first_img0Shares0000Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could hold Germany’s World Cup hopes in his hands © AFP/File / LLUIS GENEPARIS, France, May 13 – With the 2018 World Cup in Russia starting in a month, AFP Sport takes a look at how the biggest names — who between them have won 13 of the last 20 tournaments — are shaping up:– Germany – Germany’s build-up has been marred by uncertainty as to the fitness of first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. The 32-year-old Bayern Munich man has been on the sidelines since suffering a fractured foot in September.“I do not think it’s imaginable that I go into such a tournament without match practice,” Neuer admitted last week. His natural replacement is the excellent Marc-Andre ter Stegen of Barcelona.Low has a core of the team that won the 2014 title, and can also call on the likes of Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner. Marco Reus will hope to be fit this time too.After winning all their qualifiers, Germany have failed to win recent friendlies against England, France, Spain and Brazil. Nevertheless, they are the world’s top-ranked side and almost always deliver at the World Cup.– Brazil –In 2014, Brazil’s hopes rested on the shoulders of Neymar, and the back injury he suffered in the quarter-final win over Colombia sparked the meltdown which led to the 7-1 humiliation against Germany in the semis.Fast forward four years and the nation is again sweating on his fitness. The world’s most expensive player is recovering from a foot injury suffered playing for Paris Saint-Germain in February.The absence of his PSG colleague Dani Alves with a knee injury is a huge blow too, but Brazil still look far better now under Tite than they did in 2014.They comfortably topped South American qualifying and there is greater strength in depth. Add to that a kind-looking draw, and Brazil have a genuine chance of a sixth title.– Spain –After poor showings in their last two major tournaments under Vicente del Bosque, Spain are on the up again under his successor Julen Lopetegui.The former goalkeeper has yet to lose a game in charge, with Spain dropping just two points in qualifying and recently destroying Argentina 6-1 in a friendly.With Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique still there in front of David de Gea, they have one of the best defences in the business. Further forward, it will be difficult to stop the likes of David Silva and Isco in full flow, and then there is Andres Iniesta.“We are delighted that he keeps playing this well and are excited about him keeping it up at the World Cup,” Lopetegui recently told FIFA.com.– France –France fell short on home soil at Euro 2016, losing in extra time to Portugal in the final. That increases the pressure on coach Didier Deschamps to deliver this time with a gifted squad.Deschamps’ team won their qualifying group despite some unconvincing performances, including a goalless home draw with Luxembourg, and the coach has his critics.To silence them he needs to find the right system to bring the best out of his squad, especially in attack, where Antoine Griezmann is the main man but teen sensation Kylian Mbappe will be one to watch too. This is also surely the stage for Paul Pogba to really step up.– Argentina –Lionel Messi’s Argentina coach has suggested the star ‘can carry the team on his shoulders’ at the World Cup © AFP/File / Juan MabromataAfter their defeat in the 2014 final, this is Lionel Messi’s big chance to finally get his hands on the trophy.However, Messi only rescued a shambolic qualifying campaign by scoring a vital hat-trick in Ecuador in the last game to take the team to Russia. There are huge doubts about the rest of Jorge Sampaoli’s squad, and the coach recently said Messi “can carry the team on his shoulders.”But Sampaoli must also get the best out of the many undoubted talents at his disposal, including Sergio Aguero and Paulo Dybala, to help his side’s chances of reaching the latter stages.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

first_imgMOST READ NEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding “We’re still adjusting to each other, hopefully by the second game we can play a lot better,” said Madayag. Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City LATEST STORIES Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Fillling up the positions are a bunch of rookies and former Team B members in Bettina Abella, Sydney Eleazar, Candice Gequillana, Jenelle Lo, Vanessa Baguiwet, Annarie Basa, and Dani Ravena.“We’re still gelling as a team,” said Madayag who had four points against the Lady Tamaraws. “We still fought, it’s just that we couldn’t get away from all the errors because we really had a lot of errors earlier.”Ateneo committed 40 errors in the match, and even FEU’s last point were off a Lady Eagle miscue when Kat Tolentino sent the ball beyond the Lady Tamaraws’ baseline.And it wasn’t just the errors that plagued Ateneo, the Lady Eagles also allowed FEU to score 20 service aces, with the last three proving to be crucial for the Lady Tamaraws.With the score tied at 9, Toni Rose Basas found the sweet spot in Ateneo’s defense three straight times while positioned at the service zone that put FEU up 12-9.ADVERTISEMENT View comments AFP official booed out of forum SMB’s Fajardo expects tougher games ahead after squeaker over Magnolia “It’s better to lose at first than when you just keep on winning and then suddenly you lose one,” said Madayag in Filipino Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.“This was a learning experience for us because we knew what we still have to improve on and work on after this loss.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutAnd the area of improvement Madayag was pointing to was their chemistry on the floor.Almost half of the team’s roster is new with Jia Morado, Kim Gequillana, Mich Morente, Gizelle Tan, Jamie Lavitoria, and Ana Gopico having left the Lady Eagles’ roost. FILE — Maddie Madayag. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netAteneo had a disappointing start to its campaign in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament after losing to Far Eastern University in five sets, 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 15-9.Team captain Maddie Madayag, however, knows the loss will ultimately help them in the long run.ADVERTISEMENT Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Read Nextlast_img read more