The Latest: Croatians arrive in Sochi to prepare for Russia

The Latest on the World Cup (all times local):

4:25 p.m.

The Croatia squad has wasted no time getting to the coast of the Black Sea to begin preparations for its quarterfinal match against Russia.

Just hours after edging Denmark in a penalty shootout, Croatia left behind Nizhny Novgorod and arrived in Sochi on Monday afternoon, well ahead of Saturday’s match against the tournament hosts. Croatia was scheduled to have a light practice Monday night.

Several teams have come to Sochi early to prepare for the combination of heat and humidity. For Croatia it makes even more sense with its base camp for the tournament north of St. Petersburg. 

Croatia is in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1998, when it placed third. 

————

4:10 p.m.

Tite has called in Filipe Luis to replace Marcelo for Brazil’s World Cup round of 16 game against Mexico.

Marcelo had back spasms in the opening minute of Brazil’s last group match against Serbia and didn’t recover in time to return to the starting lineup. Luis went on as a substitute at left-back against Serbia and retains that spot.

Mexico’s Hector Moreno was unavailable because of yellow card accumulation and has been replaced by Hugo Atala. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio also added 39-year-old defender Rafael Marquez to the starting lineup.

Lineups:

Brazil: Alisson, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Casemiro, Gabriel Jesus, Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Filipe Luis, Paulinho, Willian, Fagner.

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Carlos Salcedo, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Hugo Atala, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guadrado, Edson Alvarez, Hirving Lozano, Jesus Gallardo.

————

3:20 p.m.

While Uruguay sweats on striker Edinson Cavani’s fitness ahead of the quarterfinal against France, Les Bleus must cope without influential midfielder Blaise Matuidi in Friday’s eagerly-awaited match.

The 31-year-old Matuidi, who has 70 international appearances, is suspended and assistant coach Guy Stephan acknowledges his experience and fighting spirit will be sorely missed against a rugged Uruguay side.

Stephan says “Blaise has the ability to hassle (opposition players), he always looks to stop the opponent, and he’s very good at defending but also at attacking.”

Looking ahead to the Uruguay game, Stephan anticipates “a huge battle” against Cavani’s in-form side.

Cavani scored twice in the 2-1 win over European champion Portugal in the round of 16, but limped off with a leg injury in the 70th minute.

————

2:50 p.m.

On the eve of the biggest match of his international career, Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist could be forgiven for having one eye on what’s going on back home.

Granqvist’s second child is due on Tuesday — the same day that Sweden plays Switzerland in the last 16 of the World Cup. The center back has no plans yet to leave the team but hasn’t ruled out returning to Sweden if he needs to.

“My wife (Sophie) is doing great, no changes so far,” Granqvist said Monday. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I’m fully focused on the game tomorrow and my wife is very strong.”

When asked about the situation, Sweden coach Janne Andersson said “we will deal with that when we get there.”

Switzerland forward Breel Embolo has returned to Russia after going home to attend the birth of his first child.

Denmark’s players paid for a private jet for teammate Jonas Knudsen so he could fly home from the World Cup to see his newborn daughter during the group stage, while England midfielder Fabian Delph is currently back home for the birth of his third child.

———

2:20 p.m.

The Kremlin is comparing celebrations of Russia’s World Cup win over Spain to those for its victory over Nazi Germany.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says, “what I’ve personally seen was in many ways probably comparable to the events of May 9, 1945,” when the Soviet Union marked the wartime victory.

Putin did not attend the game, but Peskov says he was supporting Russia from afar. The only game Putin has seen in person is Russia’s opening 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia, which he watched alongside the Saudi crown prince and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

———

1:25 p.m.

Denmark’s former goalkeeper, who’s also the father of the current goalie, is praising the team after it was eliminated from the World Cup in a penalty shootout.

Peter Schmeichel tweeted Monday that he “can’t be more proud of my country, my son, his teammates, all the staff and our fantastic national coach.”

He adds that the Danes “will realize how well we did” once “all the tears have dried out.”

His son Kasper Schmeichel saved a penalty late in extra time Sunday night against Croatia and stopped two more spot kicks during the decisive shootout. But Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved three penalties to eliminate Denmark.

The 54-year-old Peter Schmeichel played for Manchester United and was in goal when Denmark beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the 1992 European Championship. Denmark went on to win that title.

———

1:15 p.m.

Denmark midfielder William Kvist says he is retiring from the national team.

Kvist punctured a lung and broke two ribs in the Danes’ World Cup-opening win against Peru. He was forced to go back to Denmark for treatment and tests but later returned to the team.

He played in 81 games for the national team, scoring two goals. He announced his decision on his Facebook page, writing, “thank you for many good years.”

Kvist formerly played for Fulham and Stuttgart and will continue his club career with Copenhagen. He told Denmark’s public broadcaster he had hoped to play in every game for the Danes in the World Cup, but “nevertheless, I still feel that I have won something by getting back to the team.”

Denmark was eliminated by Croatia in a penalty shootout on Sunday night. Another Denmark midfielder, Michael Krohn-Dehli, also announced after the game that it would be his last for the national team.

———

More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*