Watch: Joachim Low says Germany's World Cup disappointment is starting to dissipate

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After beating Peru in the Nations League, Germany are beginning to move past their woeful showing at the World Cup this summer, according to boss Joachim Low.

Germany beat Peru 2-1 on Sunday to help alleviate some of the pain felt from their exit at the group stages in Russia months earlier.

“This World Cup disappointment is also starting to eradicate and be forgotten somehow now,” Low said.

See what else Low had the say in the video below.

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An enriching new era for Spain and other talking points ahead of Croatia clash

Matt Jones 10/09/2018
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Croatia begin their UEFA Nations League voyage on Tuesday as they travel to Elche to take on the sublime talents of Spain.

Luis Enrique’s side are on a high after the former Barcelona manager’s reign got off to a bright start with a 2-1 win at Wembley over England on Saturday.

Zlatko Dalic’s side, meanwhile, are back in competitive action after a superb summer saw them reach the World Cup final, where they were beaten 4-2 by France.

Ahead of what should be a fascinating encounter, we look at three talking points:

ENRIQUE ERA ENRICHES SPAIN

Luis Enrique won his first game in charge of Spain.

Luis Enrique won his first game in charge of Spain.

It would probably be a bit much to say the beginning of the Enrique reign placed a band aid over Spain’s gaping World Cup wound, but it definitely started the healing process.

And it’s certainly a good idea to get the Spanish media back onside, with La Roja’s performance at Wembley having the Spanish press practically salivating at the prospect of a nation getting back to their best – the country that won the 2010 World Cup and back-to-back European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

“This is the new Spain”, hailed the country’s top sports daily Marca while Diario AS commented: “A triumph that opens the Nations League and closes the nightmare of the World Cup”.

An embarrassing World Cup bookended a disastrous six-year period since Spain were crowned Euro 2012 champions.

At the 2014 World Cup they endured a humiliating group stage exit, failing to recover from a 5-1 hammering at the hands of the Dutch in their opening game. Two years later in defence of their European crown they won just once as they were dumped out by limited Italy in the last 16. Now they are rebuilding following a timid exit in Russia, failing to recover from a tumultuous start to the tournament when Julen Lopetegui’s leaked move to Real Madrid was deemed an unforgiveable sin and he was jettisoned before a ball had been kicked.

But they still have the individual talent – across the board they arguably possess the most talented squad in international football. Saul Niguez, the Atletico Madrid midfielder who didn’t play a single minute at the World Cup, embodies the new approach: tenacious, direct and supremely skilful.

Spain just needed a solid structure to be established and a confident and experienced coach to get them back on track. In Enrique, they appear to have that.

ARE CROATIA NOW AN ELITE NATION?

England v Croatia: Semi Final - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

In quite stark contrast, Croatia enjoyed a stunning World Cup.

Dalic’s side were the darlings of Russia, with Luka Modric and Co finally able to eclipse the ‘Golden Generation’ who had made such an impression as a fledgling nation back at France ’98.

As La Roja buckled under the strain of the Lopetegui scandal and a host of star names underperformed – Croatia rose to every considerable challenge placed before them.

From Nikola Kalinic being sent home from after refusing to go on as a substitute in their opening 2-0 win against Nigeria, the Vatreni then had to go the distance in their three knockout games leading up to the final.

They twice had to show their mental fortitude in penalty shootout wins over Denmark and Russia – the former seeing captain Modric missing a spot kick to win it in extra time before burying his penalty in the shootout.

They fell heartbreaking at the final hurdle as star-studded France proved a step too far. So where do they go now? Establishing themselves as a truly elite force must be the target.

With a cast that boasts some of Europe’s top talents – Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, as well as Mario Mandzukic, Mateo Kovacic, Sime Vrsaljko, Marcelo Brozovic and Marco Pjaca – they have to strive for stardom.

Their Russia heroics saw them vault up to fourth from 17th in the FIFA world rankings. That assisted in them being placed in the top-tier League A of the Nations League. Success in this fledgling competition and even at Euro 2020 should be the height of their ambitions.

MODRIC MAGIC CAN CONJURE BALLON D’OR

LukaModric

Modric’s quest for individual recognition on the global stage can ensure Croatia’s standards don’t drop following their fantastic showing at the World Cup finals.

The Madrid magician was the life and soul of his nation in Russia – scoring twice in the group stages and netting crucial penalties in shootout victories over Denmark and Russia.

More than that, he carried the creative and leadership burden, while fellow high-profile midfielder Rakitic actually seemed to struggle with being thrust into the limelight – he is able to operate more from the shadows at Barcelona where clubmates Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho attract more of the column inches.

It’s somewhat the same for 5ft 8in midfielder Modric at Madrid, yet the diminutive dynamo seemed to grow in stature with each game. Hungry for more responsibility and pressure.

His exploits, plus a fine domestic season during 2017/18 – ne notched six assists in La Liga (a joint high since arriving in Spain) – have led to increasing belief that he can challenge for the Balon d’Or and help break the duopoly Messi and Cristaino Ronaldo have held over the trophy for the past decade.

Mohamed Salah will have something to say about that too as Liverpool’s explosive Egyptian will also be in the running to upstage Ronaldo and Messi.

But more magic from Modric in the Nations League – starting with orchestrating an eye-catching triumph over Spain – will add to his cause and the feeling that he could conjure the impossible, toppling the game’s mighty duo.

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Dele Alli will be fit for Tottenham's game with Liverpool, says Gareth Southgate

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England manager Gareth Southgate believes Dele Alli will be fit for Tottenham‘s Premier League game with Liverpool at the weekend.

Alli withdrew from the Three Lions squad on Monday ahead of the game with Switzerland after picking up an injury in Saturday’s defeat to Spain.

But Southgate believes the 22-year-old will make Spurs’ Saturday lunchtime kick-off with Liverpool.

Southgate said at his press conference: “He has just had a minor strain and should be fine for his club at the weekend I would think, but tomorrow’s game will come too quickly.”

Alli played 90 minutes at Wembley on Saturday and Southgate was impressed with the Tottenham player’s contribution.

Rodrigo's goal gave Spain a 2-1 victory.

Rodrigo’s goal gave Spain a 2-1 victory.

The manager added: “I thought his performance was good, in terms of his retention of the ball I thought he was improved in that area, his work without the ball has been good over the last six months with us.

“He makes critical forward runs, like everybody else we learned a lot from the game.”

Southgate, who led England to their best World Cup finish since 1990 in the summer, was keen to avoid talk of a new contract.

“We have had initial discussions as I said, that has been it,” he said.

“For me I have to focus on the job in hand. I am contracted for the next 22 months and my focus is on tomorrow night and then building this team to be as competitive as it can be.

“This summer was an incredible experience for everybody, so they are the games that everyone wants to be involved in, beyond that I don’t want to get into details because that will be a distraction ahead of the game.”

Gareth Southgate and England have now lost three straight matches.

Gareth Southgate and England have now lost three straight matches.

Despite their impressive summer performance, the Three Lions go into Tuesday’s game against the Swiss aiming to avoid four successive defeats for the first time in their history following losses against Croatia, Belgium and Spain.

Southgate is not concerned about that record, however.

“Not many England sides have played a World Cup semi-final and third-placed play-off so these stats can be whatever you want them to be really,” he added.

“From our point of view we don’t want to be in the habit of losing matches but to play three teams of the quality we have in the last three matches is a very rare occurrence in international football so we have to focus on our performances, and improving as a team.

“We have got to keep focused on the things we can control.”

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