Sports Mole previews Friday’s World Cup Qualifying – South America clash between Colombia and Brazil, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Colombia and Brazil will be looking to get their CONMEBOL World Cup qualification campaigns back on track when they do battle at Estadio Metropolitano in Barranquilla on Thursday.
While the hosts are seeking to end a three-game drawing streak, the visitors enter matchday five after suffering a surprise defeat to Uruguay last month....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
After failing to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, Colombia have since made an unbeaten start to 2026 qualifying and currently sit fifth in the 10-team CONMEBOL table with six points from their opening four fixtures.
A narrow 1-0 home win over Venezuela in September has since been followed by three successive draws against Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador, picking up solitary points against the latter two nations last month.
Colombia were on course to claim maximum points against Uruguay courtesy of goals from James Rodriguez and Mateus Uribe, but the 87th-minute dismissal of goalkeeper Camilo Vargas for a foul inside the penalty area was followed by a 91st-minute equaliser from Uruguay’s Darwin Nunez, who converted the resulting spot kick to rescue a point.
Nestor Lorenzo’s men were then frustrated in a goalless stalemate with Ecuador in their most recent fixture, but nevertheless have extended their unbeaten run across all competitions to 15 matches, dating back to February 2022 when they lost 1-0 to Argentina.
Colombia, ranked 17th in the world by FIFA, are now preparing for their first encounter against Brazil for nearly two years and have failed to win any of their previous seven meetings with the five-time world champions, although they have admirably played out three draws during this run and will hope to frustrate their upcoming opponents once again on Friday.
For the first times since October 2015, Brazil tasted defeat in World Cup qualifying when they were beaten 2-0 by Uruguay last month in a game that was marred by the serious knee injury sustained by star attacker Neymar.
Goals either side of half time from Uruguay duo Darwin Nunez and Nicolas de la Cruz ended Brazil’s 37-game unbeaten run in qualifying, and that setback came just six days after the Selecao were held by Venezuela in a 1-1 draw on home soil when Gabriel Magalhaes’s opener was cancelled out by Eduard Bello in the 85th minute.
The last time that Brazil endured a run of three or more games without a win was between September and November of 2019 when they failed to win five matches in a row, and interim boss Fernando Diniz is the man tasked with turning the Selecao’s fortunes around in their final two fixtures of 2023.
Diniz, who successfully steered Fluminense to Copa Libertadores glory earlier this month, will be keen to see his Brazil side claim maximum points against Colombia as they attempt to close the five-point gap that separates them in third place with Argentina at the summit of the CONMEBOL standings.
Brazil, who have only won four of their last 10 internationals away from home, are sure to have one eye on next Wednesday’s showdown with Argentina, but they must first shift their focus to Friday’s clash with Colombia, whom they have beaten 12 times as well as drawn 11 and lost just one of their previous 21 meetings with Los Cafeteros.
Colombia World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Colombia form (all competitions):
Brazil World Cup Qualifying – South America form:
Brazil form (all competitions):
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Colombia right-back Santiago Arias has withdrawn from the national team squad due to injury, so FC Cincinnati teammate Yerson Mosquera is expected to start on the right side of a back four, while Carlos Cuesta will hope to retain his place at centre-back ahead of Yerry Mina.
Zenit St Petersburg attacker Mateo Cassierra has also pulled out due to injury, but Liverpool’s Luis Diaz has been called up less than a week after his father was released by Colombia’s ELN guerrilla group following 12 days in captivity, and the winger could be joined in attack by Bournemouth loanee Luis Sinisterra and Werder Bremen loanee Rafael Santos Borre.
James Rodriguez, Jhon Arias and Richard Rios, who ply their trade at club level in Brazil with Sao Paulo, Fluminense and Palmieras respectively, are all in contention to feature in midfield.
As for Brazil, Ederson has been forced to withdraw from the squad due to a foot injury and joins Neymar, Casemiro, Richarlison and Eder Militao on the sidelines, while Gabriel Jesus has been called up despite missing Arsenal’s last five matches with a muscle problem, and the striker will be assessed ahead of kickoff.
Ederson started each of Brazil’s previous six international games between the sticks, but his absence is set to see Alisson Becker handed a start, while Emerson Royal is expected to play at right-back, most likely joining Gabriel, Marquinhos and Carlos Augusto in the back four.
In-demand Fluminense star Andre is set to compete with Douglas Luiz and Joelinton for a start in centre-midfield alongside Bruno Guimaraes, while uncapped duo Joao Pedro and Paulinho – of Brighton & Hove Albion and Atletico Mineiro respectively – are in contention to make their international debut up front.
Seventeen-year-old Palmeiras prodigy Endrick has also received his first call-up, but the Real Madrid-bound attacker is unlikely to displace either Vinicius Junior or Rodrygo on either flank; Barcelona’s Raphinha and Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli are also attacking options at Diniz’s disposal.
Colombia possible starting lineup:Montero; Mosquera, Cuesta, Sanchez, Machado; Uribe, Lerma; J. Arias, Rodriguez, Dias; Borre
Brazil possible starting lineup:Alisson; Emerson, Marquinhos, Gabriel, Augusto; Guimaraes, Andre, Joelinton; Rodrygo, Pedro, Vinicius Jr
We say: Colombia 0-1 Brazil
Colombia have frustrated Brazil on numerous occasions and there has been little to separate these two nations in recent years, so another closely-fought contest could be on the cards.
Although Brazil are missing a few key players and may rely on a couple of debutants on Friday, Diniz should have enough quality at his disposal to steer the Selecao to victory in Barranquilla.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data
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Preview: Fenerbahce vs. Sivasspor – prediction, team news, lineups
Sports Mole previews Monday’s Turkish Super Lig clash between Fenerbahce and Sivasspor, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Fenerbahce seek to reclaim first place in the Super Lig table when they welcome Sivasspor to the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on Monday.
The round 14 encounter could see the home side claim their seventh triumph in front of their fans while their visitors aim for another encouraging result to continue their impressive road record....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Fenerbahce have had an impressive start to the season in Turkey but have struggled to replicate that in Europe lately, with Thursday’s 6-1 thrashing at Nordsjaelland leaving them third in their Europa Conference League group.
Ismail Kartal’s men seek a response to that disappointing continental performance and result when they host Sivasspor on Monday, keen to register another home victory.
While Adana Demirspor have accrued one more point than Fener in home games — 19-18 — both clubs have picked up six wins each in front of their fans.
The hitherto league-leading club returned to winning ways on home turf with a 2-1 triumph over Fatih Karagumruk on November 26, a much-needed success to banish the 3-2 disappointment against Trabzonspor at the start of the month.
With Galatasaray securing a 2-0 win at relegation-threatened Pendikspor on Saturday, the Yellow Canaries are three points behind their Istanbul rivals before taking to the field on Monday.
As for Sivasspor, the mid-table side will hope to worsen the misery of their hosts by producing a top performance in Istanbul.
The precedent does favour Yigidos, who have lost only one of their recent four Super Lig visits to Fenerbahce, even if that was their last visit in November 2022.
That 1-0 loss ended Sivasspor’s three-game undefeated run (two wins) against Monday’s opponents, and they seek to stun their more illustrious hosts yet again in gameweek 14.
Despite a 3-0 reverse at Karagumruk a fortnight back, the Sivas-based club have more road points (10) than all but two Super Lig clubs — the league’s leading two sides (16) — and aim to return to winning in Istanbul.
Servet Cetin will hope his team find the back of the net on Monday, as both away losses have come in games where they fired blanks, and Yigidos are undefeated in the four matches they scored.
Fenerbahce Turkish Super Lig form:
Fenerbahce form (all competitions):
Sivasspor Turkish Super Lig form:
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Fenerbahce have several injury issues, with Ferdi Kadioglu’s muscle injury expected to keep him out of action against Sivasspor.
Also sidelined with muscle issues are Mert Hakan Yandas, Miha Zajc, Fred and Rodrigo Becao, while Alexander Djiku (leg break), Serdar Aziz (ankle) and Lincoln (knee) are missing Monday’s fixture.
The away side do not have as many injury worries, with Burak Kapacak (thigh) and Modou Barrow (shoulder) not expected back for a few more weeks, while Bengali-Fode Koita is touch-and-go for round 14’s encounter.
Samu Saiz and Rey Manaj have netted four Super Lig goals apiece for Sivasspor, and the pair could play pivotal roles for Yigidos in Istanbul.
Fenerbahce possible starting lineup:Livakovic; Muldur, Akaydin, Oosterwolde, Osayi-Samuel; Crespo, Yuksek; Tadic, Szymanski, Kahveci; Dzeko
Sivasspor possible starting lineup:Vural; Okumus, Camara, Osmanpasa, Ciftci; Konak; Njie, Charisis, Saiz, Bassan; Manaj
We say: Fenerbahce 2-1 Sivasspor
Regardless of the hurt from their heavy Conference League defeat on Thursday, Fenerbahce should return to winning ways on Monday with a hard-fought victory over one of the league’s best travellers.For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data
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Erik ten Hag hails “very important” Harry Maguire after summer exit talk
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag praises central defender Harry Maguire for turning his Red Devils career around....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag has hailed Harry Maguire for his contribution to the team’s recent impressive results in the Premier League.
The Red Devils have won each of their last three league fixtures against Fulham, Luton Town and Everton, keeping clean sheets in all three games.
Maguire has been a vital player for the 20-time English champions in recent weeks, playing the full 90 minutes in each of their last six Premier League games, which have brought five wins.
The England international was heavily linked with a move away from Old Trafford over the summer, with West Ham United believed to have had an offer accepted for him.
However, the 30-year-old decided to stay at Man United to fight for his place, and the ex-Sheffield United youngster is now first pick in the middle of the defence.
Maguire’s form is keeping Raphael Varane out of the side, and there is an argument that Ten Hag’s first-choice centre-back pairing will be Maguire and Lisandro Martinez once the latter has returned from injury.
Jonny Evans had been featuring alongside Maguire before picking up an injury, with Victor Lindelof now filling in as the left-sided centre-back.
Ten Hag has lavished praise on Maguire for ‘fighting back’ from a difficult period, hailing the centre-back’s “mentality” and “very important” contribution to the team’s recent success.
“Absolutely. Very important. And he fought back and he showed great mentality. He can be proud of himself. But as I say: we are in a season, we are in the right direction,” Ten Hag told MUTV.
“Harry is in the right direction with this team. Now we make the next steps because we want to be successful and Harry is very ambitious. He wants to win trophies. So then, you know, you have to give every day your best.”
Maguire is now set to remain at Old Trafford, especially as there is huge uncertainty surrounding the futures of Varane, Evans and Lindelof.
Varane is believed to be keen to leave the Red Devils next year, with a number of clubs from Saudi Arabia said to be keeping a close eye on his situation.
Both Evans and Lindelof only have contracts until next June, meanwhile, although it is thought that a 12-month extension will be activated in the latter’s deal.
Scott McTominay is another player who was heavily linked with a move away from Man United over the summer, but he has also been vital for Ten Hag in recent weeks, coming up with four goals in all competitions.
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Newcastle United rise to fifth with deserved win over Manchester United
Newcastle United jump to fifth in the Premier League table with a deserved 1-0 win over Manchester United at St James’ Park.
Newcastle United made it three successive wins against Manchester United in all tournaments for the first time in over 100 years with a deserved 1-0 Premier League victory over the tepid Red Devils at St James’ Park.
A succession of chances came and went for Eddie Howe’s men in the first half, but Man United’s luck ran out when Anthony Gordon fired home early in the second half to sink Erik ten Hag’s team – who were second best all afternoon – although a concerning injury to Nick Pope partially marred the Magpies’ success.
While a decimated Newcastle side put out the exact same XI from their Champions League draw with Paris Saint-Germain, a handful of changes from Ten Hag saw Anthony Martial, Kobbie Mainoo, Diogo Dalot and the returning Marcus Rashford come into the fold....Click Here To Continue Reading>>
However, Ten Hag’s alterations did little to stem the flow of a rampant Newcastle, who saw almost all of the ball in the opening stages and came close in the 18th minute through Miguel Almiron, but Andre Onana was equal to his low effort.
Alexander Isak and Jamaal Lascelles both came close in the few moments that followed; the former had a strike deflected wide by Harry Maguire before Lascelles headed over the bar, which was then shaking in the 40th minute as Kieran Trippier’s free kick landed just an inch too high.
Newcastle’s shot counter displayed a whopping 14 as the referee’s whistle blew to signal half time, but Man United’s clean sheet remained intact, mainly thanks to their hosts’ wastefulness in the final third.
Any harsh half-time words from Ten Hag clearly did not have the desired effect, as Newcastle finally made one of their many forays forward pay in the 55th minute, where Gordon gave the hosts a fully merited lead.
The sloppy Red Devils were punished for losing the ball in the defensive third, allowing Trippier to flash a low ball across the six-yard box, where Gordon was on hand to tap home at the back post.
The ex-Everton man’s opener saw him stretch his St James’ Park scoring streak to four successive Premier League matches, and Ten Hag responded by calling upon Antony and Rasmus Hojlund in place of the ineffective Martial and Rashford.
Man United’s alterations did little to spark any life into the meek visitors, who were indebted to Aaron Wan-Bissaka for making a crucial block to deny Lewis Miley in the 78th minute, but it was Fabian Schar’s turn to deny Sergio Reguilon from scoring a sensational volley with a terrific block of his own four minutes later.
As Pope dived to meet Reguilon’s blocked shot, though, the Newcastle number one injured himself and stayed down as Man United built their next attack, which was stopped in its tracks to allow the stricken Pope to receive treatment.
The Englishman was able to rise to his feet, but he was evidently struggling with his shoulder and slowly trudged off to be replaced by ex-Man United loanee Martin Dubravka.
The Newcastle number two had only been on the field a few moments before an Antony volley flew past him and into the back of the net, but Maguire – whom the ball took a nick off – was in an offside position, and the linesman’s flag came to the hosts’ rescue.
The Red Devils were granted nine minutes of additional time to try to find a leveller, but Newcastle stood firm to leapfrog their visitors into fifth spot in the table, bumping Ten Hag’s men down to seventh in the process.
Newcastle have four full days to rest up before a trip to Everton on Thursday, while Man United will return to their Old Trafford headquarters to meet Chelsea on Wednesday.
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