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Olympic ban for Russia's World Cup organising chief Vitaly Mutko

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti predicts who will emerge from each group at the 2018 World Cup.

MOSCOW -- Russia's World Cup cannot avoid the tarnished legacy of Russia's Winter Olympics.

The doping scandals that have consumed Russian sports for the last three years took another turn on Tuesday as the International Olympic Committee handed a lifetime ban to Vitaly Mutko, the sports minister during the 2014 Sochi Games.

After Sochi, the IOC ruled the host nation operated a doping program and tampered with Russian athletes' urine samples. Still, Mutko has maintained a prominent role in Russian...

Once coveted by Jose Mourinho, Mario Fernandes has made Russia home

Jose Mourinho expands on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's road to recovery and confirms he will not feature for Man United against CSKA.

Six years ago, then-Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho made Mario Fernandes his top target ahead of the January 2012 transfer window. Mourinho personally contacted the young Brazilian, who played for Gremio, but Madrid president Florentino Perez had other ideas. He didn't want to pay €15 million for a largely unknown player and wanted to blood a homegrown right-back who had made huge progress on the reserve team -- Dani Carvajal.

By the time Mourinho managed to convince the board that the Fernandes...

 By Nick Ames

With World Cup draw complete, hard work starts for 32 teams, hosts Russia

Dan Thomas and the FC crew believe the top-seeded countries will all be delighted with their matchups at the World Cup.
ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti predicts who will emerge from each group at the 2018 World Cup.
ESPN FC's Craig Burley does not feel Russia will emerge from Group A that also contains Saudi Arabia, Egypt or Uruguay.
The ESPN FC crew had a lot to say as the 2018 FIFA World Cup participants finally discovered their fates in the Moscow draw.

MOSCOW -- Even within the surrounds of his official residence, it still prompted a double take to see Vladimir Putin take the stage ahead of the World Cup draw.

The Russian president walked out alongside Gianni Infantino, his FIFA counterpart, and composed himself before addressing the 6,000-capacity state concert hall. Those inscrutable features are a regular sight on television screens the world over; now here he was in the flesh, holding forth on the culture and traditions of his nation and assuring...

 By Nick Miller

World Cup Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

ESPN FC's Craig Burley debates whether Russia can get past Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Group A.

Hosts Russia could hardly have wished for a better World Cup draw. The opening game of the tournament will be against Saudi Arabia, which by the FIFA rankings, at least, is technically the worst match in the tournament.

Uruguay and Egypt should both have their wild cards and standout performers, but you fear for the chances of Saudi Arabia, who went through two coaches in qualifying.

Predicted finish

1. Uruguay -- Oscar Tabarez could go with a flying, attacking team with their two superstars...