World Cup Chat: Uruguay and France to headline quarterfinals showdown, England look to keep dream alive against Sweden

It's quarter-finals time Russia, so who can keep the World Cup dream alive?

Saturday features two blockbuster matches, with Suarez-led Uruguay taking on a French side brimming with confidence.

Didier Deschamps' team finally seems to have clicked; a 4-3 thriller against Argentina underlined their title credentials, but they'll face much sterner opposition in this Uruguay side.

Edinson Cavani is the major injury doubt for the South Americans. Their defence is rock-solid: they have only conceded once this year.

Meanwhile, Belgium head into their clash with Brazil on a high, following their dramatic stoppage-time win against Japan.

Both teams have a tendency to score goals in the second half, but Brazil possess a stingier back line.

England will continue in their quest to bring football home against Sweden, while the host nation will be praying Russia can continue this wildly unexpected run.

They face Croatia on Sunday morning.

Quarter-finals

Saturday 7 July, 2AM: Uruguay v France

Saturday 7 July, 6AM: Brazil v Belgium

Sunday 8 July, 2AM: Sweden v England

Sunday 8 July 6AM: Russia v Croatia

Chris Chang leads TVNZ's football buffs to break down the upcoming quarter-finals action. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch as hysterical Cristiano Ronaldo reduced to tears after sending off in Juventus' Champions League win

Cristiano Ronaldo was supposed to be the missing piece in Juventus' bid to win the Champions League.

But his first match in the competition for his new club lasted less than half an hour today as he was sent off after appearing to pull at an opponent's hair.

Juventus still went on to win 2-0 at Valencia, thanks to two penalties.

It was Ronaldo's first red card in 154 Champions League games, and the decision means he could miss a return to Old Trafford when Juventus plays Manchester United next month if gets at least a two-match ban.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri insisted it shouldn't have been a red card, and lamented the fact that video technology has yet to be introduced into the Champions League, as it has been in Serie A. VAR was also used at the World Cup in Russia this year.

"I'll only say that in this sort of occasion VAR would help," Allegri said.

"It's disappointing because now we'll lose him for a few games and instead if there had been VAR it would have been seen that it wasn't a sending-off offence."

Ronaldo was dismissed in the 29th minute after tangling with Jeison Murillo.

After Murillo went down inside the area, the Portugal forward gestured for his opponent to get up, then put his hand on the Valencia defender's head and appeared to tug his hair.

Referee Felix Brych showed Ronaldo a straight red card after discussing with his assistant behind the goal.

Ronaldo looked baffled and kept professing his innocence and was clearly distraught as he left the pitch in tears, still shaking his head.

"He was upset and he needs time to calm down," Allegri said.

"He needs to rise above it and focus on Sunday, even if these things leave a bitter taste in the mouth."

Even Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia attempted to comfort Ronaldo as he walked off the pitch.

"I didn't see the contact, I was affected by his tears. He was saying he didn't do anything," Marcelino said. "I spoke with him but I won't say what I told him."

Juventus has won Europe's premier club competition twice but the last time was in 1996.

It has lost five finals since then and hoped that signing Ronaldo, who has won the competition five times, it could go one step further.

The Bianconeri have won the Serie A title for the last seven seasons — and the league and Italian Cup double for the past four — but have struggled to transfer that domestic supremacy to the European stage, although they have reached the final twice in the past four editions.

Despite playing more than an hour with 10 men at Valencia, Juventus eased to victory.


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Former Premier League striker rejects offer to join rebuilding Wellington Phoenix

The Wellington Phoenix are back to recruiting players after their latest attempt to sign another former Premier League player fell through.

The Kiwi club was in talks with veteran Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins after he had been frozen out by his Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua following a serious injury in April.

But Martins has decided to focus on recovery from his torn hamstring instead of signing with a new team.

"I've spoken with Obafemi and he just wants to continue to rehabilitate from his injury in the UK for the time being," his agent Ante Alilovic told SBS.

"He's told me he wants to hold off until January (to make a decision on his future).

"I don't think the A-League is a serious option in terms of what he can earn elsewhere. He won't be coming to Australia and I think he sees his future remaining in China."

Martins played five seasons for Inter Milan from 2001-2006 before moving to the Premier League, making 88 appearances in three years for Newcastle United. More recently, Martins has played in Major League Soccer before joining Shanghai.

It's a blow for the Wellington club who received a green light from Football Federation Australia to pursue the 33-year-old with a marquee contract, meaning they would contribute from their own funds to help the Phoenix get his signature on the dotted line.

It marks the second failed attempt to find a marquee player after reported negotiations between former Chelsea star Michael Essien and Phoenix broke down prior to their pursuit of Martins.

Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor.
Obafemi Martins celebrates a goal for Newcastle United with Steven Taylor. Source: Getty


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TVNZ FC: Return of the Champions League and this is Zlatan's world, we just live in it

TVNZ FC is back for another week, with plenty to talk about from the world of football.

This week, Jack Tame is joined by Victor Waters and Simon Plumb, as Europe's elite welcomed the return of the Champions League.

Elsewhere, Liverpool and Chelsea keep their 100 per cent winning starts to the Premier League alive, while Cristiano Ronaldo finally breaks his duck in Italy.

Jumping across the pond, Zlatan Ibrahimovic notched his 500th career goal in the only way he knows how, firing home an audacious karate-kick for the LA Galaxy against Toronto FC.

And finally, our very own Victor finds himself at the centre of a movement to bring a former Newcastle and Inter Milan star down under to the Wellington Phoenix.

Jack Tame leads TVNZ's football gurus to discuss this week's action. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: Stunning late goal gives Liverpool dramatic Champions League victory over PSG

Roberto Firmino had an eye for goal just when Liverpool needed a winner against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League.

Liverpool had thrown away a two-goal lead at Anfield today, with Kylian Mbappe striking an 83rd-minute equaliser, but the French World Cup star's carelessness at the other end proved costly for PSG in stoppage time.

Mbappe was dispossessed by James Milner, giving Liverpool a final chance to attack the visiting goal.

Firmino, who only came on in the second half after scratching his eye in Sunday's victory at Tottenham, found the space to weave through the PSG defence and strike the ball low into the net to seal a 3-2 victory.

For his celebration, the Brazilian covered his left eye as teammates leapt on him.

It made for painful viewing for PSG coach Thomas Tuchel, who had seen similar scenes before.

As Borussia Dortmund coach, Tuchel's side also conceded in the first minute of stoppage time at Anfield to go out of the Europa League in the quarterfinals in 2016.

The stakes weren't as high this time. This was only the opening game in Group C of the Champions League and PSG has five games to secure one of the top two places to advance to the round of 16.

But four months after losing last season's final, Liverpool showed they might be capable of challenging for the title once again by finding a way to tame Neymar and Mbappe for much of the game.

An emphatic start saw Daniel Sturridge score the opener in the 30th minute and Milner double the lead from the penalty spot six minutes later.

But having failed to turn their dominance into more goals, Liverpool conceded before halftime when Thomas Meunier sliced into the net.

And Liverpool was left reeling when Mohamed Salah misplaced a pass that allowed Neymar to carry the ball forward and Mbappe to produce the equaliser.

Salah was brought off two minutes later, and found his own curious way to celebrate Firmino's winning goal.

The Egypt forward threw a water bottle at the ground looking far from happy.


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