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Ogden: England blunt without Kane


England's Harry Kane reliance shows vs. Germany, may hurt them in Russia

Tottenham and England's Harry Kane remains upbeat despite suffering an ankle injury.

DORTMUND, Germany -- If there can be such a thing in professional sport, England suffered a "positive defeat" against Germany in Dortmund on Wednesday.

Gareth Southgate's team showed signs of being able to adapt to an unfamiliar defensive formation with three at the back, their use of the ball was an improvement on recent encounters with elite opponents, and the likes of Adam Lallana, Dele Alli and Eric Dier all underlined their growing importance within England's World Cup plans.

But with Southgate's...

 By Sam Kelly

Can Argentina overcome their distractions to get vital win vs. Chile?

ESPN Deportes' Ricardo Ortiz and ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno dissect Argentina's struggles in World Cup Qualifying.

Another international date means another chance for Argentina to confront familiar obstacles. Thursday's opponents in Buenos Aires are Chile, who have done much to become the Albiceleste's bogey team in recent years but are not the only thing standing in their way; Argentina must also face pressure from public expectation, increased media attention due to the players' boycott, and the mental block that affected the side at times during the second half of 2016.

Argentina's start to life under Edgardo...

 By Nick Ames

France and England cruising to World Cup in Russia, Portugal can't slip up

The ESPN FC crew discuss criticisms of UEFA's World Cup qualifying format.

The UEFA qualifiers for World Cup 2018 reach their halfway stage at the weekend but who has one foot in the finals already, and who has it all to do?

In the driving seat

France sit three points clear at the top of Group A and with their nearest rivals facing tougher assignments, have an excellent chance of improving their position away at Luxembourg. The minnows have improved in recent years and ran both Sweden and the Netherlands close at home for long periods on previous matchdays. All eyes, though,...

From crisis to cruise control: Tite has Brazil on course for 2018 World Cup

Tite, in white, has worked wonders in reviving Brazil's World Cup qualification campaign.

Nine months ago, a trip to the Estádio Centenário in Montevideo was hardly something the Brazilian Football Confederation would relish. At that point in World Cup qualifying, many believed the Selecao would be concerned about their prospects given their abysmal start on the road to Russia: as things stood at the time, they were outside the playoff zone and risked missing out.

Uruguay away still is a tough gig, mind you, despite the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez. But the weight on Brazil's...

Here's how to end the international break and keep clubs, countries happy

Could 2017 summer transfer window be the 'summer of strikers', with several high-profile names potentially moving clubs?
Max Bretos chats with the man behind the ICC tournament, while the FC crew preview the best match-ups to expect this summer.
As Lionel Messi and Argentina embark on another international break, it's high time to end the current setup.

A few weeks ago I wrote about a conversation I had with Carlo Ancelotti during which (unsurprisingly, given he's a football manager) he complained about the time coaches actually get with players and, specifically, the scheduling of international breaks.

Indeed, having the squad go off for 10 days in September, October and November, just as the season is getting underway, is both a buzzkill and a hurdle. It's a perpetual club vs. country tug-of-war, and FIFA inevitably gets caught in the middle.


 By John Duerden

Marcello Lippi's China could do with morale-boosting win over South Korea

China are through to the last eight of the AFC Asian Cup after a 2-1 group stage win over Uzbekistan in Brisbane on Wednesday.

China are unlikely to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but the national team could enjoy one of their greatest nights ever on Thursday.

Beating South Korea at home in the qualifiers won't mean that the national team is about to follow the Chinese Super League (CSL) in its swift upward trajectory but it would be a major moment in the country's football history as well as hinting that there may be better days ahead.

With the two nations not exactly on good relations outside of football, there has never...