Wayne Rooney’s return gives Everton’s revival a leader

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Wayne Rooney sat next to Ronald Koeman smiling from ear to ear as he held the Everton jersey once again.

These two are the forefront of Everton’s revival.

[ MORE: Rooney United’s best ever? ]

Being unveiled to the media on Monday at Goodison Park, the all-time leading goalscorer for Manchester United and England had returned to the club where he made his name and the team he still supports.

Rooney, 31, repeatedly stated that Everton’s aim must be to win a trophy for the first time since 1995 and his burning desire is to help his boyhood club in their exciting new era.

Both Rooney and Koeman acknowledged that there’s extra pressure on Everton given their summer of spending, and both know they have to deliver. Now.

“With Ronald’s ideas and the players we are bringing in, it’s on us,” Rooney said. “It’s alright sitting here saying ‘we want to win trophies’ but it’s on us as a football club to make sure we do that. That’s why we have to work hard and make sure we are in the best position to do that… That’s why you play football, to win trophies. That’s of course the target and the aim. That’s what we want to do. We don’t want to limp around in the season, we want to be successful. I know we have the right man to lead us to do that.”

Koeman may well have the right man in Rooney to lead his young, talented squad and Rooney admitted that the decision to go back was “a no-brainer” while his manager spoke of Rooney’s desperation to return.

After spending 13 years away winning every trophy possible at Manchester United, Rooney has now returned hungry to prove the doubters wrong and it’s clear that Koeman has big plans for the Evertonian.

When asked where Rooney would play — now a key question for most of his managers as father time catches up with him — Koeman gave an intriguing answer.

“Everybody knows the qualities of Wayne. It is try to get more productivity, we spoke about last season. He is a striker,” Koeman said. “Offensively he can be a No.10 behind the striker. A free role from the left. The No.9. The No.7. That’s the position he will play.”

In short: he will be used wherever and whenever he’s needed. Rooney seems just fine with that after spending a season mostly on the bench at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho.

“I needed to play more games and I didn’t play that often last season. I know I’m at my best when I’m playing games consistently,” Rooney said. “I spoke with Jose [Mourinho] and it was the right time for me to leave and go and play somewhere else and I firmly believed Everton was the right option for me to do that.”

Koeman now has a figurehead to build his team around.

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Last season was his first in charge at Goodison and although his young team excited with a seventh-place finish, flirting with a top four finish for a little while, losing the goals of Romelu Lukaku (his move to Manchester United is close to completion) will hurt the Toffees.

Koeman wants to see “several players scoring 10-15 goals rather than one scoring 25” and with Sandro, Davy Klaassen and Rooney coming in to compliment Ross Barkley, Kevin Mirallas, Yannick Bolasie and others, all of a sudden Everton is loaded with different attacking options.

Given his experience of delivering on the big stage, Rooney could be the key cog.

“The experience of Wayne is really important to win something and to bring to the rest of the players,” Koeman said. “We have some good older players in the team, there is a lot of experience, but we have some really good young talented football players. It’s an example for them to learn from him and learn from other players in the team. Altogether it was really important for me to try to bring Wayne back to the club.”

Koeman suggested more new arrivals would follow as Everton are linked with deals for Olivier Giroud, Gylfi Sigurdsson and others, but it is Rooney who will help knit everything together.

A true blue at heart, the Liverpudlian striker revealed he is ready for the next step of his career and brushed off talk of him returning to the England squad, simply saying that if his performances are good enough for Everton then Gareth Southgate can’t possibly ignore him.

“I was at the stage of my career when I had to take the next step,” Rooney said. “I thought about it and obviously after speaking to Ronald, the discussions we had, I knew it was where I needed to play and needed to be. I’m excited. I just can’t wait to get out there and play.”

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Whether or not Rooney will be handed the captains armband remains to be seen, but winning trophies for Everton is at the forefront of his mind and if he can regain his best form then this addition will look like a masterclass from Koeman.

What if he could lead Everton to their first piece of silverware in over two decades?

“It would be incredible,” Rooney replied. “I was at the final in 1995 and to win a trophy as an Everton player, it would be a special moment.”

Everton’s fans, Rooney and Koeman are hoping they are the start of a special era for the Toffees.

With big money spent on new players, a new stadium on the way and youngsters rising to the first team, having a local lad and die-hard fan leading the charge is almost the fairytale scenario.

Their Dutch manager knows fairytale’s don’t come true without spending big and putting the right type of players together.

“We want to continue what we did last season,” Koeman explained. “Everybody knows everyone is trying to get the best players and all the big six in the Premier League, they will try and spend money as well. But I think that it is a good signal to everybody that we are on board and we will try to give them that competition that we didn’t last season. We did well last season but now we need to make the next step. To make the next step we need to get that type of player in and with the type of qualities to improve.”

Rooney, Koeman and Everton will take the next step together.

Japan comes back to beat Spain, finish top of group in incredible fashion

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Japan came back from a goal down at halftime to beat Spain 2-1 and finish top of the group in truly stunning, heart-stopping fashion at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ahead of matchday 3 in Group E, the simplest math was as follows: a German win, plus a Japanese loss (to Spain), would see the 2014 world champions jump from 4th to 2nd and avoid a second straight World Cup group-stage exit.

The first part of that equation seemed to be going relatively straightforward, as Serge Gnabry opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A minute later in the other game, Alvaro Morata put Spain ahead and Germany were going through as things stood. But, Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka struck twice in six minutes to start the second half and overturn the deficit to a European giant, just as they did against Germany in the opener.

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

Then, something even more unthinkable happened: Costa Rica equalized, and then they went ahead. At that point, they were going through as runners-up. That lasted for all of three minutes, until Kai Havertz lifted the ball over Keylor Navas to make it 2-2. Havertz struck again 12 minutes later to make it 3-2, and give Germany a small glimmer of hope — that Spain might equalize and save Germany from elimination, but they never did.

In the end, Japan (6 points) advance as Group E winners, joined by Spain (4) in the round of 16.

[ MORE: Latest Group E standings, schedule, scores ]


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

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Germany out of World Cup after Group E finishes in absolute chaos

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Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 to close out group-stage play at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough for Hansi Flick’s side to advance to the knockout rounds.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

Ahead of matchday 3 in Group E, the simplest math was as follows: a German win, plus a Japanese loss (to Spain), would see the 2014 world champions jump from 4th to 2nd and avoid a second straight World Cup group-stage exit.

The first part of that equation seemed to be going relatively straightforward, as Serge Gnabry opened the scoring in the 10th minute. A minute later in the other game, Alvaro Morata put Spain ahead and Germany were going through as things stood. But, Japan scored twice in six minutes to start the second half and pull off another unlikely comeback, just as they did against Germany in the opener.

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

Then, something even more unthinkable happened: Costa Rica equalized, and then they went ahead. At that point, they were going through as runners-up. That lasted for all of three minutes, until Kai Havertz lifted the ball over Keylor Navas to make it 2-2. Havertz struck again 12 minutes later to make it 3-2, and give Germany a small glimmer of hope — that Spain might equalize and save Germany from elimination, but they never did.

In the end, Japan (6 points) advance as Group E winners, joined by Spain (4) in the round of 16.

[ MORE: Latest Group E standings, schedule, scores ]


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

Key battles for the USMNT versus Netherlands in World Cup Round of 16

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The United States men’s national team will match wits with Netherlands at 10am ET Saturday in the 2022 World Cup’s Round of 16, the biggest match for the program since the 2014 knockout round scrap with Belgium that cemented Tim Howard’s status as a USMNT icon.

If the Yanks hang with the Netherlands, let alone beat them, there’s a good chance another USMNT player tattoos his name on the national team’s history. Christian Pulisic may have already done so against Iran but let’s face it: The knockout rounds are a different animal.

[ MORE: Netherlands vs USA preview, stream info ]

That means winning a match-up or two, and Netherlands presents a bunch with world-class players In defense — to a man — as well as midfield in Frenkie de Jong and emerging attacker Cody Gakpo up top.

And there’s another match-up we’ll get to, an internal one, by the end of this post.

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 1: The front three versus Van Dijk, Timber, and friends

This one could start with Christian Pulisic versus Virgil van Dijk, as the Chelsea man has had plenty of luck against the once-imperious Liverpool man over his career, but there are two problems with that.

The first is that Pulisic may not be fit to start the match and the second is that Van Dijk in a back three versus Chelsea is much different as Van Dijk in a back three versus international competition.

Make no mistake about it: The Netherlands back three is a luxury most nations envy. Beyond Van Dijk, there’s young Jurrien Timber, Man City’s Nathan Ake, Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt and Inter Milan’s Stefan de Vrij. That’s a special, special group.

And with Josh Sargent’s ankle, we can’t even cheat and make it about VVD versus the USMNT’s center forward. So suffice it to say that Gregg Berhalter’s front three is going to have to find a way behind and between a terrific defense. Timothy Weah might be the best bet to get behind, but will he have Pulisic to pull the strings?

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 2: Yunus Musah versus Frenkie de Jong

This isn’t really a 1v1 scrap, either, though it’s a battle of who will out-produce the other.

Tyler Adams will do a lot of the dirty work for the United States, but the USMNT will look to Musah to take the ball off the backs and off Adams and progress the ball forward.

That’s very much what FDJ thrives doing, and the Dutch will be expected to have more the ball in this game.

If Musah’s carries, final third entries, and dribbling distance is anywhere near De Jong’s, the U.S. will probably be having an okay day. It does not bode well if De Jong’s is superior, because the Barcelona player’s midfield mate may also have similar numbers and USA will be all about the counter attack.

England v USA: Group B - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
(Photo by Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Netherlands vs USA key battle No. 3: Tyler Adams versus the Dutch midfield and defense

Following the tone set by key battle No. 2, the USMNT is going to want Tyler Adams dictating the pace and electricity of the game if it can have the ball as much as it would like in this Round of 16 matches.

Adams being able to decide whether he’s playing the old John Brooks role of picking up audacious long passes or shuttling the ball to Musah or another player for progression and combination play is a boon to the USA when it has enough control of the game to make Adams a quarterback.

To borrow and mutilate a pop song from years ago, the Yanks would love to be all about the pass, about the pass, no dribble.

But if the Yanks are reduced to having to make the most of counters, with limited passages of play with strong possession, then it becomes less about Adams with the ball and more about an off-his-game (for now) Weston McKennie and his friends creating mayhem for the Dutch. That can be fine, too, but we bet Berhalter is watching the Dutch matches from Group A and speculating that he can have around 45 percent of the ball.

Netherlands vs USA key matchup No. 4+5: Christian Pulisic vs his pelvis, Gregg Berhalter vs himself

Gregg Berhalter has done a pretty good job setting up the Yanks for games here, and deserves a whole lot of credit for that as well as the USMNT’s growth from game-to-game and its keeping its head in the wake of federation-inflicted controversy prior to the Iran match.

But this one’s a big one. If Christian Pulisic can start the match against the Netherlands, the USMNT’s odds of winning the game shoot up exponentially.

If not, Gregg Berhalter’s seeming preference to slot in Brenden Aaronson over Giovanni Reyna opens the Yanks up against a team that would love to see the Yanks more opened up.

Let me explain.

Aaronson is an exceptional talent, a whirlwind of concern of the opposition as he presses like few others and seemingly never really tires. He’s also a smack talker of the highest order, but that’s beside the point and not just because Reyna possesses skills in that department.

The right-footed Aaronson is such a good presser and runner that he ranks high amongst top-five league forwards in pressures, interceptions, blocks, and clearances. That’s important, but it also leaves space on the pitch for tidy teams to exploit.

While the Yanks aren’t cooked with Aaronson in Pulisic’s spot, they are far more like-for-like when Borussia Dortmund starlet Giovanni Reyna is in the fray. Reyna fits the bill in a lot of the above pressing quotes but is just a bit better in the small spaces, a bit closer to Pulisic. Consider Aaronson more in the Adama Traore or Jack Harrison role, while Reyna is more like club teammate Marco Reus.

World Cup 2022 schedule – how to watch, groups, 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 action throughout November and December will capture the imagination of the world.

[ LIVE: Watch World Cup en Espanol en Peacock ]

Saudi Arabia, Japan and Morocco have already pulled off huge upset wins over Argentina, Germany and Belgium respectively as the tournament has delivered plenty of shocks.

From the USMNT and England getting out of their group to Lionel Messi dragging Argentina through and Mexico just missing out on getting out of the group stages, Australia making it to the last 16 amid upsets galore, there are plenty of intriguing games in the group stage.

[ MORE: World Cup rosters for all 32 teams ]

Then we have the small matter of the Round of 16, quarterfinals, semifinals, and final to look forward to. 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
  • 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)

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

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
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 schedule

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 schedule

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

Group D schedule

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 schedule

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
Thursday, December 1: Japan vs Spain (preview) – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Thursday, December 1: Costa Rica vs Germany (preview) – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Group F schedule

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 schedule

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
Friday, December 2: Cameroon vs Brazil – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm
Friday, December 2: Serbia vs Switzerland – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Group H schedule

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 – 2pm
Recap/highlights: South Korea 2-3 Ghana – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
Friday, December 2: South Korea vs Portugal (preview) – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am
Friday, December 2: Ghana vs Uruguay (preview) – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am


Round of 16 schedule

Match 49 – Saturday, December 3: Netherlands vs USA (preview) – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

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

Match 52 – Sunday, December 4: France vs Poland – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 51 – Sunday, December 4: England vs Senegal – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

Match 53 – Monday, December 5: Winners Group E vs Runners up Group F – Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah – 10am

Match 54 – Monday, December 5: Winners Group G vs Runners up Group H – Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm

Match 55 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group F vs Runners up Group E – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 56 – Tuesday, December 6: Winners Group H vs Runners up Group G – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 2pm


Quarterfinal schedule

Match 58 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 53 vs Winners Match 54 – Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan – 10am

Match 57 – Friday, December 9: Winners Match 49 vs Winners Match 50 – Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail – 10am

Match 60 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 55 vs Winners Match 56 – Al Thumama Stadium, Doha – 10am

Match 59 – Saturday, December 10: Winners Match 51 vs Winners Match 52 – 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