Kieran Trippier and Harry Kane train ahead of England’s World Cup semi-final clash with Croatia. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

Gareth Southgate’s England take on Croatia in Moscow for a place in Sunday’s final

Jordan Pickford dives to save a Marcus Berg header as England beat Sweden 2-0 in Samara. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

We run the rule over Gareth Southgate’s side after their World Cup quarter-final win

Jesse Lingard trains ahead of England’s World Cup quarter-final clash with Sweden. Photograph: Anatoly Maltsev/EPA

Gareth Southgate’s England bid for a place in the semi-finals before Russia face Croatia

Japan’s  Gaku Shibasaki  challenges Belgium’s  Eden Hazard during the  World Cup round of 16 football match  at the Rostov Arena. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

Things are getting serious as Uruguay face France before Brazil play Belgium in Kazan

England captain Harry Kane plays darts as his side prepare for their lat-16 clash with Colombia. Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

The round of 16 concludes with Gareth Southgate’s England facing Colombia

Paul Pogba’s France take on Argentina on Saturday. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty

France’s mouthwatering clash with Argentina signals the start of the knockout stages

Xherdan Shaqiri can inspire Switzerland into the last-16 of the World Cup. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty

Brazil and Germany are both looking to secure their progression into the knockouts

Antoine Griezmann’s France take on Denmark on Tuesday. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP

Lionel Messi’s Argentina must beat Nigeria as Denmark face France in Moscow

Toni Kroos’s late free-kick has transformed Germany’s World Cup hopes. Photograph: Alexander Hassenstein/Getty

The final round of group fixtures approach - who needs what to need to qualify for last-16?

Isco will be key as Spain look to top Group B with victory over Morocco on Monday. Photograph: Diego Azubel/EPA

Russia face Uruguay while Iran look to secure shock qualification against Portugal

Brazil full-back Marcelo. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty

Brazil are up against Costa Rica after their opening draw while Nigeria face Iceland

Luka Modric will be key for Croatia against Argentina on Thursday night. Photograph: Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty

Croatia and Luka Modric can leave Argentina on the brink with France also in action

A postage stamp with the image of Poland captain Robert Lewandowski. Photograph: Leszek Szymanski/EPA

The opening round of group games conclude before hosts Russia are up against Egypt

  Neymar has been in good form during Brazil’s warm-up games. Photograph: EPA

Favourites Brazil and defending champions Germany get their campaigns up and running

Nigeria Alex Iwobi poses with fans. Photograph: Pius Utomi Ekei/AFP/Getty

Where to watch, when to watch and who to support as the 21st Coupe de Monde begins

England’s Marcus Rashford in action against Holland. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

Differing expectations for Belgium and England but both are set for the knockout stages

The 2018 World Cup could prove to be Lionel Messi’s defining tournament. Photograph:  Agustin Marcarian/Getty

Messi needs to carry Argentina while Super Eagles Nigeria could spring a surprise

Kylian Mbappe is a likely starter for France. Photograph:  Aurelien Meunier/Getty

Christian Eriksen can ensure Denmark follow France into the knockout stages

Cristiano Ronaldo will lead Portugal in Russia. Photograph: Harold Cunningham/Getty

Spain and Portugal likely to progress at the expense of unlucky Morocco and Iran

Rory McIlroy shot a second round of 70 in the Memorial Tournament. Photograph: Sam Greenwood/Getty

Lowry also makes the weekend as weather stalls Tiger Woods’ second round charge

Roberto Martinez and assistant Thierry Henry look on during a Belgium training session. Photograph: Bruno Fahy/AFP

Martinez responds to mattressgate saying 23-man party yet to be decided

Cristiano Ronaldo will be featuring in his fourth World Cup this summer. Photograph: Robert Hradil/Getty

Cristiano Ronaldo remains the main man but keep an eye on Rúben Neves in Russia

Carlos Quieroz took over with Iran in 2011. Photograph:  Amin M. Jamali/Getty

Carlos Quieroz’ well-organised side are top dogs in Asia but the draw has not been kind

Australia’s new head coach Bert van Marwijk. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty

Bert van Marwijk takes Socceroos to Russia following Ange Postecoglou’s resignation

Christian Eriksen can carry Denmark into the last-16 in Russia. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

Åge Hareide’s side reliant on Spurs star but have developed other strings to their bow

Morocco manage Herve Renard. Photograph: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty

Herve Renard’s side qualified without conceding but look to be short on firepower

Iceland boss Heimir Hallgrimsson. Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty

Heimir Hallgrímsson’s side represent the smallest nation to appear at the World Cup

Antoine Griezmann will lead the line for France in Russia. Photograph: Catherine Ivill/Getty

Didier Deschamps has a wealth of riches at his disposal but they need to gel in Russia

Jefferson Farfan will carry the hopes of Peru along with captain Paulo Guerrero. Photograph: Steven Ryan/Getty

Los Incas talisman and captain Paulo Guerrero cleared to play in Russia

Naim Sliti will carry a lot of Tunisia’s attacking threat. Photograph: Salah Habibi/AFP/Getty

Eagles of Carthage likely to find goals hard to come by on their return to the World Cup

Alex Iwobi in action for Nigeria against Argentina. Photograph: Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty

Gernot Rohr has put his faith in youth and his vibrant side can reach the knockouts

Argentina’s World Cup hopes will hinge on Lionel Messi. Photograph: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty

La Albiceleste are top-heavy and dysfunctional but hold the ultimate trump card

Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku will lead the line for Belgium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

The Red Devils look good on paper but can Roberto Martinez turn them into a team?

Harry Kane will captain England at the World Cup. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty

Gareth Southgate can call on some exciting young forwards but midfield looks limited

Roman Torres takes a picture with Panama fans after his side secured World Cup qualification. Photograph: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP/Getty

Central American side have an experienced squad but this is their maiden World Cup

Andres Iniesta is set to make his final appearances in a Spain shirt this summer. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Andrés Iniesta readies himself for last waltz while David de Gea could be the difference

Luka Modric will be at the heart of Croatia’s midfield in Russia. Photograph: Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty

The midfield options are impressive but off-field issues could halt progress again

Leinster celebrate Champions Cup final victory over Racing 92. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Cullen’s ‘sacred monsters’ praised for earning fourth European crown the hard way

Racing 92 captain Yannick Nyanga carries during his side’s narrow defeat to Leinster. Photograph: Cristophe Simon/AFP

Patrick Madden runs the rule over the Parisians after their agonising final defeat

Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell after Leinster’s win over Saracens. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster’s firebrand tyros get all the plaudits while their Saracens peers look jaded

When it dawned on Bancroft that his indiscretion had been spotted, he was then seen shoving the object down his trousers before pleading innocence. Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Captain Smith and Bancroft rightly pilloried for blatant cheating against South Africa

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are looking to become just the third Irish side to win the Grand Slam. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

The ‘scummy Irish’ head to Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day bidding for the Grand Slam

Alone they stand: Brian O’Driscoll celebrates with Jack Kyle after the 2009 Grand Slam win. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ahead of another tilt at history on Saturday, we want to hear your Grand Slam stories

Ruby Walsh will be hoping Faugheen can roll back the years in the Champion Hurdle. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Where to watch, who to back and what to look out for during the best week of the year

Conor Murray and Bundee Aki during Ireland’s win over Scotland. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Schmidt’s side leapfrog England but could lose their place if beaten at Twickenham

Owen Farrell after England’s defeat to France. Photograph: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Scotland left to rue missed chances while the inquest begins for England after France loss

Bundee Aki during an Ireland training session on Tuesday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

League of Ireland fixtures rescheduled while racing at Clonmel and Dundalk is called off

Johnny Sexton drops to win Ireland the match against France. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Championship leaders Ireland dominate the XV after three rounds with seven players

Jacob Stockdale runs in to score Ireland’s crucial fifth try against Wales. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side came a rare moment of Welsh profligacy away from a galling defeat

Finn Russell with the Calcutta Cup. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Scotland toast a win for the ages, the English inquest begins and Wales on the right track

France’s Antoine Dupont is led off the field towards the end of Ireland’s narrow Six Nations win. Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP

FFR will face no disciplinary action after controversial end to Ireland’s win in Paris

Owen Farrell in action against Wales. Julian Finney/Getty

Keith Earls a man of the match contender while Owen Farrell imperious once again

The 2018 Six Nations will be Rhys Webb’s last with the scrumhalf set to join Toulon. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

A huge injury list means Warren Gatland will have to delve deep into playing pools

Maro Itoje is integral to England’s hopes of making it three in a row. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

England are favourites to win a third title on the bounce but 2019 World Cup is priority

Stuart Hogg is pivotal to Scotland’s Six Nations hopes. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Can Townsend’s side continue their progression and upset tournament’s big two?

The National Leagues return while Sánchez could make his Man United debut at Yeovil

Rory McIlroy’s return to action continues in Abu Dhabi. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

Champions Cup pool stages reach their conclusion, McIlroy’s comeback continues

Manchester United fans ahead of last year’s Europa League final win over Ajax. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty

£35 refund for travelling fans after La Liga club refuse to drop prices

Marcus Rashford is likely to feature in Sunday’s Manchester derby. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

The Champions Cup returns while all eyes are fixed on Sunday’s Manchester derby

Steve Smith, captain of Australia and Joe Root, captain of England pose with the Ashes urn. Photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

All you need to know ahead of the start of the first test this Thursday

While a Test match might remain the sternest challenge of a player’s mental and technical capabilities, the longer form of the sport is now far from being the most lucrative. Photograph: Getty Images

Ireland set to enter world cricket’s top table as longer form of the sport faces challenges

A dejected James McClean after Ireland’s 5-1 defeat to Denmark. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

West Brom winger hits out at critics on Instagram after World Cup dream fades

A dejected Shay Given and Mick McCarthy after Ireland’s 2-1 defeat to Belgium in Brussels. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tuesday night’s 5-1 playoff thrashing at the hands of Denmark isn’t the first of its genre

Christian Eriksen celebrates with Denmark fans after his side’s 5-1 win over Ireland. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Denmark’s hat-trick hero eulogised over as only Shane Duffy comes out with any credit

Åge Hareide has insisted Denmark will take the game to Ireland on Tuesday  night. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

‘They just want us to make a mistake. I haven’t got the patience to play like that’

Shane Duffy was a rock at the back during Ireland’s draw in Denmark. Photograph: Tim Goode/PA

Shane Duffy was a towering presence while Daryl Murphy endured long night in Copenhagen

A dejected Springboks side after their record defeat to Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

Record defeat in Dublin the latest in a string of galling losses under Allister Coetzee

Darren Randolph tips over Yussuf Poulsen’s late header to keep the scores level in Copenhagen. Photograph: Catherin Ivill/Getty

Martin O’Neill’s men are ranked after their goalless first leg draw in Copenhagen

David Meyler is booked for a challenge on Wayne Hennessey at the end of Ireland’s win over Wales - ruling him out of the playoffs. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Denmark also have nine players who would miss second leg if they pick up a yellow card

Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen will post Denmark’s biggest threat on Saturday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty

Age Hareide’s likely starting XI for Saturday’s crunch first leg clash in Copenhagen

James McClean in action for West Brom. The winger has been Ireland’s key player durnig the qualification campaign. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters

Martin O’Neill’s likely starting line-up for Saturday’s crunch trip to Copenhagen

Martin O’Neill’s Ireland can secure a place at the World Cup for the first time since 2002 with playoff victory over Denmark. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Final nine places in Russia next summer will be decided during this international window

Seán O’Brien touches down to score against the All Blacks at Eden Park. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland flanker finished off the try of the tour in opening All Blacks Test at Eden Park

The fixtures for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan have been anounced. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side face familiar foes first up, All Blacks to play Springboks in opener

Dejan Lovren endured a torrid afternoon against Harry Kane and Tottenham. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP

Man United start to stall, things are looking up for Newcastle, Bilic on borrowed time

Portugal celebrate after Andre Silva’s strike gave them a 2-0 lead against Switzerland. Photograph: Armando Franca/AP

Ireland could face the Swiss but will avoid Ronaldo after his side secure qualification

James McClean’s goal gave Ireland a 1-0 win over Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Harry Trump/Getty

From Murphy’s goal in Serbia to McClean in Vienna - the highs and lows of the campaign

 Daryl Murphy celebrates scoring  with Ciaran Clarke. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

All roads now lead to Cardiff, but what did win in Dublin teach us?

Moldova manager  Igor Dobrovolski: “We want the team to play as confidently and as aggressively as possible.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The Republic’s visitors are without a competitive win in 18 games

Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie rates Séamus Coleman as one of the best fullbacks in the world. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Middlesbrough defender praises injured Ireland captain for his encouragement

Ireland’s Daryl Murphy during training ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Gary Carr/Inpho

Nottingham Forest man is the national side’s form striker before crucial final group games

Aiden O’Brien during Ireland training ahead of the final two World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The 23-year-old was born and raised in London’s inner city but always felt Irish

Sean Maguire during Ireland training ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Wales. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Striker could well make Ireland debut in Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Moldova

Republic of Ireland manager with Everton midfielder James McCarthy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Manager does not rule out calling upon James McCarthy’s services for vital qualifiers

Wes Hoolahan tries to hold off Nemanja Matic during Ireland’s narrow defeat to Serbia. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Wes Hoolahan and David Meyler impress on frustrating night for Martin O’Neill’s side

 James McClean was Ireland’s best player in a very disappointing performance. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

A goal up inside four minutes Martin O’Neill’s side spent much of the match on the back foot

Nemanja Matic made his Manchester United debut against Smapdoria on Wednesday night. Photograph:  Gary Carr/Inpho

Manchester United boss says world record €222m fee for Neymar is ‘not expensive’

Henrikh Mkhitaryan puts Manchester United 1-0 up against Sampdoria at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Matic made his debut in red at a packed out Aviva Stadium as pre-season came to an end

The Pro 12 is to become the Pro 14 after it was confirmed two South African sides will join the competition. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Cheetahs and Southern Kings will take part in new competition with two conferences

Ciaran Clark: “Last season we knew as a squad that we had the quality to be up there.”  Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Big season beckons for Newcastle defender – with a possible World Cup duty as a bonus

Ireland international Ciarán Clark shares a joke with Jonjo Shelvey as Newcastle manager Rafa Benítez looks on during a visit to Dublin. Photograph: Photocall

Spaniard adored in northeast England, and this was a big factor in him signing new deal

Kieran Read in discussion with referee Romain Poite at the end of the All Blacks’ 15-15 draw with the Lions at Eden Park. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Referee bears the brunt of criticism after Eden Park decider turns into ‘French farce’

Ronan O’Gara was given a tough time by the New Zealand media during the last tour in 2005. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Warren Gatland’s tourists not the first and won’t be the last to be derided down under

It was Warren Gatland’s weekend in Wellington. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Kiwi media address Hansen’s midfield quandry with Gatland the weekend winner

Sonny Bill Williams’ red card proved the key moment as the All Blacks were beaten by the Lions in Wellington. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Kiwi media particularly scathing of Sonny Bill Williams after second Test loss to Lions

Cabinteely and New Zealand players come on to the pitch in Stradbrook. Photograph: Inpho

Leeds United striker Chris Wood scores twice for the All Whites, kitted out in all black

Harry Arter was named man of the match as Ireland beat Uruguay 3-1. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Martin O’Neill’s men warm-up for key Austria clash with friendly win over Uruguay

Jonathan Joseph leaves the pitch after the Lions’ tour opening win against the New Zealand Barbarians. Photograph: David Davies/PA

New Zealand media deliver scathing verdict on tourists after narrow opening victory

 Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Blues, the Lions’ second opponents of the tour. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

Warren Gatland’s side must face all five of New Zealand’s red hot domestic franchises

 Billy Vunipola is aiming to win the Champions Cup and Premiership with Saracens before going to New Zealand with the Lions. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens number eight going for club glory on two fronts before Lions tour New Zealand

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