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Spain and Portugal launch official bid for 2030 World Cup, Italy cruise past Czechs

It finished in a scoreless draw between Spain and Portugal.

Image: Manu Fernandez

Updated Jun 4th 2021, 10:49 PM

SPAIN AND PORTUGAL made their bid to host the 2030 World Cup official on Friday in a small symbolic ceremony at the Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, ahead of a Euro 2020 warm-up between the two nations.

The game finished scoreless as Cristiano Ronaldo had a frustrating night on his first game in Madrid since leaving Real in 2018 and came close to scoring twice and set up a good chance Diogo Jota filed to take advantage of.

Backed up by Joao Felix, Ronaldo was largely neutralised by Barcelona pair Sergio Busquets and Thiago Alcantara in a tight home midfield in front of a remodelled defence.

Alvaro Morata came closest to scoring for Spain missing two clear chances and hitting the bar in stoppage time.

Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte made his debut after opting for Spain ahead of his native France.

Some 14,743 masked fans were attended at Atletico Madrid’s 68,000-seat Wanda Metropolitano stadium.

Spain continue their warm up for the Euros with a match against Lithuania on Tuesday while Portugal next take on Israel on Wednesday in Lisbon.

Before the game the two nations officially launched a joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup

“The governments of Spain and Portugal wish to express their desire and commitment to host the 2030 World Cup,” says an agreement of support for the bid initialled by Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The two leaders signed their accord in the presence of Spain’s King Felipe VI and Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Atletico Madrid stadium shortly before the kick off.

Friday’s game also marked the centenary of Portugal’s first international, a 3-1 loss to Spain in Madrid in December 1921.

Both teams posed on the pitch wearing T-shirts that read “Vamos2030″.

“Today we sign the commitment of both federations to work together for a World Cup,” said the president of the Portuguese Football Federation, Fernando Gomes.

Gomes and his Spanish counterpart, Luis Rubiales, were ratifying an agreement signed last October to promote a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup.

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“A message to the national federations: if you give us your trust, when you come to our countries you are going to find an unforgettable experience,” Rubiales said on Friday.

FIFA plans to select the 2030 host in 2024.

Sapin and Portugal could face competition from other joint bids under discussion: one from the United Kingdom and Ireland and one from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile, aimed to coincide with the centenary of the first World Cup, which was played in Uruguay.

Meanwhile a week before they kick off Euro 2020 in Rome, Italy crushed the Czech Republic 4-0 in Bologna on Friday, keeping an eighth straight clean sheet.Ciro Immobile Nicolo Barella Lorenzo Insigne  and  Domenico Berardi all scored for the hosts who will open the Euro against Turkey next Friday.

In the absence of Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti, who is nursing an injured knee,  Jorginho, a Champions League winner with Chelsea, and Barella quickly set the tempo for Italy.

Italy’s strikers Lorenzo Insigne and Ciro Immobile wasted early chances, before Immobile of Lazio  broke the deadlock in the 3rd minute.

Barella, who injected energy from midfield, added a second before half time.

Immobile set up Insigne to score the third with a deflected shot.

Berardi rounded off the party in style, much to the delight of the few thousand spectators in the venerable Dall’Ara Stadium.

They also warmly welcomed the debut of Sassuolo striker Giacomo Raspadori, the surprise pick on the 26-man squad, with 12 minutes left.

While Italy’s attack enjoyed itself, the defence  maintained their defensive solidity with an eighth consecutive clean sheet.

The Czechs, who open their Euro campaign  against Scotland in Glasgow on June 14, started brightly before the home team took full control.

The only real scare for Italy manager Roberto Mancini came when Leonardo Bonucci limped off in the first half after twisting his right knee, but the Juventus defender returned and finished the game.

Italy are  undefeated in 27 matches, since September 2018.

© – AFP, 2021

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