Nesta’s debut makes for quite a star-studded affair at Stade Saputo

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source: AP
Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

MONTREAL – Tim Cahill won’t play at Stade Saputo tomorrow when New York visits Montréal, but with the much anticipated MLS debut of former Italian international Alessandro Nesta slated for tomorrow’s 7:30 p.m Eastern kickoff, the Impact’s match with the Eastern Conference-leading Red Bulls won’t lack for star power.

Consider Nesta, Kenny Cooper, and Sebastien Le Toux are not even designated players. Nor is this year’s number one draft pick, Andrew Wenger, who is expected to see some playing time as he returns from injury. Likewise, Matteo Ferrari – a former Italian international – could see time. Rafa Marquez’s calf will keep him sidelined, but two other designated players, Thierry Henry and Marco Di Vaio, will be the focal points of their teams’ attacks.

Star-studded affairs may be becoming more frequent in Major League Soccer, but Saturday’s game will be one of the league’s brightest in the league’s recent history.

For the Impact, who expect one of their best crowds of the season at Stade Saputo, the number of names above the title are irrelevant. Seven points behind Chicago for the East’s final playoff spot (with the Fire holding three matches in hand), Montréal needs a run to extend their first MLS season beyond 34 games.

“At this point in the season, it’s a game that we feel like it’s important to win,” captain Davy Arnaud said after Friday’s practice. “[The Red Bulls] have a lot of players who are dangerous … it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

“I think we have a lot draw on,” head coach Jesse Marsch said, his team having been outscored 7-2 in two losses to New York this season. “We feel like in both those games we still had very good moments.”

Seven goals allowed speaks for itself, though, and with New York having added Le Toux since the teams met on May 19, Marsch is happy to have his best defenders available.

“Alessandro, Nelson [Rivas], Matteo and Andrew [Wenger]” will be available, Marsch confirmed, adding his team’s first draft pick to the list. “Having all four of those guys back in our team is a big plus.

“We know that those guys are going to be key guys and they’re going to help us.”

Ferrari, speaking of his own potential return, confirmed Nesta and Rivas are set to start.

“I talked with the coach. He said they were going to start with Nelson and Alessandro because they are more fit … I think I will have 30 minutes, or something like that.”

Regardless of who starts, the focus will be on set pieces, both defending and executing in attack. Montreal spent the final part of Friday’s practice working on them, and with Zarek Valentin still “another couple of weeks” away from returning from injury (according to Marsch), Houssan Camara at right back will keep one of the Impact’s better players on set pieces in the team.

But Camara alone won’t solve a problem which has become multi-faceted.

“It’s not giving bad fouls and bad set pieces,” Marsch said, trying to explain the problem. “It’s the mental focus. It’s the execution, the physical execution on the field, the communication.”

Fixing the problem, however, requires balance.

“What we don’t want to do is emphasize it so much that now we just start to panic every time we have a set piece. We still want to have [confidence in] how we do things, how we’re going to approach it, and how we’re going to deal with it.”

“I think what we went through today, it was a good exercise. I expect us to be ready.”

Thankfully for Montréal, they won’t have to be ready for a fully loaded Red Bulls’ team. Marquez will be out, while Tim Cahill is unlikely to receive his P-1 visa in time to make the trip to Stade Saputo. But even without two designated players, New York’s firepower asks an eternal question in game preparation: How much does a team adjust their own approach for the team they’re facing?

“You always want to stay true to what you’re good at and who you think you are,” Marsch explained. “I don’t think you want to take it so far so that you’re only thinking of what they do, but you certainly have to address it within the group.”

Once New York’s latest piece is available, Marsch sees balance as Red Bulls’ biggest concern, a concern with which he can empathize:

“Their major challenge now is how to use all of them, how to balance the team out. For us, we have a similar situation where now we feel like we have some really strong center backs … You don’t want to throw off the rhythm and the balance that [the players] established as a team, but you should also [focus on] how do you get your best players on the field, how they can make plays, and how they can make the difference for you.”

Those concerns will be on Marsch’s mind Saturday, with Nesta available while three players retur from injury. Trying to get each of them time, managing substitutions will be an issue for Marsch, which is why a Di Vaio-Wenger pairing may be relegated to a late-match solution.

“We just have to be careful with how many [players] we put on the field from the start that we’re not sure if they can make 90,” according to Marsch. “That’s the major consideration now when we’re thinking about things. But I expect all four of Rivas, Nesta, Ferrari, and Wenger to factor in tomorrow.”

Iran vs USA, live! Score, updates, live stream link, USMNT lineup

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The USA seeks a return to the knockout rounds and that’ll only come with a win over Iran at 2pm ET Tuesday inside Al Thumama Stadium in Al Khor.

STREAM LIVE IRAN v USA

It doesn’t matter what Wales does vs England at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan because England already has four points and a draw would give Iran four as well.

The Yanks’ two draws mandate a win-or-go-home mentality on Saturday and there are multiple generations worth of redemption up for grabs after the USMNT was felled by Iran at the 1998 World Cup and failed to qualify for the 2018 tourney in Russia.

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

How can Gregg Berhalter unlock the USMNT attack to get the goal or goals he’ll need to reach a date with Group B’s winner or runner-up?

Here is everything you need for Iran vs USA.


How to watch Iran vs USA live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Tuesday Nov. 29
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

For Iran, it’s about riding the momentum of a huge win after finding inspiration in a huge loss. There’s an ocean’s worth of difference in emotion between the 6-2 tournament-opening loss to England in Al Rayyan and the 2-0 triumph over Wales In the same city. Can Mehdi Taremi or Sardar Azmoun succeed where Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling could not and break down the USMNT defense for a goal?

Meanwhile, the Yanks may still be lamenting a 1-1 draw with Wales as much as they are celebrating a strong performance that kept them unbeaten against England at the World Cup after a scoreless draw with Gareth Southgate’s men In Al Khor. Gregg Berhalter has to find a way to unlock the USMNT’s final-third woes when they hit Al Khor on Tuesday.

There has also been some off-field tension brewing between the U.S. and Iran surrounding this game, as Gregg Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams responded to in a tense press conference amid questions from the Iranian press.


Iran 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

USA quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 16
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 9
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (3rd place)
Coach: Gregg Berhalter
Key players: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams

World Cup 2022 Group A: Qatar, Senegal, Netherlands, Ecuador, final table, fixtures, rankings

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Group A in the 2022 World Cup was intriguing, as hosts Qatar were dumped out, while Ecuador started well but faded as African champs Senegal finished second in the group and the Netherlands finished top.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

Even thought Senegal were missing main man Sadio Mane through injury, they rallied to win their final two group games including an intense finale against Ecuador.

The Netherlands were unbeaten throughout the group stage and took care of business with minimum fuss.

[ MORE: Ranking every World Cup team, 32-1 ]

Below is everything you need for 2022 World Cup Group A.


Group A schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: Qatar 0-2 Ecuador – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Senegal 0-2 Netherlands  – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Qatar 1-3 Senegal – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 1-1 Ecuador – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Netherlands 2-0 Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Ecuador 1-2 Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

How To Watch Group A matches live

  • When: November 20-29, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, scores, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup, and be sure to subscribe to NBC Sports on YouTube!


Group A table

1. Netherlands — 7 points (+9)
2. Senegal — 6 points (+1)
3. Ecuador — 4 points (+1)
4. Qatar — 0 (-4) – ELIMINATED


Qatar

Current FIFA world ranking: 49
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 0
How they qualified: As hosts
Coach: Felix Sanchez
Key players: Abdelkarim Hassan, Almoez Ali, Hassan Al-Haydos

Senegal

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly

Netherlands

Current FIFA world ranking: 8
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 10
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (Won Group G)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Key players: Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Frenkie de Jong

Ecuador

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan


Senegal edges epic battle with Ecuador to clinch last 16 spot

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Senegal beat Ecuador to reach the last 16 of the World Cup, as the Lions of Terranga rallied to knock out the South Americans.

FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ismaila Sarr put Senegal ahead from the penalty spot but Moises Caicedo equalized in the second half and a draw would have been enough to send Ecuador through at Senegal’s expense.

[ MORE: Group A – Table, rankings, results, schedule ]

Cometh the hour, cometh the man as Senegal’s captain Kalidou Koulibaly scored the winner to send his country through to the knockout rounds for just the second time in their history.

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


Stars of the show

Kalidou Koulibaly: Scored the famous goal to send Senegal through and was dominant at the back. Led by example.

Ismaila Sarr: Another of one Senegal’s stars stood tall as he scored the opener and gave them an outlet. Sadio Mane would be proud of this display.


How to watch Ecuador vs Senegal live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET – Tuesday, November 29
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

GOAL! Moments later Koulibaly puts Senegal back in front. What drama. Now Senegal are going through instead of Ecuador.

GOAL! Ecuador equalize. Brighton’s Moises Caicedo slots home after a flick on. As it stands, Ecuador going through ahead of Senegal.

GOAL! Hincapie clatters into Ismaila Sarr and he slots home the resulting spot kick. Senegal lead.

What a start from Senegal! Idrissa Gana Gueye slams a shot wide and Ismaila Sarr sees a deflected effort fly just wide. Ecuador have yet to get going.


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Enner Valencia has obviously been the main man for Ecuador with his three goals so far but Gonzalo Plata and Michael Estrada have been excellent alongside him in attack. Brighton duo Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan have been superb too, while Angelo Preciado has been electric down the right flank.

Senegal’s defense has looked a bit shaky, even with Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly back there. In midfield Idrissa Gana Gueye was much better against Qatar and Ismaila Sarr continues to do his best to fill the huge void left by Sadio Mane.


Ecuador quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 44
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 3
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (4th place)
Coach: Gustavo Alfaro
Key players: Enner Valencia, Moises Caicedo, Pervis Estupinan

Senegal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 18
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Beat Egypt in CAF playoff
Coach: Aliou Cisse
Key players: Idrissa Gana Gueye, Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly


USMNT scenarios to advance: How can USA qualify for the World Cup last 16?’

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Everyone wants to figure out the USMNT scenarios to reach the knockout rounds.

“How can the USMNT qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup and make it out of the group stage?”

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock

That is the question you will hear time and time again ahead of their Group B finale against Iran on Tuesday, November 29 at 2pm ET.

This is intense.

[ MORE: Group B schedule, rankings, table ]

As the information below tells you, the USMNT scenarios is now very simple for Gregg Berhalter’s young side.

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

After their draws against Wales and England to kick off Group B play, it all goes down to the final 90 minutes against Iran to see whether or not they can reach the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar.


Group B table heading into final group stage game

1. England – 4 points (+4 GD)
2. Iran – 3 points (-2)
3. USA – 2 points (0 GD)
4. Wales – 1 point (-2 GD)


Group B remaining schedule

Tuesday, November 29: Wales vs England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Tuesday November 29: Iran vs USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


How the USA can qualify for the last 16

  • Win against Iran

How the USA will not qualify for the last 16

  • Draw against Iran
  • Lose against Iran