AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Despite a spirited effort from Canada of their first World Cup look since 1986, Belgium won the opener of Group F on Wednesday, 1-0, thanks to 3 huge saves from Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and at the least one missed penalty name that ought to’ve gone in Canada’s favour.
Canada had an early alternative to take the lead after being awarded a penalty kick inside 10 minutes, however Alphonso Davies’ effort was blocked by Courtois. Canada has nonetheless by no means scored a World Cup purpose. Just earlier than the tip of the primary half, Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi scored off an extended ball.
Here is ESPN’s Julien Laurens with response and evaluation from Qatar.
1. A merciless however proud night time for Canada
Football could be merciless generally — and the Canadians, of their first World Cup match since 1986, actually skilled that towards Belgium.
Unlike different groups on this match, they confirmed no nerves from the opening whistle. They performed attacking soccer with motion, depth and keenness, pushed by the noise and the help of the ten,000 Canadians contained in the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. The recreation plan of their supervisor John Herdman was spot-on: no time on the ball for Kevin De Bruyne or Eden Hazard, urgent excessive and utilising the width of the pitch properly.
Stephen Eustaquio (what a participant) and the veteran Atiba Hutchinson — at 39 years previous, the oldest participant on this World Cup and the one member of the squad alive for Canada’s final World Cup look in 1986 — bossed the midfield. They created possibilities and helped generate 2.35 anticipated targets, or xG, for Canada towards simply 0.58 xG for their opponent.
Canada have been the higher staff for a lot of the recreation, and could be happy with themselves — however they may have regrets. One defensive mistake on Toby Alderweireld’s lengthy ball they usually conceded a purpose simply earlier than the break. As Nelson Mandela used to say: “You never lose. You win or you learn.”
This Canada staff ought to have realized a heck of lots towards Belgium.
2. Courtois, king of pens and Belgium’s saviour
Without him, Real Madrid would not have won the Champions League final season and Belgium would not have made a successful begin on this World Cup.
Courtois got here huge once more for his nation, like so many occasions prior to now, saving Davies’ penalty after 11 minutes and confirming that he’s the king of pens. In 2022, he has saved 5 spot kicks off the 9 he confronted — that is a formidable 55.55% ratio of saved penalties, and by far the best in Europe. Since becoming a member of Real Madrid in 2018, he has confronted 22 penalties and saved six — however 4 of these six have occurred in 2022.
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Courtois made one other save a bit afterward within the match on an Alistair Johnston shot from a good angle, and a cushty one within the second half on a Cyle Larin header that was considered one of Canada’s finest possibilities of the night time.
In what was a really poor efficiency by Belgium, Courtois was the one gentle, actually. The relaxation was so poor — the third-placed staff of the final World Cup have been not a menace going ahead, struggled defensively and conceded possibilities and harmful conditions.
It was very unconvincing and laboured from Belgium — however when you might have the present finest goalkeeper on this planet, it makes your life a lot simpler.
3. An off night time for Hazard and De Bruyne
We needed to see Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne take the sector for completely different causes.
For De Bruyne, the duty was to be the conductor of this Belgian facet, to take management of the sport and be the artistic power. Instead, he received just about all the pieces improper. He missed a free Youri Tielemans twice within the first half. Just after the hour mark, he wasted an excellent counter-attack with a poor ball for Batshuayi, and later blasted his shot from a superb place over the bar.
It was a efficiency very in contrast to the KDB we have come to know at Manchester City, maybe largely as a result of the supporting solid round him is not of the identical degree than the one he has at his membership however nonetheless: we anticipate extra from him. It is his position to hold this staff.
For Hazard, the goal was to point out that, even wanting match health, he might nonetheless have an effect on a recreation like this one. Alas, regardless of a few good touches and turns, the show from the captain was not adequate.
He got here off after 60 minutes with no possibilities created, solely 76% of correct passes and solely two profitable dribbles. He was fouled 4 occasions although, which confirmed that there’s nonetheless some life in him, however it’s not sufficient proper now.
Manager Roberto Martinez has been very loyal with the 31-year-old who hardly ever performs at Real Madrid, maintaining him within the staff in any respect price. It is unlikely he’ll drop him for the Morocco recreation on Sunday however Hazard, like De Bruyne, will likely be below stress to do higher than towards Canada.
Belgium: Courtois 8, Dendoncker 5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 4 ,Castagne 5, Tielemans 3, Witsel 4, Carrasco 4, De Bruyne 4, Hazard 4, Batshuayi 6
Subs: Onana 5, Openda 4, Meunier 4, Trossard 4
Canada: Borjan 5, Johnston 6, Vitoria 5, Miller 6, Hoilett 6, Larin 5, Hutchinson 7, Eustaquio 7, Laryea 6, , Buchanan 6, Millar 5, Davies 6, David 5
Subs: Osorio 5, Kone 5, Adekugbe 5
Best and worst performers
BEST: Stephen Eustaquio, Canada
The Porto midfielder bossed this recreation till his alternative after 81 minutes. The 25-year-old Eustaquio was in every single place, recovering the ball 9 occasions and creating two possibilities for his staff whereas enjoying with depth, intelligence and aptitude. This has been his breakthrough season in Portugal and towards Belgium he confirmed once more how gifted he’s.
WORST: Youri Tielemans, Belgium
It was a troublesome night time for the Leicester midfielder, a lot that his supervisor determined to take him off at half-time to convey on Amadou Onana. Tielemans merely had no impression on the sport, discovering himself positioned too excessive and solely making 13 passes in 45 minutes, hardly any ahead. It was a extremely disappointing efficiency.
Highlights and notable moments
Canada got here out from the primary whistle with depth and tempo, they usually put the stress on Belgium instantly. It appeared Canada would come out in entrance quickly when a handball was referred to as within the tenth minute.
Alphonso Davies, the Bayern Munich full-back and main participant for Canada, stepped as much as the spot, however Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois continued his current run of excellent kind on saving penalties, and he denied Davies.
Pero ¿qué te pasó @AlphonsoDavies?
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports activities) November 23, 2022
Canada had been dominating the primary half and have been the way more harmful facet, even past their missed penalty probability. Through the forty third minute, Canada’s anticipated targets (xG) was 1.81 whereas Belgium’s was solely 0.15.
But soccer or soccer — no matter you need to name it — is a humorous recreation: a staff could be the “worse” facet however nonetheless be the facet successful. With an extended lofted ball excessive within the forty fourth minute, Michy Batshuayi put Belgium forward 1-0 towards the run of play.
BATSHUAYI PUTS BELGIUM OUT IN FRONT 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/s6ED21MAYH
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 23, 2022
After the match: What the managers stated
Canada coach John Herdman on the end result: “Proud of the performance, but you need to take three points from your first game. We had the opportunity tonight to be top of the group — that was the mission — and we missed it. But I’m proud of the performance. As I’ve said, these lads put a shift in and showed they can live on this stage. I think they made the fans proud and it made them feel like they belong here, and that was important for us.”
Herdman on what he informed his gamers after the match: “I just showed them the stats. I showed them they belong here. I told them they belong here, and we’re gonna go and F Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets. That’s our next mission now.” (Editor’s be aware: Canada is in Group F for the World Cup.)
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez on the win: “Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played. I think the result reflects the things that we had to do and the way we defended for each other and took our chance. It’s a win and we need to play better and to grow. We’ve been here five days, we have to grow with these games. Many top teams are losing games.”
Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Information)
Canada is the primary staff since 1978 to try 20-plus pictures (22) and a penalty kick and not rating at a World Cup recreation.
Canada’s 2.59 anticipated targets (xG) towards Belgium made them the staff with the best anticipated targets complete to be shut out this match.
Canada is the primary staff to try at the least 14 pictures within the first half however not rating a purpose and path at halftime in a World Cup match since 1986.
Belgium’s beginning XI towards Canada had a mean age of 30 years and 181 days. That is the oldest beginning XI in a 2022 World Cup recreation but, and the oldest for Belgium since June 20, 1998, towards Mexico.
Belgium: Group F resumes on Sunday, Nov. 27, when Belgium will face Morocco at 8 a.m. ET. Then, Belgium face Croatia on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. ET.
Canada: Group F resumes on Sunday, Nov. 27, when Canada will face Croatia at 11 a.m. ET. Then, Canada face Morocco on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. ET.