cloudy
Sunday December 16th, 2018 1:30AM

WORLD CUP KICKOFF: A look at what's ahead at the World Cup

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MOSCOW (AP) — Here's a look at what's coming up at the World Cup, which is down to its last two matches: the third-place game Saturday in St. Petersburg between Belgium and England, and the final the following day in Moscow between France and Croatia.

KEEP KICKING AND CARRY ON

Gareth Southgate and Roberto Martinez are looking for ways to motivate their squads for the third-place match between England and Belgium. Really, really looking . For Southgate, it's about continuing the maturation of his young England side, which exceeded expectations by getting this far and even had the lead on Croatia for much of its semifinal before falling in gutting fashion on an extra-time goal. Securing England's second-best finish at the tournament would be nothing to sneeze at, either, said Southgate, who wore the England shirt himself and never reached the title game. For Martinez, it's about salvaging "that winning feeling" despite the disappointment among players and fans of a team that had been a fashionable pick to win it all until it failed to score against France . Those sales pitches will be tested by the product on the field, but also by how many fans show up and tune it to watch what historically has been a lackluster prelude to the final.

UNDER OATH

Croatia's star midfielder Luka Modric might find it easier on the field than at the mic when he finally answers questions from media Saturday. Modric was charged with perjury by Croatian authorities in March. The charge stems from his testimony at the tax fraud trial of a former executive director at Dinamo Zagreb, Zdravko Mamic. The 2017 trial concerned Modric's 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham in the Premier League.

POLITICS, POLITICS

Leaders of several of the European nations that made it to the knockout stage have had a few good-natured exchanges over their teams' encounters. Now the politics are getting as serious as the soccer. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend before attending the final, a game in which fans again are likely to jeer Croatian defender Domagoj Vida for his appearance in a pro-Ukraine video posted in recent days. Putin is headed to Finland the day after that match to meet U.S. President Donald Trump, who spent Friday being pilloried by protesters in London during an official visit to the United Kingdom. As that was happening, the U.S. was busy bringing charges against a dozen Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking into Democratic accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And British leaders have essentially boycotted the World Cup over the poisonings of two British citizens and a former Russian spy and his daughter living in the United Kingdom, which British officials blame on the Russian government, a claim the Kremlin rejects. FIFA typically has enough trouble policing its stance on keeping politics out of the tournament, but for the next 48 hours, the two will be tough to disentangle.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped hours after arrest
The attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels says prosecutors have dropped all charges against her following her overnight arrest at an Ohio adult club
3:13PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Supreme Court could return abortion debate to the states
President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has raised the possibility that a conservative majority could weaken or overturn the nationwide right to abortion
3:03PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Florida gun, mental laws couldn't have stopped massacre
The sheriff overseeing an investigation into the Florida school massacre says the state's mental health evaluation law would not have prevented suspect Nikolas Cruz from buying guns
2:48PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Dumoulin and Bardet lose time at Tour after bikes break
Tour de France contenders Tom Dumoulin and Romain Bardet both lost significant time in the overall standings on Thursday after spokes on their wheels snapped near the uphill end of Stage 6
2:14PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Pitana gets 1st and final whistles at World Cup
FIFA has selected Nestor Pitana to referee the World Cup final between France and Croatia
2:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon title, 24th Slam overall
'It's crazy': Serena Williams nears 8th Wimbledon final with routine win over Julia Goerges
1:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Charges against Stormy Daniels dropped hours after arrest
The attorney for porn actress Stormy Daniels says prosecutors have dropped all charges against her following her overnight arrest at an Ohio adult club
3:13PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Supreme Court could return abortion debate to the states
President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has raised the possibility that a conservative majority could weaken or overturn the nationwide right to abortion
3:03PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Florida gun, mental laws couldn't have stopped massacre
The sheriff overseeing an investigation into the Florida school massacre says the state's mental health evaluation law would not have prevented suspect Nikolas Cruz from buying guns
2:48PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Image issue: Papa John's still tied to founder under fire
Papa John's founder John Schnatter is no longer CEO or chairman, but his image is still in the center of the company's logo and he owns nearly a third of the company
2:48PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Trump tweets 'very nice note' from North Korea's Kim Jong Un
President Donald Trump has tweeted a letter to him from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heralding "epochal progress" in U.S.-North Korea relations
2:44PM ( 32 minutes ago )