Ross Barkley misses the bus, Spain reject Taliban tag

World Cup whispers: England man brings Rio to a halt, Gerrard trains on his own

Ross Barkley


Ross Barkley may have impressed in England's warm-up matches with his touch and timing but the Everton midfielder was well off the pace prior to the Three Lions' first training session in Rio. Metro reports that the squad bus pulled out of the hotel amid heavy security but then came to an abrupt halt in the middle of a busy road. As traffic built up and locals sounded their horns, someone was seen to run from the bus back into the hotel and "around 15 minutes later, a flustered Barkley was seen sprinting out of the hotel and onto the bus".


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Once at their training session the England squad had to make do without captain Steven Gerrard, still feeling the effects of "a slight groin injury". The veteran midfielder, who played only 45 minutes of Saturday's goalless draw with Honduras, did a light fitness session on the touchline on his own before heading back inside the dressing room. However, the BBC says "there seems to be no doubt about his availability for Saturday's World Cup opener against Italy".


Wayne Rooney has been tipped to star at the World Cup, by none other than Jose Mourinho. The Chelsea boss told The Sun that "this is Rooney's World Cup. It is the tournament at the right moment for him". Mourinho believes the Manchester United striker has matured and "he is ready to cope with the pressure". As for England's chances in Brazil, Mourinho is sitting firmly on the fence, declaring: "I am always expecting something good from England but I am never surprised when things go wrong."


Not for the first this year a Russian invasion is on the cards as Vladimir Putin's man in Rio de Janeiro predicts that 20,000 Russian football fans are expected to arrive in Brazil to watch their boys in the World Cup. Consulate head Andrei Budayev also warned that around 500 of the visitors are categorised as "violent fans, who may require special attention". Six extra diplomats are being sent to Brazil to deal with any problems that might arise and Budayev has urged his compatriots to "comply with the laws, rules and customs of the host country".


Fifa have announced that Man of the Match awards for World Cup games will be decided by football fans voting on Twitter. In 2010, the vote was only possible on the official Fifa website but in Brazil fans will be able to tweet their vote at the beginning of the second half of each game. By clicking on a picture of their chosen player and registering their vote via the hashtag ManoftheMatch, fans will, in the words of Fifa's marketing director Thierry Weil have "the opportunity to be part of the sport they love." Voting will be available in six languages — English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Arabic.


Nine leading airlines – including Emirates and Etihad – will show World Cup games live in flight. It is the first time matches will be broadcast as in-flight entertainment, and according to the Daily Mail the new deal complements existing arrangements the airlines already have to broadcast live Premier League fixtures, F1 races, and major golf and tennis matches. The TV coverage will be prepared by Fifa's in-house production team and broadcast on the airlines by the Sport 24 channel.


Spain coach Vincente del Bosque has dismissed claims that his side are one-dimensional and insisted that the defending champions are not "tiki-taka Talibans". The 63-year-old told Marca: "Football is played in many different ways, there isn't just one, and that's why we're working on being a side which is aggressive, compact and capable of putting the pressure on". He admitted it suited Spain "to be patient and look for the gaps", he added that "this doesn't mean there aren't other teams who are just as good".

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