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Nigeria vs Croatia: 5 things we learnt from Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat

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Nigeria began their 2018 World Cup campaign on a bad note, losing 2-0 to Croatia on Saturday night.
The result leaves the Super Eagles bottom of Group D.

But what other things did we learn from the game?

1. Rohr got it all wrong: We all know that 4-3-3 is his beloved formation, but it was obvious from the last friendly matches that 3-5-2 suits this team. Because it is the formation that brings out the best in Alex Iwobi, who is by far the creative hub of this team. And also free the wingbacks to provide width, while Mikel Obi and Wilfred Ndidi bring solidity at the base of midfield.

2. Croatia were not that special: For all the talk of their firebrand midfield, the Croats didn’t exactly blow the Super Eagles away. What gave them the edge and ultimately the victory, was the fine margins in football. It would be interesting to see how they fare against Argentina in their second game.

3. All or nothing: The Eagles take on Iceland in the next match on Friday. Before the tournament, this was a game we wrote off as three points. However, having played a creditable 1-1 draw with Argentina, you can’t toss Iceland aside. But for Nigeria, it will be all or nothing. Anything other than a win, means they are out.

4. Unlucky Etebo: Oghenekaro Etebo had a decent game overall. He was a mobile and energetic presence in midfield and repaid Rohr’s faith. There was nothing he could do about the first goal Nigeria conceded and I hope Rohr sticks with him for the next game.

5. Bad subs: Rohr has earned a reputation for being a ‘second-half coach’. However, his substitutions were very poor. First, he didn’t revert to a 3-5-2. And when he had to pull out a player, it was Alex Iwobi! Not Mikel Obi. Or Victor Moses. Even Kelechi Iheanacho seemed to slip onto the pitch. A real mess.

Football

Manchester United players told to ignore Mourinho’s instructions

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Former Arsenal defender, Martin Keown, has told Manchester United players to ignore instructions from manager Jose Mourinho and take matters into their own hands.

The Red Devils travel to Anfield on Sunday to take on title-chasing Liverpool, 16 points behind their bitter rivals.

A much-changed United side slipped to another demoralising defeat against Valencia in midweek and Keown believes Mourinho’s men are turning in the worst performances he has seen in 25 years.

“These performances are some of the worst we’ve seen from United in 25 years,” Keown told Football Focus.

“They are there for the taking – these United players almost need to stop listening to their manager now.

“If this is how they’re being told to play, the players are on their own – I don’t know the identity of this United team.

“They’re almost dreading games. Whether they change the manager is another thing but every game feels like a crisis now.

“Mourinho has an incredible job there but the ‘special one’ has become the ‘lonely one’.

“He’s almost enjoying the process of it coming to an end.”

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Barcelona

Barcelona issue fresh ban to Dembele

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Barcelona have banned Ousmane Dembele from turning off his phone, after he once again failed to arrive on time for training, uniquesports.com.ng reports.

Earlier this week, Dembele begged his team-mates for forgiveness in a private dressing-room speech, after being fined £90,000 for turning up two hours late to training, reports Daily Mail.

Manager Ernesto Valverde has now instructed the French winger, to keep his phone on all the time, so that he can be contactable if another issue arises.

Valverde is said to be content with the player’s improvement off the pitch and believes he has taken positive steps towards changing his attitude.

It is believed Dembele enjoys playing video games and watching TV until the early hours of the morning, which is the main issue.

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Football

Man City VS Everton: Jesus scores twice as Manchester City go back to top

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Manchester City have returned to the top of the Premier League for another 24 hours at least, following a 3-1 win over Everton in Saturday’s early kick-off.

Pep Guardiola’s men saw their unbeaten start to the season end at Chelsea last week and Liverpool overtook them on the table.

However, the champions preserved their 100 per cent record at home against Marco Silva’s men.

Gabriel Jesus scored either sides of half time to give City a 2-0 lead, before Dominic Calvert-Lewin pulled one back.

However, Raheem Sterling climbed off the bench, to head in a third and make sure the home side got maximum points.

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