners-up
FIFA world ranking: 9
Fixtures: Poland (November 22), Argentina (November 26), Saudi Arabia (November 30)
Manager: Gerardo Martino (Argentina)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 16 / Quarter-finals – 1970, 1986
In a nutshell: Scrambled to qualification, beating El Salvador on the final day. Can they finally go one better than the round-of-16 stage at which they’ve bowed out in the last seven tournaments? Hirving Lozano at Napoli and Wolves’ Raul Jimenez provide experience but with unprecedented tournament factors on the back of a string of mediocre performances, their stamina to go deep is questionable.
Casually drop into conversation: During the third round of CONCACAF qualifying, Mexico had more different goal scorers than any other nation (excluding own goals), with their 17 goals scored by 13 different players.


How they qualified: UEFA play-off Path B winners
FIFA world ranking: 26
Fixtures: Mexico (November 22), Saudi Arabia (November 26), Argentina (November 30)
Manager: Czeslaw Michniexicz (Poland)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 8 / Third – 1974, 1982
In a nutshell: Out to avenge a miserable campaign in Russia, where they finished bottom of their group. Robert Lewandowski is a match-winner but, collectively, they are unlikely to go deep.
Casually drop into conversation: Poland scored 32 goals in qualifying, including play-offs — only England (39), Germany (36) and Netherlands (33) scored more among European teams in qualification.

Group D



How they qualified: UEFA Group D winners
FIFA world ranking: 3
Fixtures: Australia (November 22), Denmark (November 26), Tunisia (November 30)
Manager: Didier Deschamps (France)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 15 / Champions – 1998, 2018
In a nutshell: Reigning champions. Dumped out of Euro 2020 in the second round — but have not lost a match since that Budapest shocker. After a schoolboy spat last summer about who was or wasn’t passing enough to whom, the waters of Deschamps’ ridiculous pool of talent — including a Kylian Mbappe sure to be fired up by his Euro 2020 flop —  appear ominously calm.
Casually drop into conversation: France are making their seventh appearance in a row, their longest ever consecutive run of participations. 


How they qualified: AFC vs CONMEBOL play-off winners
FIFA world ranking: 42
Fixtures: France (November 22), Tunisia (November 26), Denmark (November 30)
Manager: Graham Arnold (Australia)
In a nutshell: Competing at their fifth straight World Cup after beating Peru on penalties, thanks to Andrew Redmayne’s snake hips and flailing arms. Expectations had been lowered by start-stop qualifying campaign and while defensive vulnerabilities remain, Socceroos coach Arnold is banking on “Aussie DNA”. That means, he says: “Fight, scratch and do whatever you have got to do to win.”
Casually drop into conversation: Australia have conceded in each of their previous 13 games in the finals — the joint-longest streak in the competition alongside Saudi Arabia.


How they qualified: UEFA Group F winners
FIFA world ranking: 11
Fixtures: Tunisia (November 22), France (November 26), Australia (November 30)
Manager: Kasper Hjulmand (Denmark)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / Quarter-finals – 1998
In a nutshell: Made light work of qualifying, winning nine of their 10 matches. An emotionally-charged run to the last four of Euro 2020 followed Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest but they have the technicality as well as togetherness to be stubborn opponents.
Casually drop into conversation: Denmark kept more clean sheets in the group stage of European qualifying than any other side (8).


How they qualified: CAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 35
Fixtures: Denmark (November 22), Australia (November 26), France (November 30)
Manager: Jalel Kadri (Tunisia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / group stage – 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018
In a nutshell: More unlikely lads but narrow qualifying win over Mali makes it back-to-back finals after successive failures.
Casually drop into conversation: Tunisia have failed to keep a clean sheet in 14 of their 15 games at the World Cup, the only exception coming against Germany in 1978.

Group E

Pedri-spainLuis Enrique’s Spain blends experience with the youthful talents of the likes of Pedri (Photo: Getty Images)


How they qualified: UEFA Group B winners
FIFA world ranking: 7
Fixtures: Costa Rica (November 23), Germany (November 27), Japan (December 1)
Manager: Luis Enrique (Spain)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 15 / Champions – 2010
In a nutshell: Rallied from Russian round-of-16 exit to be denied final place at Euro 2020 by Italy on penalties. An experienced squad has been buoyed by a new influx of talent, namely Pedri and Gavi, the latter’s emergence likened by Luis Enrique to an “erupting volcano”. Their high defensive line might be a risk — but don’t expect it to change.
Casually drop into conversation: During the group stage of European qualifying, Spain’s possession average of 76 per cent was the highest of any nation, while they allowed their opponents just 38 shots across their eight matches — the joint-fewest of any side (England also 38).

Costa Rica

How they qualified: Intercontinental play-off winners
FIFA world ranking: 31
Fixtures: Spain (November 23), Japan (November 27), Germany (December 1)
Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez (Colombia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: CR – 5 / Quarter-finals – 2014
In a nutshell: Suarez has already led Ecuador and Honduras to World Cups; the man who pinned the draw to his fridge when it was made in April is only the sixth coach to have three tournaments on his CV. Is this a last chance for a run deep into the tournament for Keylor Navas, Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges?
Casually drop into conversation: Costa Rica will be hoping to avoid Brazil at this winter’s tournament. They have lost three times to the South Americans at World Cups, more than any other team.


How they qualified: UEFA Group J winners
FIFA world ranking: 12
Fixtures: Japan (November 23), Spain (November 27), Costa Rica (December 1)
Manager: Hansi Flick (Germany)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 19 / Champions – 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014In a nutshell: Bayern redux? The personnel and hard-pressing system of this new-look Hansi Flick side would suggest so. After disappointing early exits under Joachim Low in 2018 and 2020, the Flick-fuelled machine was ruthless in qualification. Will Jamal Musiala step up with the world watching?
Casually drop into conversation: Germany have reached the semi-finals in four of their five World Cup participations this century, the only exception being 2018. That’s more than any other nation in this time.


How they qualified: AFC third round Group B runners-up
FIFA world ranking: 23
Fixtures: Germany (November 23), Costa Rica (November 27), Spain (December 1)
Manager: Hajime Moriyasu (Japan)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 6 / Round of 16 – 2002, 2010, 2014
In a nutshell: Limped in behind Saudi Arabia in their group, despite sitting 26 places above them in FIFA’s rankings. Takumi Minamino and Takehiro Tomiyasu have high-profile club experience but Japan’s task is tough against European heavyweights.
Casually drop into conversation: This will be Japan’s seventh consecutive World Cup appearance in a run stretching back to 1998.

Group F

kevin-de-bruyne-belgiumOne last shot for Belgium’s own ‘Golden Generation’? (Photo: Getty Images)


How they qualified: UEFA Group E winners
FIFA world ranking: 2
Fixtures: Canada (November 23), Morocco (November 27), Croatia (December 1)
Manager: Roberto Martinez (Spain)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 13 / Third – 2018
In a nutshell: Knocked off the FIFA summit by Brazil and the feeling lingers that a stellar squad may have missed its big chance. Still, they eased through qualifying and class acts abound.
Casually drop into conversation: Belgium are one of three teams, alongside Brazil and France, to reach the quarter-finals in both of the last two World Cups.


How they qualified: CONCACAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 38
Fixtures: Belgium (November 23), Croatia (November 27), Morocco (December 1)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 1 / Group stage – 1986
Manager: John Herdman (England)
In a nutshell: Topped the CONCACAF hexagonal ahead of Mexico and the United States to reach a first World Cup for 36 years. Talented forwards Cyle Larin and Jonathan David scored 22 qualifying goals between them, while Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies is a more familiar threat. Keep an eye on them.
Casually drop into conversation: Canada qualified in first place in CONCACAF, scoring the most goals in the final round of qualifying (23) and conceding the fewest (7). 


How they qualified: CAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 24
Fixtures: Canada (November 23), Belgium (November 27), Canada (December 1)
Manager: Vahid Halilhodzic (Bosnia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / 1986 round of 16
In a nutshell: Boast a cluster of exciting players but a cloud still hangs over Hakim Ziyech’s premature retirement after a falling-out with Vahid Halilhodzic. Paris Saint-Germain’s Achraf Hakimi provides chief threat down the right.
Casually drop into conversation: Morocco have won only one of their last 10 World Cup games, doing so against Scotland in 1998 in the group stage.


How they qualified: UEFA Group H winners
FIFA world ranking: 16
Fixtures: Morocco (November 23), Canada (November 27), Belgium (December 1)
Manager: Zlatko Dalic (Croatia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 5 / Second – 2018
In a nutshell: The 2018 World Cup finalists should not be underestimated, but Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric and Marcelo Brozovic will all be 30 or older by the time the tournament starts. They’ll more grateful than most it’s taking place in November, then.
Casually drop into conversation: Only Denmark (8) kept more clean sheets in the group stage of European qualifying than Croatia (7), who conceded only four goals in their 10 group matches

Group G

Neymar-BrazilNeymar will be hoping to deliver for Brazil in Qatar (Photo: Getty Images)


How they qualified: CONMEBOL winners
FIFA world ranking: 1
Fixtures: Serbia (November 24), Switzerland (November 28), Cameroon (December 2)
Manager: Tite (Brazil)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 21 / Champions – 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
In a nutshell: The bookies’ favourites did not lose a game in qualifying but have struggled in the tournament proper in recent years, only progressing beyond the quarter-final stage once since winning Japan 2002. This Tite side is more functional than extravagant but Neymar — involved in 16 goals during qualifying — will be desperate to impress on the big stage.
Casually drop into conversation: Brazil have topped their group in round one in every single World Cup since 1982 and last failed to progress past the first round in 1966.


How they qualified: UEFA Group A winners
FIFA world ranking: 25
Fixtures: Brazil (November 24), Cameroon (November 28), Switzerland (December 2)
Manager: Dragan Stojkovic (Serbia)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 2 / Group stage – 2010, 2018
In a nutshell: Failed to qualify for Euro 2020 but won their group to force Portugal through the play-offs. Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Luka Jovic and Dusan Tadic provide solid attacking options.
Casually drop into conversation: Serbia lost none of their eight qualifying matches — the first time they remained unbeaten in a qualifying group for a major tournament (World Cup/Euros) since qualifying for the 2006 World Cup.


How they qualified: UEFA Group C winners
FIFA world ranking: 14
Fixtures: Cameroon (November 24), Brazil (November 28), Serbia (December 2)
Manager: Murat Yakin (Switzerland)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 11 / Quarter-finals – 1934, 1938, 1954
In a nutshell: Undefeated in qualifying, twice holding four-time world champions Italy on way to group summit. Disciplined, organised and usually no pushovers.
Casually drop into conversation: Switzerland have reached their fifth finals in a row, setting their longest run of consecutive appearances in the tournament.


How they qualified: CAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 37
Fixtures: Switzerland (November 24), Serbia (November 28), Brazil (December 2)
Manager: Rigobert Song (Cameroon)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 7 / 1990 quarter-finals
In a nutshell:
 Squeaked past Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria on away goals and capable of springing another surprise somewhere down the line. Toko Ekambi scored 18 goals in all competitions last season, while Andre Onana has talked up his team-mates’ togetherness.
Casually drop into conversation: Cameroon have played more matches at the World Cup than any other African nation (23).

Group H

Portugal-Cristiano-RonaldoCristiano Ronaldo took his all-time men’s international goal tally to 117 this year. (Photo: Getty Images)


How they qualified: UEFA play-off Path C winners
FIFA world ranking: 8
Fixtures: Ghana (November 24), Uruguay (November 28), South Korea (December 2)
Manager: Fernando Santos (Portugal)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 7 / Third – 1966
In a nutshell: The Euro 2016 winners needed the play-offs to reach Qatar after finishing behind Serbia but a squad that includes Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Cristiano Ronaldo is always going to be a threat.
Casually drop into conversation: Portugal are one of just five European teams to have made an appearance in every World Cup edition since 2002, alongside England, France, Germany and Spain.


How they qualified: CAF third round winners
FIFA world ranking: 60
Fixtures: Portugal (November 24), South Korea (November 28), Uruguay (December 2)
Manager: Otto Addo (Ghana)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 3 / 2010 quarter-finals
In a nutshell: Back on the world stage — at the expense of Nigeria, thanks to Thomas Partey’s goal — after failing to reach Russia. Former Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton is part of the Black Stars staff as a technical adviser.
Casually drop into conversation: Ghana have found the net in each of their last five World Cup games.


How they qualified: CONMEBOL third place
FIFA world ranking: 13
Fixtures: South Korea (November 24), Portugal (November 28), Ghana (December 2)
Manager: Diego Alonso (Uruguay)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 13 / Champions – 1930, 1950
In a nutshell: The 2018 quarter-finalists may still rely heavily on thirty-somethings Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez and Diego Godin but there is emerging talent in the form of new Liverpool signing Darwin Nunez, Fede Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur.
Casually drop into conversation: This is only the second time that Uruguay have participated in four consecutive World Cups  after 1962, 1966, 1970 and1974.

South Korea

How they qualified: AFC third round Group A runners-up
FIFA world ranking: 29
Fixtures: Uruguay (November 24), Ghana (November 28), Portugal (December 2)
Manager: Paulo Bento (Portugal)
World Cup appearances / best performance: 10 / Fourth place – 2002
In a nutshell: Stunned Germany in Russia but failed to get out of group. Son Heung-min might have been snubbed for inclusion in the 2021-22 Premier League Team of the Year but is sure to dictate whether his side are likelier to fly home early or reach an ambitious last-eight target.
Casually drop into conversation: This is South Korea’s 11th World Cup tournament — the most of any Asian nation.

Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea: Mount fires brace to seal Potter’s 5th consecutive win; Man Utd 0-0 Newcastle: Ten Hag’s man not enough to find the net; Leeds vs Arsenal still ongoing after technical corruption

Follow Apex Football’s live blog for coverage of this afternoon’s Premier League clashes, including Manchester United vs Newcastle, Aston Villa vs Chelsea, Leeds vs Arsenal and Southampton vs West Ham.

Leeds vs Arsenal
Arsenal breath a huge sigh of relief as Bamford drags it wide from 12 yards out.
The Penalty was awarded after Saliba’s hand-ball.

FT: Aston Villa 0-2 Chelsea
Mount fires brace to seal Potter’s 5th consecutive win

FT: Man Utd 0-0 Newcastle United

It finishes goalless at Old Trafford.
Howe’s comments in the weeks about Newcastle being the size of United one day look rather fitting now.
It was a very even game at Old Trafford. The visitors probably had the best chance of the game when Almiron hit the crossbar in the first half, but United piled on the pressure after the break.
Antony was brilliant on the right but was given no room to cut in and his crosses were dealt with well.
The result leaves United fifth and Newcastle sixth in the league, still seperated by one point.

Leeds vs Arsenal
HALF-TIME at Elland Road
The Gunners going into the break with the lead thanks to Bukayo Saka’s 35th minute powerful strike. 
It’s been an enthralling encounter and Leeds have had chances of their own to get on the scoresheet.

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
65′ – GOAL! Mount Chelsea’s lead

What a free-kick that is!
Mount steps up from 30 yards or so and finds the top right corner. Martinez should be doing better there but the Chelsea midfielder will not care one bit.

Leeds vs Arsenal back underway!
35′ – GOAL! Saka puts Arsenal ahead

Just how did he get that in?
Rodrygo’s attempted switch is intercepted by Saka who finds Odegaard. The Norwegian returns the favour and Saka smashes it in from the tightest of angles.

Leeds vs Arsenal back underway!
After a long 38 minute delay, the match resumes with a Leeds throw

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
31′ – Incredible save by Kepa Arrizabalaga!!
It’s probably the best save you will see all weekend. Bailey delivers a superb cross and it’s headed by Ings, but the Chelsea goalkeeper denies him with a pointblank save.

Leeds vs Arsenal update
Referee Chris Kavanagh has come out with the ball and he bounces it on the line of one of the goals to check if the technology works.
A few players are out and going through warm ups.

Man Utd vs Newcastle

Ronaldo makes a good run and is played in behind the defence.
He looks to lift the ball over the keeper but doesn’t quite it right and it goes over.

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
Quiet Villa Park

Mount’s early goal looks to have stunned the home crowd. You could almost hear a pen drop at Villa Park!
Chelsea are well on top and they are enjoying the lion share of possession.

Man Utd vs Newcastle

Trippier’s free kick hits the wall but it falls nicely for Joelinton, who volleys it against the crossbar.
He then hits the rebound goalwards and De Gea makes a good save.
The resulting corner is whipped into a good area but comes to nothing.

Man Utd vs Newcastle
23′ Newcastle free kick

Newcastle win a free kick in a dangerous area just outside the box.
Trippier stands over it.

Man Utd vs Newcastle
17′ Newcastle providing an aerial threat
The visitors have looked dangerous from headers in the box.
Something for United to watch out for.

Leeds vs Arsenal suspended
After a long seven-minute delay, the game is suspended as communication issues between the referees continue. It’s quiet bizarre situation.

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
6′ GOAL!!! – Mount gives Chelsea the lead
It’s a goal Mings will want to forget about. With the ball falling down from the sky, the Villa defender bizarrely heads it back towards his own goal and Mount is there to take advantage.

Man Utd vs Newcastle
6′ Schar looks hurt
Fabian Schar looks hurt after colliding with the advertising hoardings.
Newcastle are forced to defend a corner with ten men as re receives treatment.
The defender then rejoins play, he looks OK>

Leeds United vs Arsenal
3′ – Delay at Elland road

There’s a communication issue with VAR and the game is momentarily paused. Both managers are doing a team talk…

Man Utd vs Newcastle
3′ Chance for Fred
Bright move from United as Sancho comes forward down the left.

His initial cross is dangerous but can’t find anyone, but the ball eventually falls to Fred outside the box, who hits it wide.

First chance of the game.

Aston Villa vs Chelsea
2′ – Fast start by Villa
Ings delivers a cross that goes beyond Kepa’s grasp before being cleared away by Kovacic. It eventually comes out to Luiz, whose effort is easily held by the Chelsea keeper.


All four games are now underway. We’re in for an intriguing afternoon to say the least…

Man Utd kick off comes after Sir Alex Ferguson presents awards to David De Gea and Cristiano Ronaldo. Two of his wiser investments.

United get things underway in this half.

500 Manchester United games for David De Gea

It’s been a rollercoaster for the Spanish goalkeeper.

He could play an important role this evening.

15 minutes to go

We’re closing in on kick off now in Manchester.

The players are starting to warm up.

Man Utd starting XI vs Newcastle

Ronaldo parts with Sancho in lead Man Utd starting XI as Rashford benched. Eriksen left out due to illness.

Ronaldo makes first Premier League start since August as Portuguese forward returns to Ten Hag’s XI .

Newcastle starting XI vs Man Utd

Bruno Guimaraes starts for Newcastle tonight after a stunning start to the season for the midfielder.

Howe said of him earlier this week: ‘We desperately want Bruno to be happy here, to enjoy his football and see a long term vision.

‘We want to build a team. We’re in the very early stages of that so we don’t want to disrupt the group we have, we want to add quality – that’s the aim.’

Chelsea team news

Graham Potter makes three changes from the last outing against AC Milan.

Cucurella, Loftus-Cheek and Havertz replace James, Jorginho and Koulibaly.

Leeds team news

Luis Sinisterra returns from his one-match suspension and he replaces Patrick Bamford.

Southampton team news

Stuart Armstrong and Ibrahima Diallo make way for Mohamed Elyounoussi and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Arsenal team news

Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Gabriel, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Aaron Ramsdale all return to the starting line-up after being rested in the Europa League victory over Bodo/Glimt.

The big man starts

Cristiano Ronaldo starts this afternoon after scoring his 700th club goal in his last Premier League outing.

He made a stirring homecoming against Newcastle a year ago. 

‘All successful teams have strong home records’

Erik ten Hag: ‘All successful teams have very strong home records and we absolutely have to build that at Old Trafford.

‘Already this season we’ve produced impressive displays against Liverpool and Arsenal to get important victories.

‘Visiting teams know they will be in for tough 90 mins.’

Reece James’ injury

One man who will not feature for the Blues this afternoon is Reece James, who is set to be sidelined for eight weeks after picking up a knee injury in the win over AC Milan.

FA staff are understood to have queried why the defender was allowed to stay in Milan given the potentially serious nature of the injury…

9 goals in 5 matches – Haaland voted August EPL Player of the Month

Man City striker wins award after record-breaking start to his Premier League career

Erling Haaland has been voted the EA SPORTS Player of the Month for August 2022.

Haaland wins the award after an historic first month with Manchester City in the Premier League.

The summer signing scored against West Ham United, Newcastle United, Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest, and got an assist in his other appearance, against AFC Bournemouth.

His nine goals in his first five appearances were the most in the competition’s history, breaking the record of eight previously held by Mick Quinn and Sergio Aguero.

He also become only the sixth player to score hat-tricks in consecutive Premier League appearances, doing so against Palace and Nott’m Forest to be the first to achieve the feat since Harry Kane in 2017.

Haaland is the first player to win the award in his first month in the competition since Bruno Fernandes did so for Manchester United in February 2020.

The 22-year-old topped an eight-man shortlist also including Pascal Gross, Gabriel Jesus, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Martin Odegaard, Nick Pope, Rodrigo and Wilfried Zaha.

He won after the public’s votes on the EA SPORTS website were combined with those of a panel of football experts.

BREAKING: Chelsea sign Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana on a £75m deal

Chelsea have made their latest blockbuster signing official as Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana joins the Blues on a £75m deal

Chelsea announce the signing of Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana have emerged after agreeing a £75million deal. Fofana will become Thomas Tuchel’s seventh summer signing, totalling the Blues’ transfer window expenditure at around £191m with five days remaining.

After drawn-out negotiations and multiple rejected bids, Chelsea finally found a breakthrough in their pursuit of the 21-year-old centre-back earlier this week. And supporters won’t have to wait long to watch the club officially unveil their latest big-money arrival.

According to L’Equipe, Fofana is set to undergo his Chelsea medical on Sunday, one day after Tuchel’s 10-man side defeated Leicester City 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. The France U21 international unsurprisingly didn’t feature for the Foxes after spending the week training away from Brendan Rodgers’ first team.

Fofana is one of the most expensive defender in football history alongside Liverpool general Virgil van Dijk and behind £80m Manchester United captain Harry Maguire. He also only trails Romelu Lukaku, who returned in a £97.5m deal last summer, in the list of Chelsea’s biggest-ever signings.

Tuchel will be delighted to get the signing over the line after his eagerness to sufficiently replace Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, who left Chelsea on free transfers this summer. Fofana and fellow new boy Kalidou Koulibaly join Thiago Silva, Cesar Azpilicueta and Trevoh Chalobah as centre-back options.

Chelsea have been busy this summer, with new owner Todd Boehly aiming to make a splash in his first transfer window at the helm. The Blues have also sanctioned deals for Marc Cucurella (£63m), Raheem Sterling (£50m), Koulibaly (£34m), Carney Chukwuemeka (£20m), Gabriel Slonina and Cesare Casadei (both £12m).

Tuchel still wants to add a forward to his ranks, with talks ongoing for Barcelona forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Chelsea are also linked with Frenkie de Jong, but a midfielder isn’t at the top of the German boss’ priorities in what promises to be a hectic final five days of the summer across the Premier League.

OFFICIAL: Manchester United Complete Signing of Antony from Ajax for €100m

Manchester United have landed their latest summer recruit, after a sensational €100m deal to buy Brazilian winger Antony from Ajax Amsterdam.

Last week the Dutch club rejected an offer of €90m – United’s third bid for the 22-year-old – but talks have continued in recent days and United made a breakthrough on Sunday after a smooth series of discussions. Antony has put pen to paper on a five-year deal which will see him remain at Old Trafford until the summer of 2027, and there is an option to extend for a further year.

The final part of negotiations focused on the structure of the deal, with Ajax settling for a guaranteed €95m plus €5m in add-ons. Antony will become Erik ten Hag’s fifth summer signing and the second-most expensive transfer in United’s history behind Paul Pogba. It will be the largest fee received by a Dutch club.

Antony was once again left out of the Ajax squad for Sunday’s game at Utrecht as talks between the clubs continued.

What has Antony said?

On Friday, in an interview with Italian journalist Fabrizio Romano on YouTube, Antony said: “Since February of this year, my agents came to Amsterdam to inform Ajax of my desire to leave the club to face a new challenge and that some interested clubs would arrive and, with them, certainly a great offer.

“During the window months, meetings concluded including a proposal from Ajax for contract renewal. I made it clear once again I want to leave the club.

“Today in a meeting with the board I expressed my interest in leaving the club, this time with a considerable offer on the table. Others have already arrived [but] Ajax always refuses with the argument it only has five days to replace (me).

“I’m not asking [for Ajax] to release me, I am asking Ajax to sell me as the highest bid received by a player who plays in the Eredivisie.”

A move to United would see Antony reunited with ex-Ajax boss Erik ten Hag, who has already recruited defender Lisandro Martinez from his former club.

“I was very happy in Amsterdam, I won titles at Ajax, made friends and built part of my career, but now I reinforce that I am ready and full of motivation to follow my story and my dreams,” Antony added.

“People need to listen to me and understand that my motivation moves me towards happiness. I need this to continue performing at a high level. Ajax will always be in my heart.”

Why Antony is Ten Hag’s man

“For sure, we hope he will be the next star of Ajax.” It was July 2020 and Erik ten Hag, Ajax’s manager at the time, was introducing Antony, the club’s new £20m signing from Sao Paulo.

“We at Ajax are always trying to strive for the top,” added Ten Hag. “So I expect he will do his best to reach that level of expectation. The rest, we will see in the future.”

Ten Hag was right to expect big things of Antony – the Brazilian, only 19 when he agreed his move to Amsterdam, swiftly established himself as one of Ajax’s key players – but even he could not have predicted he might one day take him to Manchester United too.

Antony’s highlights last season