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Lukaku squanders possibilities as Belgium exit

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku misses a scoring chance
Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku misses a scoring probability

In the case of hits and misses, there can’t be many extra literal examples of the latter than Romelu Lukaku’s efficiency in opposition to Croatia. Approaching at half-time with Belgium in want of only one aim to progress, Lukaku missed 4 clear possibilities to attain.

The second, a header, wouldn’t have counted. The cross had gone out of play. The third, a ricochet behind from shut vary, he couldn’t have anticipated. However the first miss was massive and people subsequent possibilities can’t have helped his confidence for the final one.

A put up struck. An try to chest the ball down when he was so shut with the goalkeeper crushed that it could have been simpler to chest it into the online. These had been dangerous misses for anybody at any time not to mention a celebrated striker with World Cup hopes on the road.

Lukaku reacts to Belgium's early exit in Qatar
Belgium have didn’t progress to the knockout levels of a World Cup match for the primary time since 1998

It was merciless on Lukaku. He was devastated afterwards at the same time as Thierry Henry tried to console him. In some respects, he shouldn’t have been put on this place, tasked with saving his nation having performed solely half an hour of membership soccer since August.

Belgium had been so depressing at this match, so disjointed all through, that it’s inconceivable to think about that these misses value them any believable shot at World Cup glory. Even so, that’s unlikely to be a lot comfort for Lukaku after this sport to neglect.
Adam Bate

Gvardiol guards Croatia together with his life

Croatia's Josko Gvardiol holds off Romelu Lukaku
Croatia’s Josko Gvardiol holds off Romelu Lukaku

There’s a person award for the Golden Boot winner, the Golden Glove and for the Participant of the Match. However what about ‘Deal with of the Match’? Josko Gvardiol stored Croatia on the World Cup with the flick of his boot. It denied Romelu Lukaku a sure aim. It capped an impressive efficiency from the masked defender.

At simply 20 years previous, he already seems the entire package deal and it was clear to see why Gvardiol has been closely linked with a transfer to Chelsea amongst different golf equipment main as much as the World Cup.

Croatia midfielder Mateo Kovacic mentioned afterwards: “He is phenomenal, he is 20 and he is already unbelievable. He can play on the highest stage and he’ll solely proceed to get higher. However I’ve no feedback to make about hyperlinks with Chelsea.”

Effectively, you’ll be able to slap an additional £10m on the participant’s valuation now. RB Leipzig could have seen Gvardiol’s growth first hand however the Bundesliga outfit will battle to retain his providers for for much longer if he retains Croatia as compact and resolute as he did on Thursday night.

Croatia eased into the last 16 of the World Cup
Croatia eased into the final 16 of the World Cup

A Rolls-Royce of a defender already, Gvardiol made 9 clearances, eight ball recoveries and produced six key passes into the ultimate third along with two tackles.

Croatia had been unconvincing and should enhance within the spherical of 16. Regardless of having a penalty dominated out by VAR resulting from an offside within the build-up – their risk was restricted. However as Belgium’s ageing defence creaked, and Wout Faes remained unused all through this match, Gvardiol confirmed why it pays to place religion in youth.
Ben Grounds

Ziyech is Morocco’s gem

Morocco's Hakim Ziyech (7) celebrates surrounded by team mates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup group F soccer match between Canada and Morocco at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha , Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
Hakim Ziyech’s opener after three minutes and 30 seconds was the second earliest aim scored for an African nation on the World Cup

Journey again just a few months and Hakim Ziyech was not a reputation you’d discover among the many Moroccan nationwide crew setup. The Chelsea ahead had successfully retired himself from worldwide obligation, following discord with former coach Vahid Halilhodzic. However, having reinstated himself after a short depart of absence, he is again doing what he is good at. There have been even remnants of the tempo and trade that tempted Chelsea into the switch market again in 2020 – the Ajax Ziyech, if you’ll.

You can discover the winger scampering downfield on the Al Thumama Stadium on Thursday, making a nuisance of himself by working because the pinch level for Morocco, attracting fearful defenders to his mere presence. He precipitated untold issues for Canada’s disorganised backline, all whereas bringing others into play with intelligent motion, incisive passing and cheeky invention.

Morocco prefer to play on the entrance foot. It is their model. It is what their red-clad military of followers have demanded at this match. And Ziyech has been greater than obliging, mercilessly capitalising on Milan Borjan’s blunder to present his facet the higher hand with solely 4 minutes on the clock in opposition to Canada.

In a twist of fine fortune, a harried Borjan performed the ball on to the 29-year-old, who thanked the goalkeeper for the early Christmas present by chipping the ball over his head into an empty web. Ziyech, by the way, is simply the third Moroccan to attain and help a aim in the identical version of a World Cup. It is a far cry from his membership kind this season – Chelsea followers should be questioning the place this model of Ziyech has been hiding.
Laura Hunter

Tinkering value Canada; Davies not utilised

Canada's head coach John Herdman gestures during the World Cup group F soccer match between Croatia and Canada, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)
Canada head coach John Herdman: “It’ll sting however there is not a sport we’re not pleased with”

One in all Canada’s defining traits throughout John Herdman’s time in cost has been their capability to adapt to the supervisor’s numerous tweaks of formation.

When it really works, switching programs from sport to sport will help a facet to punch above their weight by nullifying opponents’ strengths and exposing their weaknesses. Herdman guided Canada to their first World Cup in 36 years, so it is laborious to argue with the Englishman’s strategy.

Nevertheless, when the tinkering backfires, it may make a crew look muddled – an outline that may very well be levelled at Canada in Qatar.

Their three matches noticed them line up in three totally different formations, whereas Alphonso Davies – undoubtedly the star of Canadian soccer – was handed three totally different beginning positions and was frequently shifted across the subject as Herdman made additional in-game tweaks.

Davies frequently traces up at left-back for his membership, Bayern Munich, however the contact map under reveals how diverse his utilization was with Canada on the World Cup.

Alphonso Davies touch map

Whereas it is not unusual for worldwide sides to make use of gamers otherwise from how they’re deployed at membership stage – Actual Madrid defender David Alaba usually performs in midfield or on the wing for Austria, for instance – Canada did not appear to know learn how to get one of the best from Davies.

The 22-year-old performed at wing-back, on each flanks in a 4-4-2 and as a part of a entrance two, however Canada’s lack of ability to make him the focus of their sport is proven by the very fact he managed only one shot in the course of the match.

It is laborious to be too harsh on Canada, given they outplayed Belgium of their opening sport and took the lead of their second in opposition to Croatia.

However the way in which wherein they slumped to defeat in opposition to Croatia after which failed to reply to Herdman’s modifications in opposition to Morocco begged the query of how they might have carried out with a extra settled strategy.
Joe Shread


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