Tuesday 17 July 2018

World Cup player watch: Glory, heartbreak and nervous tension

The latest on what the players at the World Cup have been up to as the first round of knockout games comes to a close.

England’s Harry Kane during England’s training session at Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium (Owen Humphreys/PA)
England’s Harry Kane during England’s training session at Spartak Zelenogorsk Stadium (Owen Humphreys/PA)

By Alastair Reid, Press Association

Glory, heartbreak and nervous tension reverberated around the training camps of World Cup squads on the 20th day of the competition as the first round of knockout matches neared a close.

Belgium’s last gasp victory over Japan on Monday night saw the players celebrating well into Tuesday,  with Captain Vincent Kompany praising the squad’s team spirit on Twitter.

Star winger Eden Hazard also talked of team spirit getting The Red Devils through the game against Japan and thanked Belgian fans for their support, adding “we needed it yesterday”.

Broken-hearted Japanese players also used social media to share their thoughts and feelings after the game, before they returned home.

It was a third World Cup for veteran midfielder Keisuke Honda who called the World Cup his “dream”.

Mexico’s electric form during the group stages could not be repeated against Brazil on Monday and the loss to the Selecao meant the end of the road for Oribe Peralta’s international career.

The 34-year-old striker, who scored 25 goals in 67 games for his country, used Instagram to call time playing for the Mexican national team, years which he described as “the greatest pride of my career”.

The 2-0 win over Mexico was Marquinhos’s first appearance at a World Cup, an experience  he said “will be engraved in my memory and in my heart”.

For the players getting ready for the final games in the first knockout round, as Sweden took on Switzerland and Colombia prepared to face England, concentration was the order of the day.

England’s sometime captain Jordan Henderson was the only player to take to social media, posting a solitary “game day” message to his Instagram account.

Game day 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 👊🏻 #threelions

A post shared by Jordan Henderson (@jhenderson) on

Colombia’s Wilmar Barrios was more emphatic, however, as he said the team are “ready for today” followed by an all caps “Let’s go”.

Listos para hoy..! VAMOS 🇨🇴👊🏽💪🏽

A post shared by Wilmar Barrios (@wilkpo) on

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