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Morocco vs Spain – World Cup: Torres & Ziyech 1+ shot on target from outside the box each, NOW 7/1 with Paddy Power

SPAIN are odds-on to beat Morocco this afternoon and book a quarter final spot.

And Paddy Power have a price boost ahead of the crunch meeting later, with Ferran Torres and Hakim Ziyech to have 1+ shot on target from outside the box now available at 7/1!

Torres & Ziyech 1+ shot on target from outside the box each | 7/1!

Torres & Ziyech 1+ shot on target from outside the box each | 7/1!

That’s up from the usual price on site of 11/2!

Like the sound of those odds? You can add it straight to your Paddy Power bet slip here.

But if you are new to Paddy Power, you could make use of their sensational sign-up offer.

When signing up as a brand new customer HERE*, Paddy Power are offering the chance to get your first FIVE bets back as cash if they lose at the World Cup!

Morocco vs Spain

Paddy Power boost

  • Torres & Ziyech 1+ shot on target from outside the box each
  • was 11/2
  • NOW 7/1
  • Available to all customers
  • Click here to add to your bet slip

Paddy Power: Up to £50 CASH BACK*

That’s a potential total of £50 is cash back should your first five punts all lose!

Ziyech has had a shot on target in each of the last two games, including a goal in the win over Canada from outside the area.

While Torres has two goals to his name so far after the group stages.

He was rested for the final group game against Japan and will be desperate to make his mark on his return.

Paddy Power: Up to £50 CASH BACK*

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Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to www.gamstop.co.uk to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.


*Place 5x£10 Sportsbook bets on any market at minimum odds of 2.0 (Evs), and get money back as Cash if it loses. Max refund per qualifying bet is £10 (up to £50 in total). Only deposits made via Cards will be eligible for the promotion (Apple Pay excluded). T&Cs apply 18+ begambleaware.org

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Japan vs Croatia boost: Andrej Kramaric to score first at 7/1 with Paddy Power

CROATIA go into this afternoon’s game with Japan as the favourites to reach the World Cup quarter finals.

Andrej Kramaric has two goals so far in the competition and is at the centre of a Paddy Power boost, with the Croatian front man available at 7/1 to score first!

Kramaric to score first | 7/1

THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED – FIND MORE DEALS HERE

He grabbed both goals in the win over Canada and should be plenty rested having only featured for an hour against Belgium.

Japan have had great results when beating Germany and Spain, either side of defeat to Costa Rica.

Interestingly though, they’ve conceded first in every one of the group stage games, playing into the hands of this price boost.

This selection is up from the usual price of 6/1 and can be added straight to your Paddy Power bet slip here.

Paddy Power Price Boost

Japan vs Croatia

  • Andrej Kramaric to score first
  • was 6/1
  • NOW 7/1
  • Available to all customers
  • Add to bet slip HERE

THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED – FIND MORE DEALS HERE

New to Paddy Power? You could also make use of their wonderful sign-up offer.

When signing up as a brand new customer HERE*, Paddy Power are offering the chance to get your first FIVE bets back as cash if they lose at the World Cup!

You could bet your first tenner on this price boost and if it doesn’t land, you’ll get your money back as real CASH.

This is an offer you can do up to five times – meaning a possible return of £50!

THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED – FIND MORE DEALS HERE

FREE BETS AND SIGN UP DEALS – BEST NEW CUSTOMER OFFERS


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chase their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

For help with a gambling problem, call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or go to www.gamstop.co.uk to be excluded from all UK-regulated gambling websites.


*Place 5x£10 Sportsbook bets on any market at minimum odds of 2.0 (Evs), and get money back as Cash if it loses. Max refund per qualifying bet is £10 (up to £50 in total). Only deposits made via Cards will be eligible for the promotion (Apple Pay excluded). T&Cs apply 18+ begambleaware.org


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Betting tips Football News News Portugal Switzerland World Cup World Cup 2022

World Cup: Portugal vs Switzerland – Recommended bets

Ace Football previews the World Cup round of 16 match between Portugal and Switzerland and offers team stats, betting tips and the latest odds.

Portugal are to battle against Switzerland in the round of 16 of the World Cup at Lusail Stadium this Tuesday.

Having battled to work their way into the round of of 16 of the World Cup, both Portugal and Switzerland are very eager to go even deeper. No doubt we are in for a serious battle on Tuesday. Portugal sit as number 9, while Switzerland enter their match this coming Tuesday as number 15 in the FIFA world ranking.

Team form: Portugal vs Switzerland

Portugal Form

Portugal are looking to bounce back from a recent setback and get back to winning ways. In their three Group H matches, they first took out Ghana by 3-2, before beating Uruguay by 2-0. The winning streak came to an end against South Korea, who ran out as 2-1 winners. The Navigators were able to win six of their previous 10 games across all tournaments while drawing one of the games. They suffered defeat in three of these outings.

Switzerland Form

Six points are what Switzerland have to show from their three Group G matches. They first defeated Cameroon 1-0. This was followed by a 1-0 defeat against Brazil, before winning 2-3 against Serbia. The A-Team won five of their last 10 matches across all tournaments, while also losing five times.

Betting facts for Portugal and Switzerland

Let’s have a look at some of the most interesting betting-relevant facts based on the stats from the most recent games that Portugal and Switzerland played across all competitions.

  • Portugal have scored in 11 of the last 13 matches
  • Portugal have won 3 of the last 4 matches while scoring more than 1.5 goals
  • Portugal have won 3 of the last 4 matches
  • In 3 of the last 4 Portugal matches, the sum of goals was over 2.5
  • Portugal have not lost 3 of the last 4 matches
  • In 10 of the last 12 Switzerland matches, the sum of goals was under 3.5
  • Switzerland have conceded in 10 of the last 12 matches
  • Switzerland have won 5 of the last 7 matches
  • In 3 of the last 4 Switzerland matches, the sum of goals was under 2.5
  • Switzerland have not lost 5 of the last 7 matches

Players on top: Portugal vs Switzerland

Look no further than Bruno Fernandes, when searching for a marksman currently in good shape. He has hit the target five times lately for Portugal, while Breel Embolo has managed four goals in the last half dozen matches for Switzerland. No doubt, both are looking to add to their total once again.

Betting markets: Portugal vs Switzerland

Full-time result

Portugal claimed all three points six times in their last 10 matches across all tournaments, while also drawing one along the way. They endured defeat in three of the games in this run. Switzerland have won five of their last 10 games, while drawing zero and losing five in this series of matches.

Both teams to score

Portugal scored the first goal of the match an impressive nine times in the last ten home games. Switzerland scored the opening goal in six of the last ten away from home. Of the previous 10 outings, Switzerland scored the opening goal five times, whereas Portugal were first on target in seven of their last 10 games.

Total goals

Portugal saw over 2.5 goals in five of their last ten matches across all tournaments, as they scored an average of 2.1 goals during this run. Over 2.5 goals came up in five of Switzerland’s previous ten matches across all tournaments. They managed to score an average of one goal in these matches.

Betting prediction: Portugal vs Switzerland

To sum up, the upcoming match between Portugal and Switzerland seems to be a good betting opportunity. Considering the above statements, we have come up with a betting prediction for this World Cup game.

The post World Cup: Portugal vs Switzerland – Recommended bets appeared first on Ace Football.

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Betting tips Football News Morocco News Spain World Cup World Cup 2022

World Cup: Morocco vs Spain – Betting preview

Tension is heightening as we are in the knockout stages of the World Cup with Morocco and Spain going toe-to-toe at Education City Stadium. The upcoming round of 16 match will kick off this coming Tuesday.

Having come this far in the World Cup, Morocco and Spain won’t budge without putting up a serious fight. We could be in for a long night at the Education City Stadium on Tuesday. Morocco bid welcome to Spain as number 22 in the FIFA world ranking, while the latter rank as number 7.

Team form: Morocco vs Spain

Morocco Form

Morocco should be high on confidence after finishing top of Group F with seven points. They started off drawing 0-0 with Croatia, before beating Belgium 0-2 and then Canada in a 1-2 win. The Atlas Lions were able to win seven of their previous 10 games across all tournaments while drawing two of the games. They suffered defeat in one of these outings.

Spain Form

Spain were inconsistent in their three Group E matches, which brought home four points. They claimed a 7-0 win against Costa Rica, before drawing 1-1 with Germany. This little unbeaten streak ended when Japan proved too strong in a 2-1 defeat. La Roja were able to win five of their previous 10 games across all tournaments while drawing three of the games. They suffered two defeats as well.

Betting stats and facts for Morocco and Spain

Here are some fun facts that could come in handy when placing bets on the upcoming game between Morocco and Spain. The facts are based on the stats from games played out across all tournaments.

  • Morocco have not lost 37 of the last 39 matches
  • In 16 of the last 18 Morocco matches the sum of goals was under 3.5
  • Morocco have won 6 of the last 8 matches while scoring more than 1.5 goals
  • Morocco have won 6 of the last 8 matches
  • Morocco have won 6 of the last 8 matches and the sum of goals was under 3.5
  • Spain have scored in the last 24 matches in a row
  • Spain have not lost 12 of the last 14 matches
  • In 6 of the last 8 Spain matches, the sum of goals was under 3.5
  • In 3 of the last 4 matches Spain played, both teams scored
  • In 3 of the last 4 Spain matches, the sum of goals was over 2.5

Interesting players: Morocco vs Spain

Looking at the market for a goalscorer, it seems a good idea to side with Hakim Ziyech, who is performing well for Morocco. He found the back of the net two times in his most recent outings. He’ll be out to add more goals against Spain. The visitors will be looking to Alvaro Morata to find the net once again, after managing to score in all three of La Roja’s World Cup games so far.

Betting markets: Morocco vs Spain

Full-time result

In their last 10 matches across all tournaments, Morocco won seven times, drew two and lost once. Spain claimed five wins, drew three times, and lost twice in their last 10 games across all tournaments. Morocco have gone through an impressive 8 games now without losing even once. The Atlas Lions are on an amazing streak of now 23 games in a row without defeat as the home team.

Both teams to score

Morocco scored first in seven of their last ten home games. Astonishingly, Spain scored the opening goal of the match in eight of their last ten games. The Spaniards also managed four wins without conceding a goal in their previous 10 matches.

Total goals

Morocco witnessed over 2.5 goals in five of their previous ten matches across all tournaments in which they averaged 1.7 goals a game. Over 2.5 goals came up in five of Spain’s previous ten matches across all tournaments. They managed to score an average of two goals in these matches. Luis Enrique’s men are also on a fine streak of scoring at least one goal in their last 24 matches.

Betting tip: Morocco vs Spain

To sum up, the upcoming match between Morocco and Spain seems to be a good betting opportunity. Considering the above statements, we have come up with a betting prediction for this World Cup game.

The post World Cup: Morocco vs Spain – Betting preview appeared first on Ace Football.

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Football Football News ITV plc News Sport World Cup 2022

Rangers hero Ally McCoist and Jon Champion delight World Cup viewers again – as fans all say the same thing

YOU know that award Ant & Dec win every year at the National Television Awards?

Maybe next time round it WON’T be going to the famous presenting duo.

Ally McCoist has proved popular on commentary duties with fans at the World Cup
Getty

Judging by how much fans are loving Rangers and Scotland hero Ally McCoist and Jon Champion on commentary duties at the World Cup, the Geordies could be on the receiving end of a pasting.

ITV’s McCoist and Champion have been widely praised on social media for their natural banter and engaging personas in the booths in Qatar.

Not just a pair who enjoy working with each other, they never shirk the responsibility to share knowledge and insight – and in honest way.

After covering Brazil’s stunning 4-1 win over South Korea, punters were quick to start demanding their favourite commentary duo are given the honour of calling the final.

It may be over a fortnight away but it seems viewers are keen to see McCoist and Champion confirmed well ahead of schedule – as it could influence which channel they watch the game on (the final will be shown on both ITV and the BBC).

One fan said: “If ITV are picking on form – as is the way with successful teams in the World Cup – then Jon Champion & Ally McCoist should start preparing for the final. Best commentary team by a distance.”

Another commented: “Champion and McCoist. Give them the final.”

Someone else said: “McCoist better get the final on ITV, ideally with Jon Champion as well. Such a good pairing.”

While a further fan replied: “@ITVSport Ally McCoist is trending in the UK. He’s superb. Book him in for the final!”

Another said: “Ally McCoist better be the co commentator for the final. Levels above the other drivel we get stuck with.”

A couple of fans aren’t holding out much hope though.

“Never gonna happen but would love to see McCoist get the commentary gig for the World Cup final. Would be fully merited. Easy the best one out the lot,” said one.

Another said: “If they put Champion and Ally McCoist on it, I’d watch the final on ITV. But they’re going to [Sam] Matterface it up, aren’t they?”

Along with poor Matterface, Lee Dixon and Jermain Jenas were compared unfavourably to McCoist on the mic.

This fan said: “If @ITV have Ally McCoist on co commentator for the final I will watch ITV. If its Dixon then it’s BBC for me, and the majority of the country I imagine, even if [Jermain] Jenas is doing it.”

That said, not all are set on McCoist’s sparring partner.

One wants one of Champions colleagues, Clive Tyldesley, as the lead commentator.

They said: “@ITVSport please announce Clive Tyldesley and Ally McCoist for the Final!”

Another asked: “I’d love to to hear the commentary dream team of Jonathan Pearce & Ally McCoist for the World Cup Final. Make it happen @ITV and @BBCSport.”

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page

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World Cup 2022 LIVE: Southgate wants England to attack France as South Korea boss Bento QUITS after Brazil defeat

PORTUGAL manager Fernando Santos has spoken of his unhappiness at Cristiano Ronaldo’s reaction to being substituted last week against South Korea.

“Have I seen the images? Yes, I didn’t like it, not at all. I didn’t like it. I really didn’t like it,” Fernando Santos said.

“But from that moment onwards everything is finished regarding that issue. These matters are resolved behind closed doors. It’s resolved.”

Elsewhere, Raheem Sterling missed England’s 3-0 World Cup win over Senegal after thugs broke into his home.

The thieves smashed into his home, as revealed by The Sun, forcing the Chelsea winger to fly back to the UK in the middle of the tournament.

England cruised to a 3-0 win over Senegal and will play France in the quarter-finals – after Les Blues dismantled Poland.

Brazil beat South Korea in their last-16 game, setting up a quarter-final with Croatia.

  • Morocco vs Spain
  • Portugal vs Switzerland

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Stay tuned with all the latest ahead from tournament…

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Roy Keane hails England’s World Cup ‘swagger’ and urges Gareth Southgate and Co to ‘go for it’ in France quarter-final

ROY KEANE hailed England’s World Cup “swagger” and urged Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions to “go for it” against France.

England play the reigning 2018 holders on Saturday in the quarter-finals having seen off Senegal 3-0.

ITV

Roy Keane hailed England’s World Cup ‘swagger’[/caption]

And Manchester United legend Keane talked up Southgate’s side’s chances.

He said on ITV: “At this stage of the competition you are going to be coming up against teams, they’ll always have one or two special players.

“But that’s part of the challenge. England have a bit of a swagger themselves.

“Of course, you have to look at the opposition and their strengths, but England should be brave and strong, and really go for it.”

France beat Poland 3-1 to progress into the last eight before England kept their third clean sheet in a row.

Goals from Jordan Henderson, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka helped see off Senegal.

And ex-Liverpool manager Graeme Souness believes England’s style of play will strike fear into any rival opposition.

Souness said: “France will be concerned about playing against England. England are the team that no one wants to play.

“You can’t sit back and say, ‘I’m really enjoying that football’, like you would with Spain, and possibly tonight.

“But I’ll bet you none of the big teams want to play against England because they see how pragmatic they are, they give very few chances away.”

England play France at the Al Bayt Stadium, with the winner earning a spot in the semi-finals.

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England play France in the World Cup quarter-final[/caption]

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‘I know all of Alistair Johnston’s tricks and Celtic fans will LOVE him’ – David Wotherspoon’s inside info on Canada ace

DAVID WOTHERSPOON urged Alistair Johnston to join Celtic — even though he won’t fall for his trademark chop.

St Johnstone star Spoony reckons his Canada team-mate is perfect for the Premiership and will be a smash hit in Scottish football.

Getty

Alistair Johnston was a main player for Canada at the World Cup[/caption]

Getty

St Johnstone star David Wotherspoon played alongside Johnston with Canada[/caption]

Johnston picked Wotherspoon’s brains during their three weeks together at the World Cup in Qatar as Ange Postecoglou’s interest emerged.

The McDiarmid Park man believes 24-year-old Johnston will become a fans’ favourite after joining in a £3million deal from CF Montreal — even if he does know all his tricks.

The Saints midfielder said: “He spoke to me about the move a lot and I told him it was a no-brainer. Celtic are a massive club.

“He’s a great guy first and foremost and a great defender.

“You’ve seen in the World Cup what he can do and I think he’s one of those type of defenders Celtic fans will love.

“Alistair is robust and Mr Consistent. He has the attributes to do well in Scottish football.

“He’ll be tested in Europe as well, of course.

“The fact he’s played at the highest level of international football now will stand him in good stead. I’m looking forward to seeing him when he comes across and looking forward to playing against him hopefully as well.

“We could well be on the same side of the pitch.

“Unfortunately he knows all about the chop and will be ready for it.”

Wotherspoon has made the chop his trademark move over the years and pulled off one against Morocco which was identical to the skills in the 2021 Scottish Cup final.

And he revealed he always planned to do it on the biggest stage if he could.

He said: “When the ball was coming to me I knew straight away what I was going to do.

“I could see their boy coming in and I was ready to do what I usually do, chop back and cross it in.

“The cross wasn’t the greatest, I’ll say that. It could have been a lot better. It got us a corner, though, which I was happy enough with.

“I did it again in my own half a bit later. It has become a habit!

“Thankfully there are still defenders out there who don’t know what’s coming!

“I could see on Twitter after the game that a lot of people were talking about it.”

Wotherspoon hopes his first World Cup experience won’t be his last.

The 32-year-old was part of Canada’s squad in Qatar and played in that final group game against Morocco.

The tournament was a valuable learning experience for John Herdman’s squad. Although they went out after losing all three matches, Wotherspoon reckons they’ll be back on the big stage again.

And despite him being 36 for the next World Cup in America, Canada and Mexico in 2026, the Saints man will be pushing to be there.

Wotherspoon, the first St Johnstone player to play on the world stage, said: “I want to experience it again. I want to get back and keep pushing myself. I want to play for as long as I can.

“As long as my body will let me and Canada keep picking me, I’ll do my best to get into their team.

“It’s all happened so quickly. It was a surreal experience that I’ll be reflecting on over the next few days before I get back into work.

“I have memories I’ll cherish for life and I had my family over, which was incredible. The stand-out moments were going to the stadiums and seeing the Fifa World Cup branding everywhere.

“For the first game I’ve walked out onto the pitch and there’s Kevin De Bruyne. He’s taller than he looks on TV!

“Watching these players, the likes of De Bruyne and Luka Modric, in real life, guys you are used to seeing on TV, was unbelievable.

“Belgium didn’t have the tournament they wanted, but they were one of the favourites to win the whole thing before a ball was kicked.

“We had a good game plan against them and even their coaches and players were saying we played them off the park. But they got their chance and they took it.

“That performance showed what we can do.

“Yes, we were disappointed not to win a game and go out of the competition but, looking back, it was one of the toughest groups in the tournament.

“We’re proud of qualifying and with the way we played, but we’ll also learn from it moving forward.

“The next World Cup will come round before you know it. There will be Gold Cups and other things before that and we’ll focus on each one as it comes along.

“I think it’s more than a case of Canada being on the cusp of becoming a football or ‘soccer’ nation. I think it is now a soccer nation.”

Wotherspoon switched his allegiance from Scotland to Canada despite playing for the Under-21s here. The 32-year-old qualifies through his mother, but swapping nations didn’t temper the support he received in hometown Perth throughout the competition.

He said: “I knew from my brother and the rest of my family that people back home in Perth were really getting behind us.

“It was all over Twitter too. My phone blew up when it was announced that I was in the squad and after I got on the pitch in the Morocco game it went crazy again.

“I’m so grateful for the support, it’s so humbling.

“I’m just a boy from Perth in Scotland who has somehow managed to make my way to Qatar. I’d never have thought in my wildest dreams I’d end up playing in a World Cup.

“When I heard that I was the first St Johnstone player to play in a World Cup it was incredible.

“I’ll keep pushing to try and break more records and achieve more things.”

Wotherspoon will return to Callum Davidson’s squad later this week and, after nearly a year out with a cruciate ligament tear, he reckons his three weeks in Qatar have him spot on for Saints top-six push.

He added: “I’m really looking forward to getting going again.

“The boys have been in for a while already while I have been away and I’ll be back later this week.

“They have been great. I have had a lot of messages from them and I have been really grateful for their support.

“There are no worries about me coming back down to earth, not at all. It will be business as usual.

“We have got a lot to look forward to in the second part of the season.

“I just want to keep playing because I’ve missed a lot of football through injury.

“Most of our injured players are back now and the squad is looking really strong.

“We’ve gone five games unbeaten and want to build on that and see where it takes us.

“I’m fighting fit and raring to go now.”

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page

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Watch Arsenal star Takehiro Tomiyasu’s stunned reaction as he’s told team-mate Gabriel Jesus got injured for Brazil

TAKEHIRO TOMIYASU looked open-mouthed with surprise and sympathy when he learned Arsenal pal Gabriel Jesus’ World Cup was over.

The Japan right-back reacted touchingly with a string of questions as he was told Brazil striker Jesus had suffered a serious knee injury.

Gabriel Jesus’ World Cup ended last Friday when he was hurt vs Cameroon
Rex
Takehiro Tomiyasu was upset for Jesus but then gutted as Japan exited the World Cup on penalties against Croatia on Monday
Alamy

Tomiyasu was preparing for Monday’s last-16 clash with Croatia, where he played the whole 120 minutes of a 1-1 draw before Japan exited 3-1 on penalties.

He was unaware Jesus could need surgery and sit out three months – rocking their club’s chances of retaining their lead in the Premier League. 

When asked about the former Manchester City frontman. Tomiyasu replied: “I don’t know – he has got injured? Jesus? Oh, I didn’t know that.

“Really? Because I watched only the first half – and then he was injured in the second half?

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“It’s bad. Where is this? Knees? Oh, it’s a shame because obviously to play in the World Cup is a big dream for us, for every football player.

“So I’m sorry for him but hopefully he will be back soon.”

Jesus sustained his nasty knock in last Friday’s 1-0 group loss to Cameroon.

But Brazil certainly didn’t miss him as they swept aside South Korea with a 4-1 blitz in the last 16 on Monday.


HOW TO GET FREE BETS ON THE WORLD CUP

That included strikes from fellow forwards Vinicius Junior, Neymar with a penalty and Richarlison.

In contrast, Jesus’ absence might tempt Gunners‘ boss Mikel Arteta to widen his wishlist in the January transfer window.

So far Arteta has reportedly targeted a new midfield anchorman and a winger.

The Spaniard has also been linked with battling Tottenham for Ecuador’s Bayer Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapie.

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Scotland’s hopes of going to World Cup 2026 get massive boost with 50% increase in teams as Fifa plan radical changes

THE 2022 World Cup in Qatar has had shocks and surprises, excitement and indifference, ecstasy and tears.

What hasn’t it had? Well, the presence of the Scotland national team, for one.

Getty

This year’s World Cup in Qatar has had plenty to show, but it hasn’t had Scotland[/caption]

AP

Scotland lost to Ukraine in the play-offs for the tournament[/caption]

Steve Clarke‘s men lost to Ukraine in the semi-final of the Uefa playoffs back in June; Ukraine in turn lost to Wales, who headed to Qatar.

The 31 nations who qualified for the competition probably haven’t missed Scotland. But we’ve certainly missed out on being there.

Failure to qualify for the 22nd edition of football’s most prestigious tournament extended the Tartan Army’s barren run of featuring at Fifa’s global showpiece to 24 years.

The last time Scotland made it to the World Cup was 1998 and while the team itself went home in the group stage, the fans were recognised for their contribution in the stands, winning a Fair Play award.

Since then, their only experience of major tournament was at Euro 2020; another group stage exit and Covid-19 putting restrictions on fan numbers meant the return to football at that level was a somewhat underwhelming experience.

Okay, so, the good news?

Qualifying for the World Cup in 2026 will be a whole lot easier.

The number of teams that will compete in the tournament, hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, will be 48 as opposed to the current number of 32 – an increase of 50 percent. Incidentally, the last time the number of teams at the World Cup grew in number was in 1998.

While the majority of those 16 extra places are going to confederations that AREN’T Uefa, there will still be three more spots for European countries to take.

As it stands, the new qualification format for the 2026 World Cup hasn’t been revealed by Uefa, but an announcement is expected in the New Year.

L’Equipe in France reports that there may be fewer qualifying groups and added importance will be placed on the Uefa Nations League.

For this year’s World Cup, the first-placed team in every Uefa qualifying group progressed automatically while the second-placed teams and the two best Nations League group winners that finished outside the top two of their qualifying group advanced to the play-offs.

The two Nations League representatives were unseeded for those play-offs, as were the bottom four second-placed sides. It could be that Uefa makes the Nations League winners seeded this time round.

In terms of the World Cup itself, the proposed format for the finals has generated a lot of controversy recently.

When the decision was made to expand the tournament, four options were considered:

  • Expand to 40 teams (eight groups of five teams)
  • Expand to 40 teams (ten groups of four teams)
  • Expand to 48 teams (opening 32-team playoff round)
  • Expand to 48 teams (16 groups of three teams)

The final option was agreed upon by Fifa top brass and confirmed in January 2017.

But given the drama that unfolded over the course of the final round of group matches in Qatar, speculation has began to mount that Fifa could SCRAP the idea of three-team groups for 2026.

According to ESPN, Fifa has been forced into a rethink.

The original idea could enable to the two teams in the final group fixture playing for a specific result that would send both of them through, at the expense of the team not playing.

It’s also being reported that putting a penalty shootout at the end of each group game that ends in a draw – just like Scottish football’s League Cup – is a possibility.

Arsene Wenger, Fifa’s chief of global football, said on Sunday that in addition to the three-team option, the new format could be 12 groups of four teams, with the best third-placed teams advancing with the top two.

A third option is to split the World Cup into two separate halves of 24, each featuring six groups of four teams, akin to the way the NFL and NBA work in the USA and, closer to home, not too dissimilar to the new Champions League format. The winner of each half would meet in the final.

So, IF Scotland get to the 2026 World Cup, who knows IF it will be easier to make it out of the group stages. After all, what better way to return to the World Cup stage than to finally break the duck of having never made it into the knockout rounds?

Keep up to date with ALL the latest news and transfers at the Scottish Sun football page