Africa Cup of Nations 2019: Super Computer predicts which team will lift the trophy in Egypt

21 Jun

The first Africa Cup of Nations played during the summer months gets under way on June 21.

Host nation Egypt, captained by Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah will be looking to get off to a good start when the Pharaohs face Zimbabwe at the Cairo International Stadium.

Salah and Egypt will want to put their disappointing performance at last year’s World Cup behind them

A number of world class players will be on show including Salah’s Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane as well as Morocco and Ajax star Hakim Ziyech and Crystal Palace talisman Wilfred Zaha, who will be representing the Ivory Coast.



According to the bookies Egypt, who have won the competition seven times, are the favourites to win but AFCON is an inherently unpredictable tournament.

Luckily, talkSPORT.com has input the latest data into its trusty Super Computer and have had the results delivered.

You can see who will qualify from each group below and the how the knockout stages will pan out.

Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages qualifiers
Getty Images

Round of 16

DR Congo 0-2 Algeria

Morocco 4-0 Benin

Nigeria 3-2 Zimbabwe

If there was a prize for best kit at AFCON, Nigeria would win it hands down
Getty Images - Getty

Ghana 2-0 Mali

Tunisia 1-2 Ivory Coast – Ivory Coast win on penalties

Senegal 3-1 Burundi

Guinea 3-2 Cameroon – (After Extra-Time)

There are question marks surrounding Guinea midfielder Naby Keita’s fitness
Getty Images - Getty

Egypt 4-1 South Africa

Quarter-finals

Algeria 1-2 Morocco – Morocco win on penalties

Nigeria 0-2 Ghana

Ivory Coast 0-1 Senegal – (After Extra-Time)

Palace man Wilfried Zaha will be looking to be one of the stars of the tournament
Getty Images - Getty

Guinea 0-2 Egypt

Semi-finals

Morocco 1-0 Ghana

Senegal 2-1 Egypt – Senegal win on penalties

Sadio Mane could face Liverpool team-mate Salah at the tournament
Getty Images - Getty

3rd place play-off

Ghana 1-3 Egypt

Final

Morocco 0-1 Senegal

talkSPORT.com’s Super Computer predicts Senegal will win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Getty Images - Getty

Every World Cup squad ranked by average age – oldest to youngest

15 Jul
Every World Cup squad ranked by average age – oldest to youngest
France international Kylian Mbappe will be one of the youngest players at the World Cup

We all know the famous line – ‘you can’t win anything with kids’.

Alan Hansen was talking about Manchester United in the Premier League back in August 1995, but many believe the same about football on the international stage.

Received wisdom suggests you need a few elder statesmen who have experienced not only international tournaments but the highs and lows of the beautiful game.

With all the World Cup 2018 squads confirmed there are plenty of differences in the average ages of those nations participating in Russia.

But which countries have the youngest average age? Scroll down to find out…

31= The average age of Panama’s squad is 29.6-years-old

31= The average age of Costa Rica’s squad is 29.6-years-old

30. The average age of Mexico’s squad is 29.4-years-old

29. The average age of Argentina’s squad is 29.3-years-old

28. The average age of Egypt’s squad is 29-years-old

27. The average age of Russia’s squad is 28.8-years-old

26. The average age of Saudi Arabia’s squad is 28.7-years-old

23= The average age of Brazil’s squad is 28.6-years-old

23= The average age of Iceland’s squad is 28.6-years-old

23= The average age of Japan’s squad is 28.6-years-old

22. The average age of Spain’s squad is 28.5-years-old

21. The average age of Portugal’s squad is 28.4-years-old

20. The average age of Poland’s squad is 28.3-years-old

19. The average age of Sweden’s squad is 28.2-years-old

16= The average age of Australia’s squad is 28.1-years-old

16= The average age of Uruguay’s squad is 28.1-years-old

16= The average age of Colombia’s squad is 28.1-years-old

15. The average age of Croatia’s squad is 27.9-years-old

14. The average age of South Korea’s squad is 27.8-years-old

13. The average age of Belgium’s squad is 27.6-years-old

12. The average age of Peru’s squad is 27.4-years-old

8= The average age of Morocco’s squad is 27.2-years-old

8= The average age of Iran’s squad is 27.2-years-old

8= The average age of Switzerland’s squad is 27.2-years-old

8= The average age of Senegal’s squad is 27.2-years-old

6= The average age of Denmark’s squad is 27.1-years-old

6= The average age of Germany’s squad is 27.1-years-old

5. The average age of Serbia’s squad is 26.8-years-old

4. The average age of Tunisia’s squad is 26.5-years-old

2= The average age of England’s squad is 26-years-old

2= The average age of France’s squad is 26-years-old

1. The average age of Nigeria’s squad is 25.9-years-old

Belgium v Tunisia: World Cup 2018 preview, predicted line-ups, key player plus more

22 Jun

The 2018 World Cup is in full swing now, with many over half of the group stage matches played – all of which have been live on talkSPORT.

Today, Sunday, there are another three games, the first of which sees Belgium take on Tunisia from Moscow.

Otkritie Arena (Spartak Stadium), Moscow – 45,000 capacity
The Otkritie Arena will host Belgium v Tunisia

Key players:

Belgium: Belgium’s current ‘golden generation’ is full of world class players, but the pick of the bunch is Kevin De Bruyne. The Manchester City midfielder enjoyed the best season of his career under Pep Guardiola, and if he can continue this form into this summer’s tournament, Belgium will take some stopping.

De Bruyne is capable of producing moments of magic

Tunisia: Wahbi Khazri plays his club football for Rennes in France, on loan from recently relegated Championship side Sunderland. A technically gifted playmaker, much of Tunisia’s attacking play will go through the 27-year-old.

Predicted line-ups:

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Boyata, Vertonghen; Meunier, De Bruyne, Witsel, Carrasco; Mertens, Lukaku, E. Hazard

Tunisia: Ben Mustapha, Meriah, Syam Ben Youssef, Bronn, Haddadi, Skhiri, Badri, Sassi, Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, Khazri, Sliti

Where can I stream Belgium v Tunisia?

Belgium v Tunisia is live to stream on talkSPORT.com, or you can listen on 1089 or 1053 AM, DAB radio or through the talkSPORT mobile app.

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

World Cup 2018: England fans tear into the referee during Three Lions’ win over Tunisia

18 Jun

It’s never a good thing when the referee is the main talking point of a football match.

However, Colombian referee Wilmer Roldan, who was put in charge of England’s World Cup opener against Tunisia, made a number of decisions that made him a big talking point.

Tunisia were awarded a soft penalty in the first-half to the disbelief of the England players

Although England managed to win the game, many fans were not happy with Roldan’s officiating.

REPORT: Tunisia 1-2 England

Replays showed Harry Kane was hauled to the floor numerous times in the box during the game but England were not awarded any penalties.

And to anger the England faithful even more, Kyle Walker was penalised for an arguably soft clash in the box with Fakhreddine Ben Youssef.

Ferjani Sassi scored the resulting spot-kick to peg England back after Harry Kane gave the Three Lions an early lead.

It looked like it was going to be another frustrating game at a major tournament for England but Kane’s 90th-minute header gave Gareth Southgate’s men all three points.

Kane nods home England’s last-gasp winner

But despite the jubilation across the country, many supporters took to Twitter to voice their reservations over the referee, including the likes of England’s record appearance holder Peter Shilton and England cricket legend Alec Stewart.

Below you can see what just some England fans thought of Roldan.

Belgium 3-0 Panama – Red Devils’ World Cup stars rated and slated

18 Jun

Belgium got their World Cup campaign off to a perfect start by defeating Panama 3-0 at the Fisht Olympic Stadium.

A drab first half gave way to a much more thrilling second period, aided by Dries Mertens opening the scoring just two minutes after the restart with a supremely fine volley.

Belgium were deployed in a 3-4-3 system, though at times it resembled a 3-3-4 with wing-back Thomas Meunier pushed high up the pitch

Romelu Lukaku added a double in the final 20 minutes to round off a victory that appears much more impressive on paper than it did in reality.

But, just how did Roberto Martinez’s side perform in Sochi? talkSPORT.com’s Belgium player ratings can be seen below…


Thibaut Courtois – 6

Was rarely called into action by Panama’s poor attacking force, but he completed all required jobs with ease. Tougher faces await for Courtois.

Toby Alderweireld – 7

Was offered a lot of time and space on the ball to showcase his passing ability, and looked to support Belgium’s attack as much as he could. He spent a lot of the game pushed wide, which allowed Meunier to sit high up the pitch. Not an impressive performance on paper, but one that allowed Belgium to line-up and attack as they did, which in itself is a valuable quality.

Dedryck Boyata – 7

The deepest of Belgium’s defenders, Boyata was more than a match for Blas Perez, the Panama forward, who attempted to bully him. Boyata also looked good when breaking forward out of the back line while in possession, adding another body to Belgium’s midfield pivot. He did appear shaky when faced with an opponent running directly at him, however, raising doubts over his capabilities at defending one-on-ones.

Jan Vertonghen – 7

Calm and composed, as expected, on the left side of Belgium’s three-man defence. He was forced into action a lot due to Carrasco’s errors on the left flank, and never looked troubled by Panama’s right-sided players. He was comfortable moving to a left-back position when Witsel dropped into the back line, or moving more centrally when Boyata pushed into midfield.

Thomas Meunier – 8

He stayed pinned to the right flank almost constantly, and pushed very high up the pitch with Mertens staying inside. Many of Belgium’s best chances came from Meunier’s overlapping runs creating space behind the Panama defence. He faded in the second half, and was content to sit a bit deeper and not provide the driving runs he did in the earlier stages.

Kevin De Bruyne – 7

He flitted around in midfield and looked to support Belgium’s attack, but never really produced a cutting edge. De Bruyne appeared quite off the pace and sluggish, and was playing far too deep without providing those driving runs of his we have become so used to seeing. The one time he found himself with time and space on the edge of the box, he curled in a perfect cross with the outside of his boot for Lukaku to head home.

Axel Witsel – 6

Sat in front of Belgium’s back line and kept play simple by receiving passes from the defence and carrying the ball forward. A real lack of dynamism to his play, but made no mistakes. Such a performance will prove more valuable against better teams, when Belgium will actually come under pressure in the final third.

Yannick Carrasco – 5

Carrasco has been forced to play in an unnatural wing-back role, and it is clear he is not suitable for such a position. He was making basic errors in defence when under no pressure, and being forced to sit deep also meant he did not really provide anything going forward, unlike Meunier on the right flank, who is a natural in the position. It is no surprise the majority of Belgium’s attacking play was being directed down the right side of the pitch.

Dries Mertens – 6

Largely ineffectual in the first half as he failed to link up well with either Hazard or Lukaku. He started the second period brilliantly, scoring a fine volley to put Belgium ahead, but returned to providing little in the way of quality after that. It was a poor showing made much better by a truly wonderful goal.

Eden Hazard – 7

He was all neat touches and skilful play, but to little effect. The combinations between Hazard, Mertens and Lukaku were just not working, and the only danger Hazard posed was when he took it on himself to run at goal. When Belgium were two goals to the good, Hazard found it much easier in the final third as Panama pushed forward and lost their defensive structure. One fine run forward led to Hazard playing in Lukaku to make it 3-0.

Romelu Lukaku – 8

Struggled to lead the line against two very physical central defenders. Lukaku has shown many times that his hold-up play is not particularly great, and his touch consistently let him down on this occasion, again. He was forced to drop deep just to pick up the ball, but then struggled to do anything with it. In the final 20 minutes, Lukaku proved he is best when inside the opposition area, making space for himself to head home De Bruyne’s cross, then running onto Hazard’s ball to chip a lovely finish over the keeper.

Mousa Dembele (substitute) – 5

Added another body in midfield but never really got into the game following his introduction.

Thorgan Hazard (substitute) – NA

Spent too little time on the pitch for a fair assessment

Nacer Chadli (substitute) – NA

Spent too little time on the pitch for a fair assessment

Tunisia form guide ahead of World Cup group G match with England – most recent results

18 Jun

It was decided at the draw in December that England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in Group G at the 2018 World Cup.

The tournament is now nearly upon us and the Three Lions have been preparing diligently.

England’s World Cup opponents Tunisia pose ahead of a pre-tournament friendly with Portugal.

England won both of their pre-tournament friendlies against Nigeria (2-1) and Costa Rica (2-0), but how have their opening opponents Tunisia handled their practice matches?

Scroll down to see how Nabil Maaloul’s side have performed in their recent 2018 pre-World Cup friendlies.

May 28: Portugal 2-2 Tunisia (Badri, Ben Youssef)

Portugal threw away a 2-0 lead in this match that they played without Cristiano Ronaldo. Ricardo Quaresma’s cross found Andre Silva who headed the home side ahead and a Joao Mario wonder strike doubled their lead. However, Tunisia proved they can deal with adversity by fighting back with a strong strike from Anice Badri and 64th minute equaliser from Fakhreddine Ben Youssef, who found himself on the end of a beautiful ball from Ali Maaloul.

Tunisia came from 2-0 down against Portugal

June 1: Tunisia 2-2 Turkey (Badri, Sassi)

Tunisia again had to come from behind in this match as Everton’s Cenk Tosun put Turkey ahead from the penalty spot after 54 minutes. Anice Badri smashed in his side’s equaliser two minutes later and Tosun then saw red for threatening his own team’s fans! Tunisia appeared to have won the game against their ten-man opposition with Ferjani Sassi’s 79th minute strike, however an injury time equaliser from Caglar Soyuncu handed England’s group G opponents their second successive 2-2 draw.

Tunisia also drew against Turkey

June 9: Tunisia 0-1 Spain

In their final pre-tournament friendly, the Eagles of Carthage faced a tough take against Spain. Despite ultimately suffering defeat to their formidable opposition, Nabil Maaloul’s team played relatively well. A lack of clinical finishing ability cost them as they had plenty of chances in the first half, most notably missed by Feranji Sassi and Naim Sliti. In the second period, Spain took over and Iago Aspas’ late winner handed them a narrow victory.

Despite a valiant effort, Tunisia were defeated by Spain

England will kick off their 2018 World Cup campaign at Volgograd Arena – all you need to know about the stadium

18 Jun

England’s opening game of the 2018 World Cup against Tunisia will take place at the Volgograd Arena in Volgograd on Monday night.

The stadium has a capacity of 45,000 and was built specifically for the tournament.

Construction work got underway in 2015 and was only completed two months before the start of the tournament, in April.

FC Rotor will make the Volgograd Arena their new home following the World Cup.

Rotor are a Russian second division side who used to play at the old Central Stadium, which was demolished to make way for the new arena.

As well as Tunisia v England on June 18, the arena will also host Nigeria v Iceland on June 22, Saudi Arabia v Egypt on June 25 and Japan v Poland on June 28.

No knockout games will played at the Volgograd Arena.

England and Tunisia fans have already descended on the city ahead of their match on Monday night

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.

England v Tunisia: Behind the scenes images as Three Lions prepare for World Cup opener

18 Jun

England kick off their 2018 World Cup campaign against Tunisia on Monday night, live on talkSPORT.

The Three Lions are based in Repino, Saint Petersburg – a small coastal town by the Gulf of Finland.

Gareth Southgate has been getting his team ready for their opener with some seemingly light-hearted training, if it is fair to judge from the images below.

Scroll down to take a behind the scenes look at England’s World Cup preparations.

The team walk out at their training centre
A gentle jog as a warm-up
Gareth Southgate gathers the squad to give a talk
The players use each other for stretches
Harry Kane escapes the clutches of Kyle Walker
Goalkeepers Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford train together
Jack Butland utilises his chest control despite pressure from an inflatable attacker
Eric Dier vies for the ball in a practice match
The captain and the manager
Harry Kane is handed his first trophy of the summer
The squad pause for a minute’s silence, a year on from the Grenfell Tower disaster
Trent Alexander Arnold enjoys a throwing rocket
Dele Alli doesn’t enjoy the throwing rocket
Dele Alli makes some time for young fans after a session

Tunisia World Cup 2018 team guide – opponents, fixtures, kits, key player, plus possible line-up

17 Jun

Tunisia take part in their fifth World Cup this summer in Russia.  talkSPORT.com take an in-depth look at the Group G nation…

MANAGER

Nabil Maaloul, a former Tunisia assistant manager, was appointed head coach of his country in April 2017 with a contract running until the end of this summer’s World Cup. The 55-year-old has only overseen nine games since his appointment, though Tunisia remain undefeated in that spell.

His most successful spell as a coach came at the same club with whom he established himself as a player, Esperance de Tunis. Maaloul won numerous leagues and cups while playing for the club in the 1980s and 90s. He guided them to two further league titles, as well as the Tunisian Cup and the 2011 CAF Champions League, while manager.

CAPTAIN

Veteran goalkeeper Aymen Mathlouthi is the current captain of Tunisia going into the World Cup. The 33-year-old made his international debut in 2007 and has been first-choice glovesman ever since, going on to represent his nation 70 times. The majority of his club career has been spent in his homeland with Etoile du Sahel – winning various domestic and continental honours – though he currently plays for Al-Batin in Saudi Arabia.

KEY PLAYER

Wahbi Khazri plays his club football for Rennes in France, on loan from recently relegated Championship side Sunderland. A technically gifted playmaker, much of Tunisia’s attacking play will go through the 27-year-old, and he will have to be at his best if they want to progress past the group stage at this summer’s tournament.

A set-piece expert, much of Tunisia’s threat will come from free-kicks and corners, and Khazri will hope to be the difference-maker in a solid but relatively uncreative side.

ONE TO WATCH

Saif-Eddine Khaoui has already caught the eye in France and Marseille moved to buy him from Tours last summer. He joined Troyes on loan at the start of the season, and has put in some bright performances for the relegation battlers. The 23-year-old attacking midfielder has scored five goals and created a further two in 32 appearances, an impressive total for one of the poorest squads in the division.

Khaoui has represented Tunisia twice since making his debut in March, and he could show off his talents on the world stage if he can establish himself in Maaloul’s plans before the big kick-off this summer.

FIXTURES

Monday, June 18: Tunisia v ENGLAND (Volgograd Arena, Volgograd) – kick-off 19:00

Saturday, June 23: BELGIUM v Tunisia (Otkrytie Arena, Moscow) – kick-off 13:00

Thursday, June 28: PANAMA v Tunisia (Mordovia Arena, Saransk) – kick-off 19:00

KITS

RECORD IN QUALIFYING

Tunisia defeated Mauritania over two legs in the second round of the CAF qualification campaign to book their place in the third round, in which five groups of four teams fight for a place in the finals. Tunisia finished top of their group, one point ahead of DR Congo, to guarantee their qualification for Russia. Their solid but unadventurous style of play shone through in Group A, as they scored just 11 goals in six matches, but also conceded only four.

TOURNAMENT PREPARATIONS

Maaloul’s men had three matches in the build-up to Rusia, drawing 2-2 with Portugal, 2-2 with Turkey and losing 1-0 to Spain.

BASE CAMP

Imperial Park Hotel & Spa, Moscow

PROBABLE LINE-UP

talkSPORT will be with listeners all day and all night at this year’s 2018 FIFA World Cup™ with over 800 hours of World Cup content and all 64 games live across the talkSPORT network.