Hodgson makes nine changes for Costa Rica game

Hodgson makes nine changes for Costa Rica game, challenges Barkley and Wilshere to prove themselves

CHALLENGE: Ross Barkley (above) and Jack Wilshere will start against Costa Rica tonight, in a test of their readiness to step up as England's future stars.
CHALLENGE: Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere (above) will start against Costa Rica tonight, in a test of their readiness to step up as England's future stars.

Roy Hodgson has challenged Ross Barkley and Jack Wilshere to prove England have a bright future ahead of them after their World Cup shambles.

Having been eliminated last Friday after two straight defeats, England’s final Group D match against Costa Rica tonight is nothing but a dead rubber.

Hodgson admitted he is in “a realm of despair” after leading England to their fastest World Cup exit.

That despair will increase tonight if England are beaten by Costa Rica who, despite holding a 100 per cent record in Brazil, sit below Scotland (27th) in the Fifa rankings at No. 28.

Barkley, 20, and Wilshere, 22, will start in central midfield tonight.

Read the full report in our print edition on June 24. 

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Costa Rica wary of England backlash

RESPECT: Costa Rica coach Jorge Luis Pinto calls England the "mother of football".


Giant-slayers Costa Rica must not look down their noses at eliminated England despite their remarkably-different fortunes at the World Cup, the Central Americans’ coach said this morning (Singapore time). 

Viewed as tournament underdogs, the “Ticos” have already qualified for the next round after stunning wins over Uruguay and Italy. England lost to the same opponents, and are flying home straight after tonight’s game against Costa Rica in Belo Horizonte.

“The situation is quite complicated for the match,” coach Jorge Luis Pinto said ahead of the game. 

“The ‘mother of football’ cannot leave without points. They must take some pride, they can’t just leave Brazil with their arms crossed.

“They’re a young team with great potential for the future. They play well. It will be an aggressive game.”

Read the full report in our print edition on June 24. 

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Teary farewell for veteran Villa

RECORD SCORER: Spain's David Villa registered his 59th international goal in his 97th and final appearance just before 
half-time.
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Del Bosque sees 'positive' future

Coach says Spain have 'good base' of players to defend their Euro title

STALWART: Defender Sergio Ramos is likely to continue playing for Spain despite their early exit.
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Swaying to his samba

Neymar is the conductor of the Brazilian orchestra and the conduit for their hopes

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Brazil top group but not terrific

Save for Neymar's brilliance, 
Brazil's brittle defence is 
cause for concern for Scolari

MAN WITH MANY ARMS? Brazil star Neymar, celebrating with his teammates, often looked like he could do with the extra limbs.

The Round of 16 has served up Chile, but the reception could prove rather frosty. 

Brazil continue to blow hot and cold.

Their historic journey to Rio continues, but the performances remain distinctly middle of the road.

Neymar’s double allowed his countrymen to top Group A. 

When he was substituted in the second half, his departure killed off both the atmosphere and the Selecao’s appetite for the game.

Read the full report in our print edition on June 24. 

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Robben's the standout player in Brazil

Robben is playing the best football of his life to help Holland break World Cup hoodoo

IT TAKES TWO: Holland's Arjen Robben delving deep into enemy territory as Chile's Gonzalo Jara (No. 18) and Gary Medel (No. 17) try to stop him.
Arjen Robben gallops into space on the left and his cross from near the byeline is met by the sliding Memphis Depay to ensure a deserved win.

Three players were tipped to be the stars of this World Cup: Neymar, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

One man currently stands ahead of all of them: Arjen Robben, who is playing the best football of his life in the strongest group in the tournament. 

Read the full report in our print edition on June 24. 

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Van Gaal fumes over tactics probe

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GROUP D EQUATION

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Marquez leads Mexico into last-16 clash with Holland

Veteran captain Marquez inspires Mexicans to qualify for knockout stage

HERO: Mexico captain Rafael Marquez (above) opens the floodgates in his country's 3-1 win over Croatia.

Mexico will meet Holland in the last 16 of the World Cup, after veteran captain Rafael Marquez helped steer them to a 3-1 win and eliminate 10-man Croatia this morning (Singapore time).  

Mexico needed just to avoid defeat in Recife to take their place in the knockout phase, and three goals in 10 second-half minutes killed off Croatia’s hopes.  

The Mexicans needed more than an hour to break the deadlock at the Arena Pernambuco.  

The 35-year-old Marquez, captaining his country at a record-fourth Finals, scored with a header on 72 minutes before Andres Guardado grabbed Mexico’s second.  

Substitute Javier Hernandez then netted their third in quick succession to book their showdown with the Dutch in Fortaleza this Sunday.  

Read the full report in our print edition on June 24. 

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