Spain have studied Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo well, says David de Gea

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David de Gea and Spain will face Portugal.

As Spain gear up for their first game in the 2018 World Cup, against Portugal, goalkeeper David de Gea has revealed that La Roja have done their homework well and studied forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Manchester United star didn’t have the best of games against Switzerland during the build-up to the tournament, but is hoping to kick-start his World Cup campaign on a positive note.

“The first match is always important, and more so when it is against a rival as hard and complicated as Portugal,” he continued.

“We have to face the game as we did in the qualifying phase, that is, playing our own game.

“Cristiano Ronaldo is well studied, and everyone knows he’s one of the best in the world.

“He also has a great team behind him, they’re European champions and it will be a tough game.”

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Egypt has best chance of success in 2018 World Cup among MENA region teams, young Arabs say

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With a record four Arab national teams competing in the FIFA World Cup this year – Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia – ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s 10th annual Arab Youth Survey reveals that young people across the region think that Egypt has the best chance among the Arab nations of progressing through the tournament.

Two in three young Arabs (65 per cent) say they will closely follow the World Cup competition, which kicks off in Russia on June 14, 2018 with the Saudia Arabia team playing the hosts of the World Cup; and young Arab women (60 per cent) are nearly as likely to follow the competition as young Arab men (70 per cent).

Among those who will follow the competition, 14 per cent say that Germany will be crowned the FIFA World Cup 2018 champions, 13 per cent say Brazil has the best chance to win, while another 12 per cent expect Argentina to win.

Among those who will follow the competition, 11 per cent say they will support Egypt, making the Egyptian team as popular as Argentina (12 per cent) and Germany (10 per cent).

Egypt is the clear fan favorite in the GCC countries, with 24 per cent of GCC youth saying they will support Egypt in the competition.

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When asked specifically about the four Arab nations taking part in the World Cup, Egypt is the favorite with a third or respondents (34 per cent) saying Egypt will outperform other Arab countries in Russia, followed by Morocco (22 per cent), Saudi Arabia (21 per cent), and Tunisia (19 per cent).

Sunil John, founder of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller and President, Middle East, Burson Cohn & Wolfe, said: “The FIFA World Cup is going to be a major event for youth in the Middle East and North Africa. With the highest ever participation from Arab national teams, it’s not surprising that two in every three young Arabs will be following the competition closely.”

“The FIFA World Cup encourages a sense of unity among supporters in the Arab world, and brings feelings of hope and excitement across the region.”

The survey was conducted prior to Egypt’s star player, Mohammed Salah, suffering a shoulder injury during Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League final last month.

Salah’s involvement in Russia is still hanging in the balance but there is hope that he will make a full recovery and participate in Egypt’s opening match against Uruguay on June 15, 2018.

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The ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey is the largest survey of its kind of the Middle East’s largest demographic – its youth.

For this year’s Survey, international polling firm PSB Research conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with exclusively Arab national men and women aged 18-24 in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain; Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Yemen, between January 21 and February 20, 2018.

Read the full findings and expert insight and commentary on this year’s Survey at www.arabyouthsurvey.com

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England goalkeeper Nick Pope living the dream after journey to 2018 World Cup

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Nick Pope is living out his dream at the World Cup.

Just a decade on from playing in front of two men and a dog in the Essex and Suffolk Border League, Nick Pope is fulfilling his dreams by heading to the World Cup.

England jet off to Russia on Tuesday as Gareth Southgate‘s men step up their preparations ahead of the eagerly-anticipated Group G opener against Tunisia on June 18.

Few expect Pope to get a look in given his place in the pecking order, but being in the squad is a remarkable achievement in itself.

The 26-year-old only made his Premier League debut nine months ago, yet an exceptional breakthrough campaign at Burnley saw Southgate overlook long-serving Joe Hart in favour of the former non-league shot-stopper.

“Not bad, eh?” Pope told Press Association Sport of his World Cup call-up.

“Obviously it’s something you dream of when you’re a kid growing up and something that the whole country stops and watches.

“I was every bit a part of that, so to be part of this group going to a World Cup I am immensely proud.”

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Pope watched the last World Cup with his mates in the Maid’s Head pub near his hometown of Soham, having just finished a loan spell in League Two with York.

Harrow Borough, Welling United, Cambridge, Aldershot and Bury were other temporary stops after the goalkeeper joined Charlton from non-league Bury Town in 2011.

Pope impressed at Bury Town having been released by Ipswich, juggling football with his studies and part-time work such as, among other things, a milkman – a time as far removed as you can imagine from the World Cup razzmatazz.

“When I was 16, 17, I was playing what’s called the Essex and Suffolk Border League,” he said. “I think that was step seven in the newspaper when we used to look at results after on the Saturday.

“All of them are two men and a dog, really. There’s not really much difference.

“But that’s part of the experience and part of what makes you stronger, and part of what helped me get ready for going up the leagues.

“When you go to the Conference and you go to tough places like Hyde, it prepares you well.

“Hartlepool when it’s blowing a gale and the rain is thrashing down, it prepares you.

“In the smaller stadiums, you don’t get as much protection from the elements.

Jack Butland, Nick Pope and Jordan Pickford

“Everything that has kind of helped me build up to here and all the experience good and bad you have to see in a positive light and help it to improve yourself.”

There is no doubt that Pope will embrace this summer in a similar fashion, especially given he is expected to be behind Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford.

“Me and the other goalkeepers, we’re used to it growing up,” he said of the competition to start.

“Whether it’s coming through the academy system or if you go on loan, you know that you’re never on loan as the only goalkeeper or you’re never at your club as the only goalkeeper.

“There’s always someone pushing you and someone that you’re training with every day.

“The goalie group is always there and they’re the people that you spend a lot of time with at the training ground, so it is a big part of your life and your football career.”

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