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World Cup team of the round: Quarter-finals

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With the quarter-finals of the World Cup now consigned to the history books, it’s hard to imagine this tournament throwing any more drama our way.

We were treated to four of the most nail-biting quarter-final matches you could ever hope to see, with two going all the way to penalties. But which players really made the difference for their countries in this round?

Here’s 90min’s team of the quarter-finals.

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Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Quentin Gesp and Jack Gallagher to look back on the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia – join us!

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

GK: Dominik Livakovic – Honourable mention to Morocco’s Bono, who pulled off yet more heroics and another clean sheet as his side saw off Portugal. But it’s impossible to overlook Livakovic, owing to his incredible penalty saves in Croatia’s shootout with Brazil.

RB: Josip Juranovic – The Croatian full-back was not dispossessed once against Brazil and won 100% of his duels. A superb performance.

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CB: Jawad El Yamiq – Morocco have the meanest defence at this World Cup, and Real Valladolid defender El Yamiq was at the heart of it against Portugal.

CB: Josko Gvardiol – Gvardiol has been building hype for a couple of years now, but the 20-year-old has well and truly announced himself as a superstar at this World Cup. He was constantly in the right positions against Brazil and looked unbelievably composed in possession.

LB: Marcos Acuna – Cheating slightly with this one, as Acuna operates as a wing-back rather than a traditional full-back for Argentina. Nevertheless, his driving runs down the left flank caused huge problems for the Netherlands and he helped his side maintain their defensive solidity too.

CM: Sofyan Amrabat – Who had Amrabat down as their player of the tournament going into this World Cup? The Moroccan midfielder has been a revelation in Qatar, protecting the back line and progressing play with his press resistance. Considering he’s supposedly been injured for most of the competition, the guy has been absolutely phenomenal.

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CM: Luka Modric – We’re running out of superlatives for Modric now. To command the midfield of a World Cup quarter-final at the age of 37 is simply ridiculous, but somehow the Croatia captain still seems like the most fit and able player on the pitch. He has to be in GOAT midfielder territory now, surely?

CAM: Lionel Messi – Messi’s pass to set up Nahuel Molina was simply ludicrous – the kind of pass only he would be able to find. On top of that, he scored a penalty to make it 2-0, repeated the feat in the shootout and squared up to Wout Weghorst while in the middle of a post-match interview.

RW: Bukayo Saka – England may have fallen short against France, but Saka was absolutely electric. The Arsenal winger had Theo Hernandez on toast and the French players looked noticeably relieved when he was substituted. Whatever happens next, Saka has cemented himself as a key player in this England squad.

LW: Antoine Griezmann – He’s flown under the radar, but Griezmann has been one of the best players at this World Cup. Having dropped deeper into midfield in his later years, he now provides the bulk of France’s creativity and set up both of their goals against England.

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ST: Wout Weghorst – The Netherlands suffered heartbreak in the end, but the introduction of Weghorst changed the game as the Burnley striker grabbed two goals after coming off the bench. He deserved more from this match – a handshake from Messi, for starters.



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EPL

Cody Gakpo reflects on first month at Liverpool

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Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo has opened up on his first month on the books at Anfield, admitting he is still getting used to Jurgen Klopp’s tactics.

The Dutchman was wanted by a number of elite sides, with Manchester United expected to win the race for his signature, but it was Liverpool who snuck in and agreed to pay an initial £35m to bring Gakpo to England.

The 23-year-old, who made his name as a left winger but has spent time as a striker at Liverpool, is yet to score after four appearances for his new side, but he told club media that is it just a matter of getting to grips with his new surroundings

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“My feeling, personally, is everyone in the team has so much quality,” he said. “That is what I see in training and in phases in the games.

“It is also a part of football, that sometimes things don’t work out exactly the way you want them to. We just have to keep improving, working hard, and the quality will come out. Then, you’re going to see the real Liverpool.”

He continued: “From a football perspective, it’s a new environment on the pitch, with new players and a new team. I can tell it’s a really great group. Every day I am looking forward to working with them, to train hard and to play the games. I am trying to adapt as quickly as possible, to improve every day and in the end show the best version of myself.

“Off the pitch, to be honest, I haven’t been in the city so many times yet. Most of the time I have been in the hotel. I am moving this week, actually. That’s also something I’m looking forward to.”

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Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Gakpo also confessed that he is still trying to adapt to his new role in Liverpool’s team.

“It is a little bit different to what I’m used to,” the Dutchman admitted. “Normally, I have played on the left for almost the past three years.

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“It’s something I can improve, playing in the striker role, and I want to show my quality there. It’s a great position and playing there makes me more complete as a technical player.





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Fulham launch bid Fluminense midfielder Andre

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Fulham have made a bid to sign Fluminense midfielder Andre, 90min understands.

The 21-year-old has quickly established himself as one of Fluminense’s top players and a number of sides across Europe have expressed an interest in luring him away from his homeland in 2023.

Sources have confirmed to 90min that Fulham have approached Fluminense to try and thrash out a deal, but the Brazilian side are reluctant to part ways with their star player during the 2023 campaign.

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Andre, who has been linked with the likes of Barcelona and Liverpool, has spoken out about the interest and insisted his focus remains solely on his current employers.

“Obviously, I’m focused and very happy,” Andre said recently. “I just renewed my contract until 2026.

“It’s normal to get offers, but I’m focused here on Fluminense and having an excellent season.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

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If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

Andre’s agent, Carlos Leite, also took to Instagram to confirm that the 21-year-old had agreed to remain with Fluminense until the end of the current campaign, which runs over the entire calendar year.

“Thanks to the great work carried out, Andre entered the radars of some of the biggest European clubs and, with that, he has received several enquiries and some official proposals,” Leite wrote.

“However, the player and Fluminense, through president Mario Bittencourt, sealed an agreement for the midfielder to remain at the club at this time, with all the dedication and commitment, always seeking the best for Fluminense in all competitions.”

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Sporting CP manager makes Pedro Porro admission as Tottenham talks continue

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Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim has warned Tottenham that he will not take right-back Pedro Porro out of his starting lineup until a transfer has been 100% agreed.

90min understands Tottenham are confident they will get a deal over the line for the 23-year-old eventually, but Sporting’s reluctance to budge from their asking price of Porro’s €45m release clause has led to some lengthy negotiations which are not yet over.

And while Porro is still contracted to Sporting, Amorim will not hesitate to use the right-back and risk an injury which could see the entire move collapse.

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“Porro does not leave before the game,” Amorim said ahead of Saturday’s Allianz Cup final against Porto. “Clubs have to come first, and as far as I know, a player who is able to play and is signed up by a club, he has to go to games.

“I realise that [negotiations] involve a lot of players’ minds, but the indication I have is that Porro is fit, and the most important thing for me, as a manager, is that if he wasn’t there, there would be someone else. The game cannot be played with just one player. Porro is fit. Whatever has to happen will happen, we are prepared for all scenarios.”

Listen now as Scott Saunders hosts Graeme Bailey and Toby Cudworth to discuss the latest transfer news. On today’s agenda: Dusan Vlahovic, Anthony Gordon, Enzo Fernandes, Amadou Onana, Malo Gusto, Nicolo Zaniolo, Pedro Porro, Weston McKennie, Milan Skriniar, Maiximo Perrone & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Amorim continued: “Is this Porro’s last game at the club? I don’t know. There are a few days left until February 1, then everyone will know if Porro stays or leaves.

“Porro hasn’t left yet. We are scouting, but not everything is easy, you’re in a real hurry to send Porro away!”

Spurs have repeatedly tried to lower Sporting’s asking price for Porro by including at least one player in the deal, but the Portuguese side have been clear about their determination to hold out for the right-back’s release clause – in full.





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