World Cup hits and misses: Lionel Messi magic gives Argentina hope while Louis van Gaal deserves Netherlands trust

Sky Sports activities’ writers mirror on Saturday’s motion because the knockout section of the World Cup will get underneath means…

Messi magic lights up this Argentina staff

Lionel Messi runs on the Australia defence

The legs don’t transfer as shortly as earlier than and everybody is aware of we’re within the endgame now however is there a extra thrilling sight in soccer than Lionel Messi with the ball at his ft? Via to a different quarter-final after beating Australia, his World Cup dream is alive.

This was Messi’s greatest sport of the event. He had essentially the most pictures and created essentially the most possibilities. It wanted his magic to unlock the opposition and as soon as he had accomplished so he was actually in a position to get pleasure from himself. The hope for Argentina is that it’s a signal of what’s to return.

Argentina have been robust favourites in each sport to date and a characteristic of those matches has been Messi’s makes an attempt to seek out area when opponents are set on stifling him. But when Argentina do go all the way in which in Qatar there will likely be several types of checks forward.

His efficiency as soon as his staff have been forward is likely to be a touch of how harmful he may develop into within the latter phases of this World Cup. If opponents pursue a extra open sport in opposition to Argentina then that might be an enormous mistake as a result of Messi continues to be on it.
Adam Bate

Scaloni’s Argentina are nonetheless bettering

“With Leo enjoying this superbly,” stated Lionel Scaloni afterwards, “these are very thrilling moments.” The Argentina supervisor deserves big credit score too. He has obtained this World Cup marketing campaign again on monitor after that alarming begin in opposition to Saudi Arabia.

There have been extra free-flowing Argentina sides than this one however at every of the final eight World Cups, they’ve fallen brief. This one at the least appears more likely to maximise its possibilities. The successful soccer they delivered on the Copa America continues to be in them.

The staff is clearly constructed round Messi however Scaloni continues to tweak issues, making changes each delicate and easy. The emergence of Julian Alvarez helps. He brings the power that’s wanted given Messi’s comparatively restricted off-the-ball motion.

Scaloni is ready to rotate the full-backs and, tactically, it’s fascinating that he can comfortably swap to a few on the again if the scenario calls for it. With Angel Di Maria more likely to be obtainable once more for the quarter-final, there are alternatives. And with Messi, there may be at all times hope.
Adam Bate

Australia exceeded all expectations

Julian Alvarez goes shoulder to shoulder with Aziz Behich
Julian Alvarez goes shoulder to shoulder with Aziz Behich

Although Argentina have been deserved winners, they created little earlier than Messi’s purpose and wanted some fortune to not concede an equaliser late on. That’s testomony to the work of Graham Arnold in turning his staff into such harmful opponents at this World Cup.

Scaloni praised Arnold’s staff for “urgent very neatly” and in that opening half an hour, particularly, they brought on loads of issues for Argentina. Had Aziz Behich or Garang Kuol snatched a late purpose then who is aware of what might need occurred in extra-time.

Expectations had not been excessive and the coach confronted criticism coming into the event. However a modest facet has made recollections in Qatar, successful as many matches at this World Cup as that they had received at each different World Cup mixed. There ought to be solely pleasure.
Adam Bate

Van Gaal’s Netherlands present why he favours warning over chaos in win over USA

Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal
Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal

On the finish of the group section, Louis van Gaal snapped at options from the Dutch media that his facet have been boring they usually wanted to open up. His facet’s first-half efficiency in opposition to USA within the final 16 appeared like a direct message to the press: I understand how to progress at main tournaments.

From the primary whistle, the Netherlands allowed USA to have the ball and backed off right into a mid-block. The People, who had thrived on the power and enthusiasm of their youthful midfield of their earlier matches in Qatar, instantly discovered themselves required to move their means by means of a well-structured defence. They struggled.

And after they slipped up the Netherlands broke with tempo, accelerating up the sphere with excellence to reveal their opponents’ sluggish central defence. It was a ploy which required humility from the favourites – however had the Dutch 2-0 up and cozy on the break.

Within the second half, calmness turned to chaos. Whether or not it was brought on by the Dutch getting over-confident or USA’s choice to throw every little thing that they had on the drawback, the sport opened up.

Twice the Netherlands needed to clear the ball off their goal-line earlier than Haji Wright’s uncommon purpose halved the deficit for USA. There have been possibilities at each ends – though USA’s ambition was finally their downfall, with Denzel Dumfries’ purpose, quickly after Wright’s strike, ending the prospect of a dramatic turnaround.

It was an thrilling second half – however unpredictable. And that is not how Van Gaal desires it to be. He is by no means misplaced a match answerable for them at a World Cup. The Netherlands’ supporters should belief his judgement.
Peter Smith

Can the USA overcome last-16 hurdle on dwelling soil in 2026?

USA supervisor Gregg Berhalter hailed the “progress” his facet have made at Qatar 2022 within the aftermath of defeat to the Netherlands in Doha within the first of the last-16 ties on Saturday, earlier than admitting that they had “come up brief” of their bid to make the World Cup quarter-finals for the primary time of their historical past.

Maybe we might be speaking a few first look within the final eight had Christian Pulisic, as he actually ought to have, opened the scoring early on as a substitute of fluffing his strains because the USA dominated the early exchanges.

However ultimately, Netherlands’ higher expertise, event know-how and finally, ending noticed Louis van Gaal’s staff over the road as USA have been eradicated from the round-of-16 stage for the third World Cup in a row.

Nevertheless, given their spectacular showings within the group stage – the place they went unbeaten, together with having the higher of a goalless draw with England – as Tyler Adams, Pulisic, Sergino Dest, Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie all caught the attention, and that the following World Cup is in North America, don’t wager in opposition to the USA lastly breaking their last-eight hoodoo subsequent time round.
Richard Morgan


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