Brazil head coach Tite has strongly denied contact with Real Madrid over taking the reins at the Santiago Bernabeu following Zinedine Zidane’s shock departure.
Tite’s contract with the Selecao runs out at the end of the World Cup and he has pledged to wait until the end of the tournament before deciding on his future.
Brazilian newspaper O Globo reported the 57-year-old is on Madrid’s wishlist, with his relationship with Neymar claimed to be a factor.
But Tite shut down those rumours, insisting he is respectful of his current team as he focuses on Brazil’s final preparations for Russia 2018.
“When it is an opinion, it deserves my respect. When it is put in quotation marks, it is a lie; it is a disrespectful and lying attitude. That’s my word,” he told a pre-match news conference ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Austria.
“I did not get in touch with anyone. Gilmar Veloz [Tite’s agent], my friend, did not speak to anyone.
“I have a great respect for where I am. I know the responsibilities and the goals I have here.”
Tite named Neymar in his XI to face Austria, the Paris Saint-Germain’s superstar’s first start since suffering a broken metatarsal at the end of February.
Spain head coach Julen Lopetegui believes Dani Carvajal will play a part in the World Cup – but the Real Madrid right-back may miss the opening two matches in Group B.
Carvajal suffered a hamstring strain during Madrid’s 3-1 Champions League final win over Liverpool at the end of last month but joined up with Lopetegui’s World Cup squad to continue his rehabilitation.
Featuring in Spain’s much-anticipated tournament opener against Portugal in Sochi next Friday appears unlikely but Lopetegui is satisfied with the 26-year-old’s progress.
“You have to hold him back slightly, but I’m sure he’ll be ready,” the former Porto boss told a news conference ahead of La Roja’s final warm-up match against Tunisia on Saturday.
“You want him to take two steps forward instead of just one before suffering a setback.
“I don’t know if he’ll be ready for the first or second match, but he’ll be fine.”
Sergio Busquets, a veteran of Spain’s triumphant 2010 World Cup campaign, missed last Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Switzerland due to a bout of illness.
However, Lopetegui expects the Barcelona midfielder to be available to feature in the friendly in Krasnodar.
“Sergio has recovered perfectly,” he added. “Provided nothing else happens, he’ll play tomorrow.”
Brazil have confirmed Fred may require a scan on an ankle injury sustained in training.
The midfielder is set to join Manchester United after the Premier League club agreed a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk.
But Fred’s place at the World Cup could be in doubt after he went down hurt during Thursday’s session.
Brazil team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said Fred will be monitored, with Tite’s men set to play Austria on Sunday in their final friendly before Russia 2018.
“Today Fred had trauma in his ankle but it is too early to say anything about it,” Lasmar said.
“Tomorrow we watch to see what happens and then decide if we need to do any exams or not.
“But at the moment it is too early to say anything about him.”
Panama’s final World Cup warm-up match ended in defeat as the minnows were beaten 1-0 by Norway in Oslo.
The upcoming tournament in Russia will be Panama’s first appearance at world football’s showpiece event, but they head into it having only won one of their last seven matches.
Joshua King’s strike – his second in as many games this month – was the difference at the Ullevaal Stadion, the Bournemouth striker firing Norway ahead in the fourth minute, holding off two defenders before poking past Jaime Penedo.
Fidel Escobar went close to equalising for Panama with a free-kick that stung the palms of Sten Grytebust, while Penedo needed to be alert at the other end to deny Tore Reginiussen early in the second half.
Substitute Gabriel Torres wasted Panama’s most promising second-half move as he dragged a shot wide from 12 yards, leaving the visitors without a goal in both friendly matches before heading to Russia.
Ola Kamara should have doubled Norway’s lead late on but he inexplicably blazed over from close range after excellent work by Crystal Palace striker Alexander Sorloth.
Luckily it mattered little for Norway as they picked up a fourth successive win, but Panama coach Hernan Gomez will hope for much better in their World Cup opener with Belgium on June 18.
Kevin Trapp believes Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius will bounce back from his Champions League nightmare.
Karius was at fault for two goals as Liverpool were beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the final, although doctors later confirmed the German suffered concussion during the match – potentially from a clash with Sergio Ramos.
Compatriot Trapp described continuing despite the concussion as “madness”, and backed the Reds’ shot-stopper to respond well.
“If it is true that he had a concussion and that led to the mistakes, that would be madness,” Trapp told reporters at Germany’s media day.
“Then, that he played on, props to him for doing that. I had a concussion once and I couldn’t play… at all.
“But maybe the adrenaline pushed him through and he didn’t realise it. If it impacted him, I don’t know, I wasn’t in his body. But I know Loris a little bit. I know he will come back from that.”
Haven’t really slept until now… the scenes are still running through my head again and again… I’m infinitely sorry to my teammates, for you fans, and for all the staff. I know that I messed it up with the two mistakes and let you all down… pic.twitter.com/w9GixPiQDC
— Loris Karius (@LorisKarius) May 27, 2018
Even before the concussion was revealed, Trapp felt for Karius, acknowledging the errors could scarcely have come at a more costly moment.
“I know how it feels to make a mistake. As a goalkeeper, mistakes can happen, it is completely human,” he said.
“It is hard for him, because he has had a great career thus far. He fought to be Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper again, he got to the Champions League final, he performed well.
“And then this happens in the final, of all things. It can happen, but it is really hard in a game this big.”
Serbia’s World Cup preparations suffered a blow on Monday as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat against an understrength Chile side.
Mladen Krstajic’s team failed to fire in their penultimate outing before the tournament in Russia and were beaten by Guillermo Maripan’s 88th-minute goal in Graz.
The defender headed home Martin Rodriguez’s cross from the left wing to spare the blushes of team-mate Angelo Henriquez, who had somehow failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy earlier in the second half.
In a first half too often interrupted by the referee’s whistle, Nemanja Radonjic tested Chile goalkeeper Gabriel Arias from distance while Aleksandar Kolarov – a constant outlet with his raids down the left flank –flashed a low shot across the face of goal from a tight angle.
Krstajic sent on Nemanja Matic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic for the second half, though the introduction of the two influential midfielders failed to inspire Serbia.
Instead it was Chile who presented the greater attacking threat after the break, with Diego Valdes seeing a sweetly struck left-footed volley spectacularly tipped over by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Stojkovic was grateful for Henriquez’s failure to convert Junior Fernandes’ cross from close range but Maripan popped up with a deserved winner for the South American nation in the closing stages.