ProSoccerTalk’s daily soccer re-set

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What we’re thinking, what we’re watching, what’s coming on the blog today and the RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day). Setting up your day in soccer:

Soccer birthdays: Jamie Redknapp may be only the second most famous Redknapp in footy-loving England. But never mind that. The Sky Sports commentator and columnist for the Daily Mail (who did, after all, have 17 England caps) turns 39 today.

Ahead on the blog today*: Tending to some “best of” elements from three great weeks of European Championship soccer so far, plus our “Monday Meh” list – a dossier of the slightly overrated in  soccer.

Big Important Story of the Day: Anything look familiar with England’s loss yesterday? Like, maybe you’ve seen it before? At the World Cups in 1990, 1998 and 2006? And at the European Championships in 1996 and 2004. All were penalty kick shootout eliminations for the Three Lions.

What we should all watch on TV:

Never mind today; Just get your schedule sorted out for this week: two dandy Euro 2012 semifinals are on deck for Wednesday and Thursday.

RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Glenn Myernick (R.I.P.)

Twitter daps: NBC analyst Kyle Martino (@kylemartino): Breaking news: something about stripping and Joey Barton. No surprises there.

Red Bulls midfielder Dax McCarty (@DaxMcCarty11) on the team’s win Sunday over D.C. United: YEAAAA BUDDY! That one felt a little better than usual. To the fans, unbelievable. Every game from now on please. Brandon Barklage = legend!

PST background noise while blogging today:  KXT out of Dallas; I need some music to sooth the hurt of a three-week, whirlwind relationship that’s approaching its termination point. I can already feel it slipping away. I miss you already, Euro 2012! I miss you already.

Morocco celebrates winning group, keeps Canada pointless at World Cup

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Morocco is the surprise group winner of the 2022 World Cup after beating Canada 2-1 on Thursday in Al Khor.

The Atlas Lions took a 2-0 lead on goals from Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri and overcame an own goal to hold on for the win and a place above drawing Croatia in Group F.

STREAM LIVE CANADA vs MOROCCO

Canada remains winless at the World Cup, going 0-3 In 1986 and 0-3 again this year, though this tournament will go down as a much better performance for the Canadians. They’ll wonder “What if?” from their opening 1-0 loss to Belgium for some time.

Morocco, meanwhile, will dream of what’s to come in the Round of 16: The runner-up of Group E from Thursday’s 2pm ET matches, as Spain, Japan, Germany, or Costa Rica could all still finish second.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


Morocco fights on as Canada’s obvious weakness kills CONCACAF upstarts

A nation can, especially under the mass media radar in Northern Africa, apparently build a golden generation without the attention of the entire world, and Morocco’s performance in Qatar should send a strong message to knockout round opponents.

From goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to a back four that more than half the tournament field might envy, the Atlas Lions will like their chances against anyone as the tournament moves into the Round of 16.

Romain Saiss. Hakim Ziyech. Youssef En-Nesyri. Achraf Hakimi. The list of top-end players with great club resumes who are in their primes, whether just reaching or exiting that stage of their careers, is long amongst Walid Regragui’s men.

Meanwhile, Canada’s firepower was enough to reach the World Cup but its failure to defend was exposed time and again by all three opponents at the tournament.

This isn’t a shot against the effort of Alistair Johnston or Kamal Miller, as Canada’s defenders did a lot of yeoman’s work in Qatar, but the Canadians have developed so many intriguing attacking talents without a focus on how to stop those same-style players on the other team.

Maybe it’s a nation that, unlike the USMNT, has quickly piled its best talents into attack, who knows?  But Canada was a nation counting on its European hero goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who did not have his best fortnight in Qatar, to bail out a group of backs who may not be top five in CONCACAF in terms of talent but had overperformed via effort and system.


Stars of the show

 

Canada vs Morocco
fotmob.com

Hakim Ziyech goal video

Youssef En-Nesyri goal video


How to watch Canada vs Morocco live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday Dec. 1
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

How will Canada respond to its 4-1 loss to Croatia? Superior against Belgium and essentially until Croatia equalized on Monday, John Herdman has to decide who will have the mettle to pop off the mat and challenge unbeaten Morocco. One of those faces will surely be Alphonso Davies. Who will join him? Jonathan David and Cyle Larin could use redemptive performances, to be sure.

Morocco looks very, very strong, especially out wide where Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi, and Sofiane Boufal operate the machine. A coming-out party for Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri could go a long way toward stretching the Atlas Lions’ tournament well into December.


Canada quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 41
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF (1st place)
Coach: John Herdman
Key players: Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Milan Borjan, Jonathan Osorio

Morocco quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss

Croatia blanks Belgium as snakebit Lukaku denied super sub status

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Belgium’s golden generation crashed out of the World Cup following a scoreless draw with Croatia, who will finish second to victorious Morocco in Group F at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench and came close to being the hero on several occasions, but the Red Devils could not find the goal needed to send Croatia home and visit the Round of 16.

STREAM LIVE CROATIA vs BELGIUM

How’d we get here? Croatia snapped off a 4-1 win over Canada to move atop the group following an opening draw with Morocco, while Belgium fell to the Moroccans after beating the Canadians.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]


De Bruyne, Lukaku can’t save the day as Belgium whimpers out

Romelu Lukaku finally made his tournament debut, a halftime sub with the Red Devils requiring a win to claim a spot in the knockout rounds.

The Belgian was cued up by Kevin De Bruyne and Thorgan Hazard amongst others, the latter lifting a ball onto Lukaku’s chest inside the six in the 90th minute, but the Inter Milan man just couldn’t get it over the line.

Croatia vs Belgium
fotmob.com / Josko Gvardiol

His xG over 45 minutes of work was 1.67 and De Bruyne was credited with three chances created, but Croatia stood firm and got the point required to line up against Group E’s winner in the Round of 16.

RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol will leave this group stage will an escalated price tag, if there was even room for it to go up; The well-rated 20-year-old center back was instrumental in the clean sheet and had more interventions than even Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic.


Stars of the Show

Josko Gvardiol

Kevin De Bruyne

Luka Modric

Borna Sosa

Thibaut Courtois


How to watch Croatia vs Belgium live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday, Dec. 1
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia looked sleepy in the opening draw with Morocco, a draw that looks better after the Atlas Lions beat Belgium. They snapped to life, perhaps somewhat fueled by Canadian coach John Herdman’s confident pre-match talk, and now look capable of taking down anyone in the field. Or was that merely Canada’s beleaguered defense? We’ll find out when Mateo Kovacic and Co. meet the Belgians.

Kevin De Bruyne made waves after the win over Canada when he said Belgium’s golden generation missed its window by not claiming honors at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Red Devils failed to take down Morocco. They’ve been without Romelu Lukaku so far this tournament and Michy Batshuayi has the lone goal. Will Roberto Martinez’s men head home far earlier than expected?


Croatia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 5
World Cup titles: 1 (1966)
World Cup appearances: 15
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA
Coach: Gareth Southgate
Key players: Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Declan Rice

Belgium quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 20
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group A)
Coach: Dragan Skocic
Key players: Ehsan Hajsafi, Sardar Azmoun, Mehdi Taremi

Japan vs Spain: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Top spot in Group E will be on the line when Spain and Japan face off in their group-stage finale at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday.

STREAM JAPAN vs SPAIN LIVE

A draw will likely do the trick and see leaders Spain (4 points) to finish top of Group E, unless Costa Rica (3 points – 3rd) pull off a second colossal upset of the tournament and beat Germany (1 point – 4th). Japan (3 points – 2nd) could also advance with a draw, pending the result of Costa Rica vs Germany.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Japan vs Spain. 


How to watch Japan vs Spain live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Thursday (December 1)
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Spain were at their brilliant best as they put seven goals past Los Ticos in their opener, before coughing up a late lead and settling for a 1-1 draw with the desperate Germans in game no. 2. All in all, it’s been a good start to the World Cup for Luis Enrique’s exciting, young side. Six different attacking players have scored a goal for Spain, with Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres the only ones to find the back of the net twice thus far.

As for Japan, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions this World Cup. Their comeback victory over Germany in the opener seemed to signal their arrival in a new tier on the world’s biggest stage, before falling flat on their faces in a 1-0 loss to Costa Rica, who had conceded seven goals just four days earlier. Instead of clinching their place in the round of 16 with a win, Japan need at least a draw from their toughest group game in order to move on.


Japan quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 24
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 7
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada

Spain quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 7
World Cup titles: 1 (2010)
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Luis Enrique
Key players: Rodri, Pedri, Pau Torres, Jordi Alba

Follow @AndyEdMLS

Costa Rica vs Germany: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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2014 world champions Germany need not only a win over Costa Rica in their final group game to reach the knockout rounds of the 2022 World Cup, but they also need some help from Spain in the other Group E finale on Thursday.

STREAM COSTA RICA vs GERMANY LIVE

Germany (1 point) sit dead last after two games, having thrown away a late lead and lost 2-1 to Japan (3 points – 2nd place), before coming from behind themselves to draw Spain (4 points – 1st) in game no. 2.

Costa Rica (3 points – 3rd) conceded seven goals to La Roja as the world watched and wrote them off for good, but a shocking upset over Japan breathed new life into Los Ticos, who will advance with a victory over Germany, no matter the result of Japan vs Spain.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Costa Rica vs Germany. 


How to watch Costa Rica vs Germany live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Thursday (December 1)
Stadium: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Germany, it’s been a struggle to finish scoring chances rather than waste loads of expected goals (3.09 vs Japan, and 1.29, double that of Spain). 26 shots, 5 big chances nearly 700 passes translated to just one goal against the Samurai Blue, and they were made to pay for their transgressions. Hansi Flick is undoubtedly already under immense pressure ahead of Thursday’s game, through very little fault of his own.

As for Costa Rica, it seemed beyond impossible that they could be in such a position heading into the third game. Even in the victory over Japan, they manufactured all of 0.11 expected goals on 4 shots attempted. Win, lose or draw, that’s paltry offensive output that you might be able to overcome and steal one result at a World Cup, but for most sides it proves to be their undoing. They couldn’t it again, could they?


Costa Rica quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 31
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF via interconfederation playoffs
Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez
Key players: Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Celso Borges, Bryan Ruiz

Germany quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 11
World Cup titles: 4 (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
World Cup appearances: 20
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Hansi Flick
Key players: Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka

Follow @AndyEdMLS