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Arsene Wenger reveals update on World Cup 2026 group stage plans

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Arsene Wenger has admitted that FIFA could decide against implementing three-team groups for the expanded 2026 World Cup.

The finals will expand from 32 teams to 48 starting with the 2026 tournament held in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

It had previously been suggested that in order to accommodate these extra sides, the group stage would feature 16 groups of three teams, with the top two going through and into a last 32 stage.

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However, Wenger, now serving as FIFA’s Director of Global Football, insisted that this has not been finalised and they are exploring a couple of other options.

“This is not decided, but it will be 16 groups of three, 12 groups of four, or two sides of six groups of four, like you organise two 24-team [tournaments],” he said at a press conference on Sunday.

“I will not be able to decide that, it will be decided by the FIFA Council, and I think it will be done in the next year.”

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

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If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

Wenger was criticised for other comments made he made at the conference regarding Germany’s decision to protest at the World Cup, suggesting that this played a role in their group stage elimination at the hands of Spain and Japan.

The Frenchman has been in his current role since November 2019 after leaving Arsenal in May 2018.



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Player ratings as Pedri taps home another winner

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Barcelona made it eight straight victories with an uncomfortable 1-0 win over Girona on Saturday.

Xavi’s side were underwhelming for large parts of the game, profiting mainly from mistakes from the Girona back line, and it was one such error which gifted Pedri with a simple second-half tap-in to secure an ugly victory.

Barcelona, wearing their new fourth kit, had a scare early on as Yan Couto broke through on goal and forced a bit of a scramble inside the opening few minutes, but they quickly wrestled control of the ball and dominated proceedings without doing much in the final third, even spurning a glorious chance gifted to them by some poor play out from Girona’s defence.

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Midway through the half, Barcelona lost Ousmane Dembele to what appeared to be a hamstring injury, minutes before Ansu Fati blazed over from outside the box following some more unconvincing play from Girona’s back line.

That was about as exciting as things got in the first half, with Barcelona guilty of far too many sideways passes and uninspiring moves in possession.

The second half threatened to tell a similar story but, on the hour mark, Jordi Alba’s low cross was inexplicably spilled by Paulo Gazzaniga and gleefully tapped home by Pedri from close range.

Girona nearly found a way back in 12 minutes later as Cristhian Stuani looked set for a header from point-black range, but Ronald Araujo did well to divert the ball away on the line.

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Raphinha had a chance to tap home a goal of his own late on but lost his footing at the crucial moment and collapsed to the ground as Girona cleared their lines.

That mistake was nearly punished five minutes from time as the ball was put on a plate for Ivan Martin just a few yards out, but he slammed what was perhaps the best chance of the game well wide of the goal, allowing Barcelona to escape with all three points.

Girona boss Michel was shown a red card for dissent on the touchline in the dying embers, frustrated that his side could not take advantage of their late dominance in the game.

GK: Paulo Gazzaniga (4); RB: Arnau Martinez (6); CB: Juanpe (5); CB: Bernardo (6); LB: Miguel Gutierrez (7); DM: Oriol Romeu (6); RM: Yan Couto (6); CM: Yangel Herrera (5); CM: Aleix Garcia (6); LM: Rodrigo Riquelme (5); ST: Valentin Castellanos (5)

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Substitutes: Valery Fernandez (6), Toni Villa (5), Cristhian Stuani (5), Joel Roca (N/A), Ivan Martin (N/A)

GK: Marc-Andre ter Stegen – 6/10 – Barely involved at all but had to be alive in the dying embers to keep Barcelona ahead.

RB: Jules Kounde – 5/10 – Offered a little bit going forwards and was impressive at the back, although his limited passing ability was a bit of an issue against a stubborn back line.

CB: Ronald Araujo – 6/10 – Excellent passing and solid enough defensively. Didn’t really need to get out of second gear.

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CB: Eric Garcia – 5/10 – A few shaky moments at the back over on the weakest side of Barcelona’s defence.

LB: Marcos Alonso – 1/10 – Celebrated signing his new contract with one of the most anonymous performances you will ever see.

DM: Sergio Busquets – 4/10 – A lot of sideways passing without any real ambition whatsoever. Too slow for a game like this.

CM: Gavi – 6/10 – Really underwhelming in the first half as he was forced out wide to replace Dembele, but he stepped up his urgency after the break.

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CM: Frenkie de Jong – 5/10 – Made the odd nice run to try and make something happen but wasn’t as impactful as you’d expect. Struggled to find his place in the system.

RW: Raphinha – 4/10 – The most dangerous of any of Barcelona’s forwards but still far too wasteful. Crossing the ball into 5’8 Gavi didn’t work, surprisingly.

ST: Ansu Fati – 2/10 – Couldn’t get involved whatsoever. So stationary when waiting for the ball. Has to do more as the team’s focal point.

LW: Ousmane Dembele – 5/10 – Tweaked his hamstring midway through the first half and had to ask to come off.

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Substitutes

Pedri (25′ for Dembele) – 7/10 – Took a little while to get going but made the telling impact after the break.

Jordi Alba (46′ for Alonso) – 6/10 – A significant upgrade on Alonso. Bagged the important assist, with a little help from Gazzaniga, but wasn’t all that convincing in defence.

Alejandro Balde (81′ for Fati) – N/A

Franck Kessie (88′ for Raphinha) – N/A

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Manager

Xavi – 5/10 – Cut a frustrated figure during the first half as his team offered nothing in attack. Made the right call to swap out Alonso but you didn’t need to be a genius to work that one out. Failed to show the ability to shift tactic to break Girona down.

Player of the match – Pedri (Barcelona)



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CF Montreal’s Kamal Miller focused on 2023 MLS campaign amid European interest

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Kamal Miller has insisted his focus remains on the upcoming MLS season with CF Montreal amid transfer interest.

The 25-year-old center-back has been one of Montreal’s most consistent players in recent years and saw his form rewarded with a key role in Canada’s 2022 World Cup appearance.

Miller’s form has, naturally, caused his name to be linked to a European transfer, and 90min understands there is even interest from clubs in the top 10 leagues and competing in Uefa competitions.

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Should he depart, he would follow in the footsteps of the likes of Alistair Johnston and Djordje Mihailivic to swap Montreal for Europe in recent times. However, Miller isn’t getting ahead of himself and knows he has a job to do at Saputo Stadium.

“Just keep playing well and do what I did last year and, hopefully, something falls into place,” Miller Miller told reporters of his 2023 aims. “I think I did it my first year here. I think I did it my second year here, so it’ll be the same going into this season. Just focus on the opponent here and helping my teammates win games. Everything else will take care of itself.

“The players and the coaches will approach every game the same way,” he continued. “My teammates will help me. I’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win. Hopefully, not only myself but a lot of guys here get exposure and the opportunity to play at the next level.”

Exactly which clubs will emerge as serious contenders for Miller’s signature remains to be seen, but the player is well aware of the level of interest, adding: “They got me on their radar. Now it’s a waiting game.”

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After finishing second in the Eastern Conference last season, CF Montreal will once again look to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2023. Under new head coach Hernan Losada, they kick off the new campaign away at Inter Miami on February 25.



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How to watch the FA Cup in US, Canada & Australia

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We’re getting to the business end of the FA Cup with 32 teams remaining in with a chance of lifting it at Wembley later this year.

It may not be important as it once was, but clubs remain hugely keen to win the competition and fans from all over the world tune in to see who does so.

Here’s how you can watch it on TV if you live across the pond in USA or Canada, or down under in Australia.

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Victories over Blyth Spartans, Oldham, Farnborough and most recently Coventry to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2000.

The Welsh side have enjoyed some historic upsets in the competition, having previously beaten Arsenal and West Ham in the past.

Wrexham are unbeaten in 22 games but that streak will be put to the test against Championship high-flyers Sheffield United. The Blades are second in the league and looking firm favourites alongside Burnley to get promoted to the Premier League.

Both sides are in excellent form and it’s due to be a riveting encounter at the Racecourse Ground.

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ESPN has secured the rights to broadcast the FA Cup in the US with most of the games being exclusively streamed on ESPN+. However, some ties are shown on the free-to-air ESPN channel. For those that want to watch all of the available games, you will have to pay $6.99 a month or $69.99 annually to subscribe to ESPN+.

Up north in Canada, Sportsnet own the right to show the tournament and will broadcast multiple ties in each round. You’ll be able to view some games on their cable channel, but will have to subscribe to their streaming service, SN Now, if you want to catch all of them, and that will cost you $34.99 per month or $249.99 annually.

In Australia meanwhile, watching on a streaming service is the only option with Viacom buying the rights in late 2021 and showing the FA Cup only on Paramount+, a service that requires a monthly $8.99 subscription.

Every fourth round game will be available solely on ESPN+ in the US, with each of them featuring English coverage and five – Fulham vs Sunderland, Preston vs Tottenham, Manchester United vs Reading, Brighton vs Liverpool and Wrexham vs Sheffield United – being shown in Spanish too.

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Sportsnet are showing every tie of the round on their streaming service, SN Now, with Man Utd’s game also on their main TV channel, SN1.

Paramount+ will also show every match of the fourth round in Australia.



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