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World Cup team of the round: Group stage round 2

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We’re through the second round of group fixtures of the World Cup and it is with an extremely heavy heart that we must say goodbye to 10am kick-offs. You will never be forgotten, Serbia versus Cameroon with a bowl of Cheerios.

With it all to play for heading into the final games before the knockout stages, here is 90min’s team of the round – with a grand total of zero players keeping their places from last week’s selection. Where’s the consistency, boys?

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan ’02 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – 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!

Wojciech Szczesny, Jakub Kiwior, Kamil Glik, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Arkadiusz Milik, Przemysław Frankowski

Wojciech Szczesny made the save of the tournament so far / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Take a bow, Wojciech Szczesny. The Polish goalkeeper’s double save on Salem Al-Dawsari’s penalty and the point-blank follow-up from Mohammed Al Burayk was the finest bit of goalkeeping we’ve seen in the World Cup so far. And that’s been a fairly competitive field.

It kept Poland in the lead heading into half-time despite heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia and ultimately won his team the game – giving them a fighting chance of qualifying from the group with Argentina still to play.

Keysher Fuller

Keysher Fuller secured a famous win for Costa Rica / Marvin Ibo Guengoer – GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

The right wing-back was the hero for Costa Rica during their shock 1-0 win against Japan, finding himself as the furthest player forward when the ball broke and curling a left-footed shot into the top corner.

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Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda might have done better but it was still a special moment, especially after the country’s 7-0 humiliation at the hands of Spain.

Harry Souttar

Harry Souttar was a rock for Australia / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

A Stoke City centre-back in the World Cup team of the round? You’re not dreaming. Harry Souttar really was that good for Australia during their 1-0 win against Tunisia.

The man-mountain kept the opposition at bay on his own at times, making heroic last-ditch tackles for fun and getting his head on absolutely everything away. Souttar also impressed with his distribution from the back; he’s far more composed on the ball than he might appear.

Romain Saiss

Romain Saiss was in inspired form for Morocco / James Williamson – AMA/GettyImages

Morocco’s captain was an impenetrable wall for his country alongside West Ham centre-back Nayef Aguerd, who gave Hammers fans a reason to be optimistic when the Premier League returns

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Saiss, however, gets the nod for being a nuisance at the other end – his run across goal led to Abdelhamid Sabiri’s free-kick somehow finding its way past Thibaut Courtois. Led his team with aplomb during their 2-0 over Belgium – a wonderful moment for African football at the tournament.

Jordi Alba

Jordi Alba rolled back the years against Germany / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Jordi Alba defended resolutely against Germany (their backline went to pieces after he was substituted) and provided their only goal with a moment of real quality.

The Barcelona left-back whipped in a beautiful low ball for Alvaro Morata, a chance that even the fairly profligate Atletico Madrid forward couldn’t miss. An honourable mention to Pervis Estupinan, too, who had a wonderful game in Ecuador’s 1-1 draw with the Netherlands.

Casemiro

Casemiro scored a beauty / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Casemiro’s goal did take a deflection, but who cares? He took the chance magnificently. Beyond that, he bossed the midfield all game during Brazil’s 1-0 against Switzerland. You get the sense that he’s the one player this beyond-stacked team, deservedly World Cup favourites, couldn’t actually afford to lose, such is his presence in front of the back four.

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Mohammed Kudus

Mohammed Kudus has been electrifying in the tournament so far / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Ghana’s Mohammed Kudus has been a delight to watch during the group stages and put South Korea to the sword with a fine brace on Monday. The 22-year-old can play anywhere in midfield but is at his best driving forward past defenders. He can finish a bit too, with one goal a glanced header and the other a calmly taken curler into the far corner.

He’s at Ajax for now, but expect the big clubs to come calling once this World Cup is over.

Andrej Kramaric

Andrej Kramaric took his chances brilliantly against Canada / Koji Watanabe/GettyImages

Playing slightly out of position on the right, both here and for his country, Andrej Kramaric was the match-winner during Croatia’s 4-1 victory over Canada on Sunday.

Canada started the brighter of the two teams, even taking the lead, but Croatia came roaring back thanks to two superb finishes from the Hoffenheim forward – one to level the game and the other to put his team 3-1 up and out of sight.

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi stepped up / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He wasn’t going to go quietly now, was he? Lionel Messi stepped up yet again for his country, who were teetering perilously on the brink of elimination and unable to find a goal against Mexico.

Out of nothing, he found one: a glorious low drive into the corner to beat Guillermo Ochoa. What a moment. Enzo Fernandez’s second to seal the crucial victory was every bit just as good, but this game will (quite rightly) be remembered for Messi’s heroics and all the goosebumps they caused.

Kylian Mbappe

For now, France look like the only team that could compete with Brazil / Stefan Matzke – sampics/GettyImages

The most dangerous player in the competition, it’s as simple as that.

Kylian Mbappe scored both goals for France as they edged past Denmark and he remains a one-man attacking force with his pace, movement and poacher’s instincts. As it was four years ago in Russia, this is looking ominously like it will be his tournament.

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Cho Gue-Sung

Cho Gue-Sung was a constant aerial threat for Korea / Jean Catuffe/GettyImages

They might have lost in the end, but South Korea put up one hell of a fight after going 2-0 down against Ghana. Cho Gue-sung inspired the comeback with two brave, headed goals and Korea looked dangerous every time they swung a cross in towards him. It ultimately ended in heartbreak but it was a thrilling fightback in what has been the tournament’s best game.

An honourable mention for Vincent Aboubakar, too, who came off the bench to change the game for Cameroon in their own thriller.



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EPL

When did the Magpies last win a cup?

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Newcastle are planning for success at the highest level following the 2021 takeover by a consortium of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners, and David and Jamie Reuben.

On-pitch fortunes have turned around pretty drastically since Mike Ashley’s departure, with Eddie Howe coming in as manager and the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, Sven Botman and Alexander Isak all arriving for big transfer fees.

The squad’s aim in the near future will be to break the trophy duck the club has endured for many years now. They’re well set in the 2022/23 Carabao Cup, but when was the last time the Magpies brought silverware back to Tyne and Wear?

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Newcastle have not won a domestic trophy since 1955. They did earn silverware in 2009/10 and 2016/17 for winning the Championship, while their European honours are the 1968/69 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1973 and the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2006.

The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup is naturally seen as a predecessor to the UEFA Cup and now Europa League, though the tournament itself did not fall under UEFA jurisdiction. As such, it is not seen as prestigious in the modern age, though Newcastle fans of a certain vintage will almost certainly disagree.

In 1955, the Magpies defeated Manchester City to win their sixth FA Cup. Strikes from Jackie Milburn, Bobby Mitchell and George Hannah gave them victory despite Bobby Johnstone’s equaliser in the verge of half time.

Newcastle have been a consistent feature in the top league in England since the club was founded in 1892. Four league titles and six FA Cups help make the Magpies the ninth-most decorated team with trophies in England.

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Newcastle have never won the League Cup, their closest run being a runners-up finish to Manchester City in 1975/76. They were beaten as strikes from Peter Barnes and Dennis Tueart made Alan Gowling’s equaliser redundant.

They have never won the Premier League in its current format, having come closest in 1995/96 and 1996/97 when they came second behind Manchester United on both occasions.

Newcastle came close to lifting the FA Cup on two occasions in the late 1990s, reaching the finals in 1998 and 1999. However, they came up against English giants Arsenal and Man Utd respectively and they couldn’t make the step up in either final.

Arsenal proved too strong in 1998 as strikes from Marc Overmars and Nicolas Anelka separated the two sides, while another 2-0 defeat came a year later when Teddy Sheringham and Paul Scholes downed Alan Shearer and co.

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Man Utd close to signing Marcel Sabitzer on loan from Bayern Munich

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Man Utd are close to signing Marcel Sabitzer from Bayern Munich on a loan deal until the end of the season, 90min has learned.

United have moved for Sabitzer on transfer deadline day following the news that Christian Eriksen will be out until late April or early May with an ankle injury sustained in the FA Cup win over Reading on Saturday.

The Dane’s injury leaves United light in the midfield department, with Donny van de Beek also out for the remainder of the season with an injury of his own.

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Sabitzer, 28, boarded a flight to Manchester from Munich on Tuesday evening after an agreement of a straight loan deal was largely fleshed out between the two clubs, and the player has also agreed personal terms. 90min reported earlier in the day that Sabitzer was “very excited” about the potential move to Old Trafford.

The club were not planning to move for a new player prior to the deadline, though the severity of Eriksen’s injury has convinced Erik ten Hag to push for United to act, as they chase a place in the Premier League’s top four and attempt to win their first trophy since 2017. They are currently competing on four fronts.

United have until 11pm GMT to push through the transfer before the deadline, though could request a short extension from the Premier League to complete the deal if necessary.

On this deadline day edition of TPL, Scott Saunders & Rob Blanchette discuss Man Utd’s move for Marcel Sabitzer. If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast, and subscribe on YouTube!

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EPL

List of titles in Magpies history as they chase Carabao Cup 2023

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Newcastle United fans are certainly enjoying their season so far as they fight it out for a place in the Champions League places, but things could get even better as they remain in the mix for a trophy.

The Magpies are in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and they have got a 1-0 lead over Southampton to take into the second leg. They are likely to be facing Manchester United should they reach the final, a team in direct competition with them for a top-four place.

When was the last time that Newcastle fans were able to cheer their team being the champions of something?

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The most recent time that Newcastle fans were able to celebrate a trophy was in 2017, although it was one that they wish they weren’t contesting in the first place. They got back into the Premier League by winning the Championship in the 2016/17 season.

You’ll have to be chatting to some of the much older Newcastle fans to here stories about Newcastle winning the FA Cup, though. Their last silverware recognised as a major trophy was back in 1969 when the Magpies lifted the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – which is these days known as the Europa League.

Whilst Newcastle fans may be set for a lot more success in the near future, it is a very long time since their fans travelled down to Wembley en masse for a cup final. That was back in 1999 when they were beaten 2-0 by Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

That is why heading down for a potential Carabao Cup final would be a first for so many of the current Newcastle fan base and they would certainly be travelling in great numbers.

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For the League Cup itself, they have only been in that final one time before. That was in 1976 and it also ended in defeat, this time to Manchester City.

Newcastle have not exactly sailed through to the semi-final of the Carabao Cup. They needed a penalty shoot-out to knock out Crystal Palace before narrowly beating Bournemouth 1-0.

The quarter-final was more simple as they beat Leicester City 2-0, and a dramatic game in the semi-final first leg at St Mary’s ended 1-0. They are certainly the favourites to get through to the final with Southampton struggling for form.

The Saints have found a safe haven in the cup competitions but they will have their work cut out to turn it around at St James’ Park.

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Considering Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 away from home in their semi-final first leg, you’d think that they are the team waiting for either Newcastle or Southampton at Wembley.



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