World Cup 2022 LIVE: Messi MISSES Argentina training, alcohol BANNED from stadiums, Maddison's race against time | The Sun
18th November 2022

ARGENTINA have gone into panic mode as footballing hero Lionel Messi misses training just four days before their opener.

The Argentine head coach Lionel Scaloni revealed that a number of his men are struggling.

Scaloni said: "There are some players who are physically troubled. The truth is that we are not sure that these 26 players are all in the squad, luckily, we have days to decide if we have to make any modifications.

Meanwhile, Qatar has confirmed that alcohol will not be served in or around stadiums at the World Cup in a shock U-turn by organisers.

Beer was supposed to be available in the concourses of grounds in Qatar but the powers that be have reversed that decision.

And James Maddison has been training on his own away from the rest of the England squad as he continues his quest for fitness.

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Stay tuned with all the latest ahead of the tournament…

  • Kostas Lianos

    All for three

    All three of Wales goalkeepers faced the media together on Friday at their Al Sadd training base, writes SunSport's Martin Blackburn.

    Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward and Adam Davies were all on the top table for the press conference along with coach Tony Roberts.

    Despite being rivals for the No1 jersey, Hennessey and Ward are good mates.

    They even met up to watch a game at Wrexham from the stands earlier this month

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    Joe Allen injury update

    Wales fear Joe Allen will miss their opener against USA on Monday – but hope he could be ready to play a part against Iran next Friday, writes SunSport's Martin Blackburn.

    The Swansea midfielder again did a light session away from his team-mates for the second day running and has not played any football since September 17.

    Allen is a key man for the Dragons and coach Rob Page will give him every chance to prove his fitness

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    Luke Shaw's tattoo

    Luke Shaw has made the bizarre revelation that he has a tattoo of the Coco Pops monkey on his left arm, writes SunSport's David Kidd.

    The England and Manchester United left-back – who also has a cartoon drawing of him signing his first professional contract inked on the same arm – says the image of the popular cereal-selling primate is a tribute to his two-year-old son Reign.

    Shaw, 25, told the Lions Den YouTube channel: “My son is obsessed with Coco Pops, he has a lot of them in the morning.

    "I thought it would be quite cool because he is interested in my tattoos”

  • Kostas Lianos

    USA "littered" with problems

    For all the yee-haws and stars ‘n’ stripes positivity, this USA squad is littered with issues ahead of their World Cup clash with England, writes SunSport's Jordan Davies from Doha.

    Starting in goal, No1 Matt Turner touched down in Qatar off the back of just four Europa League outings with Arsenal this season.

    Talisman Christian Pulisic – known as ‘Captain America’ – can top that, starting just three times in the Premier League for Chelsea this campaign.

    Injuries have hampered them too. Juventus’ Weston McKennie, Leeds’ Tyler Adams, AC Milan’s Sergino Dest and Norwich’s Josh Sargent have all had recent spells out.

    Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna – whose dad Claudio played the last time the Yanks reached a World Cup quarter final in 2002 – has failed to complete a full 90 minutes for club nor country in the past four months.

    Fulham’s Tim Ream has been recalled at the age of 35 after a 14-month absence, but the roster, as it is known among these players, is lacking in any real international experience

  • Kostas Lianos

    Bellingham to stand out

    Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham has been tipped to take the World Cup by storm with England.

    Bellingham, 19, is hoping to start in the Three Lions' opener against Iran on Monday.

    And the midfielder's Dortmund team-mate Gregor Kobel reckons the teen sensation has what it takes to light up Qatar.

    Asked if Bellingham can be one of the stars of the tournament, Kobel replied: “For sure. He’s an unbelievable talent. He has so much quality and I think his mind is also really, really strong.

    “He has a great mentality and always wants to get better. He always wants to win the game.

    “Even now, at this young age, he can make a lot of impact everywhere”

    Credit: Getty
  • Kostas Lianos

    Iran press conference

    At today’s Iran press conference, once again the players were asked about the political situation back home and how it was affecting the team, writes SunSport's Tom Barclay.

    But this time, shock horror, the question came from a non-English journalist.

    Kinda blows Team Melli captain Alireza Jahanbakhsh’s theory that those questions were only being asked as some sort of English mind game to destabilise the Iran team ahead of their opener against the Three Lions on Monday

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    Ghana World Cup welcome

    As welcomes go the 3,000 outside the Double Tree Hilton in the Saad district of Doha is pretty special for the Ghana team, as per SunSport's Neil Custis.

    Fans have been gathering for three hours with music playing and staff in the hotel all waving Ghana flags in preparation.

    Even some England fans have been involved in it all

    Ghana receive warm World Cup welcome in Qatar

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    Son fitness update

    Son Heung-Min WILL be fit for South Korea’s World Cup opener against Uruguay – according to one of his closest pals in football, writes SunSport's Phil Thomas in Qatar.

    The Spurs star has been training in a specially adapted face mask after suffering a fractured eye socket in a Champions League clash with Marseille a couple of weeks ago.

    He was only able to rejoin his team-mates for anything approaching a full session earlier this week and it is still far from certain that he will be risked in Thursday’s Group H opener against the South Americans.

    Yet Korean legend Koo Ja-Cheol, who is working in Qatar as a TV pundit for his homeland, insists it is unthinkable that his big buddy will not be in the line-up.

    Ja-Cheol said: “He plays with such passion that I don’t think anyone would be able to stop him. He never wants to miss out and although he’s not been able to do any heading yet, he will push himself very hard. I expect him to start.

    “With the mask it’s uncomfortable of course, it wouldn’t be 100 per cent condition. But from what I know of him that’s the way it will be. Look, we need to score – I think we will need two to win and who can score for Korea? Everyone says Sonny“

  • Kostas Lianos

    Empty beer stands

    Beer stands at World Cup stadiums have been left empty after the recent alcohol ban.

    Despite months of promises that beer and other alcoholic drinks will be available at the eight World Cup venues, it has been confirm that NO booze will be sold at all in any of them.

    Even as late as yesterday, FIFA promised that fans could buy drinks inside stadiums on match days but not between kick-off and the final whistle.

    But that policy was scrapped after Qatar’s Supreme Committee put the squeeze on FIFA – although it will cost the world governing body millions of pounds in compensation to official beer sponsor Budweiser and parent company InBev

  • Kostas Lianos

    An absolute honour

    Iran striker Karim Ansarifard declared it would be an honour to play in front of female fans at the World Cup – women were barred from entering large stadiums in Iran following the country’s Islamic revolution in 1979.

    Ansarifard said: “Most definitely, for sure this is an honour for myself, for my country, for my people, for my team-mates, everyone. It’s an absolute honour regardless of who comes to the stadium, whether it’s our fathers, our brothers, our males or females.

    “It’s always an honour to represent our country, we play for them, we play for all men and women from our country. When I say people from our country, there are no exceptions. Those people include all male and all female.

    “It’s always an honour for me, an honour for my team-mates, there are absolutely no exceptions. I wanted to thank you for raising this question.

    “With all the respect I have to all supporters all around the world, Iran has one of the best fans, supporters all around the world.

    “All Iranian fans are all well known around the world for being very passionate, very loyal to the teams, not only football national team but all national teams, even the club level, we have very passionate fans, they are famous for it and we are very proud of that”

  • Kostas Lianos

    More from Fernandes

    Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes claims he hasn’t seen Cristiano Ronaldo’s bombshell interview and the two team-mates are now focused on Portugal.

    Fernandes added: “I didn’t read the interview, so I am okay with that.

    “Now is national team with Portugal. I said to him ‘the coach made the point that it is us’, so he made that point since I came here.

    “The main thing here is national team and us, we have to be focused on the World Cup.

    “There is not always a chance to play in a World Cup many times, Cristiano is lucky to play five times. Everyone wants to give the best for the team”

  • Kostas Lianos

    Schools close for World Cup

    Qatar is new to football and the World Cup in particular, writes SunSport's Andrew Dillon in Doha.

    But for all the negativity surrounding the tournament and the country's government, there is some good news – for kids at least.

    Today is the last day at school for Qatar's kids because schools are closing for the duration of the World Cup – that means a month off to kick back and enjoy the beautiful game with homework a distant memory.

    Schools here have worked solidly since the start of term without a break in order to stay on top of the work.

    That would never happen in England – the cradle of football. Rishi Sunak are you reading this?

  • Kostas Lianos

    ‘Why you say that?’

    This is the moment Manchester United star Bruno Fernandes snapped at an interviewer who asked about his Portugal star team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

    Fernandes was quizzed about his encounter with his team-mate as they met up during international duty.

    When asked about the moment, the attacking midfielder snapped at the reporter: “Why do you say that? They put the sound after. Did you hear with the sound? You have to do it.

    “You know what has happened, it is like in Portugal we have a problem with one of the channels was talking about it being cold for 45 minutes.

    “All of a sudden they go on a break and the national team send [the video] with the sound says that he is joking with me. They come back and they said there was a joke and they cut that.

    “And they said if you want to see again just go back, but if they go back they will see if there was a problem.

    “But if they tell the truth and explained what was in the video then people would know. Manchester United would be my focus after the World Cup. I have no problem with anyone”

    Man Utd star Bruno Fernandes snaps at interviewer over Cristiano Ronaldo question

  • Kostas Lianos

    Stadium air condition

    Despite the baking temperatures here in Doha, the stadiums will all have air conditioning and it will be 22C, writes SunSport's Charlie Wyett in Qatar.

    However, ground staff – including pitchside photographers – are being warned to take jumpers or light jackets to all games.

    That is because the massive cooling systems could make them feel chilly.

    The World Cup kicks off on Sunday when Qatar face Ecuador

  • Kostas Lianos

    Ramsdale on beer ban and banter

    England star Aaron Ramsdale addressed the recent beer ban from World Cup stadiums and banter amid Arsenal's Premier League lead, writes SunSport's Dan King.

    Ramsdale said: "I think the fans will find some way of having a beer. But with them not being able to drink, hopefully we can give them that sort of excitement and buzz with how we perform.

    "Most of the banter is coming from Conor Coady and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

    "They keep walking around pretending that I've said, 'Five points clear', every day"

  • Kostas Lianos

    More from Ramsdale

    Arsenal star Aaron Ramsdale opened up on how his dad reacted to his England call-up and how team-mate Bukayo Saka handled the Euro 2020 final loss, writes SunSport's Dan King.

    Rasmdale added: "There were definitely a few tears shed from him. If I make it on to the pitch, he might not return home – he might have a heart attack. He won't have any nails left, put it that way.

    On Saka's handling of the Euro 2020 final, the keeper said: "Impeccably. The kid's a lovely boy, he has time for everyone, he works super hard throughout every week.

    "He used all that motivation of criticism but more so the love that everyone gave him. It made him the extra boost. I can't wait to see him take this stage and thrive over here.

    "It was probably the first time he received criticism. I got relegated and signing for Arsenal was a difficult period. I was able to talk him through that.

    "When we missed out on top four and he felt it was all his fault because he wasn't able to provide for us, I was able to talk to say they had been eight the season before. Off the pitch, he's a completely different person"

  • Kostas Lianos

    Ramsdale on World Cup heat

    Arsenal star Aaron Ramsdale insists England will have to get used to the Qatar heat and has expressed full support for starting goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, writes SunSport's Dan King.

    Ramsdale said: "It's hard to put into words really, especially with it being a World Cup at this time of the year. It's all been thrust upon us quickly. Once the first game kicks off, it will be mega.

    "It's nice for a bit of shade and it's got the dryer thing to cool you down. The guys have got a lot of stuff, ice vests and ice packs, everything we need to get a boost.

    "I've been to Dubai for football or on holiday on numerous occasions, so I knew it was going to be hot. How quickly we can adapt to the weather is crucial for us.

    "Squad numbers are squad numbers. Jordan's done extremely well for England and he's playing well for Everton.

    You need all three of us to train properly to get the No 1 to his best.
    It will be difficult for two of us to flick the switch, although Nick [Pope] and I have done it before. Whoever gets that first game will get the full support of the group"

    Credit: Reuters
  • Kostas Lianos

    Man Utd response

    Manchester United are preparing to take legal action against Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo over his bombshell interview with Piers Morgan, writes SunSport's Neil Custis in Doha.

    SunSport revealed exclusively this week that United wanted to rip up Ronaldo's contract.

    A club statement has now not only seemed to confirm that but left the door open to further action against the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

    The statement read: "Manchester United has this morning initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent media interview.

    "We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion."

    It is clear Ronaldo has played his last game for United in his second spell at Old Trafford

  • Kostas Lianos

    Hotels evacuated for security reasons

    Hotels across Doha are being evacuated at a moment's notice for security concerns, writes SunSport's Neil Custis from Qatar.

    Any hotel hosting one of the nations competing in the World Cup here is thoroughly swept for bombs just before the team bus arrives for the first time to set up base.

    Today the Double Tree Hilton in the Saad district of Doha saw guests in the middle of their lunch in the Streat Culture bar told to down their knives and forks and immediately leave the building with the Ghana team soon to arrive.

    Each of the 140 guest rooms plus every office, bar and restaurant was then thoroughly searched by a team with specially trained sniffer dogs.

    Guests were left outside for around 15 minutes before being allowed back in

  • Kostas Lianos

    Rabiot in good grace

    Juventus ace Adrien Rabiot is on his best behaviour in Qatar after launching a charm offensive to win his place back in France manager Didier Deschamps’ affections, writes SunSport's Mark Irwin.

    It is all a far cry from four years ago, when Rabiot refused to go on the stand-by list after failing to make Deschamps’ 23-man squad and was cast into the international wilderness for three years.

    Even when he finally made his long overdue return to the team for last year’s Euros, his mother Veronique clashed with the families of Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe as France lost to Switzerland on penalties.

    Yet he makes no apologies for his past indiscretions and says: “If my image with the French public is a bit fuzzy, it’s because that’s what I want. Personally I am happy with what I am doing and I don’t show myself much in the media.

    “Everything will depend on the competition. If it goes well for us, everyone is wonderful and strong. If it doesn’t go so well, it can be more complicated. It was a big disappointment not to be selected for the squad four years ago and I consider myself really lucky to be here this time.

    “I am just grateful for everything that has happened since my return to the national team and I certainly prefer to be in this position than the one I was in four years ago. I have worked really hard to be selected for this tournament but I don’t think of it as revenge or having anything to prove.

    “This is my first World Cup and playing at this level there is sure to be a bit of extra pressure. I’m not the most experienced player in the squad and maybe people are expecting more from me than they are from some others"

  • Kostas Lianos

    Booze ban confirmation

    A FIFA spokesman said: “Following discussions between host country authorities and FIFA, a decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters.

    "There is no impact to the sale of Bud Zero which will remain available at all Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.

    "Host country authorities and FIFA will continue to ensure that the stadiums and surrounding areas provide an enjoyable, respectful and pleasant experience for all fans.

    "The tournament organisers appreciate AB InBev’s understanding and continuous support to our joint commitment to cater for everyone during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022”

    Credit: AFP
  • Kostas Lianos

    Alcohol off the table

    World Cup fans will be hit with a stadium booze ban today as FIFA buckles under pressure from the Qatari authorities, writes SunSport's Martin Lipton and Nick Parker.

    Despite months of promises that beer and other alcoholic drinks will be available at the eight World Cup venues, SunSport can confirm that NO booze will be sold at all in any of them.

    And it means that the only official World Cup site where fans can have a drink will be the Doha city centre official Fan Festival – selling just Budweiser at almost £12 for less then a pint.

    Even as late as yesterday, FIFA had promised that fans could buy drinks inside stadiums on match days but not between kick-off and the final whistle.

    But that policy was scrapped after Qatar’s Supreme Committee put the squeeze on FIFA – although it will cost the world governing body millions of pounds in compensation to official beer sponsor Budweiser and parent company InBev

  • Kostas Lianos

    Female referees speak up

    The World Cup’s women referees believe they “deserve” to be at Qatar 2022 – and insist they are being treated EXACTLY the same as their male counterparts, writes SunSport's Martin Lipton in Doha.

    Rwanda’s Salima Mukansanga, Stephanie Frappart of France and Japanese Yoshimi Yamashita are all vying to be the first women to take charge of a men’s World Cup game.

    Mukansanga said: “It’s a privilege for us all but we deserve to be here.

    “In football there is no sex. A decision is a decision that has to be taken and being a woman doesn’t matter. It’s about performance.

    “At the same time, women being part of the men’s World Cup is something really big.

    “People need to understand that: opening the doors to women and giving them an opportunity is another way to make women feel ready and able to be in a competition and succeed.

    “Women are very powerful if they get a chance”

  • Kostas Lianos

    Iran team annoyed by media

    Iranian players and officials are unhappy with the questioning by English media about their human rights issues at home, writes SunSport's Charlie Wyett in Qatar.

    What the Iranians are forgetting to say is that some of their own journalists have been blocked from making the journey over the Persian Gulf to Qatar.

    Those football reporters have also found that their WhatsApp accounts have been blocked to stop them from sending encrypted messages.

    Iran has seen mass demonstrations after the killing of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for not wearing the hijab properly

  • Kostas Lianos

    Lionel Messi's inspiration

    Aston Villa star Emiliano Martinez – a father of two – says his children inspired Lionel Messi to break his Argentina trophy drought at Copa America.

    Martinez told the BBC: “It was like our victory was meant to be. We were supposed to play in Argentina but it was changed last minute to Brazil.

    “We had been 40 days away from our families and he said something about me, which I will never forget.

    “He said: ‘Emi saw his daughter born on FaceTime. He couldn’t even give her a cuddle. So, let’s do it for him.’

    “I had butterflies in my tummy when he said that. He nearly made me cry just before the game had started.

    “At the end, I hugged him so hard. I said: ‘We did it.’ I was crying. I am a very emotional guy. I did grab him in the air like my boy. I love Messi”

    Credit: Reuters

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