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France beats Poland and more in today’s World Cup Daily Diary

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France’s Kylian Mbappé (left) and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski

France’s Kylian Mbappé (left) and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski
Photo: Getty Images

Today was about England and France eyeballing each other over their respective opponents, with the only drama being whether or not they would get caught looking too far ahead. They most certainly did not, engaging in a “Anything you can do..” dance that set them up for a glossy quarterfinal on Friday. Let’s get into the nuts and bolts.

Game of the day – France 3 – 1 Poland

Either choice would have been acceptable, if I’m allowed to give myself an out or an excuse, as both games followed kind of the same pattern. The chatter the past couple days has been around what to do against a team that’s sitting off of you and trying to nullify your space in midfield, thanks to the US’s struggle against such a side. One answer is, “have Kylian Mbappé.” Sadly, that’s only available to one team in this tournament.

It’s obviously more complicated than that, but not by much. Poland did their usual Poland thing, which was to pack five across midfield and hopefully limit Antoine Griezmann’s access to the ball while keeping both Mbappé and Dembele wide. The Poles actually looked a little more aggressive, a low bar for them admittedly, on the rare times they got the ball and might have had the best chances in the first half. Hugo Lloris had to pull off a great save to keep from shockingly going behind, along with a Raphael Varane goal-line clearance in addition.

But that was about it for Poland’s threat, because they’re Poland. And you can plan to keep Mbappé out wide or burden him with extra defenders, and he’s still going to open you up. To open the scoring for France was a matter of him drawing defenders to him just enough to find an alley to slip a through-ball to Olivier Giroud, which is the unheralded part of his game:

Again, it’s beyond easy and cliche to say goals change games, but when the team that’s the favorite and has been facing a low block all night scores first, it flips everything on its head. Poland couldn’t simply hold out and hope anymore. Which means more space for France, which means Mbappé has more space, which means…

The second goal, which is unfair and rude, got most of the plaudits but the first one is high on the stupid level too. You’re not supposed to be able to beat a keeper, especially one having the tournament that Szczesny was until this point, that effortlessly at the near post. Poland probably thought they had this covered, for just an instant, given that it did look like Mbappé waited too long and had his options narrowed. Except he always has an out, he always has an option. I guess any player always has an option if, “Release a Hadoken of a shot with minimal backlift” is in their holster.

If France has a worry, and it’s hard to tell if they do, it’s that Poland was able to get at them occasionally down their right side, where Jules Kounde looked a little out of place as a right-back. England certainly don’t lack options on the left side of their attack. But then, when you have No. 10 in your attack, are you ever all that worried?

Other results: England 3 – 0 Senegal

It’ll be washed away after the final score, but England did not look great before they took the lead, and just like Poland, Senegal had the best chance with the score at 0-0. Both teams will spend a while wondering what would have happened if they could have finished. On such margins…

Much like France, much like Argentina, much like the US even, England was facing a disciplined opponent whose first, second, and third aim was defending and cutting off space. But whereas France and Argentina called upon otherworldly individual brilliance, England went the otherworldly team brilliance route for their first goal:

This is what the US couldn’t do, but the US don’t have Harry Kane or Jude Bellingham. Bellingham shifts out a little wider and drops a little deeper, Kane does his thing where he drops in deeper but behind the opponent’s midfield line. The England defense feeds a ball through the lines to Kane who can then flick a pass to the on-rushing Bellingham, whose touch is so silky soft your knees just disappear and he can control it at full speed and get to running at the Senegal defense. Henderson follows him through the middle, both goal-side of the midfielders that had been tasked with marking them and keeping them from getting passes from the England defense. Kane completely flips the play on them. .

Much like France, the game flips when England take the lead, as Senegal couldn’t wait around. Whereas the US has Jesus Ferreira only occasionally attempting this, and also having a terminal case of “being Jesus Ferreira” and not Harry Kane. The US midfield wasn’t dedicated enough to dropping deeper or wider to try and either lose their markers or provide space for their forwards to dive into. And they simply don’t have this level of talent. That’s how you get what we got here last week (or Saturday, as it were). This is how you get to be England, prancing to the quarters and looking like a genuine favorite for the whole thing.

Senegal haven’t been great when they have to take the initiative in this tournament, as England really only had to focus on Ismaila Sarr. They were pretty easily picked apart for goals two and three:

Life’s easier when you have Jude Bellingham to dribble through an entire midfield.

England-France is almost too good for a quarterfinal, but that’s our treat. England’s strength, the Rice-Bellingham axis in midfield, is exactly where France have suffered some injuries and are a little inexperienced as a result. Griezmann makes them dangerous but he also leaves them a little lightweight in the middle. But they also have Mbappé, which is the punch-the-game-board answer to everything.

Goal of the Day

It’s a tie between England’s first, a symphony of passing and movement, and Mbappé’s third. We already posted both, so you can decide:

Did VAR fuck anything up?

Not today, Satan.

Did FIFA/Qatar fuck anything up?

No, but now feels like a good time that the broadcast of every game does not need a shot of Gianni Infantino in his fucking suite sitting in his fucking plush recliner every goddamn time. It’s a reminder of how we ended up with this hell tournament. Remember, originally FIFA thought they could hold this thing in the summer in Qatar, because all the people voting on it were not only bagging bribes for millions (allegedly) but they didn’t have to concern themselves with the heat. They would go from their air conditioned hotel suites to their air conditioned limos to their air conditioned skybox at the stadium and back again. Seeing Infantino sitting in one every game he attends is just about the starkest image of how such a thing like this ridiculous tournament could happen, because the guys making decisions are only the types to be sitting in that type of a chair at that portion of the stadium, only making considerations for guys who sit in that type of chair in that portion of the stadium.

Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?

After two weeks it’s getting harder and harder to actually distinguish words Lalas says more than just hearing his voice as a constant drone. It’s aggravating that Fox’s coverage of this has tried to mimic their NFL coverage’s most annoying habit, which is having their analysts not only narrate replays (not their job) but also trying to sound funny and cool while doing it. Lalas’s trick today was while doing postgame highlights of France’s win, attempting to advertise and tease his Power Rankings to follow as if we were waiting for them on the same level of the CFP standings. Power Rankings are a curse upon all sports coverage, and even more so when a dunderhead like Lalas is authoring them and justifying changing them based off one game or one half, and even more so beyond that when he treats them like some final tablet on the state of the game today. NO ONE GIVES A SHIT.



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Mark Cavendish: Two men jailed over knifepoint robbery of cycling star and wife Peta at their home | News News

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Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta were victims of a knifepoint robbery at their home in November 2021

Two men have been jailed for robbing Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish and his wife Peta of their high-value watches in a knifepoint raid at their home.

Intruders wearing balaclavas broke into their home in Ongar, Essex at about 2.30am on November 27, 2021 and threatened to stab the athlete, a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

They took items including two Richard Mille watches with a combined value of £700,000.

Romario Henry, 31, of Bell Green, Lewisham, south-east London, denied two counts of robbery but was found guilty following a trial and sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison.

Ali Sesay, 28, of Holding Street, Rainham, Kent, admitted two counts of robbery and was jailed for 12 years.

“This was serious organised crime,” Judge David Turner KC told the defendants as he sentenced them. “This was no run-of-the-mill domestic burglary by opportunist amateurs.

“This was planned, targeted, orchestrated, ruthless offending aimed at an internationally known sportsman and his wife who happened to be brand ambassadors for exceptionally valuable Richard Mille watches.”

The trial was told that Sesay’s DNA was found on Mrs Cavendish’s phone, which was taken and found outside the property.

The charges were that the accused men robbed Cavendish of a watch, phone and safe, and robbed his wife of a watch, phone and suitcase.

Mrs Cavendish, who like her husband was naked during the robbery, had told jurors she had heard a noise that woke her in the night and went downstairs to investigate.

She said she could see “men’s figures in balaclavas, and they were running towards the bottom of the stairs”, and that she believed there were “between three and five” people.

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

Court artist sketch of Peta Cavendish giving evidence, watched by Judge David Turner, at Chelmsford Crown Court

She told the court she ran back to the bedroom shouting “get back” or “get in” to her husband, who was unable to activate a panic alarm.

Mrs Cavendish said one of the intruders “dragged” Cavendish “from his feet and started punching him”.

One had her husband in a headlock, she said, adding: “One of them held a large black knife to his throat and they said ‘where’s the watches?’ and ‘do you want me to stab you?”‘. She agreed with a suggestion that it was a Rambo-style knife.

Mrs Cavendish said that at the time her husband had been “out of hospital for four days, maybe” after a cycling crash which left him with three broken ribs and a tear to his left lung.

She said that when she went downstairs after the intruders had left, she saw that a patio door was smashed, and Cavendish cut his feet on the broken glass.

Edward Renvoize, prosecuting, said Henry had a previous conviction for supplying drugs in 2012, and for perverting the course of justice in 2013 by “assisting in burning out a vehicle that had been used in a murder as part of a gang enterprise”.

Archangelo Power, for Henry, said the defendant’s brother had been murdered three and a half months before the robbery and that had a “significant bearing on the psychological make-up of the defendant”. Mr Power said Henry had been “on the verge of committing suicide”.

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mark Cavendish and his wife had high-value watches stolen in the robbery

Mr Renvoize said that Sesay had admitted at an earlier hearing to six unrelated firearms offences over the possession of two guns and ammunition, when he had been prohibited by a previous sentence from possessing such items.

The prosecutor said Sesay was arrested at an address in Thornton Heath, south London, on December 16 2021 and officers “had to use a chainsaw to gain access” and saw items, later found to be firearms, being thrown from a window to a neighbouring garden.

The judge jailed Sesay for eight years for the firearms offences, consecutive to the 12-year prison sentence for the robbery, making a total of 20 years. The judge said Sesay had previous convictions including for supply of cocaine and heroin in 2017.

Graeme Molloy, for Sesay, said the defendant was “truly sorry for his role” in the robbery and had admitted his involvement.

Speaking about the firearms offences, Mr Molloy said Sesay claimed the guns were not his but that he had thrown them from the window. Mr Molloy said the guns “were loaded but the cartridge wasn’t in the firing chamber”.

Jurors were told that two other men, Jo Jobson, from Plaistow, east London, and George Goddard, from Loughton in Essex, have been named as suspects in the robbery but have not been apprehended. Jobson was 25 and Goddard 26 at the time of a police appeal last March.

Oludewa Okorosobo, 28, of Flaxman Road, Camberwell, south London, denied two counts of robbery and was cleared by jurors after a trial.





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Eagles’ Nick Sirianni asked if Super Bowl is a ‘must win’ game

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Gotta be a gag, right?

Gotta be a gag, right?
Image: Getty Images

In the Eagles’ Nick Sirianni’s first Super Bowl as a head coach, he experienced one of the true jewels of Super Bowl week: Being asked one of the most ridiculous questions that he will ever hear.

One of the best things that the NFL does is credential almost any and everybody for the artist formerly known as Super Bowl Media Day. Of course no dollar can be left on the table, so since 2016 it has been a Monday primetime event known as Super Bowl Opening Night.

Fortunately, even though the day and name has changed, the spirit of the event remains the same. Some head-shaking questions are asked out of ignorance. Others are from someone trying to be the class clown in a large group.

There has been no Opening Night for the previous two Super Bowls due to the pandemic. The evening was back in full effect on Monday night, and somebody came out swinging. From somewhere in the scrum of people on the floor at the Footprint Center, someone asked the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles if the Super Bowl was a must-win game.

Someone asked what?

The championship game. The final game of the season. The highest rated broadcast on the American television calendar. The game that Rihanna has decided to take her jersey down from rafters and — while worth a billion dollars and also a new mom — spend time rehearsing to perform at.

Sirianni was able to keep a straight face and quickly move past might either the most asinine or possibly the most hilarious question that will be asked all evening

If the person who asked this is mocking the event, then by all means continue. Ask Jalen Hurts if he is happy that the Eagles won the NFC. Maybe ask Travis Kelce if he knows how to spell his last name. Or even better, ask Patrick Mahomes if State Farm truly is the best choice for car insurance.

Either make an artistic display with silly questions, or be escorted out by security. If you’re going to waste peoples’ time at least do it with a sense of humor.



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Chelsea FC: Brilliant Badiashile leading way for new signings as Thiago Silva partnership blossoms

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C

helsea have not conceded a goal in the first 270 minutes that Benoit Badiashile has been on the pitch since his £35million move from Monaco.

His promising early form at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea will hope, hint at better times to come through their new signings.

The arrival of French centre-back Badiashile at the start of last month kick-started a record January spending spree of more than £300m.

After Chelsea were sent spiralling into crisis with defeats by Manchester City and Fulham, Badiashile made his debut in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

After the Blues claimed a further two clean sheets in 0-0 draws away at Liverpool and at home to Fulham, he is building an impressive partnership with Thiago Silva.

Impressive start: Benoit Badiashile has formed a promising partnership with Thiago Silva

/ Getty Images

Badiashile was one of five new signings to feature in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Fulham. He started alongside £106.8m Enzo Fernandez, who started well but faded over 90 minutes, £89.5m Mykhailo Mudryk, who struggled over 45 minutes while carrying a cold, and £30m Noni Madueke, who was bright after being brought on at half-time.

“What a waste of money” was the regular chant from the Fulham fans in the away end.

That felt harsh in Badiashile’s case. With his size and speed, he looks like a perfect partner for 38-year-old veteran Silva.

In addition, he showed the ability to play brilliantly out of Fulham’s well-drilled press and he coped in his duels against Aleksandar Mitrovic.

There is still adaption to be done, as Graham Potter barked instructions about his positioning in relation to Silva.

However, using French to communicate with the former Paris Saint-Germain captain, Badiashile has helped steady the ship in the absence of the injured Wesley Fofana, and with Kalidou Koulibaly out of form.

While still only averaging just 1.05 goals per game in the Premier League, Chelsea will draw more than they win unless their new midfielders and forwards step up.

Arriving in the weeks after Badiashile, the likes of Fernandez, Joao Felix, Mudryk and Madueke have not had as much time to adapt to their surroundings.

With Chelsea still in 10th place and increasingly falling behind in the race to qualify for Europe, they must follow Badiashile’s lead and hit the ground running before time runs out.



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