Chelsea ease past Wolves as Potter’s magic starts to work

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Chelsea breezed past Wolves as Graham Potter secured back-to-back wins in the Premier League to move the Blues into the top four.

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Kai Havertz scored right on half time, then Christian Pulisic made it 2-0 with his first goal of the season and Armando Broja jumped off the bench to score his first Chelsea goal to seal the win.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic analysis, reaction video ]

After making seven changes to the lineup, Potter’s side eased to victory and move on to 16 points for the season. Managerless Wolves have six points and remain in the bottom three.

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What we learned from Chelsea vs Wolves

The joy has returned to Chelsea’s play: It took them a while to break through but it was coming. Chelsea’s players already seem to have embraced the extra creativity and freedom that Graham Potter’s tactics have brought and even after leaving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Raheem Sterling on the bench, they looked sharp in attack. There is an extra belief about their play when they’re going forward and they could have scored more than three. All over the pitch Chelsea’s players look to be enjoying playing football again and winning three games on the trot (in all competitions) will help confidence levels too.

Wolves in a world of trouble: They were okay for part of the parts half and they missed a few chances as crosses into the box caused problems. But that was about it. With Raul Jimenez still out and Diego Costa, 34, looking well off the pace after his arrival, there is no real goal threat to Wolves. They also don’t have a manager and they entire squad looks devoid of confidence. It has done for some time and whoever comes in will have a very tough task to turn this around. Wolves have zero belief.


Tactical focus

Graphic via FotMob.com

Potter’s hybrid wing-back roles worked really well in this game and Azpilicueta and Christian Pulisic had plenty of chances to score and assist. In possession Chelsea were playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Pulisic pushing on down the left. Out of possession it would become a 3-4-2-1 with Pulisic dropping back as a wing-back and Marc Cucurella tucking in as a left-sided center back. It worked really well and allowed Chelsea to overload the wide areas expertly.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]


Graham Potter on reaction he’s getting from Chelsea stars

“I’ve said from the start I’ve been impressed with how open, honest and responsible they are. It’s difficult to keep the same XI with the schedule but there is an element of consistency to how we play. Really happy with the boys and how we’ve recovered. We go again on Tuesday. Winning games helps so we look forward to the games, it’s about hard work, it’s being together, that stuff is important but the guys have been really impressive.”


Stars of the show

Mason Mount: Two assists and kept popping up in dangerous areas. He’s slowly getting back to his best.

Kai Havertz: Took his goal well and led the line superbly as he linked up play and made clever runs.


What’s next?

Chelsea travel to AC Milan on Tuesday in the UEFA Champions League group stage, then travel to Aston Villa on Sunday, Oct. 16. Wolves host Nottingham Forest on Saturday, Oct. 15 in a huge game.


How to watch Chelsea vs Wolves live, stream link and start time

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


Key storylines

It’s still early days in the Graham Potter era at Chelsea but the signs are promising. He’s made some big decisions with the likes of Kalidou Koulibaly and Cesar Azpilicueta unused subs for the win at Palace last weekend and Potter already seems to be sorting out Chelsea’s attacking issues. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed his first Chelsea goal last weekend and added another against Milan as they look more dangerous and fluid in attack. As for Wolves, well, scoring goals has been a huge problem for them as injuries to their strikers (most notably Raul Jimenez) was a big reason why Bruno Lage was fired. Diego Costa returning to Chelsea is a storyline to look out for and he could well start this game after having an impact off the bench at West Ham last weekend as he should have scored a header and set up a goal which was ruled out.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Aubameyang is looking sharper and Reece James is the man of the moment for Chelsea as he continues to surge up and down the right flank. For Wolves, well, Jose Sa is doing okay in goal and Ruben Neves (suspended for this game) is doing his best to hold things together in midfield and even at center back after recent injuries and suspensions.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup

The Blues have a few key players returning from injury, which is brilliant news for Potter. The duo of Edouard Mendy and Marc Cucurella are both back fit, as Cucurella starts but Kepa keeps his place ahead of Mendy. Wesley Fofana suffered an injury against AC Milan and after leaving the stadium on crutches and is out for a few weeks. Pulisic and Gallagher had a big impact off the bench late on at Palace and they both start, with Aubameyang and Sterling on the bench. Reece James also drops to the bench with Ruben Loftus-Cheek at right wing-back.


Wolves team news, injuries, lineup

A long list of injuries and suspensions is the last thing Wolves need and it explains their current position in the bottom three. Raul Jimenez, and Pedro Neto are out, while Sasa Kalajdzic is out for at least six months following his serious knee injury. Chiquinho is out long-term too, while Nathan Collins is still suspended and Neves is also missing for this game due to yellow card accumulation. Diego Costa starts up front as he returns to Chelsea for the first time.



Lionel Messi goal, assist leads Argentina awakening vs Mexico

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Lionel Messi’s second-half goal gave Argentina’s World Cup hopes a massive lift as the Albiceleste broke through against stubborn Mexico to win 2-0 in Lusail on Saturday.

Enzo Fernandez, 21, also scored for Argentina in the win, which comes after a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in the opener.

STREAM LIVE ARGENTINA vs MEXICO

Mexico’s brave performance was broken by Messi’s splendid finish and now Mexico (1 point) needs to beat Saudi Arabia (3 points) and get help from Argentina (3 points) vs Poland (4 points) to make the Round of 16.

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


Lionel Messi: Of course he did.

The world’s — maybe history’s — greatest ever player had a frustrating day and spent 65 minutes thinking this could’ve been his last World Cup match.

Twenty-five minutes later, he had a goal and an assist and Argentina was heading to Poland likely a draw or better away from going to the knockout rounds.

C’est la Messi.

Mexico executed Tata Martino’s masterful plan for over an hour and looked set to walk away with a point. Messi wasn’t getting the ball in dangerous spaces and Lautaro Martinez was so ineffective that he was taken off the pitch.

Then: One hesitation when Angel Di Maria spotted Messi. Two touches for the Atomic Ant. 1-0.

Messi would later assist young Enzo Fernandez’s goal to re-certify his status as one of the very best to do it in any team sport. Argentina only had 0.28 expected goals on the day but when you have two magic shots, it’ll get the job done.


Stars of the show

Lionel Messi

Nicolas Otamendi

Hector Moreno

Argentina vs Mexico
fotmob.com

Lionel Messi goal video: GOAT things

Enzo Fernandez goal video: Pearler of a finish delivers Messi assist


How to watch Argentina vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Saturday Nov. 26
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

It’s Messi, of course, who says he’s playing in his final World Cup, but it’s also about who’s going to step up as a difference maker for Argentina. Lautaro Martinez had a goal taken off the board for a razor-thin offside versus Saudi Arabia, while Julian Alvarez had a shot saved in his sub’s role and both Paulo Dybala and Angel Correa were unused subs in the opener.

Mexico’s midfield was excellent to start the tournament. Will Hector Herrera again join Edson Alvarez and Luis Chavez is setting the tone for Tata Martino’s team? And can El Tri find a finisher after Henry Martin and Co. failed to find the back of the goal versus Poland.


Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Belgium vs Morocco: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Belgium will look to get back to their best and make it two wins from two in the group stage but Morocco will make it extremely tough for Kevin de Bruyne and Co.

STREAM LIVE BELGIUM v MOROCCO

Roberto Martinez saw his side totally dominated by Canada in their Group F opener but they took their one big chance and won the game, largely thanks to poor finishing from Canada and Thibaut Courtois saving a penalty kick. The No. 2 ranked team in the world has to improve. Fast.

Morocco caused Croatia plenty of problems in their opening game and a draw was a fair result as their high-pressing caused Croatia a lot of problems. They will look to do exactly the same against Belgium and could have plenty of joy if Hakim Ziyech is found in dangerous areas in the final third.

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

Here is everything you need for Belgium vs Morocco. 


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

Kick off: 8am ET – Sunday, November 27
Stadium: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor 
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Kevin de Bruyne was almost apologetic after being named man of the match against Canada as he said he and his teammates really struggled in their World Cup opener. Belgium have to give their back three more protection as they are really susceptible to speedy wide players cutting in wide and teams playing direct and cutting out their midfield playmakers. Roberto Martinez will surely start the likes of Meunier and Onana in this game to try and give Belgium a little more control and solidity. Michy Batshuayi is expected to continue to fill in for the injured Romelu Lukaku once again.

Morocco will try and do exactly what Canada did to Belgium and they have the players to do it. Ziyech and Boufal will cause problems out wide and Morocco looked solid defensively against Croatia. There is a real whiff of an upset in the air around this one as Morocco will be roared on by their large group of supporters in Qatar.


Belgium quick facts

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

Morocco Rica 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


World Cup 2022 Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica schedule, fixtures, rankings

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Japan and Spain sent early messages in Group E with an upset of Germany and demolition of Costa Rica, respectively, to start the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

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Japan reached the Round of 16 at the last World Cup and gave Belgium everything it could handle before bowing out 3-2, while Costa Rica surprised everyone in 2014 when it emerged atop a Group D with England, Italy, and Uruguay, then beating Greece in the Round of 16.

Of course, Spanish boss Luis Enrique and Germany’s Hansi Flick will be fancying themselves the favorites to emerge from the group, but the latter now knows better than ever before that anything can happen in Qatar after a 2-1 loss to Japan. Spain hammered Costa Rica 7-0 in their opener and they look the real deal.

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

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


Group E schedule (all times ET)

Recap/highlights: Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Recap/highlights: Germany 1-2 Japan – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Sunday, November 27: Spain vs Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm
Sunday, November 27: Japan vs Costa Rica – Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan – 5am
Thursday, December 1: Japan vs Spain – Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan – 2pm
Thursday, December 1: Costa Rica vs Germany – Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor – 2pm

How To Watch Group E matches live

  • When: November 23-December 1 2022
  • Group stage game kick-off times: 5am, 8am, 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 E table

1. Spain — 3 points (+7 GD)
2. Japan — 3 points (+1)
3. Germany — 0 points (-1)
4. Costa Rica — 0 points (-7)


Spain

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

Germany

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

Costa Rica

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

Japan

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

Croatia vs Canada: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Newly famous international darlings Canada will try again for a number of firsts, when they face Croatia in their second game at the 2022 World Cup on Sunday.

STREAM CROATIA vs CANADA LIVE

Canada outshone many of the tournament’s heavyweights during the first round of group games, ultimately falling just short of their first World Cup point and, had things gone just a bit differently, their first win.

Group F is an intriguing one, with favorites Belgium struggling in their opener and Croatia and Morocco both failing to impress against one another. As things stand, it’s wide open for anyone (and everyone).

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

Here is everything you need for Croatia vs Canada. 


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

Kick off: 11am ET, Sunday (November 27)
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

On one hand, Canada were downright brilliant when they made their World Cup return, 36 years in the making on Wednesday. On the other hand, they lost 1-0 to Belgium and are the only team in Group F without a point thus far. The Canucks won plaudits (and new fans) as they showed no fear whatsoever playing against the no. 2 team in the world and were comfortably the better side on the day, so said Belgium boss Roberto Martinez after the game. Alphonso Davies was denied by Thibaut Courtois from the penalty spot, with the game still 0-0 and Canada seeking its first-ever World Cup goal (yeah, that too). Sunday, perhaps.

As for Croatia, their opening draw with Morocco raised a few red flags for a nation that went all the way to the World Cup final just four (and a half) years ago. With five of 11 starters age 30 or older, Croatia have very little range and mobility, and no explosiveness anywhere in the side. Despite holding nearly 65 percent of possession in the game against Morocco, Croatia managed just five shots in 90 minutes (two on target) and a paltry 0.52 xG. If things don’t turn around on Sunday, it’ll be the end of an iconic era that, unfortunately, lasted one cycle too long.


Croatia quick facts

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 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

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