World Cup mascot Zabivaka, a Wolf whose name translates as The Goalscorer, shows that he is no slouch on the dancefloor as he rises to the challenge of replicating some famous football dance celebrations for BBC Sport.
VAR confounds sceptics, the World Cup shows its capacity to unite, Peru and Egypt go out partying and passions run high
This hasn’t been an easy talking point to write. But maybe, in the end, it’s not you. It’s us. The experience of Video Assistant Refereeing in the English season had only pointed one way at this World Cup. The endless delays while a middle-aged man fiddles with his ear. The jeers in the stadium. The complete absence of any information. It all felt like something that would diminish decisively the primary experience of the stadium-going fan. But in Russia it has actually worked well. A quick sprint off to check a screen. Decisions made in seconds not minutes. Less fussicking and prancing about and super-officious officialdom. VAR has prevented rather than created controversy, and has stilled the tedious chunter about decisions, so often a last resort for those who would rather not analyse the actual game. If it does nothing else World Cup VAR has saved us from the grisly spectacle of Neymar’s backward dive against Costa Rica being rewarded with a match-turning penalty. If it makes him stay on his feet just a little more, everyone wins. And meanwhile English football take note. It doesn’t have to be an enormous VAR palaver after all.” Barney Ronay
What threats lie in wait for England in their final group game against Belgium? Who may they come up against?
England face Belgium on Thursday, but would you stick with the same XI or rest players? If you were in charge, who would be in your team?
- Live updates from Russia ahead of the final matches in Groups A and B
- Sweden squad rally behind Durmaz after racial abuse online
- Any comments? You can email or tweet @rrjparkin
One of the significant reasons for Gianni Infantino’s push for an radical change to the group stages from the 2026 World Cup onwards is to prevent the raft of dead rubber games in the group stages; apparently these have blighted tournaments of yore.
So as we enter the final round of pool encounters set your alarms for ‘sleep in’ because there will be nothing of interest ahead from here! Argentina, Argentschmina. They won’t be battling for their lives. And but for Philippe Coutinho or Toni Kroos both Brazil and Germany might have been staring at ignominous exits. Nor will there be any fascinating subplots like Portugal’s former coach Carlos Quieroz standing in the way of his own nation’s progress, as he looks to secure passage for Iran instead. Yes, after all those turgid 0-0 matches we’ve seen at Russia 2018, now comes the dead patch; so walk your pets, catch up with old lost friends, and get round to those last three years of tax returns.
Watch all the best action and funnies from a goal-packed day 11 of the 2018 World Cup, including England’s impressive 6-1 win over Panama, Colombia’s sparkling return to form and an entertaining 2-2 draw between Senegal and Japan.
The Egyptian Football Association says there is “no problem” between it and the national team’s star player Mohamed Salah.
What results do teams need from the final group games to ensure qualification?
In Panama City thousands gather in the early morning to watch the ‘Sele’ take on England and in the hearts of everyone Baloy’s ‘consolation’ makes it 1-0 to La Marea Roja
5am, around the Rommel Fernández Stadium. An unusual encounter on the Vía España for a Sunday before dawn. On the one hand there are those who got up early, gathered in groups of friends and families; on the other night owls who come from nightclubs and bars celebrating their Panamanian Saturday night fever, as a preamble to a historic event: the confrontation of the “Sele” with the inventors of football – the English.
6am, dawn in Panama and the stadium’s parking lot begins to fill to the sound of the Dianas, a tribute to the homeland that combines military rigidity and popular music. Street vendors rush to sell breakfast: hojaldras, carimañolas or tortillas, which they deliver to their customers in napkins and paper bags. The time is approaching.
Sometimes the answer comes by changing the question. Rather than asking whether he should play James Rodríguez – now he was sufficiently recovered from his calf injury to start – or Juan Quintero, and coming up with a fairly obvious response, José Pekerman selected both and was rewarded not merely with a result that keeps alive Colombia’s hopes of making the last 16, but with a performance that made them look like a side that could go a long, long way in the tournament.
Rodríguez and Quintero are contrasting styles of No 10, the modern dynamic runner and the more traditional variant, to be celebrated, perhaps, for what might most politely be referred to as his cerebral approach and economy of movement. Playing them together seemed a major risk, but along with Juan Cuadrado, Colombia’s creative trident picked Poland apart with clinical beauty.