Brazil replaces Argentina as Copa America host

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The Copa America has been switched from Argentina to Brazil, as fears continue over the current coronavirus situation in South America.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

After being delayed by a year due to the pandemic, the tournament was due to kick off on June 13 in Argentina, but South America’s governing body CONMEBOL have announced the tournament will no longer take place there and will instead take place in Brazil.

Argentina is currently in lockdown and all soccer game have been called off, so there was little chance it could took place and it is believed the Argentine government weren’t willing to host it given the current situation.

There was the possibility the tournament could be called off entirely, but it will now take place in Brazil over Chile or Paraguay, who both reportedly offered to host at short-notice.

“The 2021 Copa America will be played in Brazil. Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will make the whole continent vibrate!

“Brazil will host CONMEBOL 2021. The best soccer in the world will bring joy and passion to millions of South Americans. CONMEBOL thanks the President Jair Bolsonao and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world. South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!” 

USA, others were in running

After Colombia and Argentina were originally scheduled to co-host the tournament, Colombia was stripped of its hosting rights due to ongoing protests against the government.

With Argentina out as hosts too, it was believed that as well as Chile and Paraguay, even the USA had offered to host the tournament.

A recent report from Telemundo’s Diego Montalvan stated that plans to host the entire tournament in the USA were gathering momentum, as Blu Radio in Colombia had the initial story.

Per Motalvan’s report, games would have been played in stadiums and cities hosting the 2021 Gold Cup games as CONCACAF would not want the two tournaments to clash at all.

Is moving Copa America to Brazil the right move?

This feels like the easiest solution for everyone, but maybe not the best.

CONMEBOL teams were already scheduled to play 2022 World Cup qualifiers this month before the Copa America tournament kicked off, so keeping the tournament in South America, or scrapping it altogether, were the only options.

However, COVID-19 cases numbers in Brazil remain extremely high and over 1,800 people per day are dying, on average, according to the latest statistics. New cases are around 70,000 per day.

Whether or not fans will be able to attend remains to be seen, as locations for stadiums will also be confirmed in the coming days.

World Cup 2022 Group F: Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Morocco schedule, fixtures, rankings

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Belgium, Canada, Croatia, and Morocco comprised a World Cup group that could’ve produced any combination of knockout rounds entrants, despite the presence of sincere favorites.

And it did that, as Morocco won the group with an unbeaten tournament while Belgium failed to score against Croatia and was bounced from the tournament at the group stage in favor of Croatia.

Canada faltered after producing a brilliant first 90 minutes against the Belgians, but the Red Devils performances against Morocco and Croatia threaten to color even that shiny opener.

Even after laboring to beat electric Canada in the opener and losing to Morocco in their second group stage game, Roberto Martinez’s loaded Belgium was widely-ticketed to emerge out of World Cup 2022’s Group F. It did not.

[ MORE: Full schedule for 2022 World Cup ]

Croatia’s tournament acumen arguably won out and Morocco had the stars at the back and front to win in any number of fashions, and the Atlas Lions are now being viewed as a righteous dark horse for the knockout rounds.

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

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


World Cup Group F schedule (all times ET)

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

How To Watch Group F matches live

  • When: November 23-December 1, 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 F table

1. Morocco — 7 points (+3 GD)
2. Croatia — 5 points (+3)
3. Belgium — 4 points (-1)
4. Canada — 0 points (-5)


Belgium

Current FIFA world ranking: 2
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Roberto Martinez
Key players: Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Eden Hazard

Croatia

Current FIFA world ranking: 12
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Zlatko Dalic
Key players: Luka Modric, Andrej Kramaric, Mateo Kovacic

Canada

Current FIFA world ranking: 41
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF (1st place)
Coach: John Herdman
Key players: Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Milan Borjan, Jonathan Osorio

Morocco

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss


Morocco celebrates winning group, keeps Canada pointless at World Cup

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Morocco is the surprise group winner of the 2022 World Cup after beating Canada 2-1 on Thursday in Al Khor.

The Atlas Lions took a 2-0 lead on goals from Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech and Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri and overcame an own goal to hold on for the win and a place above drawing Croatia in Group F.

STREAM LIVE CANADA vs MOROCCO

Canada remains winless at the World Cup, going 0-3 In 1986 and 0-3 again this year, though this tournament will go down as a much better performance for the Canadians. They’ll wonder “What if?” from their opening 1-0 loss to Belgium for some time.

Morocco, meanwhile, will dream of what’s to come in the Round of 16: The runner-up of Group E from Thursday’s 2pm ET matches, as Spain, Japan, Germany, or Costa Rica could all still finish second.

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


Morocco fights on as Canada’s obvious weakness kills CONCACAF upstarts

A nation can, especially under the mass media radar in Northern Africa, apparently build a golden generation without the attention of the entire world, and Morocco’s performance in Qatar should send a strong message to knockout round opponents.

From goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to a back four that more than half the tournament field might envy, the Atlas Lions will like their chances against anyone as the tournament moves into the Round of 16.

Romain Saiss. Hakim Ziyech. Youssef En-Nesyri. Achraf Hakimi. The list of top-end players with great club resumes who are in their primes, whether just reaching or exiting that stage of their careers, is long amongst Walid Regragui’s men.

Meanwhile, Canada’s firepower was enough to reach the World Cup but its failure to defend was exposed time and again by all three opponents at the tournament.

This isn’t a shot against the effort of Alistair Johnston or Kamal Miller, as Canada’s defenders did a lot of yeoman’s work in Qatar, but the Canadians have developed so many intriguing attacking talents without a focus on how to stop those same-style players on the other team.

Maybe it’s a nation that, unlike the USMNT, has quickly piled its best talents into attack, who knows?  But Canada was a nation counting on its European hero goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who did not have his best fortnight in Qatar, to bail out a group of backs who may not be top five in CONCACAF in terms of talent but had overperformed via effort and system.


Stars of the show

 

Canada vs Morocco
fotmob.com

Hakim Ziyech goal video

Youssef En-Nesyri goal video


How to watch Canada vs Morocco live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday Dec. 1
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

How will Canada respond to its 4-1 loss to Croatia? Superior against Belgium and essentially until Croatia equalized on Monday, John Herdman has to decide who will have the mettle to pop off the mat and challenge unbeaten Morocco. One of those faces will surely be Alphonso Davies. Who will join him? Jonathan David and Cyle Larin could use redemptive performances, to be sure.

Morocco looks very, very strong, especially out wide where Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi, and Sofiane Boufal operate the machine. A coming-out party for Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri could go a long way toward stretching the Atlas Lions’ tournament well into December.


Canada quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 41
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 2
How they qualified: Qualified from CONCACAF (1st place)
Coach: John Herdman
Key players: Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Milan Borjan, Jonathan Osorio

Morocco quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 22
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 6
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CAF
Coach: Vahid Halilhodzic
Key players: Achraf Hakimi, Yassine Bounou, Youssef En-Nesyri, Romain Saiss

Croatia blanks Belgium as snakebit Lukaku denied super sub status

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Belgium’s golden generation crashed out of the World Cup following a scoreless draw with Croatia, who will finish second to victorious Morocco in Group F at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench and came close to being the hero on several occasions, but the Red Devils could not find the goal needed to send Croatia home and visit the Round of 16.

STREAM LIVE CROATIA vs BELGIUM

How’d we get here? Croatia snapped off a 4-1 win over Canada to move atop the group following an opening draw with Morocco, while Belgium fell to the Moroccans after beating the Canadians.

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


De Bruyne, Lukaku can’t save the day as Belgium whimpers out

Romelu Lukaku finally made his tournament debut, a halftime sub with the Red Devils requiring a win to claim a spot in the knockout rounds.

The Belgian was cued up by Kevin De Bruyne and Thorgan Hazard amongst others, the latter lifting a ball onto Lukaku’s chest inside the six in the 90th minute, but the Inter Milan man just couldn’t get it over the line.

Croatia vs Belgium
fotmob.com / Josko Gvardiol

His xG over 45 minutes of work was 1.67 and De Bruyne was credited with three chances created, but Croatia stood firm and got the point required to line up against Group E’s winner in the Round of 16.

RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol will leave this group stage will an escalated price tag, if there was even room for it to go up; The well-rated 20-year-old center back was instrumental in the clean sheet and had more interventions than even Croatian keeper Dominik Livakovic.


Stars of the Show

Josko Gvardiol

Kevin De Bruyne

Luka Modric

Borna Sosa

Thibaut Courtois


How to watch Croatia vs Belgium live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 10am ET, Thursday, Dec. 1
Stadium: Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Croatia looked sleepy in the opening draw with Morocco, a draw that looks better after the Atlas Lions beat Belgium. They snapped to life, perhaps somewhat fueled by Canadian coach John Herdman’s confident pre-match talk, and now look capable of taking down anyone in the field. Or was that merely Canada’s beleaguered defense? We’ll find out when Mateo Kovacic and Co. meet the Belgians.

Kevin De Bruyne made waves after the win over Canada when he said Belgium’s golden generation missed its window by not claiming honors at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Red Devils failed to take down Morocco. They’ve been without Romelu Lukaku so far this tournament and Michy Batshuayi has the lone goal. Will Roberto Martinez’s men head home far earlier than expected?


Croatia quick facts

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, Declan Rice

Belgium 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

Japan vs Spain: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Top spot in Group E will be on the line when Spain and Japan face off in their group-stage finale at the 2022 World Cup on Thursday.

STREAM JAPAN vs SPAIN LIVE

A draw will likely do the trick and see leaders Spain (4 points) to finish top of Group E, unless Costa Rica (3 points – 3rd) pull off a second colossal upset of the tournament and beat Germany (1 point – 4th). Japan (3 points – 2nd) could also advance with a draw, pending the result of Costa Rica vs Germany.

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

Here is everything you need for Japan vs Spain. 


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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