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Russian Embassy trolls England

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Once coveted by Jose Mourinho, Mario Fernandes has made Russia home

Six years ago, then-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho made Mario Fernandes his top target ahead of the January 2012 transfer window. Mourinho personally contacted the young Brazilian, who played for Gremio, but Madrid president Florentino Perez had other ideas. He didn't want to pay €15 million for a largely unknown player and wanted to blood a homegrown right-back who had made huge progress on the reserve team -- Dani Carvajal.

By the time Mourinho managed to convince the board that the Fernandes...

 By Nick Ames

With World Cup draw complete, hard work starts for 32 teams, hosts Russia

Dan Thomas and the FC crew believe the top-seeded countries will all be delighted with their matchups at the World Cup.
ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti predicts who will emerge from each group at the 2018 World Cup.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley does not feel Russia will emerge from Group A that also contains Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay.
The ESPN FC crew had a lot to say as the 2018 FIFA World Cup participants finally discovered their fates in the Moscow draw.

MOSCOW -- Even within the surrounds of his official residence, it still prompted a double take to see Vladimir Putin take the stage ahead of the World Cup draw.

The Russian president walked out alongside Gianni Infantino, his FIFA counterpart, and composed himself before addressing the 6,000-capacity state concert hall. Those inscrutable features are a regular sight on television screens the world over; now here he was in the flesh, holding forth on the culture and traditions of his nation and assuring...

 By Nick Miller

World Cup Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

ESPN FC's Craig Burley debates whether Russia can get past Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Group A.

Hosts Russia could hardly have wished for a better World Cup draw. The opening game of the tournament will be against Saudi Arabia, which by the FIFA rankings, at least, is technically the worst match in the tournament.

Uruguay and Egypt should both have their wild cards and standout performers, but you fear for the chances of Saudi Arabia, who went through two coaches in qualifying.

Predicted finish

1. Uruguay -- Oscar Tabarez could go with a flying, attacking team with their two superstars...

 By Nick Ames

Russia prepares to dazzle as Moscow hosts World Cup 2018 draw show

The FC panel reveal their toughest and easiest potential World Cup groups ahead of the draw on Dec. 1.

MOSCOW, Russia -- When the lights go down inside the State Kremlin Palace's concert hall on Friday evening, it will signal the start of a show that has been more than 12 months in the planning and holds significance far beyond the announcement of next summer's World Cup fixtures.

Almost seven years to the day since it won the World Cup hosting rights, Russia will be the centre of attention for football supporters across the globe to an extent not yet seen. For most who tune in this will be a first...

 By Chris Wright

Russian Embassy trolls England over World Cup 'surveillance' reports

The FA have reportedly told England players and staff travelling to the World Cup in Russia not to use public Wi-Fi to store sensitive information about tactics and injury issues as it may be susceptible to hacking attacks.

The Daily Star have since produced a paranoid story about England supposedly taking a dedicated surveillance team with them over fears that the host nation might resort to espionage to undermine the Three Lions' chances.

Rather brilliantly, this resulted in them being torn asunder...

 By Chris Wright

Russian farmer builds stadium out of straw to mock $720m World Cup venue

A farmer in Krasnoye, Russia built a football stadium entirely out of straw
Russian farmer Roman Ponomaryov built a stadium made completely from straw.

A Russian farmer has built an entire football stadium out of straw to mock the spiralling cost of the new 64,000-seat arena in St Petersburg that will be used to host the 2018 World Cup.

The straw version, built by farmer Roman Ponomaryov in a field outside the town of Stavropol cost around $675 (£500) to complete, whereas the Zenit Arena quickly burned through a budget of $720 million (£552m).

However, what Ponomaryov's version lacks in clean, sweeping lines and modernist architecture,...