World Cup player watch: Glory, heartbreak and nervous tension
The latest on what the players at the World Cup have been up to as the first round of knockout games comes to a close.
Glory, heartbreak and nervous tension reverberated around the training camps of World Cup squads on the 20th day of the competition as the first round of knockout matches neared a close.
Belgium’s last gasp victory over Japan on Monday night saw the players celebrating well into Tuesday, with Captain Vincent Kompany praising the squad’s team spirit on Twitter.
What a fight, what a game! Team spirit got us through today’s challenge! Belgium, keep going and keep on dreaming! Friday we take on Brazil! #Belgium #Japan #WorldCup #Russia #Brazil #REDTOGETHER pic.twitter.com/JyZe8KQbVq— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) July 2, 2018
Star winger Eden Hazard also talked of team spirit getting The Red Devils through the game against Japan and thanked Belgian fans for their support, adding “we needed it yesterday”.
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World Cup knockout football is not easy, but we have a great atmosphere and this team never gives up. Thank you for your support everyone, we needed it yesterday. Quarter finals we’re coming, we are #REDTOGETHER 🇧🇪 #fifaworldcup #family La phase à élimination directe de la coupe du monde n'est jamais facile, mais on a une belle ambiance et cette équipe n'abandonne jamais. 💪🏻 Merci pour votre soutien, on en avait besoin hier! Les quarts on arrive! 😈 #REDTOGETHER 🇧🇪
Broken-hearted Japanese players also used social media to share their thoughts and feelings after the game, before they returned home.
It was a third World Cup for veteran midfielder Keisuke Honda who called the World Cup his “dream”.
Thank you my World Cup and my dream. You raised me up until today.— KeisukeHonda(本田圭佑) (@kskgroup2017) July 3, 2018
Mexico’s electric form during the group stages could not be repeated against Brazil on Monday and the loss to the Selecao meant the end of the road for Oribe Peralta’s international career.
The 34-year-old striker, who scored 25 goals in 67 games for his country, used Instagram to call time playing for the Mexican national team, years which he described as “the greatest pride of my career”.
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Quiero darle las gracias a la @miseleccionmx por haberme permitido formar parte de ella durante estos años, siempre recordare con enorme cariño cada uno de los partidos disputados, tuvimos tristezas pero sobre todo alegrías las cuales quedarán para siempre en mi corazón. Hoy me toca decir adiós a la Selección, el mayor orgullo de mi carrera. Agradezco a toda la afición que siempre me apoyó, jugadores, entrenadores, doctores, utileros y directivos que me dieron siempre su confianza para defender nuestros colores, pero sobre todo a mi familia que son lo más importante en mi vida y sin ellos nada de esto hubiera sido posible. Gracias México.
The 2-0 win over Mexico was Marquinhos’s first appearance at a World Cup, an experience he said “will be engraved in my memory and in my heart”.
For the players getting ready for the final games in the first knockout round, as Sweden took on Switzerland and Colombia prepared to face England, concentration was the order of the day.
England’s sometime captain Jordan Henderson was the only player to take to social media, posting a solitary “game day” message to his Instagram account.
Colombia’s Wilmar Barrios was more emphatic, however, as he said the team are “ready for today” followed by an all caps “Let’s go”.