World Cup 2018 player ratings: marks for every single performance in Russia

After every game in Russia we asked our readers to rate the players and here are the verdicts, per game as well as average rating for the tournament The Russia World Cup came to a close with the France v Croatia final at the Luzhniki. There were 63 games before that and after every game we asked our readers to rate every player’s performance.
Here we publish all of them, one by one, and by team in alphabetical order. The players are listed in order of their average rating (in bold and followed by the scores of each of their games in Russia). Continue reading...

‘It’s not coming home’: England’s anthem returns to haunt them

Is what started as an ironic nostalgic chant being seen as hubris by rival nations? When the French midfielder Paul Pogba danced with the World Cup trophy on Sunday night, he laughed as he delivered a message for fans watching on his Instagram video livestream: “It’s coming home.” Meanwhile, his teammate Olivier Giroud, asked by UK journalists how he felt about winning the trophy, responded similarly: “It’s a great feeling. I mean, ‘It’s coming home’! I had to say that.” Has the unofficial anthem of England’s perennially underachieving football team accidentally backfired? Continue reading...

Harry Kane talks of pride as he is confirmed Golden Boot winner

• Kane: ‘There is still stuff I can improve on’
• John Stones: ‘We set a lot of markers and should be proud’ Harry Kane says he has now proved he can perform on every major stage in football after winning the World Cup Golden Boot. The 24-year-old scored six goals at Russia 2018, holding off competition from Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku and France’s Kylian Mbappé among others to win the trophy. Related: Golden Boot standings: top scorers for Russia World Cup 2018 Continue reading...

Gareth Southgate praises FA as he prepares to take England to next level

• Southgate: ‘We have to keep investing in young players’
• ‘FA board were keen we showed signs of progress ’ Gareth Southgate has paid tribute to the Football Association for adopting his long-term vision for England’s future, as the national manager, fresh from steering his young side to fourth place at the World Cup, targets the next stage of his team’s development. Related: FA has right to credit where it is due for England’s advances in Russia | David Conn Continue reading...

Wayne Rooney shines as he makes MLS debut at a club in need of a boost

If the former England captain was thinking about what could have been at the World Cup, he didn’t show it as he took to his new life in MLS with relish For the first two weeks of his new life in America, Wayne Rooney lumbered sheepishly though his DC United press events, mumbling the usual banalities. But then came Saturday night, and his MLS debut, which was also United’s first game in their new stadium. He stepped on the pitch in the 59th minute and suddenly it was obvious to everyone that he was anything but ordinary. Rooney is nearing the end of his career and came to the United States straight off a vacation, yet he was the best player in DC’s 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. He sprayed passes to his teammates with such precision and velocity that they sometimes seemed surprised to see the ball coming. Continue reading "Wayne Rooney shines as he makes MLS debut at a club in need of a boost"

Kieran Trippier offered freedom of Bury after World Cup success

Footballer became third England player ever to score in semi-finals with free-kick goal England player Kieran Trippier is to be awarded the freedom of his home town of Bury after his stellar World Cup performance. The 27-year-old defender became only the third England player to score in a World Cup semi-final when his free-kick put Gareth Southgate’s men 1-0 up against Croatia on Wednesday. Continue reading...

FA deserves a pat on the back for England’s progress under Southgate | David Conn

Ruling body has been trying to raise playing standards for more than 20 years and its overhaul finally bore fruit in Russia One of the early dates in the diary for the Football Association’s management team after their unexpectedly heartening World Cup campaign is with the parliamentary committee which has serially bashed England’s governing body over the years. The chairman, the Conservative MP Damian Collins, who led a vote of no confidence in the FA only last year – attended by just 17 MPs – has called them to account for the proposed sale of Wembley Stadium. But the mood in the room should be different this time from the habitual, ritual excoriation. Continue reading...

Footballers coming home … with fourth place and no fanfare

England’s World Cup campaign ended in anti-climax, but this was a team that inspired the nationEngland’s World Cup squad will arrive at Birmingham airport this afternoon to a notable lack of fanfare, despite their exploits in Russia uniting most of the nation behind them. Supporters have been warned to stay away from the airport as there is no official welcome-home party, or plans for an open-top bus parade. Some are planning to make the journey anyway, proving how much they have captured the public imagination over the past five weeks. Continue reading...

Harry Maguire turns thoughts to Euro 2020 after World Cup heartache

• ‘When the Euros come around the fans will be excited again’
• Tripper says England team os ‘very special’It was 70 minutes after the final whistle when Gareth Southgate re-emerged from the tunnel at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium after completing his post-match team talk and media duties. Hundreds of fans had remained following defeat by Croatia in extra time. At full volume they sang an adaptation of the Atomic Kitten hit Whole Again. “Southgate you’re the one, you still turn me on,” they serenaded. Throughout this unexpectedly successful campaign, Southgate has sought to deflect praise away from himself and on to the players, support staff, anyone but himself. He looked slightly embarrassed but clapped along and performed a worship signal. Continue reading...

Gary Lineker: ‘The adulation at home will make them feel a bit better’

The BBC presenter and member of the Italia 90 squad says England are on the verge of being ‘exceptionally competitive’ Gary Lineker says he felt like a German on Wednesday evening inside Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium as he willed England to reach penalties, so confident was he in their ability to cope with the pressure of a shootout. As part of the Italia 90 team which suffered the agony of a penalty shootout defeat when England had last reached a World Cup semi-final 28 years ago, it was an unsettling sensation for Lineker to be hankering for spot-kicks again. Against Colombia in the last 16, they won a penalty shootout for the first time at a World Cup with only Jordan Henderson having his effort saved and Jordan Pickford making a vital save. Continue reading...

Even brighter England future? Players who could break through and shine

Ryan Sessegnon, Jadon Sancho and Phil Foden are among those who hope to force a way into Gareth Southgate’s plans The right-back, 19, progressed through the national age groups to be selected for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad on the back of an eye-catching campaign for his club. He was excellent while earning a second cap in the group game defeat by Belgium. He is quick, strong and with huge potential taking set plays and the only barrier between the Champions League finalist and the England first team has been the excellence of Kieran Trippier, but Alexander-Arnold represents the long-term future. Like Ruben Loftus-Cheek he will have gained from his experiences in Russia and has done nothing but impress, on and off the pitch, at the World Cup. A third cap surely awaits in Saturday’s third-place play-off. Continue reading...

No more tears or pain now – this young England team deserve our applause | Barney Ronay

A young, unheralded bunch of players have gone further than those before who were considered more obviously talented, more golden, more authentic Leave the flags out. Have another glass. Take another look, if you can, at those moments from Kaliningrad to Moscow when this capable England team played above itself and turned a drowsy, toxic summer back home into something else. Related: Zagreb rocks: ‘We have heart, we are proud and we have been forged in war’ Continue reading...

Gareth Southgate says ‘biggest game for a decade’ justified resting key players

• England manage only one shot on target against Belgium
• Southgate: ‘Colombia is biggest game for a decade for England’Gareth Southgate described the match against Colombia on Tuesday being England’s “biggest game for a decade” as justification for a weakened selection and a reluctance to bring Harry Kane off the bench in the defeat by Belgium. The captain sat out the 1-0 defeat in Kaliningrad that secured Belgium’s leadership of Group G. An England side sporting eight changes from the thrashing of Panama had their momentum checked by Adnan Januzaj’s goal early in the second half. Southgate’s rejigged team managed a solitary shot on target, with Thibaut Courtois denying Marcus Rashford an equaliser. Continue reading...

England beaten by Belgium in World Cup and face Colombia in last 16

Perhaps, trying to be optimistic, it may work out better this way, after all. Maybe England will be grateful later in this tournament that they have avoided the possibility of a quarter-final against Brazil. And, without wishing to get too far ahead, perhaps this defeat will not jar quite so much if England can find themselves in a position where it is Sweden or Switzerland trying to prevent them reaching the semi-finals rather than, in theory, the five-time world champions. Alternatively, it may just be that England come to regret the night Gareth Southgate chose to field a vastly changed line-up – a vastly weakened one, too, on this evidence – when the reward for holding on to their place at the top of Group G would have been a tie against Japan in the first round of knockout matches. Continue reading...