Agent warns Chelsea’s Essien could leave in the winter window

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Chelsea’s Michael Essien is a fraction of his former self. The wear and tear of being one of England’s premier midfielders during the Blues’ climb to power took its toll on the 31-year-old. Since returning to Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid this summer, he’s only made three league appearances, with few claiming what they’ve seen justifies giving Essien more time in Chelsea’s midfield.

Nonetheless, Essien’s agent is hinting at a potential move for the Ghanian, with Fabian Piveteau claiming a return to France could take place in the January window.

From reporting by The Guardian:

“He could leave Chelsea this winter,” Piveteau told French radio station RMC. “Several major European clubs playing in the Champions League were informed and the situation should settle down within the next 10 days.

“You should know that Michael was not on the list of players who can play in the Champions League with Chelsea, so he is free to play in the competition with another club.”

“In Ligue 1 he could play only at Paris Saint-Germain or Lyon …”

That Essien could move despite Chelsea’s lack of depth in the middle speaks to the extent “the Bison” has regressed. Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel have been regulars in Mourinho’s two deep midfield roles, with Ramires also capable of playing the position. This weekend against Liverpool, David Luiz was called on at the position for the first time this year, further undermining Essien’s place on Chelsea’s depth chart.

At 31, Essien brings a wealth of experience to a team, experience that’s seen him win for major league titles throughout the course of his career. At this point, though, he doesn’t provide the same explosion out of midfield that made him one of the best in England at the end of the last decade. He doesn’t cover the same ground he did in his twenties, and the toll injuries have taken on the former Black Stars captain mean he’s more mistake prone.

With Piveteau targeting Champions League, it’s worth considering where Essien could do. Though Paris Saint-Germain was mentioned in the radio interview, it’s unlikely Essien would see significantly more time in Laurent Blanc’s loaded team than with Chelsea. He’d have similar problems getting minutes with Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City are unlikely to be interested.

There are, however, some big clubs who, whether through injury or lack of depth at the position, might be able to use Essien. Real Madrid lost Sami Khedira for the season. Borussia Dortmund (admittedly, a strange fit) has been devastated by injury, while Milan might see the Ghanian as a cheap upgrade to cover ground along side Nigel de Jong. Even Premier League teams like Arsenal and Manchester United might be able to use Essien, though it’s difficult to see Chelsea letting his go to a rival if there are options elsewhere. Even if they did, it’s unclear Essien would be more than emergency cover for the clubs’ first choice midfielders.

Galatasaray and Olympiacos are both in the Champions League Round of 16 and can afford Essien’s wages. Schalke may also see Essien as somebody who could help them track down Borussia Mönchengladbach for Germany’s last Champions League spot. Depending on what he can provide, Essien would also be an helpful to a team like Bayer Leverkusen.

The questions for all those teams will be the same: How much does Essien have left? Can he stay healthy? And even if he does, is he worth the money?

Iran vs USA: How to watch live, USMNT stream link, team news

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The United States men’s national team seeks a return to the knockout rounds and that’ll only come with a win over Iran at 2pm ET Saturday inside Al Thumama Stadium in Al Khor.

STREAM LIVE IRAN vs 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.


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 schedule, fixtures, rankings

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Group A in the 2022 World Cup will be intriguing, as hosts Qatar are joined by African champs Senegal, plus the Netherlands and Ecuador.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

This really is a wide-open group but the host nation got off to a terrible start as they were outclassed by Ecuador and Qatar are now out are losing to Senegal too.

There’s no doubting that the Netherlands and Senegal are the favorites to advance as Virgil van Dijk will lead the Dutch as they look to make up for missing the 2018 tournament, but Senegal are missing main man Sadio Mane through injury as they aim to better their best-ever finish of reaching the quarterfinals in 2002.

As for Ecuador, they look like an incredibly solid team who are set up very well to counter and proved that against Qatar.

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

Below is everything you need to know 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
Tuesday, November 29: Netherlands vs Qatar – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 10am
Tuesday, November 29: Ecuador vs Senegal –  Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

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. Ecuador — 4 points (+2 GD)
2. Netherlands — 4 points (+2)
3. Senegal — 3 points (0)
4. Qatar — 0 (-2) – 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


World Cup 2022 Group B: England, USA, Iran, Wales schedule, fixtures, rankings

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With England, the USMNT, Wales and Iran placed together in Group B, this is an absolutely blockbuster group brimming with narratives.

Can the Three Lions take care of business with minimum fuss? Or will the USMNT, Wales and Iran cause upsets as their solid units all have talented attackers who can win a game in just one moment?

[ MORE: World Cup 2022 schedule, scores, hub ]

From Harry Kane leading England to Gareth Bale leading Wales’ charge to Christian Pulisic primed to push the USMNT towards the knockout rounds and Iran’s hopes pinned on prolific forward duo Azmoun and Taremi, this is going to be a tough group to call.

Many believe England are the favorites (especially after their big win against Iran in the opener) but Wales, the USMNT and Iran are very evenly matched (as the draw between the USA and Wales proved) and their world rankings — an average ranking of 15 if you combine all four teams — show just how tough this group will be.

Iran’s win against Wales has set up an incredible finale, as the USA know a win against Iran in their final group stage game sends them to the last 16. A win or draw for Iran sends them into the last 16, while England know a win against Wales wins them the group and anything other than a four-goal or more defeat to Wales sees them in the last 16.

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

Below is everything you need to know on World Cup 2022 Group B.


Group B schedule (all kick off times ET)

Recap/highlights: England 6-2 Iran – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: USA 1-1 Wales – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: England 0-0 USA – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-2 Iran – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
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

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 2pm (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 B table

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


England

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, Jordan Pickford

USA

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

Wales

Current FIFA world ranking: 19
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 1
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Rob Page
Key players: Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey, Ben Davies

Iran

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

What are the group stage tiebreaker rules at the 2022 World Cup?

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The 2022 World Cup is already well underway and through the first matches of the group stage, the tournament has been marked by unpredictability and upsets, including Saudi Arabia toppling Argentina and Japan edging out Germany thanks to a late comeback. While one loss doesn’t necessarily mean these pre-tournament contenders won’t make it to the knockout rounds, it does make the path significantly harder. Read on to see the World Cup tiebreakers that may come into play in determining which teams advance to the next round and continue on the path to soccer’s greatest glory.

How many teams will advance from the World Cup group stage?

Of the 32 teams at the 2022 World Cup, only 16 will advance to the next round of the tournament. The top two teams in each of the eight groups will advance to the Round of 16. From there, the tournament will be a single-elimination competition, with eight teams making it through to the quarterfinals and four to the semifinals. The winners of the semifinal matches will play in the final, while the losers will meet in the third-place playoff.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

What are the tiebreakers for the group stage at the World Cup?

If two or more teams have an equal number of points after the conclusion of group stage matches, FIFA will use the following tiebreakers to determine which nations advance:

  • Goal differential – the team with the higher goal differential (total goals scored minus total goals allowed) will have the higher ranking
  • Number of goals scored – If multiple teams have the same number of points and equal goal differential, the team with more goals scored will be given a higher ranking than the lesser-scoring team

World Cup draw rules

If two or more teams are still “tied” after applying these tiebreakers, FIFA moves on to a second round of tiebreakers:

  • Greatest number of points obtained in group matches between the teams concerned
  • Superior goal difference resulting from the group matches between the team concerned
  • Greatest number of goals scored in all matches between the teams concerned
  • Highest team conduct score – team conduct score is based on the number of yellow and red cards a team has obtained. The team with the highest team conduct score will receive the higher ranking.
    • Yellow Card: Minus one point
    • Indirect Red Card (acquired via two yellow cards): Minus three points
    • Direct Red Card: Minus four points
    • Yellow Card and Direct Red Card: Minus five points

RELATED: PST’s 2022 World Cup predictions: Standings, winner, awards, USMNT fate

World Cup yellow card rules

The “team conduct” tiebreaker or “fair play” tiebreaker was first used at the 2018 World Cup – Japan and Senegal stood equal after all other tiebreakers were applied but Senegal had more yellow cards and was subsequently eliminated. Japan advanced to the Round of 16.

World Cup 2022 schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 10am, 11am, 2pm (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock
  • Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

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!