Tite faces first true tactical test as Brazil meets Belgium

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With the Round of 16 complete, Brazil is one of the few favorites in the 2018 World Cup to have earned that nomenclature thus far. Germany slumped out in the group stage, Spain looked lost without its manager and bowed out in the Round of 16, and France still seems yet to put together a truly complete performance.

Now, staring down a quarterfinal date with Belgium’s “Golden Generation” on Saturday, Brazil faces its first true test. Manager Tite has yet to find himself truly challenged tactically over his two-year tenure with the national team, breezing through CONMEBOL qualification in a South American confederation that appears weaker than usual given its combined performance in the World Cup thus far.

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Brazil sailed through qualification with a week one loss the only blemish along entire way, and to this point in the big dance they’ve done enough to push by Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia, and Mexico with few truly shaky moments. Now, Tite finds himself tasked with halting the seductively free-flowing Belgian attack that has multiple strengths with which to threaten an opposition.

In a vacuum, Tite wouldn’t have much to think about, his first-choice Brazilian side built well to handle an attacking juggernaut like Belgium. However, the numerous circumstances surrounding Saturday’s quarterfinal make this an exceedingly difficult prospect for Tite – his first truly mountainous trial.

The biggest concern Tite must to overcome is the loss of central midfielder Casemiro to yellow card suspension. The World Cup’s excessively strict yellow card policy sees players who accumulate a second caution before the semifinal suspended for the subsequent match, and thanks to Casemiro’s booking in the 59th minute of the 2-0 win over Mexico for a foul on Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Brazil is without the Real Madrid rock.

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Casemiro is essential to Brazil’s structure and shape, and protects a back line better than any number 6 in the world. His performance against Mexico was as stout as any, but it’s not a good illustration of his true abilities given how Mexico intentionally targeted Brazil’s flanks as their preferred outlet of attack. Instead, one should look to Brazil’s comfortable 2-0 win over Serbia to discover Casemiro’s true worth. Against the big, physical presence of Serbia’s attack, Casemiro was vital in preventing them from circulating through the middle. The 26-year-old completed six of eight tackles attempted, contributed four clearances, recovered nine balls, and went toe-to-toe with Serbia’s exceptionally physical presence winning three of his seven defensive aerial duels. He effectively forced Serbia’s attack out wide, where they are not nearly as dangerous. Below is their attacking dashboard, where you can see the void in the middle as opposed to the traffic out wide.

Serbia attacking dashboard vs. Brazil in Group E play of 2018 World Cup (dashboard via StatsZone app, statistics via Opta).

As you can see, they were completely neutralized in the center of the pitch. With this in mind, Serbia was forced to take a mammoth 26 crosses, of which they successfully connected on just four.

Casemiro’s suspension will be a massive loss for Brazil against Belgium’s impressive attacking assualt. In the Red Devils’ 5-2 demolition of promising African nation Tunisia, they were relentless down the middle. Roberto Martinez has Kevin De Bruyne playing in a deeper midfield role with Eden Hazard and Dries Mertens ahead of him in the attacking midfield, and the Manchester City playmaker has been able to marshal the Belgian buildup from deep. Against Tunisia he created five chances and was given free reign through the middle of the field to control the pace of play. That ultimately saw Belgium’s attack bask in plenty of sunlight through the central areas.

 

Kevin de Bruyne’s complete dashboard in Belgium’s 5-2 win over Tunisia in Group G play (dashboard via StatsZone app, statistics via Opta).
Belgium’s attempted take-ons in the 5-2 win over Tunisia in Group G play.
Belgiums attacking third passes in the 5-2 win over Tunisia in Group G play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With this in mind, Tite will be forced to counter the loss of Casemiro. With Paulinho deployed next to Casemiro thus far throughout the World Cup, it’s unlikely Tite would want to leave him on an island against Belgium. The most likely scenario is the addition of Fernandinho in Casemiro’s place, with the Manchester City holding midfielder a fitting selection to deputize against his Belgian club teammate with the Premier League title winners. Fernandinho was fabulous last season for his club, a big reason why Manchester City was able to win a championship in record-setting fashion. He was the 12th best player in the Premier League last season according to Squawka Statistics as he executed Pep Guardiola‘s tactics to perfection. However, the biggest weakness for Fernandinho is his defensive ability, with the 25-year-old making 5.3 defensive contributions (tackles, interceptions, clearances, blocks) per 90 minutes in the Premier League last season compared to Casemiro’s 9.1 in La Liga play.

Instead of Fernandinho, we could see the likes of new Manchester United signing Fred or veteran Renauto Augusto if Tite wants to be more aggressive, which may be a preferable tactical choice given Belgium’s weak defensive midfield that Japan exploited in the first half of their Round of 16 meeting, before Roberto Martinez shored things up with the introduction of Marouane Fellaini.

Another conundrum Tite must solve is the looming question up front: what to do with Gabriel Jesus. The 21-year-old attacker impressed in his first season in England, but has proven underwhelming in Russia this summer. He has been upstaged by Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino late in World Cup games, most recently watching from the bench as Firmino iced the Mexico game with a late goal. There are calls to replace Jesus with a more centrally inclined striker like Firmino in the starting lineup, and it is Tite’s job to deduce whether Firmino is a fitting replacement for Jesus from the get-go, or if his success is molded by his use as a late sub against tired legs. If his Champions League performances are any indication, Firmino is more than capable of causing problems for opposition defensive structure for an entire 90 minutes at a high level, and his World Cup performances seem to suggest he has a better understanding with Neymar than Jesus has shown.

Finally, Tite has issues to solve on the back line as well. Injuries have decimated the Brazilian full-back ranks, and while it appears those injured may be somewhat subsiding, there are still lingering questions. Danilo was reportedly fit for the Mexico game, but Tite stuck with understudy Fagner at right-back, who was subsequently torn to shreds by Carlos Vela early and Lozano as the game progressed. Vela created four chances throughout the match – three in the first half – while completing 13 of 16 pass attempts in the attacking third. Lozano, meanwhile, completed six of 10 take-ons including five of his first seven before Brazil’s pressure became too much for Mexico to handle. Meanwhile on the left flank, Filipe Luis was troubled by Mexico’s wide attack as well – although not to the extent of Fagner – and while Marcelo’s presence in the Brazilian lineup would seem a given if healthy, some believe Filipe Luis has performed well enough to keep his place in the eleven.

Brazil has passed every test to this point, but in a World Cup full of chaos and upsets, Tite cannot afford to underestimate any personnel choice or tactical decision, no matter how small. His conclusions over the next few days will shape the 2018 World Cup’s first true heavyweight bout.

Bournemouth vs Brentford: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Bournemouth vs Brentford: The mid-table Cherries will try to make it four games unbeaten when they host the top-half Bees at Vitality Stadium on Saturday (watch live, 10 am ET on Peacock Premium). 

STREAM LIVE BOURNEMOUTH vs BRENTFORD

Draws with Wolves and Newcastle, bookending a victory over Nottingham Forest, and suddenly Bournemouth’s future isn’t looking as dire as it did after a 9-0 defeat to Liverpool led to Scott Parker’s dismissal as manger. Gary O’Neil remains in charge on an interim basis, as the positive results make it tougher and tougher to replace him.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Bournemouth vs Brentford

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Bournemouth vs Brentford live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10 am ET, Saturday
Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Brentford sitting 9th in the Premier League table, even after only seven games, is no small achievement for a tiny club that only made its PL debut a year ago. They look like they belong in the top half of the table as well, with their 15 goals scored bested by only Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal — the top three sides in the league heading into matchweek 8. Ivan Toney is back to his goal-scoring best with five in seven games, chipping in a pair of assists as well as he continues to prove himself a complete player at the top level.

Bournemouth are trying to replicate Brentford’s top-flight success after returning to the Premier League this season. Without a star center forward like Toney (six goals scored, 4th-fewest in the PL), the Cherries will frequently look to grind out results by keeping clean sheets, only their defensive record (19 conceded in seven games) runs to the contrary.


Bournemouth team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Keane Lewis-Potter (knock), Ethan Pinnock (knee)

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Premier League injury news, 2022-23 season

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Premier League injury news: It’s time to take a look at which players might be unavailable for matchweek 8 of the 2022-23 Premier League season, due to injury.

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Prior to every matchweek this season, we’ll update this Premier League injuries page with the latest news and update, so make sure to check back regularly to see how your favorite — or least-favorite — club is getting on.

Let’s check out the latest Premier League injury news, below.


Arsenal injuries

OUT: Oleksandr Zinchenko (calf), Emile Smith Rowe (groin), Mohamed Elneny (thigh), Reiss Nelson (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Thomas Partey (knee), Kieran Tierney (head), Cedric Soares (knock)

Aston Villa injuries

OUT: Diego Carlos (achilles), Matty Cash (hamstring), Lucas Digne (ankle), Boubacar Kamara (knee)

Bournemouth injuries

OUT: David Brooks (fitness), Lloyd Kelly (knee), Joseph Rothwell (thigh), Benjamin Pearson (undisclosed), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed)

Brentford injuries

OUT: Christian Norgaard (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Keane Lewis-Potter (knock), Ethan Pinnock (knee)

Brighton & Hove Albion injuries

OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (calf) | QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness)

Chelsea injuries

QUESTIONABLE: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Edouard Mendy (knee)

Crystal Palace injuries

OUT: James Tomkins (undisclosed), Jack Butland (hand), Nathan Ferguson (foot) | QUESTIONABLE: James McArthur (groin)

Everton injuries

OUT: Jordan Pickford (thigh), Ben Godfrey (broken leg), Yerry Mina (ankle), Nathan Patterson (ankle), Mason Holgate (knee), Andros Townsend (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Dominic Calvert-Lewin (knee), Jordan Pickford (thigh)

Fulham injuries

OUT: Harry Wilson (knee), Joao Pahlinha (suspension), Manor Solomon (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle)

Leeds United injuries

OUT: Rodrigo (shoulder), Stuart Dallas (thigh)

Leicester City injuries

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Wilfried Ndidi (knock), Patson Daka (illness)

Liverpool injuries

OUT: Naby Keita (undisclosed), Curtis Jones (calf), Calvin Ramsay (undisclosed), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (hamstring) | QUESTIONABLE: Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee), Caoimhin Kelleher (groin)

Manchester City injuries

OUT: Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), John Stones (hamstring), Benjamin Mendy (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Aymeric Laporte (knee)

Manchester United injuries

OUT: Harry Maguire (hamstring), Anthony Martial (achilles), Brandon Williams (undisclosed), Mason Greenwood (suspension – MORE) | QUESTIONABLE: Marcus Rashford (thigh), Donny van de Beek (knock), Martin Dubravka (knock)

Newcastle United injuries

OUT: Aleksander Isak (leg), Jonjo Shelvey (thigh), Emil Krafth (knee), Karl Darlow (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Bruno Guimaraes (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Callum Wilson (thigh), Chris Wood (ribs), Elliott Anderson (knock)

Nottingham Forest injuries

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee), Joe Worrall (broken nose)

Southampton injuries

OUT: Valentino Livramento (knee), Romeo Lavia (undisclosed)

Tottenham Hotspur injuries

OUT: Lucas Moura (achilles) | QUESTIONABLE: Hugo Lloris (quad), Ben Davies (knee)

West Ham United injuries

OUT: Nayef Aguerd (ankle) | QUESTIONABLE: Benjamin Johnson (hamstring)

Wolverhampton Wanderers injuries

OUT: Raul Jimenez (groin), Sasa Kalajdzic (torn ACL), Nathan Collins (suspension), Chiquinho (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Diego Costa (undisclosed)

Fulham vs Newcastle: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Fulham and Newcastle United look set to entertain when Aleksandar Mitrovic entertains his old mates for a Saturday morning tilt at Craven Cottage on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

STREAM LIVE FULHAM vs NEWCASTLE

The Magpies are injury-hit but Eddie Howe has enjoyed pushing for offense and has largely found chances regardless of who’s been on the field, while Marco Silva’s Cottagers are healthy and have been on the front foot as often as possible during their Premier League return.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Fulham vs Newcastle.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Fulham vs Newcastle live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Somewhere in the multiverse, Mitrovic’s tied for the Golden Boot lead because Erling Haaland is an actual superhero. The Fulham man has six goals to tie Harry Kane five behind Man City’s prolific Norwegian hitman. Kenny Tete’s assisted three of those goals, and Tete’s also top six in tackles. Teammate Joao Palhinha is first.

Newcastle, meanwhile, is dealing with a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players, as Bruno Guimares, Chris Wood, and Alexander Isak were both hurt on international break to join Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin as walking wounded attackers.


Fulham team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Antonee Robinson (ankle) OUT: Palhinha (suspended), Manor Solomn (knee), Harry Wilson (knee)

Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Chris Wood (chest), Callum Wilson (thigh), Allan Saint-Maximin (thigh), Bruno Guimares (thigh), Elliott Anderson (undisclosed). OUT: Alexander Isak (other), Emil Krafth (ACL),

Liverpool vs Brighton: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Liverpool plays its first Premier League match in 25 days when high-flying Brighton and Hove Albion debut a new manager as visitors at Anfield on Saturday (watch live, 10am ET online via Peacock Premium).

Roberto De Zerbi takes the wheel for the Seagulls following Graham Potter’s move to Chelsea, and Brighton will be staging its first match since a 5-2 demolition of Leicester City on Sept. 4.

STREAM LIVE LIVERPOOL vs BRIGHTON

That was one day after Liverpool drew Everton 0-0 at Goodison Park in a Merseyside derby that came on the heels of back-to-back wins for Jurgen Klopp’s team.

Liverpool’s currently four points back of fourth-place Brighton; Both clubs have played six matches, one fewer than 14 other Premier League sides.

Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Liverpool vs Brighton.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]


How to watch Liverpool vs Brighton live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Saturday
TV Channel/Online: Stream via Peacock Premium


Key storylines & star players

Is Liverpool ready to turn chances into goals at a more familiar rate? The Reds’ expected goal total for this season is close to leaders Manchester City and Arsenal but its actual goal production is fifth and somewhat-inflated by their nine-goal beatdown of Bournemouth previously this season.

Brighton, meanwhile, has to show that it’s getting a handle on life after Graham Potter, as De Zerbi’s credentials say things might not look too different. The former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss craves possession in his teams and delivers chances as a boss in the manner you’d expect from a former attacking midfielder.


Liverpool team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Caoimhin Kelleher (groin), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Andrew Robertson (knee). OUT: Calvin Ramsay (lower back), Curtis Jones (tibia), Ibrahima Konate (knee), Naby Keita (thigh), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (thigh).

Brighton team news, injuries, lineup options

QUESTIONABLE: Enock Mwepu (illness). OUT: Jakub Moder (knee), Adam Lallana (lower leg)