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With Messi helpless, Argentina's World Cup dream fades

So much was expected but, when the game came, Lionel Messi had nothing. As Argentina crumbled around him against Croatia, their star could do little. Now an early exit looms large.

Clive Mason/Getty Images

Party time for the Croatia fans here in Nizhny Novgorod!

Christopher Wondoloski, ESPN FC9h ago

Argentina's troubles tied to a lack of direction, balance

With an unbalanced squad and a coach whose style doesn't fit the players, Argentina's problems have been written on the wall for some time now.

Messi looked a 'broken man' in Croatia defeat

The FC crew lay into Jorge Sampaoli and inspect Lionel Messi's negative demeanour after Argentina's embarrassing defeat to Croatia.

8:25

Borden: Messi went missing against Croatia

ESPN's Sam Borden shares his thoughts on Croatia's 3-0 win which leaves Argentina on the brink of a World Cup exit.

0:38

Mbappe announces himself on World Cup stage

France's teenage star scored the winner versus Peru in a display that showcased his outstanding talent. But he must deal better with criticism.

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Mbappe seals France progress vs. enthusiastic Peru

Didier Deschamps' men will have to improve if they are to make a deep run but, thanks to their teenage striker, a last-16 place is assured.

Pogba 7/10, Griezmann 5/10 in narrow France win

Paul Pogba was a bright spot as France made it two from two at the World Cup but Antoine Griezmann was below par again, a bad sign for Les Bleus.

Leboeuf takes aim at France's second half & Pogba's leadership

Frank Lebouef feels France "played like a small team" in the second half against Peru, and doesn't hold back in his opinion of Paul Pogba as a leader.

7:05

Nicol: Players to blame for lackluster France

ESPN's Steve Nicol believes Didier Deschamps only bares some of the blame for France lacking fluidity so far in the World Cup.

2:50

FIFA World Cup

TOP HEADLINES

FIFA World Cup

Extra Time: Should Argentina sack Sampaoli? Croatia a contender?

5:55

Project Russia: Young three lions teach us a lesson!

2:39

Matchday 8: Argentina in trouble, France & Croatia advance

Argentina's chances of making the round of 16 took a blow after a huge loss to Croatia, while Kylian Mbappe became France's youngest-ever World Cup goal scorer.

0:53

Argentina defeat opens the door for Nigeria & Iceland

The FC crew assess the state of Group D and how the tone of Nigeria-Iceland has changed following Croatia's defeat of Argentina.

2:52

World Cup Predictor: Will the real Brazil please stand up?

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes predict who will come out on top between Brazil-Costa Rica, Nigeria-Iceland and Serbia-Switzerland.

2:26

Project Russia: Russia runs out of beer at the World Cup!

Could it really be true?! Charlie Gibson heads out to investigate...

2:38

The 6,000km cycling journey without a match ticket

ESPN's Alison Bender catches up with a Spanish fan who embarked on a 74-day journey, cycling from Valencia to Moscow without a match ticket.

1:36

Matchday 7: Ronaldo's record, Suarez & Costa net winners

Cristiano Ronaldo broke another record versus Morocco, Luis Suarez led Uruguay past Saudi Arabia and much more headline Matchday 7.

0:42

Extra Time: Ronaldo's goatee; Uruguay the real deal?

The ESPN FC guys answer your tweets on Cristiano Ronaldo's new look and whether Uruguay can win the World Cup.

9:30

Moments with Mimi: Inside Russian submarine

Mimi Fawaz heads to one of Kaliningrad's most famous sites - a Cold War submarine.

1:14

Project Russia: Mexico fans take over the World Cup

Episode six of Project Russia takes you through Mexico fans' rollercoaster of emotions before, during and after El Tri's historic win over Germany.

3:11

Project Russia: Ronaldo's takeover

Ronaldo joins episode five of Project Russia to discuss Brazil's World Cup hopes and his ambitions for Neymar.

2:31

Neymar does not need to do it all for Brazil

He was fouled 10 times by Switzerland, but might that have been partly a result of Neymar's approach to the game? It's time he went back to basics.

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Thiago Silva back in Brazil's good graces

Thiago Silva was notorious in Brazil's 2014 failure and seemed destined for exile. Yet he's back and captaining the Selecao again under Tite.

Burley: Neymar always has to make it about himself

ESPN FC's Craig Burley says Neymar's 'circus' in Brazil's draw against Switzerland and subsequent injury news are a distraction to the team.

2:38

Will Neymar & Brazil hit their stride against Costa Rica?

After a strange 72 hours in the Brazil camp, the FC panel give thought to what sort of advice Tite would've given Neymar to get him back to his best.

4:34

Neymar: My foot feels fine

After returning to training, Neymar says he's feeling better physically and hopes to improve in Brazil's second group stage game against Costa Rica.

0:29

Ronaldo can't do it alone for Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo got the early goal as Portugal got an "unfair" 1-0 win over Morocco but his teammates need to step up if they're to go far.

Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Ronaldo surpasses Puskas, Portugal surge on

As if we needed a reminder of his powers: Cristiano Ronaldo became the leading European scorer in international history as Portugal beat Morocco.

G.O.A.T. Ronaldo explains his goatee

Cristiano Ronaldo underlined his G.O.A.T credentials in Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain last time out... and is now sporting a goatee.

Hislop: Ronaldo's focused on being a leader with Portugal

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop says we're seeing a different Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal, who is becoming the leader his country need at the World Cup.

4:01

Ronaldo makes history in Portugal's sub-par display

While Portugal may over rely on Cristiano Ronaldo and Rui Patricio, FC's Shaka Hislop feels they have the right formula to make a run at the World Cup.

2:49

Transfer Talk

Transfer Talk: Sarri to raid Napoli ahead of Chelsea move

Sarri is plotting a £76m raid on Napoli's roster if he moves to Stamford Bridge, and Juventus are eyeing Joao Cancelo. Transfer Talk is on it.

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Who is Man United target Sergej Milinkovic-Savic?

By now you've probably heard of Lazio's Sergej Milinkovic-Savic. Who is he, and why are Europe's grandest clubs ready to shell out £100m for him?

Transfer Rater: Mousa Dembele to Inter Milan

Mousa Dembele to Inter Milan and Jiri Pavlenka to Liverpool are some of the latest hot rumours, courtesy of Football Whispers.

Robson: Not much Poulsen could do about penalty

ESPN's Stewart Robson and Alexis Nunes share their thoughts on the controversial penalty decision that earnt Australia a draw.

2:05

VAR keeps Aussies alive as Eriksen dazzles

Christian Eriksen's superb opener looked to be sending Australia home but a VAR-referred penalty converted by Mile Jedinak kept the Socceroos alive.

Arzani impresses but Socceroos slack in attack

Australia's lack of bite in front of goal proved their undoing in a 1-1 draw with Denmark, but livewire Daniel Arzani impressed off the bench.

Will Denmark or Australia advance from Group C?

With France already into the round of 16, the ESPN FC guys share their thoughts on Denmark and Australia's chances of escaping Group C.

2:18

Champion: A draw the very least Australia deserved

Jon Champion believes it's all still to play for in Group C for Australia after their 1-1 draw against Denmark.

2:25

Fantasy

Make your picks!

World Cup predictions: Brazil vs. Costa Rica, Nigeria vs. Iceland, Serbia vs. Switzerland

The World Cup has kicked off and throughout the whole tournament our team of experts from around the globe will pit their wits against each other.

Play ESPN FC Match Predictor: Will Neymar and Co. bounce back vs. Costa Rica?

Pick the outcome of each match in Russia, as well as the tournament champions and Golden Boot winner, and score points based on the accuracy of your predictions.

World Cup Predictor: Will the real Brazil please stand up?

ESPN FC's Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes predict who will come out on top between Brazil-Costa Rica, Nigeria-Iceland and Serbia-Switzerland.

2:26

FIFA World Cup

ESPN Onscene

Argentina fans getting fired up for the match against Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod.

Christopher Wondoloski, ESPN FC13h ago

Packed house for Brazil's press conference ahead of tomorrow's game vs. Costa Rica. DefenderThiago Silva and coach Tite set to speak.

Tom Marshall, ESPN FC17h ago

Welcome to Yekaterinburg. Perhaps the home of the first Cristiano Ronaldo statue in Russia. And they like a statue in Russia...

Mark Ogden, Senior Football Writer23h ago

Hierro's not here to be Spain's caretaker: this is his team now

Fernando Hierro was the accidental manager after Spain fired Julen Lopetegui but it's clear that he's working hard to make this his team.

Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Is Spain's World Cup on borrowed time?

Spain have defended sloppily and struggled to establish a rhythm in two group-stage matches. Could their World Cup be over before it really begins?

Burley: You'll see a better Spain against better teams

Spain managed to walk away with three points against Iran, but the FC crew explain how Iran managed to disrupt La Roja.

4:49

The Toe Poke

Football celebrates international Selfie Day

Today is international Selfie Day, and many of the football world's great and good have already been quick to share their celebrations.

PSG, U.S. star Weah answers NYC team's call

An amateur team in New York was scrambling for players in order to fill a full side -- rising PSG and U.S. star Timothy Weah came to the rescue!

Maluma posts defiant message amid reports he was robbed

Colombian singer Maluma posted a defiant message on social media after reportedly having $800,000 worth of valuables stolen from his hotel.

Argentina defeat opens the door for Nigeria & Iceland

The FC crew assess the state of Group D and how the tone of Nigeria-Iceland has changed following Croatia's defeat of Argentina.

2:52

Iceland look to seize on Nigeria's sense of urgency

Iceland received deserved praise for coming back from a one-goal deficit against Lionel Messi & Co. But bigger goals beckon.

First and second balls crucial for Nigeria

The loss to Croatia has left Nigeria needing to beat Iceland to keep their World Cup hopes alive. To do that, Gernot Rohr's men must be sharper.

Udoh questions credibility of Nigeria live chicken request

ESPN FC's Colin Udoh spoke with leaders of two Nigeria fan groups who refuted rumours fans wanted to bring a live chicken into World Cup matches.

1:59

FIFA World Cup

Russia sheds preconceived notions of itself at World Cup

Mark Ogden's travels at the tournament have shown him that the country is showing its real self rather than the Soviet-era image many envisioned.

Opponents of VAR are wrong and other World Cup observations

VAR has been one of the biggest success stories of the welcoming, wonderful. World Cup in Russia.

Postcards from Russia: In search of World Cup fever

The World Cup hasn't exactly turned Russia into a nonstop footballing party.

best of the World Cup

Editors' picks

World Cup's top 25 age-adjusted stars

For young players, making the 23-man World Cup squad is a top indicator of stardom to come. Bill Barnwell picks out the 25 next big things in 2018.

Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images

Quality full-back play absent so far at World Cup

Normally having two good full-backs is a recipe for World Cup success. One problem so far at this World Cup is no side has featured two good ones.

Suarez goal can't mask Uruguay shortcomings vs. Saudis

Against one of the worst teams at World Cup 2018, Luis Suarez grabbed a goal but Oscar Tabarez's men looked lacklustre and must improve ... quickly.

Tabarez, Uruguay reverting to safety-first football?

Oscar Tabarez famously abandoned his pragmatic approach to ensure Uruguay made it to the World Cup but is showing signs of reviving old habits.

Godin 8/10, Suarez 6/10 as Uruguay advance

Uruguay weren't overly impressive in a 1-0 win against Saudi Arabia, but centre-backs Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez were in keeping a clean sheet.

Uruguay's defensive approach paying dividends

Alejandro Moreno says Uruguay's style of leading from the back will continue to stifle opponents as it has Egypt and Saudi Arabia so far.

1:40

Uruguay's truest test will be vs. Russia

With Uruguay and Russia already through to the round of 16, Shaka Hislop believes the final group stage game could be the first real test for both sides.

3:23

Russia have already defied the odds and aren't done yet

Hosts Russia were not expected to do anything at the World Cup but a ragtag group has come together against all odds to put them in prime position.

AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

Salah makes scoring return but cannot stop Russia

The last 16 looms for the hosts after another impressive display, while Egypt are on the verge of elimination despite the return of their talisman.

Resting Salah comes back to haunt Egypt vs. Russia

After Russia's big win over Egypt, the FC crew assess what's going right for the hosts and reflect on Egypt's choice to rest Mo Salah vs. Uruguay.

6:11

Irked Lewandowski: Poland 'not effective' in loss

Robert Lewandowski offered a scathing appraisal of Poland's performance in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup, a 2-1 defeat to Senegal.

Michallik: Poland got it all wrong & choked

ESPN FC's Janusz Michallik says Poland only have themselves to blame for their mistakes in a 2-1 defeat to Senegal.

2:30

Mane magic not needed thanks to slapstick Szczesny

Senegal finished off the final round of opening World Cup fixtures with a win over hapless Poland -- and they didn't even need Sadio Mane to shine.

Fight erupts between Poland & Senegal fans

Chairs and benches were thrown among Poland and Senegal fans during their World Cup Group H opener.

0:32

McManaman: Not surprising to see Senegal overpower Poland

Steve McManaman and the FC crew point to Senegal's counterattack and physicality as the main factors that led to their victory over Poland.

3:55

Senegal fans all smiles & elated after win over Poland

Senegal became the first African nation to win at the 2018 World Cup and the fans were out in full force to enjoy the moment.

0:20

Real Madrid

Football

Real Madrid heading in a new direction

Forget about the Galacticos. In hiring Julen Lopetegui and extending Raul de Tomas' contract, it's clear that Real Madrid want to build a new core.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Lopetegui unapologetic, defiant at Real Madrid presentation

At his presentation as Real Madrid manager, former Spain boss Julen Lopetegui was calm, composed and defiant on the heels of a bizarre few days.

Lopetegui gets second chance at Real despite odd timing

Julen Lopetegui's announcement as Real Madrid's new coach was a shock given Spain's World Cup prep but he is an honest, tough and talented manager.

England

Football

Robson: England will beat Panama whatever team they put out

1:32

England need Alli, Sterling and Lingard to step up

Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling and Jesse Lingard have played 78 games for England, but have delivered a combined total of just five goals.

Ogden: Scarce flights make it hard for England fans

Mark Ogden feels the lack of transport available around Russia could be the reason for so few England fans making the trip to Russia.

0:52

Extra Time: Macca on Southgate, Sterling's shooting woes

The ESPN FC guys answer your tweets on England's game-winning goal, Gareth Southgate's coaching, Raheem Sterling fluffing his lines and more.

8:57

Arsenal

Football

Leno move a gamble as Cech still holds No.1 spot

Think Bernd Leno is Arsenal's new No.1? Think again. His move is a big gamble and it's likely Petr Cech will remain first choice next season.

Leno: Arsenal's new keeper inspired by Casillas

Who is Bernd Leno, the German goalkeeper who has signed for Arsenal from Bayer Leverkusen? Here are five things you must know.

For all his potential, Wilshere embodied Arsenal's past

A sensational debut aged 16 suggested a bright future for Jack Wilshere, but he came to embody an obsolete era at Arsenal and had to go.

Germany

Pressure on after Mexico defeat

Muller unfazed by criticism as Germany prep for Sweden

Thomas Muller is struggling for form with Germany but is still positive about their chances of a result against Sweden on Saturday.

Khedira offered ticket home by cheeky Swedish journalist

An intrepid journalist tried to catch the Germany midfielder off guard but he was more than ready for the ruse.

Philipp Lahm: Germany must stay calm

It's not been a great start for Germany, but captain-turned-ambassador Philipp Lahm remains positive for the short- and long-term.

FIFA World Cup

Alternative 2018 World Cup fans' guide

Admit it: You enjoy the World Cup but, beyond the tactics, you live for celebrity sightings (Beckham! Rihanna!), managers losing their @#$#, goal celebrations and fights.

ESPN

Who lifts the football logo World Cup?

The Exploding Heads rank all 32 of the World Cup country logos, but you won't be surprised as to which country comes out on top.

4:21

Fans' World Cup allegiances in U.S. absence at World Cup

With the U.S. not in the World Cup, ESPN FC's Alexis Nunes takes to New York to ask who fans will be supporting in their absence.

1:31

Seb and Herc take a riverboat tour of Moscow

Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez finally got some good weather in Moscow, so they made the most of it by taking a boat tour of the city.

3:17

Exploding Heads' genius, absurd & unique World Cup celebrations

Sit back and take all of the goal celebrations you'll see this at this summer's World Cup by the Exploding Heads' most agile athlete, Ian Fiveankles.

1:33

Seb and Herc show off their neighborhood

Take a tour of the neighborhood Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez are calling home during Mexico's journey through the World Cup.

3:00

Exploding Heads' eclectic World Cup museum

The Exploding Heads' World Cup museum is full of memories including Ronaldo's hair, Paul Gascoigne's tears and a Zinedine Zidane voice recording.

2:13

Seb and Herc take on Russian vodka and caviar

On their second day in Russia, Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez take some time to sample the local cuisine.

1:39

Seb & Herc's first day in Moscow

Sebastian Salazar and Herculez Gomez have landed in Russia and make the best out of a rainy day in Moscow.

2:18

Premier League

Willian is the perfect Jose Mourinho player

Willian is the perfect Jose Mourinho player in the sense that he is tactically intelligent and works extremely hard in defence and attack.

Liverpool's World Cup contingent experiencing mixed results

Liverpool have eight players at the World Cup, and while most appear set to embark on knockout-round runs, their biggest star is going home early.

Man United's stars are proving their worth at World Cup

While Jose Mourinho undoubtedly would like his squad back for preseason as soon as possible, lengthy World Cup runs could pay off for Man United.

european football

Should Atleti pursue sanctions for Barca's Griezmann pursuit?

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti questions if Atletico Madrid would have much of a case against Barcelona for approaching Antoine Griezmann.

3:32

Boateng and Bayern's sub-zero relationship could lead to exit

Jerome Boateng's World Cup has been clouded by talk of an exit from Bayern Munich. So why did Karl-Heinz Rummenigge cast doubt on his future?

Who should Barca buy after missing out on Griezmann?

Barcelona thought they'd be signing Antoine Griezmann but having missed out, they must quickly regroup and reinvest in their midfield and defence.

World Cup 2026 vote

Exclusive: Donovan talks 2026 and missing out on Russia

The U.S. soccer icon sat down with ESPN to talk about the 2026 United Bid, missing out on 2014 and watching a World Cup with no American team.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

United bid, Infantino are winners from 2026 vote

The result was not as close as once seemed likely; the 2026 World Cup -- all 80 games of it -- is coming to a trio of hosts in North America.

Coming to America: Looking ahead to the 2026 World Cup

ESPN's Sam Borden joins Bob Ley to discuss what the 2026 tournament will look like and what kind of an impact it will have on the host nations.

4:12

Borden: United bid put on a full-court press

Sebi Salazar is joined by Sam Borden and Gab Marcotti to delve deeper into how the 2026 World Cup bid was won by the United bid.

7:34

Cordeiro: USMNT can win 2026 World Cup

USSF president Carlos Cordeiro feels that hosting the 2026 World Cup will have a positive impact that can help the United States challenge for the World Cup.

6:04

Twellman: USMNT will benefit from 2026 World Cup

Former USMNT player Taylor Twellman feels that the game will grow in popularity by hosting the 2026 World Cup in the United States.

1:08

2026 World Cup is 'rocket fuel' for United States

MLS Commissioner Don Garber talks about the 2026 World Cup coming to North America and what it means for soccer in the United States.

4:20

Gulati: I had a feeling we'd be successful

Sam Borden caught up with former USSF president Sunil Gulati after the 'United 2026' bid was selected to host the 2026 World Cup.

1:53

Infantino not worried over Donald Trump interference

FIFA president Gianni Infantino is not worried about political interference from United States president Donald Trump.

0:54

United Bid wins convincingly to host 2026 World Cup

The United States, Mexico and Canada earned a 134-65 vote win over Morocco to earn the right to host the 2026 World Cup.

0:55

FIFA World Cup

Letters from Russia: Essays on host cities

Rostov-on-Don's raki tradition will show visitors a good time

Rostov-on-Don is known for its communal raki (crayfish) dinners and while being a smaller city in the World Cup, it will show visitors a good time.

Valery Matytsin\TASS via Getty Images

Moscow transformed as Russia fans, travelers party in harmony

"I've lived in Moscow all my life and never seen anything like it." Eliot Rothwell's new letter from Russia comes from the joyous capital.

Kazan: Cultures coexist in harmony but hockey dominates

Kazan is shared by ethnic Tatars and ethnic Russians, by Islam and Orthodoxy, but everything coexists in harmony in a modern, globalized city.

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