Wild-eyed fury, urchin’s grin, sheer dynamism – Gianluigi Buffon had it all | Richard Williams

Goalkeeper’s last international was marred by Italy’s disastrous failure to qualify for the World Cup but as the embodiment of the sternest resistance and generosity of spirit, the 39-year-old has few peersGianluigi Buffon was born in Carrara, the Tuscan city where they quarried the marble for Michelangelo’s David 500 years ago. Maybe even now there is a fresh slab being carved out, ready for a statue of Italy’s greatest goalkeeper, who left the international scene in tears this week after his team’s goalless draw with Sweden cost them a place in next summer’s World Cup finals but whose deeds guarantee him a place in the game’s history. What even the most gifted sculptor could never capture would be the sheer dynamism of Buffon’s presence on a football field. You could spend an entertaining 90 minutes just watching the parade of expressions on his face, from wild-eyed fury to an Continue reading "Wild-eyed fury, urchin’s grin, sheer dynamism – Gianluigi Buffon had it all | Richard Williams"

Sports quiz of the week: World Cup losers, Ashes winners and a promise

Who kept a promise? Why is a surfer owed a beer? Where next for rugby? • Try our quizzes from previous weeks

Which country lost to France on Friday, to Australia on Saturday and to Ireland on Sunday?

New Zealand

Wales

Scotland

Papua New Guinea

At which stage have Italy been knocked out at the last two World Cups, in 2010 and 2014?

The group stage

The last-16 stage

The quarter-finals

The semi-finals

The final

Six countries have qualified for the last seven World Cups (going back to 1994): Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain, Mexico and …

Croatia

Sweden

England

South Korea

What did Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts achieve this week?

He was in the Peru team that qualified for the World Cup

He hit a perfect 300 in the World Series of Bowling

He ran 100m in less than 10 seconds at the US Olympic trials

He hit a Continue reading "Sports quiz of the week: World Cup losers, Ashes winners and a promise"

FIFA World Cup Draw to air live on Telemundo Deportes and Universo on December 1

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> The official draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be televised live in the United States on Telemundo Deportes and Universo on Friday, December 1. With the coverage beginning at 9:30am ET, soccer fans in the United States will finally learn which nations will be matched with other countries and what the schedule will look like for the first two weeks of the competition. The level of anticipation for the FIFA World Cup Draw is always intense. And Telemundo Deportes will have their talent and camera crews in Russia at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow to bring the draw live to you across television and streaming devices. The coverage by Telemundo Deportes in Spanish, which will be simulcast on Universo (formerly known as NBC Universo), will reveal which countries will be participating in the Groups for the tournament, which will be played June 15 through July 15, 2018 Continue reading "FIFA World Cup Draw to air live on Telemundo Deportes and Universo on December 1"

Where it went wrong for the teams who missed out on the World Cup

Fans from 21 countries explain why they will be staying at home next summer. Holland were unlucky, Italy were mismanaged and Mongolia were a disaster Five points out of a possible 18 from our games against Belgium, Greece and Cyprus proved fatal. Greece’s late equaliser in Piraeus set the tone. A lifeless goalless draw in the controversial reverse fixture in Zenica didn’t help, but our play-off hopes ended after we squandered a 2-0 lead against Cyprus in Nicosia. The 4-3 home defeat to an already qualified Belgium on that awful pitch in Grbavica ended any hopes we had of pipping Greece in second. Continue reading...

World Cup power rankings: how the 32 qualifiers for Russia shape up | Ed Aarons

The teams who are heading for the 2018 World Cup finals have all been in action over the past week and while Germany and Brazil lead the way there are plenty of other sides who will fancy their chances in Russia Joachim Löw is attempting to become the first manager to win successive World Cups since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo in 1934 and 1938, and his masterplan is nearing completion. The experiment to blood some of Germany’s best young prospects at the Confederations Cup last summer is paying dividends, with Timo Werner emerging as a top-class option to lead the line having scored seven times in 10 international appearances. The draw against France on Tuesday thanks to Lars Stindl’s last-minute equaliser maintained an unbeaten record that stretches back to Euro 2016 against the same opponents and Löw’s side remain the team to beat next summer. Continue reading...