Messi and Ronaldo head home from the World Cup – as it happened

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi jetted home from the World Cup on the same day as Russia, Spain, Croatia and Denmark bid to stay in it

Right, that’s yer lot until tomorrow. Join Paul Doyle for the big one:

Story of the day? Look no further:

Marks & Spencer, which has been the official suit supplier to the England team since 2007, said demand for waistcoats has risen 35% thanks to what they say is “the Gareth Southgate effect”

Thirty-five per cent.
Thirty-five per cent. Photograph: Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images


“Bold call by Russia to drop Cheryshev,” tweets Tanay. Indeed, their top scorer is resigned to the bench, but Dzyuba remains up top.


That’s all from me. Handing you back to Ben Fisher who’ll take you through the rest of the afternoon’s news ...


If you want more specific buildup to the Spain v Russia last 16 tie (and considerably better insight) then you can join Paul Doyle here

The big news for Spain is that Marco Asensio starts in place of Andres Iniesta (passing of the torch etc) and Koke is back in midfield alongside Sergio Busquets with Thiago Alcantara dropping out.

Asensio certainly gives Spain extra width and provides more of a direct threat while Koke is supposedly Busquets favoured midfielder to play with, given he can do a bit of everything.

Understandably, they’re both pretty happy about it...

Marco Asensio and Koke will both start for Spain against Russia
Marco Asensio and Koke will both start for Spain against Russia Photograph: Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images

The team’s are in for Spain v Russia.

Spain (4-2-3-1 – probably): De Gea; Nacho, Pique, Ramos, Alba; Koke, Busquets; Silva, Isco, Asensio; Costa

Russia (5-4-1): Akinfeev; Fernandes, Kudryashov, Kutepov, Ignasevich, Zhirkov; Samedov, Kuzyaev, Golovin, Zobnin; Dzyuba

Cristiano’s off. Here’s Ronaldo in departures at Zhukovsky Airport in Moscow following Portugal’s exit last night. That ‘beard’ is still there. One thing Messi irrefutably does better...

Cristiano Ronaldo prepares to fly from Zhukovsky Airport following Portugal's elimination at the World Cup
Adios Cristiano Photograph: Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

Everybody’s favourite new footballer Jesse Lingard is about to speak on Sky Sports News about Colombia, then potentially unicorns, his ‘JL’ celebration (he may or may not be approaching a Gareth Bale-style branding here) and the “SQUAD”! In case you’re near a TV...

Jesse Lingard takes aim during England training
Jesse Lingard takes aim during England training Photograph: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock

Afternoon all. Marcus Rashford is doing press later ahead of Tuesday’s game against Colombia. In the meantime the young forward has been shooting some hoops...

The waiting is almost over but, until then, James Piercy will steer you through the goings-on in Russia over the next 20 minutes:

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The warm-up to the main event.
The warm-up to the main event. Photograph: Alexander Ryumin/TASS

Essential listening, feat. France, Uruguay, Spain and more:

The main event is less than two hours away, with Russia – derided before the tournament – looking to cause an almighty upset:

Good question: “How do we know up front what strip, white or red shirt, the England team will be wearing each game?” muses Paul Bacon. “You know, so we can all get it right down the pub - The Phoenix, Houston, since you ask. I know that red is the alternative, but it seems easy to get tripped up. I got it wrong for the Tunisia game and right for Panama and Belgium. Help!”

England fans.
England fans. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/The FA/Rex/Shutterstock


Croatia v Denmark team news: Zlatko Dalić rang the changes for their win over Iceland, and the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Dejan Lovren and Mario Mandzukic are among those set to return this evening. Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric were the only players to feature last time out from their likely XI in Nizhny Novgorod. As for the Danes, William Kvist and Yussuf Poulsen are set to play.

Croatia celebrate against Nigeria.
Croatia celebrate against Nigeria. Photograph: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images


He scored the winner against Peru, breaking the watching David Trezeguet’s record, set at the 1998 World Cup, to become the youngest scorer for France in a major tournament – then sparkled as Argentina were beaten in the last 16. Kylian Mbappé has had a marvellous – verging on impeccable – tournament. And you rated his latest performance as 9/10. The big question, however, is will anyone score an elusive 10/10? There’s still plenty of time ...

Essential half-time lunchtime reading:

The message arrived very late on the night Spain played their opening match against Portugal, so Miguel Linares did not see it until the following morning. When he looked at his phone, he says he could hardly believe it: it was from the national team manager


Any excuse to trudge down memory lane ...

All-time XI.
How would this XI fare? Photograph: GNM

And, create your own, or peruse Iker Casillas’s all-time XI here:

Spain v Russia news: after their standards slipped against Morocco, Fernando Hierro may shuffle the pack, with Koke set to start, while Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio could also come into the side. “We know it will be tough, Russia will have the fans behind them and, although they’re saying the pressure is on us, we’ll have to approach the game as a final,” Asensio says. “It’s win or go home.”

Marco Asensio


Time for another hark back to yesteryear. On this day in 2006, Portugal’s goalkeeper, Ricardo, became the first to save three penalties in a World Cup shootout as they beat England in the quarter-finals in Germany. “In that moment you are in a trance or something,” the 42-year-old said recently.

Ah. Photograph: Aris Messinis/AFP/Getty Images

Is it coming home? You bet. “If they win, there’s several bits we will add. I might even add a gold World Cup to it,” said Eason Scaffolding.

A giant England flag assembled by scaffolders on an eight-storey block of flats in Hove.
A giant England flag assembled by scaffolders on an eight-storey block of flats in Hove. Photograph: Flora Thompson/PA


And we thought England had sussed out perfecting corners. It turns out not only Harry Maguire and John Stones are any cop in the air:


On this day two years ago, Wales beat Belgium 3-1 in Lille, with Hal Robson-Kanu coming up trumps, bamboozling Thomas Meunier and Marouane Fellaini – together with Jason Denayer behind them – with a jaw-dropping Cruyff turn. What will today have in-store in Moscow (Spain v Russia) and Nizhny Novgorod (Croatia v Denmark)?

Hal Robson-Kanu.
Hal Robson-Kanu fever. Photograph: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images


The former Napoli manager is set to replace Antonio Conte, and transfer targets Aleksandr Golovin and Alisson could join him:


Everybody’s talking up Croatia after maximum points in Group D but Denmark are no mugs. They are unbeaten in 18 games and, with Kasper Schmeichel in goal, they have conceded only once in 2018 – a sequence of seven matches. “At this point, we think we can go even further,” says winger Pione Sisto. “We are undefeated for a while now, so you get used to this winning mentality. You can feel it throughout the team. Even against very good teams, we are strong.”

Pione Sisto


Wayne Rooney has been talking all things MLS, after exiting Everton for DC United. The 32-year-old’s first match is likely to be against Vancouver Whitecaps on 14 July. “It just felt like the right time to come over, obviously it was a big decision to move wife and children over here,” says the former England captain, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract. “I know it’s a physical league which will suit me. It’s going to be tough, I know it will be tough. I’m going to be ready, I have to work hard in training and get myself ready for that first game. I can’t wait to get my boots on.”

Wayne Rooney reading Gazza: My Story, the Paul Gascoigne autobiography in Barbados in 2004.
Wayne Rooney reading Gazza: My Story, the Paul Gascoigne autobiography in Barbados in 2004. Photograph: John Chapple/Rex Features


Ballon d’Or talk: “Cristiano Ronaldo has probably done just about enough to win it again this year, with that third consecutive Champions League and his World Cup performance against Spain,” says Rogorn Moradan. “But if Croatia reach at least the semi-finals, could Luka Modric nick it? Who else could take the prize on the basis of a great showing in this World Cup? What does everyone reckon?”

Denis Cheryshev and Diego Costa go head-to-head later in Moscow, with kick-off less than five hours away. Both are still in with a shout of the Golden Boot, having scored three goals each:

Harry Kane leads the standings.
Harry Kane leads the standings. Photograph: GNM

Colombia v England news: James Rodríguez has missed training for the second successive day, despite fears over the extent of his calf injury being allayed a little on Saturday. There has however been no decision made on whether he can play any part on Tuesday. “[He] underwent a scan which showed that he is suffering from minor edema [a slight swelling caused by an accumulation of fluid] in his right leg, but that there has been no muscle tear.,” a statement from the Colombia Football Federation read. Last night, Rodríguez said: Thank you for your messages, they are of great support and positive energy, I’ll come back stronger.”

James Rodríguez v Poland.
James Rodríguez v Poland. Photograph: Patrick Smith/FIFA via Getty Images


Goal of the tournament? OK, just a contender, but Benjamin Pavard has been talking us through that emphatic strike for France – his first for his country – against Argentina last night. “My first instinct was just to run to the dugout,” said the 22-year-old Stuttgart defender. “For me it’s the team that wins, the 23 players and the coaching staff too. I slid on my knees and everyone came up to me. I’m not used to scoring, so I don’t have any special goal celebration. It was for my girlfriend, who was in the stands. I called my parents after the match too, because if they hadn’t done all those kilometres for me I wouldn’t be here. They were the ones who taught me that positive determination, to give it my all, especially my father.”

Knee-slide. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA


We’ve gone to extreme lengths to get the lowdown on Colombia:


Transfer nugget: between watching England from the sofa and cracking jokes with James Corden on A League Of Their Own, Jack Wilshere has been speaking about his future. “I’m keeping myself fit so if something does come up then I’m ready to go,” he says. “We’re discussing everything, I’m willing to go abroad if the right opportunity comes up. The best opportunity for me, we will take.”

Big statement klaxon: “I’ve watched every World Cup (on TV) since 1958 and so far I reckon this is the best,” begins Simon Sweetman. “I was quite sure yesterday that being the knockout stage it would go all dull and defensive. Wrong, wasn’t I?No competition has seen so many utterly brilliant goals. Fantastico!” Agree?


Transfer nugget: Bournemouth have completed the signing of Wales youngster David Brooks from Sheffield United, for a fee of up to £11.5m. “When you look at Eddie Howe as a manager you want to be involved in something like that,” Brooks, 20, who has signed a four-year deal, said. “He’s got big ambitions and with younger players he develops them well and he gives them a chance.”


Who will be the last team standing? “Of all remaining teams in this World Cup, are Uruguay the only one without apparent weakness?” asks Pangeran Siahaan. “They could be rigid and very reactive, but with solid steel defence and midfield and with two mavericks up front, they don’t have glaring loophole.” Thoughts?

Luis Suárez and Diego Godín celebrate in Sochi.
Luis Suárez and Diego Godín celebrate in Sochi. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images


Uruguay have already booked their spot in the last eight – but face an anxious wait over Edinson Cavani’s fitness. The Uruguay coach, Óscar Tabárez, says he is “worried” after one half of his strike-force limped out of their 2-1 win against Portugal with a possible hamstring injury. The 31-year-old scored both goals as Uruguay edged past Portugal, sealing a quarter-final date with France. That game is on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod. “We don’t have a lot of time to recover,” said Tabárez. “Right now, we are only worried but we don’t know how serious the injury really is.” Cavani added: “I hope the pain turns out to be nothing. I just felt something at one point and couldn’t recover. I hope [to be fit], I’ll do everything to make sure I can take to the field with my team-mates.”

Cavani left the field after 74 minutes.
Cavani left the field after 74 minutes. Photograph: AFP Contributor#AFP/Getty Images

Ivan Perisic has been waxing lyrical about Croatia’s feel-good factor. They face Denmark in the last 16 tonight, in search of their fourth successive win in Russia. “This is my fourth big tournament, and I can really say that the atmosphere is the best it’s been,” he says. “Although in France things were great, we were missing a lot of luck to advance. Some things have come together and the players are in great condition to get results, and for now things are going really well.”

Ivan Perisic at Euro 2016.
Ivan Perisic at Euro 2016. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images


There’s no room for Benjamin Pavard, Emil Forsberg or Rodrigo Betancur, while Dedryck Boyata, once of Manchester City and therefore unlikely to be foreign to wandering Premier League eyes has also impressed this summer:


Essential reading, feat. VAR abuse and a six-turn roll:

England’s date with Colombia on Tuesday, in numbers:

6 If Harry Kane scores against Colombia, he will become the first England player to register in six consecutive games since Tommy Lawton in 1939

10 – Kane has played only 153 minutes in Russia but only Gary Lineker (10) has scored more times for England in World Cups than the Spurs striker (five)

7 – Since – and including – the 1966 World Cup final, half of England’s knockout games have gone to extra time (seven out of 14)

1 – England have failed to score in only one of their 18 knockout World Cup games. That was against Portugal in 2006

Croatia v Denmark: “Heard an unsubstantiated rumour yesterday that Denmark’s captain would be missing for tonight’s match through injury,” tweets Pádraig McAuliffe, “but it seems he was fit and training this morning. I guess it was just a Kjaerless Whisper ...”

Simon Kjaer


Uruguay’s usual suspects – the sons of Salto – were superb in Sochi:

In this most unpredictable of tournaments, with the holders and two best players on the planet no longer on show, nobody can say with certainty and conviction that Óscar Tabárez’s side cannot go all the way. Nowhere will they believe that more than in Salto, Uruguay’s second largest city, located a little over 300 miles north west of the capital Montevideo

Back by popular demand, the hosts return to action in Moscow. Russia were belittled before a ball had been kicked but look at them now. They will need to up the ante again if they are to bypass an unorthodox Spain to the quarter-finals, though, surely? “Spain have great players and if they are not the best team in the world then they are very close,” says Denis Cheryshev, the Villarreal midfielder. “Every single player has good and bad moments for us that’s not important, we are just focused on our team.”

As for their manager, Stanislav Cherchesov, he has raked back to school, when he would sit smarting at the back of class. “This is a life and death match, but there is no pressure, rather responsibility,” he says. “This is like an exam, what you write down your teacher will read it and check and you cannot change it. We will get a score.”


What next for Messi? What next for Ronaldo? “As captain, I am very proud of this group,” the Portuguese said. “I leave here happy. Not the way I wanted, but the sensations are good. We hold our heads up high; Portugal will continue winning.”

The very start of this tournament did not disappoint, and the opening round of matches in the last 16 followed suit last night, with 180 minutes of despair and drama, plus school playground dumpings with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi heading home. “GOATs off the grass; the World Cup begins in earnest,” emails Maina from Kenya. So, will Spain and Croatia join France and Uruguay in the quarter-finals? We’ll soon find out.


One last memory, and alas that’s me, Richard Parkin, out of the chair for today. Thanks for your correspondence, some terrific reminiscences shared, and apologies for those I couldn’t get round to including.

David Penney writes in with a specific goal memory:

Regarding Quaresma and his trivelas, how about this spanked-with-the-outside-of-his-left billion yard curler from Branco?

Please tell me the front page headline was “Trivela from the Favela” for that one? (With the caveat I’m not familiar with Branco’s socio-economic context or background, but hey)

Ben Fisher is jumping into the hotseat now to continue the countdown to Spain-Russia and Croatia-Denmark. Here’s hoping they’re crackers! Go well.

I’ll confess, when I posed that question (see earlier) I was very much fishing for some tales of football yore, and you’ve certainly not disappointed with stories from Mexico ‘86 and so forth.

Syahmi Naim has gone for the other Mexico tournament however - 1970:

A baking hot summer, a colour television - purchased for the Coronation of Charles as Prince of Wales - and a 7 year old obsessed with football living in Cornwall. The match the final of course - whilst heartbroken by the Germans a fire was lit by Carlos Alberto that has yet to go out. 1998 and my first son born to USA v Iran and the bottle feeds ended with Simeone. Now fast forward my son is 20 and the torch has been passed.

Phwaor. The Brazil of 1970! Jairzinho, Pele, Tostao? Isn’t it?

What a lovely contribution, cheers Syahmi.


Also, it’s hard to imagine a midfield match up involving Christian Eriksen, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric and friends to be a dull affair.

Croatia’s 3-0 demolition of Argentina was certainly yet another of the highlight matches of this tournament thus far. And Sachan Nakrani has a great backrounder on Modric’s influence in the Croatian midfield for your delectation:

It’s a tough ask perhaps to expect more scintillating football tonight. Perhaps Russia might approach their clash with Spain with some verve or gusto, and as the leading passers in the tournament, you don’t imagine Hierro’s men will suddenly turn out some dour stuff.

But what can we expect from Denmark v Croatia?

As an Australian supporter I’m not the most objective of analysts on that topic, and on behalf of Peruvian fans I’m sure there are many who are aggrieved that it was the Danes who emerged out of Group C, especially having survived narrow scares against both Australia and Peru.

Some positive noises have been coming out of the Danish camp in recent days though, with Age Hareide vowing to look to be more attacking.

A few of you shared your memories of the ‘86 World Cup with us, and David Hytner has written a great little feature involving Denmark’s contribution there:

It does raise that whole England-Belgium tactical loss scenario again, and I must admit - when Janujaz’s shot burst the net Roberto Martinez’s actions might have indicated praise, but his eyes certainly didn’t appear to be dancing with delight.

Mark Pulham writes in:

Watching France/Argentina & Uruguay/Portugal last night, and observing Brazil or Belgium elsewhere on the LHS of the draw, I can’t help thinking England B did ever so well to get us nestled in the bottom RHS.

It’s a fair shout if yesterday’s two matches were anything to go by.

All of that is of course utterly immaterial ahead of a blockbuster clash with Colombia, who are sweating on the fitness of James Rodriguez.

Carl Worswick has a nice little write up about this, so as you awake, England fans, try this with your toast and jam:

Today’s matches of course also feature from the other side of the draw, which as many have pointed out, should Spain slip up, could produce an unlikely World Cup finalist.

I was just digging round to see if outside England, any of the seven countries had ever played in a World Cup final; glad I checked before I got a barrage of emails about Sweden in ‘58!

But yes - Russia, Denmark, Croatia, Switzerland or Colombia in a World Cup final? Imagine.

Even England and Sweden have only been there once. It certainly could be the fitting capstone on one of the most open World Cups in living memory.

Some great emails coming in on the question of most exciting World Cup tournaments.

Garry Byrne writes:

Mexico ‘86. The Azteca stadium in glorious sunshine; Diego Armando Maradona; Denmark topping their group; Lineker’s hat-trick versus Portugal; Diego Maradona; Butragueño dismantling Denmark single-handedly; that Brazil-France quarter final; Maradona; that goal; and perhaps the best final in years played out in front of a record crowd. Those were the days. I guess nostalgia ain’t what it used to be..

And two votes for Mexico 86, with Latha from Chennai also chiming in:

1986 - watching the World Cup as a 20 year old on a 14-inch black & white television. In Maradona’s World Cup (as it later came to be known), 2 matches stood out for me and even 32 years hence, makes me tingle when I recall. First was Russia Vs Belgium, where despite a heroic hat-trick by Igor Belanov, Belgium won 4-3. The other stand out for me was Brazil vs France where some of the absolute stalwarts of the game missed their penalty (Socrates and Platini included), including one by Zico for Brazil at normal time, after coming on as a substitute!!! And then, there was “hand of God” and possibly the greatest field goal the World has ever seen by Maradona. What matches, what memories!!!!

While Ryan Slattery has thrown in a vote for Spain ‘82:

As a 9 year old in Dublin, wearing my O’Neills Brazil kit, captivated by Socrates and Eder screamers v Russia. I was hooked, scrapbook meticulously updated before my dad read the paper. Tears when Rossi killed the dream. So many highlights, Armstrong, Boniek, Maradona red card, Algeria cheated, France cheated, Tardelli celebration. I’m watching my 11 year old son go through the same infatuation without the scrapbook.

What lovely memories; sadly for your humble scribe just before my time, but given life through your memories. Terrific.

Another terrific profile is this from Sid Lowe, on Spain’s “accidental” manager, Fernando Hierro.

Remember that? Lopetegui-gate? That seems actually years ago, given how much extraordinary drama we’ve seen since then.

I just hope if Spain do go all the way to the final, we seen Fernando do a full-touchline sprint and knee slide, with Martin Tyler popping up to call in his inimitable fashion.. “Hierrrrooooooooooo”.


But! Time marches ever forward, and we turn our sights to two more elimination matches today. Spain v Russia, and Denmark v Croatia.

Surely in a tournament that’s already had is fair share of upsets, we won’t see another one tonight?

They have been one of the surprise packages, the hosts, especially after losing a player many considered as crucial to their overall chances, Alan Dzagoev so early on in the tournament.

Coach Stanislav Cherchesov has fashioned the absolute most from the raw material he’s been handed, and one of the most impressive of his chargers has been Denis Cheryshev.

I love this from a press conference about his split loyalties ahead of the showdown with a nation he was raised in:

“Even though my character is Russian, rather cold, my behaviour is Spanish because I like very much to talk to people.”


It’s remarkable to think he’s only earned a dozen or so caps for the national side ahead of this tournament, especially given his performances thus far.


And speaking of fans - how’s this reaction on the streets of Montevideo.

Looks like the French didn’t mind it either in Sochi.

A few tweets and emails trickling in; it certainly sounds like you lot are enjoying this tournament as much as my good friend, Jason.

I love this comment from below the line though, from “usini”:

I think we should just say thank you to all the players and their fans yesterday. Two great games.

A simple point, but one worth highlighting.

I often question my life choices to have sunk so much time into watching, playing, coaching, supporting football, but like Galeano’s beggar, you can’t help but feel so blessed when you witness matches like yesterday.

So thank you players, and thank you fans!

A team that is purring nicely however is Argentina’s South American neighbours, Uruguay. And what more can be written about these ridiculous football overachievers.

A nation of less than 3.5m people - the world’s 134th most populous country - but one of just eight to have won the World Cup (and five to have done so more than once). Mental.

It’s not just that they’ve produced freakishly good footballers, it’s that they consistently continue to do so