He has won the Ballon d'Or, given to the world's best men's player, a record five times. He would have won it more, too, if it weren't for the fact he has finished second five times to Cristiano Ronaldo, the only other player to win the award more than three times. In his highly decorated career, though, Messi is lacking the one trophy he would happily trade all the rest in for.
I've complained a lot already about how unexciting the draw is for this year's World Cup. There isn't a whole lot of intrigue, and that contributes to what feels like lessened excitement for this year's edition of the world's finest tournament. While I haven't really softened that opinion, Group C sets up as one of the more interesting groups.
The host team always faces immense pressure. For a whole lot of reasons - that we don't need to get into here because we seem to be endlessly surrounded by them - that pressure will be even more intense for the host Russians in the World Cup than for most. It's not that the Russians are viable contenders for the title - that's far from the case. The Russians have spent very heavily for this event, though, and aren't a country that embraces participation medals and feel-good stories.
There is an opinion out there that the draw for the World Cup this year, and therefore the tournament in general, isn't as exciting as it has been in some years. It's hard to strongly dispute that notion, and this group is a good example of why. There are two elite teams in Spain and Portugal, so we should be excited. But in Morocco and Iran we have two hopeless outclassed teams. So, while there could be some drama in which team wins the group though likely not a ton , it feels like it would require a miracle for the advancing teams to be anything beyond the obvious two.
Being the manager is a national team in soccer is among the planet's most thankless jobs. If you win it's not because of you but because of the star players who play for you. But if you lose it's entirely your fault. They have ridiculously bad job security. Because of that they often don't have much loyalty - guys bounce from country to country without a thought as long as there is a paycheck to be had.
As we move closer and closer to the World Cup this year here is a capsule look at eight of the more interesting characters amongst the 32 head coaches in the World Cup field:. The point of the World Cup for teams is obviously to try to win the tournament. Thanks to prop bets, though, there are all sorts of other outcomes that we can bet on - which team will win each group, which teams will advance from each group, how far teams will advance, and so on. One of the most interesting ways to look at things is which team will be the top squad in each geographical region.
BetOnline has odds posted, which means we can do some handicapping. BetOnline has a World Cup prop that is interesting to look at. As it turns out, it likely isn't particularly attractive to bet, but the process of exploring it is interesting - and will fill the days and weeks and months until the World Cup kicks off. Too soon? The World Cup starts June 14 in Moscow when Russia plays Saudi Arabia, and now we know what the schedule looks like for the tournament.
The draw was completed last week, and as usual it provided no shortage of drama and intrigue. Unlike recent tournaments, we were not given a true group of death. The closest we came was having neighbors and rivals Spain and Portugal in the same group, but the other two teams in the group - Morocco and Iran - are far from strong, so both top teams are likely to advance regardless of what happens when they clash.
And other top times like Brazil, Argentina and France have little to complain about. The FIFA World Cup in Russia promises to be a bit of an odd one, so it only seems fitting that the draw for the field was a bit odd, too.
There is no real group of death, and all of the top teams seem to have a very clear path through to the elimination rounds. Anything can happen at a World Cup, of course, but on paper right now this sets up as the least suspenseful and intriguing opening round in a long time. While no groups are truly awful, there are four that stand out as tougher than the other four.
Here's a look at each Odds to be one of the two teams to advance out of the group are from BetOnline. The Confederations Cup kicks off this week in Russia. It is the test event for the World Cup that takes place a year before the big event in the host country. It features the host, the defending champion, and the current champion of each of the six international confederations. It's always a tough tournament to call, but this year it is just a little bizarre.
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The Central American team opt for the long pass as the ball is pumped 60 yards into the box, but the Greek centere-backs are too much for Campbell as he is crowded out before Karnezis collects. It's not a great one but it keeps the stats ticking over as Karagounis' yard strike just has enough power to reach Keylor Navas in the Costa Rica goal, who puts his newspaper down neatly before making the save.
Strange that. I doubt the crowd saw it, they are too busy starting a Mexican Wave - I'm surprised it's taken them this long. No says the referee and it's a good decision as Karagounis' mad dash across the box to bring down Campbell was JUST outside the box on the right hand side. I have to admit I'm clutching at straws here for action. There, Sokratis manages to nod towards goal, but under pressure glances the ball wide of the target.
The same could go for the stands too with a brass band starting to go up around the ground. It's not 'Great Escape' being played but it certainly had to make me double check I wasn't watching a typical Three Lions scrap. Credit where it's due though. Christodoulopoulos cuts in from the left flank, and all on his own beats two defenders before firing low and narrowly wide. Costa Rica break dangerously through the centre before the ball is fed to Christian Bolanos on the left side of the box.
Cristian Gamboa is the most alert to a loose ball breaking on the right but despite charging dangerously towards the box, his low shot across goal is dragged well low and wide. Remember to get the most out of our live coverage by following all the action with our excellent Match Zone. In addition there are heat zones for every player as well as detailed maps of all the goals as they go in.
Click on the above link for more. Two Fulham No. Out come the teams in Recife. Unlike the earlier game, a blazing hot sun won't be a problem for these players with the evening already setting in. I just wonder if either side will throw something in attack to get the job done in 90 minutes.
Costa Rica would be my bet, it's where their strengths are. Most of those present in yellow Brazil shirts, kicking back and enjoying the cooler evening air. The eight seats to my left in the Press Box are empty. The bloke to my right has a terrible cough. Little did Andreas Samaris know he would help drag Greece towards the last 16 when he started as a sub against Ivory Coast last time out. But after coming on in the 12th minute, the midfielder scored his team's first goal of the tournament before playing a starring role in their march towards the knock-out stages for the first time.
Of course the winner out of Greece and Costa Rica will go through to the quarter-finals for a tricky looking fixture against Holland. Louis van Gaal's team had already marked themselves out as a team to watch before this game, but a superb comeback to score two late goals helped them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a win against Mexico.
So Oranje are resilient as well as brilliant then? Click on the above link for the full match report in an incident packed last 16 match. Are you already committed to the long game for this one? It's two of the teams many didn't fancy to reach the last 16 going head-to-head, so will they produce a cautious display to prevent them blowing a rare chance to reach a World Cup quarter-final? Click here for more on that offer and other potential bets.
Just the one change for Greece who sneaked into the last 16 thanks to a last-gasp winner in a victory over Ivory Coast. Panagiotis Kone was an early injury casualty in that game and he is replaced in the line-up by the man who came on for him and scored against the African side, Andreas Samaris. Not me that's for sure. But can they get past a Greek side who are starting to make a habit of grinding out important victories? Team news up next.
Costa Rica have already matched their best performance at a World Cup to reach the last 16 after achieving the feat in , and will target a last eight spot having impressively topped a group containing Uruguay, Italy and England. The finals in Brazil marks the first time Greece have ever progressed from the group stage following failures in and , and despite scoring only two goals in the group stage they will be confident of progressing further in the tournament.
Bet on the penalties as they happen! Costa Rica restart the second half following the short break. From Sportsmail's Matt Barlow in Recife. Moments before Navas was booked for time wasting - as such there will be five added minutes. It's all Greece now though, and I would think they have a few more chances to equalise yet. On the other side of the coin, do the Central Americans have it in them to hold out? It's superbly taken and Costa Rica's first shot on target.
Clinical if nothing else! From former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter. Can we just skip straight to the penalty shoot-out? We seem to be meandering towards a goalless first half. I'm thinking about penalties already. A corner swung towards the goal is straight at Karnezis who catches with ease. Greece survive the free-kick whipped into the box.
It features the latest line-ups, formations, match stats and a player comparison tool. Here's his heat map from the match, where he appeared to feature across the midfield. Full line-ups from the Arena Pernambuco. Referee: Benjamin Williams Australia. If any match is heading for penalties, it's this one surely?
Hands up, who thought these two teams would line up in the last 16? Share this article Share. Most watched Sport videos Tottenham Liverpool: Klopp reacts to his sides 'deserved' win Thomas Tuchel not scared of challenge ahead at Chelsea Arsenal v Manchester United: Premier League match preview Mikel Arteta discusses Aubameyang absence due to Covid rules Klopp loses his cool with the press over defence dilemmas Steve Bruce: Newcastle 'thoroughly deserved' victory at Everton Jesse Lingard on loan to West Ham: In profile Mikel Arteta labels draw with Manchester United a 'fair result' Mourinho says loss to Liverpool is due to 'individual mistakes' Jose Mourinho addresses Harry Kane injury Solskjaer backs strikers to rediscover form after fresh title setback Carlo Ancelotti cites a lack of 'motivation' for Everton defeat.
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