In Brief

World Cup briefing: Germany urged to drop Mesut Ozil after Mexico ‘debacle’

Cristiano Ronaldo is compared to a ‘port wine’ and Eden Hazard plays down Romelu Lukaku comments

It hasn’t been a great start for Germany’s World Cup defence. After opening their campaign with a defeat against Mexico in group F, the squad have held crisis talks to discuss the “debacle”.  

Germany’s second game is against group leaders Sweden on Saturday (7pm, live on ITV). Skipper Manuel Neuer has revealed that the players pored over their failings as they searched for answers for their 1-0 loss to the Mexicans.

Quoted by The Daily Telegraph, the goalkeeper said: “We didn’t mince words, because we want to make things better against Sweden. We talked a lot. We’re our harshest critics. It was a wake-up call – there have  never been such strong words within the team.” 

One of the players to have come under fire is playmaker Mesut Ozil. The Telegraph says there are “mounting calls” for Germany head coach Joachim Low to drop the midfielder for the Sweden clash.

Santos: Ronaldo is like a ‘Port wine’

He may be 33-years-old but Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has set the World Cup alight with four goals in his opening two matches.

Ronaldo’s performances against Spain and Iran were so good that Portugal coach Fernando Santos has compared him to one of the country’s favourite tipples.

Santos told the BBC: “He is like a port wine. He knows how to refine his capacity and age at his best. He is constantly evolving, contradictorily to the other players. He knows himself and he knows what he can do.

“What he does now is not what he did three or four years ago, and not what he will be doing in a few years from now.”

Speaking on ITV, Roy Keane said his former Manchester United teammate Ronaldo had moved up a level and was now ahead of Lionel Messi as the world’s best player.

Keane said: “I think there has been a great debate about him [Cristiano Ronaldo] and [Lionel] Messi but over the last six months I think he’s on a new level – he’s out there on his own. It’s not natural ability, as brilliant as he is, it’s sheer hard work. He’s got a lot of courage, he’s brave and the guy is a genius.”

Hazard: all is fine with Lukaku

After accusing Romelu Lukaku of “hiding up front” during the first half against Panama, Belgium captain Eden Hazard has played down his comments.

Hazard spoke to the striker at half-time during Belgium’s group G opener and Lukaku went on to score twice in the 3-0 win.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Hazard said: “As the captain, even if I am not the captain I can talk, on the pitch I try to give my best, if I can help players to be better – I will. I just told Romelu if we want to win the game we need him, not just as a scorer to score goals, but... in the build-up. We just talked normally and we won the game in the end so it was fine.”

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