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SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Belgium have sent standby defender Laurent Ciman home, showing confidence in the fitness of key defenders Vincent Kompany and Thomas Vermaelen ahead of their World Cup opener on Monday.
SOCHI (Reuters) - Spain defender Gerard Pique accused Cristiano Ronaldo of diving to win a penalty and a crucial free-kick in Friday's epic 3-3 draw with Portugal and praised his side for battling back after a chaotic week in which coach Julen Lopetegui was sacked.
KAZAN, Russia (Reuters) - France coach Didier Deschamps left veteran striker Olivier Giroud out of his starting 11 for the World Cup opener against Australia and has picked Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele in a young but potent front three with striker Antoine Griezmann.
GROZNY, Russia (Reuters) - Egypt forward Mohamed Salah might have had a forgettable 26th birthday as his team lost to Uruguay in their World Cup opener on Friday, but a group of fans from Chechnya brought a smile to his face with a 100kg cake decorated with a golden boot.
SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Serbia will come up against one of the World Cup's toughest defensive units in Costa Rica on Sunday but coach Mladen Krstajic will look to midfield dynamo Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to unsettle the Central Americans.
NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - During the Soviet era, foreigners were prohibited from entering the closed city of Nizhny Novgorod, the site of secret weapons programmes and the city where the famous dissident Andrei Sakharov was sent into internal exile.
SAMARA, Russia (Reuters) - Serbian coach Mladen Krstajic dismissed fears that his lack of experience as manager of the national team could hinder their chances against Costa Rica in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Germany are feeling no pressure as the reigning world champions going into their Group F opener against Mexico on Sunday and cannot wait to extend their record of opening game victories under coach Joachim Loew, he said on Saturday.