The countdown to the World Cup semi-finals is well underway and there’s no shortage of people willing to have their say on events in Russia.
From members of parliament blasting Martin Keown for his odd comments about book readers on the BBC, to Independent journalist Jonathan Liew writing on the size of Harry Maguire’s head, there’s plenty of weird and wonderful content coming out of the tournament.
Thankfully there’s also lots of voices of reason amongst the noise – none more so than a former England legend.
Shearer “convinced” England will win
For Newcastle United and England legend Alan Shearer has been one of the BBC’s better pundits this summer and his enthusiasm for England’s victory against Colombia on Saturday was infectious.
Shearer was a star of the Three Lions’ run to the European Championship semi-finals in 1996, but he is adamant that the current squad will go one better by beating Croatia.
“Of course they have got some technically gifted players – like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who have been superb in this tournament – but they looked dead on their feet during extra time of their quarter-final against Russia,” he told the BBC.
“We have to respect them because of the quality they have got, but we should not fear them and I don’t think the England players will either.
“I don’t think anyone will question our mentality going into this game after we passed the tests we faced against Colombia because that night showed we have got character in abundance.
“What will give us even more confidence in Moscow is that we scored from open play against Sweden. And we beat them without (Harry) Kane getting on the scoresheet.
“All of that has helped build momentum and belief and I am convinced that our brilliant run at this tournament will continue.
“It is obvious these boys are not ready to go home yet.”
Giroud takes aim at Henry
Chelsea star Olivier Giroud is eager to prove a point to Thierry Henry when France face Belgium on Tuesday.
The former Arsenal star, who won the World Cup with Les Bleus in 1998, is now assistant coach to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.
Giroud admitted that France are desperate to show Henry that he picked the wrong side when the two teams meet in St Petersburg.
He said: “There’s a lot of mutual respect. I don’t resent him. My job’s to be good on the pitch, to help my team.
“But I’d be proud to show Titi that he chose the wrong side! He’s a living legend of French football and we have a lot of respect for him.
“We have a lot of respect for what he’s done, but we’re not going to think about that very much. I’d have preferred him to be with us and to be giving his advice to me.
“He’s there to learn and develop as a coach. Maybe one day he will be able to coach that France team.
“I’m sure he’s learning on a daily basis and giving good advice to the Belgians.”
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