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LONDON, July 10, 2018 (News Wires) - Arsenal have completed the signing of Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira from Italian Serie A side Sampdoria, the Premier League club announced on Tuesday.

"The wait is over... it's #TimeForTorreira. Welcome to Arsenal," the North London club tweeted Tuesday.

"In Lucas Torreira, we have signed a young player who is a very bright talent in the game," coach Unai Emery told the club's website https://www.arsenal.com/news/lucas-torreira-join-arsenal.

"A midfielder with great quality, I have enjoyed watching his performances for Sampdoria in the past two seasons, and we all saw him do very well for Uruguay in the World Cup."

The 22-year-old played all five of Uruguay's World Cup matches in Russia, as they crashed out in the quarter-finals following a 2-0 defeat by France.

Torreira joined Sampdoria in 2015 and made 71 appearances for the Italian club.

"He is a young player already with good experience, but who wants to keep on growing. We welcome Lucas to Arsenal and look forward to him joining us soon for pre-season," Emery added.

Arsenal did not provide financial details of the deal but it was reported last month that the fee agreed would be around 30 million euros. ($35.13 million)

Torreira will wear the number 11 shirt vacated by midfielder Mesut Ozil. Ozil recently switched to number 10. ($1 = 0.8539 euros)

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, July 6, 2018 (News Wires) - Antoine Griezmann may like to sip yerba mate and hang out grilling meat with his Uruguayan chums but his loyalties were not in question as a goal and an assist fired France into the last four of the World Cup.

Griezmann's quandary had been one of the pre-match narratives since he once confessed to a deep affection for Uruguay reinforced by his close friendship with Atletico Madrid teammates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez.

Godin is godfather to his daughter but there was no room for sentiment in Nizhny Novgorod.

Griezmann created the opener for Rafael Varane just before half-time and killed the Uruguayan fight when he scored the second from distance with the considerable help of a goalkeeping howler from Fernando Muslera.

Uruguay without the galloping force of Edinson Cavani up front were simply not able to damage France as they had Portugal in the previous round.

Cavani picked up a calf injury after scoring twice against the European champions and, after days of cloak and dagger shenanigans around his fitness, he was named on the bench and was not even fit enough to come on when they were chasing the game.

Without him, and for all their fabled fighting spirit, Uruguay did not seem to have the same belief.

Luis Suarez bustled around, barging into people and trying upset the rhythms of the game but this time the task was too great against a very strong France team and they knew all hope had gone.

Gimenez was in tears on the field even before fourth official had put the board up to show five minutes of stoppage time.

Cristhian Stuani, who came in for Cavani, was lively in the opening stages and Hugo Lloris had to be out alert to punch clear and stop him reaching a knock down from Gimenez following a corner.

France were without Blaise Matuidi, who was suspended. Corentin Tolisso came in to replace him.

It was a tense and fractious opening as it always promised to be and early chances were scarce.

In five previous encounters between the two countries since 2002 there had been only one goal.

Kylian Mbappe showed glimpses of his devastating turn of pace but wasted the first clear opening of the game, mistiming a header on target when unmarked in front of goal and became flustered by Uruguay's physical attention.

Lloris saved comfortably from Matias Vecino on the turn.

France dominated possession and took the lead, five minutes before half-time when a mistake in defence by Rodrigo Bentancur allowed Tolisso to steal the ball.

Bentancur's attempted to regain possession quickly but his tackle was clumsy and felled the French midfielder.

Referee Nestor Pitana gave a free-kick and booked the Uruguayan, a yellow card which was met with a pained expression as Bentancur knew this would rule him out of the semi-final if his team were to make it.

Griezmann addressed the free-kick and clipped it into the penalty area with his left foot.

Varane timed his run perfectly, away from Vecino and across the front of Stuani, he rose and glanced a header inside the far post at pace. Muslera had little chance with this one.

Uruguay responded with a positive flurry of intent before the interval and forced Lloris into a brilliant save.

Again from a set-piece, this time delivered by Lucas Torreira and won in the air by Martin Caceres. Lloris sprang to his right and kept the header out with a firm right hand.

Diego Godin crashed in to try and ram the rebound into the roof of the net but blazed the ball over.

Oscar Tabarez did not wait long into the second-half to make two changes but his team were soon two adrift following a dreadful mistake by goalkeeper Muslera.

Griezmann was about 25 yards from goal, out on the left when he took a short pass from Tolisso and was given all the time and space he required to line up a strike on goal.

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, July 6, 2018 (News Wires) - France edged into the semi finals of the World Cup as goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann gave them a 2-0 win over Uruguay.

Didier Deschamps’ side can now look forward to a meeting with either Brazil or Belgium in the final four after this victory over difficult South American opposition. The absence of Edinson Cavani through injury ended up costing Oscar Tabarez’s side who looked toothless for much of the game.

Varane gave Les Blues the lead five minutes from half time, glancing home a header from a clever Griezmann free kick delivery. That was France’s first effort on goal and in retrospect that blow was enough to knock out Uruguay.

France managed the game well and added a second when Griezmann’s shot from the edge of the box slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Fernando Muslera. It was an almighty blunder from the Uruguayan, but his side were second best throughout. France are a force heading into the tournament’s semi finals.

MOSCOW, July 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Oscar Tabarez began his second stint as Uruguay coach in May 2006, one month before the World Cup. But they were not going to Germany -- in fact, they struggled even to find anyone who would play them in friendlies.

"We were hardly competing internationally," he said in one interview. "We had to travel to the most distant parts of the world just to have matches."

Meanwhile, their training base outside Montevideo was nicknamed "the Low Performance Centre" by players who complained of cold rooms and lumpy mattresses.

Uruguay, who had lost to Australia in the playoff for a place in Germany, were in the wilderness.

Nobody would say that of the team nowadays.

Tabarez is still in charge 12 years on, having led them to one World Cup semi-final, one round of 16 and the Copa America title in 2011. On Friday, they face France in the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Not even ill-health has stopped the 71-year-old who was expected to resign in 2016 after he was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome but has carried on regardless with the help of a walking stick or electric wheelchair.

Tabarez is more than just the national team coach and has effectively taken charge of youth development in Uruguay in what has become known as the "Tabarez process".

In an interview with Reuters 10 years ago, Tabarez, who also coached Uruguay at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, outlined his plans for football in the country and the challenge facing him.

He spoke of the importance of keeping the under-20 and Olympic teams active and bringing players over from Europe to receive additional coaching and keep them in touch.

The subject matter extended to pressure exerted by parents on their children to make it as professionals which turned matches even at under-10 level into battlefields.

"There are more or less 200 000 boys playing football in Uruguay, of this only 0.14 percent may have a possibility of going to Europe," he said. "The parents are making the wrong gamble and we have to make them aware of these facts."

CELEBRATIONS

Even amid the heat of the World Cup battle in Russia, Tabarez found time to talk about widely-seen television images which showed children in a Uruguayan school bursting out of their classroom to celebrate the late winning goal against Egypt in the group stage.

"Those kids will never forget that moment," he said. "I'm very proud about the way in which we live and experience football in our country. I talk to the players about this and use it as part of their motivation."

Known as the schoolteacher -- a profession he briefly exercised during the 1980s -- Tabarez has managed to retain Uruguay's renowned fighting spirit while curbing their wildest excesses.

Uruguay have the best disciplinary of the eight quarter-finals with only one yellow card so far. "When we won the Copa America in 2011, we also took the fair play title and that was very significant," said Tabarez.

His approach is summed up by a message which adorns the wall of his house and is attributed to Che Guevara: "You must toughen yourself without losing tenderness."

ISTRA, July 2, 2018 (News Wires) - France are expected to be at full strength when they take on Uruguay in their World Cup quarter-final on Friday after assistant coach Guy Stephan described Djibril Sidibe’s injury as a minor scare.

Full back Sidibe limped out of Sunday’s training session with an ankle injury a day after France beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16.

“It’s nothing serious. I can’t say he’ll train with the others today and his ankle is bruised but it’s nothing big,” Stephan told a news conference on Monday.

He added that full back Lucas Hernandez was nursing a minor muscle problem.

Another full back, Benjamin Mendy, had suffered a thigh muscle problem but “he will resume his activity Monday”, said Stephan.

 

ISTRA, Russia, July 1, 2018 (News Wires) - Friday’s World Cup quarter-final against Uruguay will be like a family affair for France forward Antoine Griezmann, who in his 13 years in Spain has developed strong ties with the South American nation.

The Atletico Madrid striker began his football career with Real Sociedad’s youth team in 2005 and moved up the ranks to play with the professional side in 2009 before joining Atletico in 2014.

In both clubs he linked up with Uruguayan players, notably Carlos Bueno at Real Sociedad and Diego Godin, his daughters’ godfather, at Atletico.

“(Godin) is a great friend, I always hang out with him off the pitch. It’s going to be a very emotional game for me,” Griezmann, who has scored two penalties at this World Cup, told a news conference a day after Les Bleus knocked out Argentina in a 4-3 classic.

At Real Sociedad, Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte spotted his talent and put him straight into the first team alongside Carlos Bueno.

Bueno, 11 years older than Griezmann, took the young forward under his wing, and the pair formed a profitable striking partnership which fired the club back into the Spanish top flight.

“He took me under his wing and taught me how to drink ‘mate’,” said Griezmann, who is frequently seen holding a flask of the bitter tea loved by Argentinians and Uruguayans.

It continued when he went to Atletico, where the fitness coach, Oscar ‘the professor’ Ortega is also from Uruguay, and where he met Gimenez, Godin and also Cristian Rodriguez who left in 2015.

When Uruguay sealed qualification for the World Cup last October, Griezmann donned a Uruguay shirt and drove to Madrid airport to greet the two defenders when they returned.

He also frequently declares his support for Uruguay in social media posts when they are in action.

He has also been made an honorary member of Penarol, one of Uruguay’s biggest clubs and where Rodriguez plays.

The friendship, however, will count for little when France take on Uruguay for a place in the semi-finals.

“Gimenez and Godin know everything about me, and I know everything about them,” the Frenchman said.

“We’ll have to be focused on every little detail and defend well on set pieces.”

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