“Phenomenal” Paul Pogba can be Manchester United’s savior

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MANCHESTER — Every time he touched the ball Old Trafford descended into a hushed expectancy.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Paul Pogba, 23, played the entire 90 minutes as Manchester United beat Southampton 2-0 on Friday night and intermittently he showed glimpses of the star quality which persuaded the Red Devils to make him the most expensive player in the world.

He seemed to tower above Southampton’s midfielders, striding forward powerfully time and time again. For someone who didn’t play a single second during preseason, Pogba only faded slightly in the final 10 minutes.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Mourinho hails Pogba, Fellaini ]

Pogba’s first touch was to give the ball away with a miskick and let Saints launch a counter-attack. It got better. Much better.

Driving forward from a position on the inside left flank in central midfield, Pogba drilled a shot on goal which Fraser Forster saved easily. He then clipped a delicate ball into Juan Mata who flicked it on to Zlatan Ibrahimovic to scissor kick an effort just over. When Ibrahimovic headed home his first goal, Pogba was just in front of him, inches away from connecting himself. In the second half he headed just over from eight-yards out, slammed another effort wide late on which Zlatan scolded him for, somewhat jokingly, after the game as he claimed Pogba should’ve squared the ball to him for his hat trick.

The man himself was happy to “home” following his sensational four-year stint at Juventus after he left United as a teenager. Since he left United have been on a downward spiral, failing to win the Premier League in the last three seasons. For the 20-time champions of England, they’re craving to get back to winning ways.

“It’s a great feeling. I was relaxed, didn’t have nerves and played my game. I came here to win, that is what I always wanted. It’s a top club,” Pogba told reporters afterwards. “The first ball, I lost it, but got used to it. After that I felt better, touched the ball and played with the team. We dream big. United are a big club. I know we will do big things this season.”

With Zlatan, Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and many other fine attacking talents around, Pogba may not always get the headlines but it seems as though he can knit this team together and can obliterate opponents with his surging runs. The fact that he has Martial, Zlatan and others to link with attack means he has all the moving pieces around him to succeed.

On the ball he oozed class as he powerfully held off Saints defenders with one arm and caressed the ball with his feet. He has all the tools to be United’s savior in a new era under Jose Mourinho. He is, in many ways, a complete player with no real weakness.

Speaking after the game United’s Portuguese manager was hugely complimentary of his $117 million man.

“He was fantastic,” Mourinho said of Pogba. “His first action was bad, he loses an easy ball and gives a counter-attack and a free kick to the opponent. You can see even more the ego, the personality, he is so comfortable under that skin of a star. He is so confident in the way he plays. For 10 days work, first match of the season, not even 10 minutes of a friendly, I think he played phenomenal.”

The thing about this Pogba performance was that it felt like he played with the handbrake on. At times he seemed to hold back from going full-throttle but left enough flashes of brilliance dangling in front of the faces of fans to keep them salivating. Pogba’s name seemed to be plastered on replica shirts outside one in every three or so fans outside Old Trafford on Friday.

United’s new no. 6 may have already gone a long way to paying back his extortionate transfer fee in shirt sales alone but in his promising second debut for United, the French international proved that all the bluster and analysis around him didn’t impact him. He just went out there and played. Just like he always has done and always will. That’s Pogba at his best.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19: Paul Pogba of Manchester United reacts after failing to score during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on August 19, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

His manager joked that he “didn’t know what position” Pogba played in and the only directions he gave him was to play. Unlike this summer at EURO 2016 when France’s manager Didier Deschamps asked him to play in a deeper, more disciplined role, Mourinho knows Pogba’s talent is best used if he’s allowed to roam free.

That was Mourinho’s biggest indicator yet that this team will be built around Pogba and he believes he can handle the pressure.

“We have to build a certain organization around but he has to play free,” Mourinho said. “For a player to play with the freedom he has. We have to build a certain organization around him. The moment we lose the ball we have to be protected. The moment he starts his movement forward, even when the team is protected in the first phase, we need to bring other players to the first phase. He has to play with freedom. Of course last 10 minutes 2-0, now more tactical organization but this is the kind of guy who has to play free. I think he bought a lot to the team. So good.”

Pogba was “so good” and the overwhelming sense from his debut is there’s still plenty more to come. He hugged fans in the Stretford End as he walked off the pitch and was the last United player out there, soaking up the atmosphere at Old Trafford on a special night under the lights.

“It was great. My debut and we won so I am very happy for that,” Pogba added. “I am very happy for the team. I came back home. I hope to continue like this and get better and keep winning.”

World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, quarterfinal game odds

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The World Cup 2022 odds so intriguing.

Who’s going to lift the World Cup trophy on Sunday, Dec. 18, and what are the current betting odds for them to do so?

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

Odds for not only who will be crowned world champions this winter in Qatar, but also for each of the quarterfinal games have been posted.

24 teams are out. Only eight teams remain.

Check out the 2022 World Cup winners betting odds below, provided by our partner, PointsBet.


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

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Knockout games kick-off times: 10am, 2pm (both 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!


World Cup 2022 odds – Quarterfinal games

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. Here are the odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

(+800) Croatia vs Brazil (-286). Draw: +400
(+250) Netherlands vs Argentina (+115). Draw: +220
(+450) Morocco vs Portugal (-150). Draw: +260
(+210) England vs France (+140). Draw: +220


World Cup 2022 odds – winners (As of December 8)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. Here are the odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

Brazil +170
France +400
Argentina +600
Portugal +600
England +650
Netherlands +1650
Croatia +4000
Morocco +4000


South Korea – Eliminated
Japan – Eliminated
Switzerland – Eliminated
Spain – Eliminated
Poland – Eliminated
Senegal – Eliminated
Australia – Eliminated
Qatar – Eliminated
Canada – Eliminated
Ecuador – Eliminated
Wales – Eliminated
Iran – Eliminated
Germany – Eliminated
Belgium – Eliminated
Denmark – Eliminated
Costa Rica – Eliminated
Tunisia – Eliminated
Mexico – Eliminated
Saudi Arabia – Eliminated
Cameroon – Eliminated
Ghana – Eliminated
Serbia – Eliminated
Uruguay – Eliminated
USA – Eliminated


World Cup odds – group stage winners (At start of tournament, November 20)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links. Here are the odds provided by our partner, PointsBet.

Group A

Netherlands -223
Senegal +400
Ecuador +550
Qatar +1600

Group B

England -304
Wales +550
USA +600
Iran +1800

Group C

Argentina -223
Poland +450
Mexico +450
Saudi Arabia +2500

Group D

France -250
Denmark +275
Tunisia +1400
Australia +2000

Group E

Spain -112
Germany +110
Japan +1200
Costa Rica +5000

Group F

Belgium -200
Croatia +250
Morocco +1000
Canada +1200

Group G

Brazil -250
Switzerland +500
Serbia +600
Cameroon +1200

Group H

Portugal -154
Uruguay +200
Ghana +1100
South Korea +1100


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2022 World Cup: What are the overtime and penalty kick rules?

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The 2022 World Cup takes place on Sunday, November 20, and runs through Sunday, December 18 in Qatar featuring 64 matches contested by 32 nations in 8 stadiums over the course of 29 days.

This will be the very first time that a World Cup is being contested in the Middle East but that’s not all that will be new at this year’s tournament.

For the first time in history, the Men’s tournament will have female referees. There will be a total of six: 3 officials and 3 assistants. The officials are Stéphanie Frappart (France), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda), and Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan). Neuza Back (Brazil), Karen Díaz Medina (Mexico), and Kathryn Nesbitt (USA) are the assistants.

Additionally, this will be the first World Cup where teams will be allowed to make 5 substitutions and have 26-player squads. Previously, teams were only allowed to make 3 substitutions and have 23-player squads. Teams will also have the opportunity to make an additional concussion substitution if needed.

RELATED: World Cup 2022 rankings – Who are the favorites?

What are the overtime and penalty kick rules at the World Cup?

If a game is tied after 90 minutes of play, there will be a five minute break and then the match will go into overtime where an extra 30 minutes of time will be given. The time will be divided into two 15-minute periods.

If the score is still tied after extra time is given, the two teams will go into a penalty kick shootout to determine the winner. If there is still a tie at the end of the shootout, teams will be given additional rounds of one kick each until the tie is broken.

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


How to watch the 2022 World Cup:

*All times are listed as ET

  • When: November 20, 2022 – December 18, 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5 am, 8 am, 11 am, and 2 pm
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channel in English: Fox
  • TV channels en Español: Telemundo, Universo, Peacock

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


2022 World Cup U.S. Group Stage Schedule:

  • U.S. vs. Wales – Monday, November 21 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs. England – Friday, November 25 at 2 PM ET
  • U.S. vs Iran – Tuesday, November 29 at 2 PM ET

2022 World Cup Mexico Group Stage Schedule:

  • Mexico vs. Poland – Tuesday, November 22 at 11 AM ET
  • Mexico vs Argentina – Saturday, November 26 at 2 PM ET
  • Mexico  vs Saudi Arabia – Wednesday, November 30 at 2 PM ET

RELATED: World Cup 2022 odds: Favorites, underdogs, group stage winners


Copa Mundial en Español – Peacock

You can stream all 64 matches of the 2022 Copa Mundial en Español on Peacock.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

 Follow along with ProSoccerTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 World Cup!

World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, last 16, calendar, match schedule, brackets, dates

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The World Cup 2022 schedule is locked in and this tournament in Qatar has been sensational as the knockout rounds will capture the imagination of the globe.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

Japan, Australia and Morocco made the last 16 with so many huge shocks during the tournament, but the Atlas Lions are the only one of the trio to survive into the quarterfinals. Germany, Denmark, and Belgium all crashed out in the group stage.

Argentina meets the Netherlands in the quarterfinals for a familiar matchup that stands between Lionel Messi and a semifinal date with either Brazil or Japan.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

The other side of the bracket sees Morocco meeting Portugal for the right to tangle with the winner of England vs France.

So, yeah, the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final should be dynamite. Bring. It. On.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]  

Below is the schedule in full, details on how to watch the games and everything else you need..

[ MORE: World Cup odds ]


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

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Knockout round kick-off times: 10am, 2pm (both 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 | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H | Full tables


Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Netherlands 3-1 USA – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 50 – Saturday, December 3: Argentina 2-1 Australia – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: France 3-1 Poland – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: England 3-0 Senegal – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Japan 1-1 (AET, 1-3 PKs) – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Brazil 4-1 South Korea – Stadium 974, Doha

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Morocco 0-0 (AET, 3-0 PKs) Spain – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Portugal 6-1 Switzerland – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail


Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Croatia vs Brazil (preview) – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Netherlands vs Argentina (preview) – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Morocco vs Portugal (preview) – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: England vs France (preview) – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Semifinal schedule

Match 61 – Tuesday, December 13: Winners Match 57 vs Winners Match 58 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm

Match 62 – Wednesday, December 14: Winners Match 59 vs Winners Match 60 – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm


Third-place play-off

Match 63 – Saturday, December 17: Losers Match 61 vs Losers Match 62 – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm


Final

Match 64 – Sunday, December 18: Winners Match 61 vs Winners Match 62 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am


Group stage results

Group A

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

Group B

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
Recap/highlights: Wales 0-3 England – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Iran 0-1 USA – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group C

Recap/highlights: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Mexico 0-0 Poland – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Poland 2-0 Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Argentina 2-0 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Poland 0-2 Argentina – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Saudi Arabia 1-2 Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Group D

Recap/highlights: France 4-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Denmark 0-0 Tunisia – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: France 2-1 Denmark – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 0-1 Australia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Tunisia 1-0 France –  Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Australia 1-0 Denmark – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah

Group E

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Spain 1-1 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Japan 0-1 Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Japan 2-1 Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Costa Rica 2-4 Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Group F

Recap/highlights: Belgium 1-0 Canada – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 5am
Recap/highlights: Belgium 0-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Croatia 4-1 Canada – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Croatia 0-0 Belgium – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights Canada 1-2 Morocco – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor

Group G

Recap/highlights: Brazil 2-0 Serbia – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Switzerland 1-0 Cameroon – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Brazil 1-0 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 11am
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 3-3 Serbia – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah
Recap/highlights: Cameroon 1-0 Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: Serbia 2-3 Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha

Group H

Recap/highlights: Portugal 3-2 Ghana – Stadium 974, Doha
Recap/highlights: Uruguay 0-0 South Korea – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Portugal 2-0 Uruguay – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-1 Portugal – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Recap/highlights: Ghana 0-2 Uruguay – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah


USMNT reportedly opens contract talks with Gregg Berhalter; Good or bad idea?

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Gregg Berhalter may be sticking around the United States men’s national team program, giving the USMNT coaching continuity as it moves from 2022 World Cup Round of 16 member to 2026 World Cup co-host.

ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle says that Berhalter is beginning contract discussions with the United States Soccer Federation but also interested in taking a job in Europe with his profile having risen alongside the USMNT at the World Cup.

Berhalter’s current contract ends at the end of the calendar year, and the Yanks have scheduled a domestic camp in January and friendlies against Serbia and Colombia.

[ MORE: USMNT transfer rumors for Musah, Dest ]

Berhalter has done some good things for the program, most notably winning the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup with two different groups. He also straightened out the defending, for the most part, and got out of the World Cup group.

Berhalter successfully recruited Sergino Dest and Yunus Musah, two of the program’s stars at the World Cup. He also convinced Malik Tillman, Gaga Slonina, and Jesus Ferreira that the U.S. was the right place for their national team futures.

He also, subjectively, was slow if not downright stubborn in acquiesing to certain points-of-view that made the team better. From Tyler Adams as a right back at the outset of his tenure to saying Tim Ream didn’t fit how he wanted to play about a month before the World Cup… then playing him every minute of the tournament.

But for the most part when lessons were learned, they stayed learned.

Should Gregg Berhalter continue as USMNT boss?

Let’s start here, because it’s necessary: It’s clear that Berhalter cared about his players and the project, whether you like the way he operated or not. This wasn’t a half-assed operation, but one with passion.

So does he still have that passion? Only he can answer that, and if he’d like to get more matchdays in his life then maybe he does want to go back to the club game.

And frankly, that’s fine either way, because his four years with the program were neither amazing nor pitiful. They can be described as anything from a slight disappointment to a minor success, depending on your perspective and expectations.

If you believe that picking up the pieces from the absolute travesty that was failing to qualify for the World Cup from the richest nation and one of the two most talented nations amongst CONCACAF men’s programs was really hard, then you think Berhalter getting the men to the 2022 World Cup and surviving the group with a young group was a solid step in the right direction and a minor success.

If you believe that the American soccer climate is such that you should always make the World Cup out of one of the world’s lesser confederations and that the Yanks progressed as the second team of a group in which they were the second-ranked team according to FIFA and Elo Ratings, well, you can have a different standard.

The Yanks will never again fail to qualify for the World Cup given the expanded field, but hosts have historically had a drastically-improved chance to reach the semifinals. THe federation would have to be confident that picking the best squad regardless of how it reflects on his previous selections — let alone a Best XI — is going to happen under a given coach.

Berhalter’s 49 and is far from the worst or best boss in USMNT history. Whoever’s in the job four years from now will have a chance to go down as either one. Choose wisely, fed. And Gregg! Who knows how far his star could rise with a solid run in Europe, and history says there will be the chance to reconnect with the USMNT job.

Follow @NicholasMendola