World Cup 2022: Matchday Nine Talking Points

World Cup 2022: Matchday Nine Talking Points

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Group A - Ecuador v Senegal - Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar - November 29, 2022 Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

  • As a result, Ecuador head coach, Gustavo Alvaro set the team up in a 4-3-3 formation, tweaking from his 4-2-4 formation in efforts to add bodies in midfield and try to deal with Senegal’s physical superiority
  • After Moses Caicedo equalized for Ecuador, Kalidou Koulibaly’s goal from a well executed training ground set-piece routine was enough to send Senegal into the next round

Senegal’s Inability To Score From Open Play Exposed

Senegal and Ecuador faced each other for the first time ever in a do or die encounter between both sides. Senegal knew that a victory would have guaranteed a place in the round of 16 while Ecuador just needed a point to make it to the next round.

As a result, Ecuador head coach, Gustavo Alvaro set the team up in a 4-3-3 formation, tweaking from his 4-2-4 formation in efforts to add bodies in midfield and try to deal with Senegal’s physical superiority.

Given Senegal don’t have progressive and creative profiles of midfielders, their only way of attacking is mostly using Kalidou Koulibaly’s long range passes to find the wide forwards, who can then use their brilliance qualitative wise to create something out of nothing, and it paid off, as Sarr carried the ball into the box before being fouled to win a penalty which put them 1-0 up.

After Moses Caicedo equalized for Ecuador, Kalidou Koulibaly’s goal from a well executed training ground set-piece routine was enough to send Senegal into the next round. They got all three points, but none of the goals they scored were from open play.

Having made the knockout stages, all they need is to prevent being beaten and find a way to win, maybe even through penalty shootouts, given they struggle to score goals from open play due to an over reliance on using the wider players to create. Sadio Mane may prove to be a big miss after all,

 

Qatar’s Stage Fright

Qatar set the record of becoming the first host nation ever to fail to register at least a point in World Cup history, as their technical, physical and mental fragilities were totally exposed for the umpteenth time against the Netherlands.

For instance, head coach, Felix Sanchez, has been forced to make drastic changes especially in the goalkeeping department for each of their three matches, showing how he has not found reliable answers to help their cause.

It speaks volumes that Qatar was only given a 26.9 percent chance of winning against Netherlands before the game. All night, their players were naively following the ball in attempts to counterpress, and it was easy for the Netherlands players to play their way out of trouble and exploit the gaps. Cody Gakpo’s opening goal in the 25th minute illustrated this.

The second goal illustrated just how out of their depth they have been. Defender Boulahem Khouki, who was culpable for Senegal’s first goal last week for failing to clear the ball well, headed the ball badly before it landed onto Depay’s feet who then layed it off to Frenkie De Jong who could hardly miss.

Qatar are the reigning Asian champions and although it was their debut world cup, they did little to show the world that they are a side that have made sustainable strides since then.They need a reboot.

 

USA’s Have Made Significant Technical Revolutions

The USMNT have made significant strides since their last world cup appearance in 2014. Having failed to make the 2018 edition, there has been a significant improvement in the technical capabilities of a lot of their players, and this was in full display against Iran, as the technical revolution poster boy, Christian Pulisic, netted one of the most technically brilliant team-play goals you will ever see.

Weston McKennie hit a crossfield pass that landed onto the path of the overlapping Sergino Dest who had been brilliant all night, before he cut it back to Pulisic who netted to give the side an all-important 3 points to set a date with Netherlands in the round of 16.

Although the USMNT may fail to win this tournament, they have certainly made significant strides technically, and it boards well for their future as a footballing -nation given their starting line-up last night had an average age of just 24.9, and that is despite the fact 35-year-old Tim Ream played.

 

Wales Need a Reboot

Gone are the days when Wales wowed the football world when they got to the semi-finals of Euro 2020 under coach Steve Coleman, who set the team up by playing to the strengths of his players, in particular starmen Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen.

Back then, these three star men were at peak levels and were some of the best in world football in their positions. Now, they look off the pace and lethargic, resulting in the younger, less quality players having to do more jobs to compensate for their aging veterans’ physical limitations.

All night long, they struggled to deal with the youthful vibrance, youth and flair of the England Side, with Phil Foden, Jude Belingham and Marcus Rasford in particular, menacing them off the game, raising questions as to whether it is high time Wales replicated England’s technical revolution that got launched in 2012.

This revolution is paying dividends as England are now producing technically gifted players left right and center.

Wales are more renowned for their rugby, but if past records are to go by, they can be a good footballing nation if only they invest in their grassroot level football more in order to find the next Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Joe Allen.

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