Why Brazil Argentina and more will or won’t win World Cup


Editor’s be aware: As groups formally qualify for the spherical of 16, we have added them to the file. Friday’s revision now contains the groups that superior from Groups G (Brazil, Switzerland) and Group H (Portugal, South Korea), in addition to up to date odds of profitable all of it.

A typical World Cup can really feel like a marathon, however this one looks like a dash. After a nonstop, 13-day group stage ends on Friday, there are not any days off earlier than the spherical of 16 begins with Netherlands vs. USA and Australia vs. Argentina on Saturday.

– World Cup 2022: News and options | Schedule

Therefore, we should not wait to preview the knockout rounds. While the dance card continues to fill in, let’s discuss every qualifying workforce’s largest strengths and weaknesses: mainly, the explanations they superior, the explanations they may make a run and the deadly flaws that will in all probability journey them up sooner or later.

Let’s go!

Argentina (first place, Group C)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 13%
Round of 16 opponent: Australia (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: They’ve recovered from dropping to Saudi Arabia. As unimaginable because the Saudis’ 2-1 win was final Tuesday, it was a transparent and apparent “sports are dumb sometimes” end result. Argentina tried 15 photographs value 2.3 xG, and Saudi Arabia tried three value 0.2, however the latter trumped the previous, and the Saudis — to their credit score — defended splendidly down the stretch.

– Marcotti: The seven tendencies of Messi vs. Poland

That match nearly ruined two matches; supervisor Lionel Scaloni made a ton of lineup modifications for what turned out to be a dire and unimpressive efficiency in opposition to Mexico. Somehow a lineup with Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria tried solely 5 photographs value 0.3 xG, however Messi’s great long-range purpose within the sixty fourth minute allowed them to calm down. They noticed off Mexico, then dominated Poland 2-0 in a match that was nearer to about 4-0 than 2-1.

There was rigidity and there have been unforced errors, however they completed the group stage atop Group C, with the second-best xG differential within the event to this point (behind solely France). Their protection barely allowed any respectable appears over three matches, and they regarded the a part of the contender they had been imagined to be all alongside.

Why they won’t: Boy, the vibes obtained darkish for a minute, did not they? Indeed, regardless of the fluky nature of the Saudi Arabia loss, Scaloni made 5 modifications to his lineup to carry a efficiency enhance to a aspect that in all probability did not really need one. They performed far worse, based on each the stat line and the eyeballs. Messi bailed them out, and they could have gotten a long-term enhance with how effectively youthful guys like Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez performed in opposition to Poland. But one other bout with that form of panic seemingly won’t be rewarded.

Australia (second place, Group D)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight:
Round of 16 opponent: Argentina (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: They take their probabilities. If we had been being notably cynical (or maybe sensible), we might name the Socceroos fortunate. In three group stage matches, they tried 21 photographs value simply 1.8 xG however pulled three objectives from them and stole a pair of 1-0 victories from Tunisia and Denmark. They tried fewer than half the variety of photographs (21) as their opponents (50) within the group stage, however superior.



Rob Dawson reacts to Australia’s 1-0 win over Denmark and speaks about their probabilities within the World Cup knockout phases.

However, one man’s fortunate is one other’s medical. All three of their objectives — Craig Goodwin’s counter-strike in opposition to France, Mitchell Duke’s flick of a header in opposition to Tunisia and Mathew Leckie’s weaving counter in opposition to Denmark — had been fantastically taken. Against each Tunisia and Denmark, they cluttered taking pictures lanes and left their opponents with low-percentage alternatives whereas maximizing the hazard they created from minimal appears. If you do not want many probabilities to attain, you do not want many probabilities to tug an upset.

Why they won’t: OK, superb, they’re fortunate. You do not get outshot more than 2-to-1, with the second-worst xG differential (per-match) of the 32 groups, and advance very far. They obtained their doorways blown off by France, they allowed Tunisia to try three of the match’s 4 most high-value photographs (per xG) whereas scoring on a low-percentage flick, and they’ve accomplished simply 73% of their go makes an attempt, second lowest within the competitors (forward of Iran, who nonetheless tried method more photographs and created far more shot worth). The upsets had been superior to look at, as was the giddy reaction of Australia followers each within the stands and again at residence. But this run of fortune is not going to final 4 more matches.

Brazil (first place, Group G)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 26%
Round of 16 opponent: South Korea (Monday, 2 p.m. ET)



Luis Miguel Echegaray reveals whether or not he favours Brazil or France as the 2 sides within the World Cup knockouts.

Why they will win all of it: Party within the entrance (ultimately), veterans within the again. Hiring a conservative coach (Tite) to guide a squad filled with flamboyant attackers can simply backfire with out the best steadiness and man administration. You play away out of your strengths, the attackers get annoyed, and issues disintegrate.

In his six-plus years accountable for the Selecao, Tite has principally discovered mentioned steadiness. Brazil have allowed simply 27 objectives and misplaced solely 5 occasions in his 78 matches in cost. Four of the 5 losses had been by one-nil margins — which hints at how issues look after they go flawed, however they do not go flawed usually.

The veteran base of defenders Thiago Silva (38) and Marquinhos (28) and midfielder Casemiro (30) was an unsolvable puzzle for each Serbia and Switzerland, who mixed to try simply 11 photographs value 0.48 xG, placing none on the right track. And as each opponents grew drained and annoyed, the Brazilian assault ultimately kicked in, and they booked their last-16 spot with two wins. What has labored for six years underneath Tite has labored in Qatar.

Why they won’t: The assault runs by way of Neymar (who’s damage as soon as once more). Brazil overwhelmed Serbia with 19 photographs and two objectives within the second half. The ball was always at Neymar’s toes — he had essentially the most touches of any non-defender — and the eventual objectives, each from Richarlison, felt inevitable.

Neymar left the match after 80 minutes, nevertheless, after struggling broken ankle ligaments. Without their point of interest, Brazil resorted to aimless crossing in opposition to Switzerland (25 of them, with solely a 16% completion price) and tried solely 13 photographs. They ultimately took management with a scruffy late purpose from Casemiro, however the assault wasn’t almost as easy with out its middle of gravity, whose return to the competitors is unknown.

Croatia (second place, Group F)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 3%
Round of 16 opponent: Japan (Monday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: You cannot cease them from doing what they need with the ball. I’m not going to make the case that Croatia are essentially the most proactive workforce on this event. Far from it. They averaged simply 1.3 objectives (twelfth within the World Cup) on 9.7 photographs per match (twenty first). When they fell behind in opposition to Canada and needed to assault, they charged forward for 4 objectives; in opposition to Morocco and Belgium, they appeared content material with pragmatism. But no matter they select to do with the ball at any given time, aggressive or conservative, they can do it.

Croatia are averaging 87 progressive carries per match (third) and 27.3 possessions per match with no less than 9 passes (third). The left-side pairing of Borna Sosa and Ivan Perisic is primarily accountable for the previous — they’ve 68 progressive carries between them, and left-center-back Josko Gvardiol has one other 39; for the latter they after all lean on the tried-and-true midfield trio of captain Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic.



ESPN FC’s Dale Johnson talks to the FC Daily guys in regards to the general confidence that followers have had in VAR throughout the World Cup.

Why they won’t: Shots matter. For all of their on-ball prowess, none of it translated into objectives in both of their scoreless attracts in opposition to Morocco and Belgium. They mixed to try 16 photographs value 1.2 xG in these matches — poor amount mixed with poor high quality — and whereas they had been in a position to restrict Morocco to even fewer alternatives (eight photographs value simply 0.4 xG), a determined Belgium overwhelmed them with 16 photographs in assault and, frankly, ought to have scored, received and eradicated Croatia from the competitors.

Belgium’s Dries Mertens and Romelu Lukaku alone created 5 photographs value no less than 0.3 xG every — very huge probabilities — whereas Croatia tried none value more than 0.13. No matter how good you might be on the ball, in case your opponents are creating each higher and more frequent alternatives, you are not going to win 4 knockout matches.

England (first place, Group B)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 9%
Round of 16 opponent: Senegal (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET)



England followers at Boxpark by Wembley Stadium have fun the 2 objectives early within the second half.

Why they will win all of it: Set items. They had been England’s secret weapon within the 2018 World Cup, the place the workforce scored six set-piece objectives (4 from corners) in seven matches, two of which put them forward in each the quarterfinals and semifinals.

They’ve solely obtained two such objectives to date — one from Bukayo Saka on a nook in opposition to Iran and one from a scorching Marcus Rashford free kick that opened the scoring in opposition to Wales — but it surely stays a transparent benefit as they’ve created 10 photographs from set items, and opponents have but to try one. (The US created seven corner-kick alternatives however obtained no high quality appears from them.)

When you have obtained as a lot expertise as anybody within the competitors, and you have obtained a cheat code for creating stable scoring probabilities, you are in nice form.

Why they won’t: The subs are doing too effectively? It’s an odd critique, admittedly, however the England assault is in a wierd place for the time being. The Three Lions scored 9 objectives within the group stage with Gareth Southgate’s first-choice attacking trio of Harry Kane, Saka and Raheem Sterling performing comparatively effectively, scoring three objectives and making a mixed 2.18 anticipated objectives (xG) and anticipated assists (xA) in a complete of 512 minutes. That’s a price of 0.38 mixed xG+xA per 90 minutes. The trio of Rashford, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, nevertheless, mixed for a torrid 5 objectives and 3.37 xG+xA in simply 271 minutes, 1.12 per 90.

History suggests Southgate will follow his weapons in terms of lineup alternatives, and having prolific bench gamers who’re commanding the next workload is a superb drawback to have. But it could possibly nonetheless be an issue when you aren’t placing your most in-form and efficient lineup on the pitch because the matches enhance in significance. The very last thing you wish to do is depart accessible objectives unclaimed whereas making an attempt to carry the World Cup trophy residence.

France (first place, Group D)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 12%
Round of 16 opponent: Poland (Sunday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: Kylian Mbappe. France rapidly secured development to the knockout rounds by caring for Australia and Denmark by a mixed 6-2 — which allowed them to area an extraordinarily rotation-heavy squad in opposition to Tunisia — however that rating line would not do justice to the degrees of domination in these two matches. They outshot their opponents by a mixed 44-14 and created 6.8 xG whereas permitting simply 1.2; whereas Australia had been clearly outmanned, Denmark had been thought of a World Cup sleeper by many and might handle simply two shot makes an attempt within the first 67 minutes.

At the center of France’s success, after all, has been Mbappe, the FIFA Young Player Award winner on the final World Cup and the present front-runner for Golden Ball winner at this one. As ESPN’s Ryan O’Hanlon laid out after two matches, one of the best participant on the planet is enjoying a few of his best-ever ball at the very best time.



Julien Laurens would not maintain again as he rips into Didier Deschamps and the French gamers after their 1-0 loss to Tunisia in Qatar.

Why they won’t: The flawed type of conservatism. The fashionable recreation is one among urgent and possession, and it could make sense that a lot of the event favorites do these issues effectively. There are at the moment eight groups with betting odds of +1400 or higher to win the World Cup, and six of them at the moment rank within the high eight in passes allowed per defensive motion (PPDA, a typical measure of defensive depth), all averaging underneath 12.0 PPDA. Brazil (12.2, eleventh within the competitors) is shut. France (18.5, twenty sixth) will not be.

For all of their absurd expertise, they had been downright passive in opposition to Denmark, permitting the Danes to common 6.4 passes per possession and finish 50% of their possessions within the attacking third. This opened up area for transition assaults — one thing that the impossibly quick Mbappe and his teammates can thrive in at occasions — but it surely additionally raised a query: How will the French fare among the many finest possession groups within the area if they cannot (or won’t) take the ball away from them?

Japan (first place, Group F)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 2%
Round of 16 opponent: Croatia (Monday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: They. Never. Stop. Let’s be trustworthy: Very little labored as Japan may need hoped for giant parts of the group stage. Germany loved 74% possession in opposition to them and doubled them up when it comes to each photographs (26-12) and xG (3.1-1.5). They had all of the ball they needed in opposition to Costa Rica, however produced only a few scoring alternatives, didn’t make the most of what they’d and suffered a dismal 1-0 upset loss. And in opposition to Spain, they’d nearly not one of the ball (possession: Spain 82%) and tried half as many photographs.

Yes, I’m writing all of this within the “why they will win it all” part. Why? Because regardless of all of this, they beat Germany and Spain. When Germany eased again into third gear up 1-0 late, Japan’s tremendous subs pounced: Freiburg’s Ritsu Doan scored on a sudden strike within the seventy fifth minute, then Borussia Monchengladbach’s Ko Itakura arrange one other sub, Bochum’s Takuma Asano, for a good more sudden game-winner within the 83rd. (Three Bundesliga gamers being immediately accountable for Germany’s elimination. Ouch.)

Against Spain, it was the identical factor. Spain was comfortable to only knock the ball round after going up 1-0, however Japan went from providing no risk to all of the risk instantly. Doan once more hopped proper off the bench to attain, this time within the forty eighth minute, and simply three minutes later, after Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma saved a ball off the road by millimeters, Fortuna Dusseldorf’s Ao Tanaka got here out of nowhere to poke it within the internet. Japan will endure for 85 minutes and beat you in 5.

Why they won’t: Read the final three paragraphs once more. You do not win the World Cup by giving superior opponents that many probabilities. It will ultimately backfire, however till then, it’ll be hell to truly remove them from this competitors.

Morocco (first place, Group F)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 1%
Round of 16 opponent: Spain (Tuesday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: particular person moments of brilliance. Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech has a purpose and an help amongst 4 probabilities created. PSG’s Achraf Hakimi has created three probabilities with a 96% completion price within the attacking third. Sevilla’s Youssef En-Nesyri had an ideal counterattacking purpose in opposition to Canada. Bayern’s Noussair Mazraoui has been an absolute pest alongside the left flank, whereas West Ham’s Nayef Aguerd and Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat have been ball restoration wizards and make nothing however secure passes.

Morocco has a variety of major-club expertise, and new supervisor Walid Regragui harnessed it fantastically in group play. After a boring stalemate in opposition to Croatia, they used a few sensible moments to beat Belgium and an early spurt to beat Canada and advance. This is an enigmatic group that has come by way of in each assault and protection.



ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti defends Morocco after Spain end 2nd of their group and face them within the spherical of 16.

Why they won’t: self-discipline and set items. No one can deny that Morocco made essentially the most of its alternatives, scoring on a cool free kick and an ideal route-one assault in opposition to Belgium and pouncing on a passing error in opposition to Canada, earlier than scoring on one other good sudden counter. There had been equal components ability and panache with every purpose. But additionally they dedicated a lot of fouls — 44 in all, sixth-most within the competitors — and usually in harmful locations.

This did not lead to a playing cards drawback — they’ve solely been dealt two yellow playing cards to this point, none for any of their finest attackers — but it surely contributed to a set items drawback. Kevin De Bruyne almost scored on a first-half free kick within the Belgium match, and in all, when mixed with 20 nook kicks, opponents tried eight photographs from set items. Morocco solely managed three photographs and created three corners. It’s simpler to win with out possession (and Morocco’s 37% possession price was fifth-lowest) when you’re the one creating set-piece hazard.

Netherlands (first place, Group A)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 6%
Round of 16 opponent: USA (Saturday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: They flip you over. Louis van Gaal’s Dutch workforce is energetic. They lead the competitors with the fewest passes allowed per defensive motion (9.3) and regardless of main for almost all of every group stage match, they began 29 possessions within the attacking third to opponents’ 17. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong leads the workforce in ball recoveries, however the strain is a full-team effort: Netherlands have commanded 57% of general touches within the attacking third with a 57% possession price.

They’ve obtained the uncooked defensive expertise — Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Jurrien Timber, Matthijs de Ligt — to safeguard them whereas urgent closely (goalkeeper Andries Noppert has been wonderful, too), and they put the ball in more harmful areas than opponents.



Mark Ogden explains why he suppose Senegal are the stronger of the 2 sides to advance from Group A on the World Cup.

Why they won’t: No creativity. For such an energetic workforce, the Dutch positive are stolid in assault. Despite all that possession in harmful areas, they managed simply 10 photographs value 0.7 xG in opposition to Senegal and two value 0.1 in opposition to Ecuador; they had been lucky to win the previous match and draw the latter, and if Cody Gakpo hadn’t scored along with his solely shot in every match, they would not have.

Gakpo, the more and more sought-after PSV Eindhoven attacker, has scored three objectives from 4 photographs value simply 0.3 xG. The remainder of his teammates have scored simply two objectives from 21 photographs value 2.5. They neither create high-quality or high-volume photographs — they averaged simply 0.3 huge probabilities created (“a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score,” as outlined by Stats Perform) within the group stage; solely two groups averaged fewer, and that will ultimately change into a transparent problem if it doesn’t change.

This makes their matchup with the United States an fascinating one: the groups have a variety of the identical strengths and similar weaknesses.

Poland (second place, Group C)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight:
Round of 16 opponent: France

Why they will win all of it: They’ve obtained the most popular goalkeeper within the competitors. Stat Perform’s Goals Prevented measure compares the objectives you have allowed to the post-shot xG worth of the photographs opponents put in your purpose. Based solely on that xG determine, Poland ought to have allowed about six objectives within the group stage; they allowed solely two as a result of Wojciech Szczesny stood on his rattling head. He stopped penalties from each Messi and Saudi Arabia’s Salem al-Dawsari, he stopped close-range efforts from al-Dawsari and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul, and he saved 18 complete photographs on purpose in three matches.

Allow even three objectives as an alternative of two — which might have nonetheless been overachieving — and Poland could be on a aircraft residence proper now.

Why they won’t: They cannot create alternatives for the most effective strikers on the planet. In 19 matches with Barcelona this season, Robert Lewandowski has averaged 4.5 photographs, 0.8 xG and 1.1 objectives per 90 minutes. In three World Cup matches, he has averaged 2.3 photographs, 0.6 xG and 0.3 objectives. He scored his first ever World Cup purpose in opposition to Saudi Arabia, however missed on a late chip in the identical match and had a penalty saved in opposition to Mexico. Those had been his solely three photographs on purpose in three matches. He barely touched the ball in opposition to Argentina and tried zero photographs.

Lewandowski is not Poland’s solely high-level participant, after all — 14 different members of the roster play for golf equipment in Europe’s Big Five leagues — however when your headliner is neither getting the service he wants nor profiting from the alternatives he will get, your ceiling is not going to be very excessive. He might unleash a hat trick at any time, but when he could not do it in opposition to Saudi Arabia, it is truthful to imagine the chances aren’t excessive that he will do it in opposition to France.

Portugal (first place, Group H)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 8%
Round of 16 opponent: Switzerland (Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: Where passing is tougher, Portugal is best. One would assume {that a} squad that includes Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Raphael Guerreiro and Joao Cancelo could be one of many more artistic within the competitors, and that has performed out up to now. They have been lucky within the ending division — they created photographs value 3.3 xG of their first two matches however scored 5 objectives from them, and they scored one among their objectives when Cristiano Ronaldo whiffed on a Fernandes cross (which fooled the Uruguayan goalkeeper) — however they nonetheless created loads of probabilities, and they made positive that they had been the one workforce usually finishing passes into harmful areas.

Pass completion price into the attacking third:

  • Portugal 81%, Ghana 57% (Portugal received 3-2)

  • Portugal 79%, Uruguay 64% (Portugal received 2-0)

Fernandes and Silva have each accomplished 40 passes into the ultimate third (with a ridiculous 86% completion price), and the stalwart Portuguese protection, led by cent-backs Ruben Dias together with veterans Danilo Pereira (31) and Pepe (39), has fended off most threatening buildups. Even one among Ghana’s objectives got here on a cross {that a} defender deflected.

Why they won’t: You have to carry onto results in win all of it. When their first two matches had been tied, Portugal dominated, controlling 69% of possession, trying 19 photographs value 2.0 xG, permitting simply six photographs value 0.7 and scoring thrice. Dominant.

Once they had been forward, nevertheless, they sacrificed a harmful quantity of management. They allowed two objectives to Ghana (one to tie the match at 1-1, one to make it 3-2), and in these two matches their possession price fell to 45% with opponents trying 14 photographs to their seven. While Brazil’s Tite has pulled off a stable steadiness of conservatism and attacking aptitude, one might argue that Portugal’s Fernando Santos hasn’t fairly discovered that very same steadiness.



Mark Ogden provides his evaluation on the 2-0 win over Uruguay in Group H that takes Portugal into the spherical of 16 on the World Cup.

Senegal (second place, Group A)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 2%
Round of 16 opponent: England (Sunday, 2 p.m.)

Why they will win all of it: Transition. Tuesday’s Senegal vs. Ecuador match pitted two of one of the best transition groups within the competitors. In their first two matches, Ecuador had scored two of their three objectives from what I name “transition possessions” — possessions starting exterior of the attacking third and lasting 20 or fewer seconds — and had not allowed opponents a single shot in these possessions. But in opposition to Senegal, the shoe was on the opposite foot. Senegal created two early high-quality transition alternatives and allowed Ecuador none.

That’s been the story of the competitors for Senegal. Their xG differential in transition possessions is +0.8, fourth finest amongst groups within the knockout rounds, and whereas they had been respectable in transition assault (one purpose, 0.96 xG), their major energy was in fully snuffing out opponents’ alternatives. The defensive backbone of keeper Edouard Mendy, center-backs Kalidou Koulibaly and Abdou Diallo and defensive midfielder Nampalys Mendy is as stout as nearly any within the World Cup.

Why they won’t: You’ve obtained to complete. When the information got here down that star Sadio Mane was going to overlook the World Cup due to damage, it was truthful to marvel how on earth Senegal was going to place the ball within the internet.

It’s nonetheless truthful to marvel, too. While they dealt with Qatar with ease, and they tried loads of photographs in opposition to higher-level opponents Netherlands and Ecuador, the ending certainly lacked. They tried 28 non-penalty photographs value 2.14 xG in these two matches however scored simply as soon as from them, by way of a deflection to Koulibaly on a free kick. (They additionally scored on an Ismaila Sarr penalty in opposition to Ecuador.) They have been respectable at producing set-piece alternatives, however in open play they’re creating nearly no risk in opposition to stable opposition.

South Korea (second place, Group H)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight:
Round of 16 opponent: Brazil (Monday, 2 p.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: When they should cost, they cost. In a stolid opener in opposition to Uruguay, it was like each groups had been content material with attacking as little as attainable; South Korea tried solely seven photographs and put none on the right track. They put zero on the right track once more within the first half in opposition to Ghana, falling behind 2-0.

Once desperation kicked in, nevertheless, Paulo Bento’s squad shined. They obtained two objectives from Cho Gue-Sung in about three minutes and unloaded 16 photographs, seven on the right track, in a determined chase (and eventual 3-2 loss). And the chase continued on Friday; needing a win and assist to advance, they fell behind Portugal within the opening moments and as soon as once more grew into the sport slowly, trying solely 5 photographs within the first 55 minutes. But one among them was a Kim Young-Gwon purpose on a nook kick. That purchased them time. And over the ultimate 25 minutes they kicked into one other gear, trying six more and more harmful photographs and lastly going forward on Son Heung-Min’s cost and perfectly-timed help to Hwang Hee-Chan within the 91st minute.

After barely registering an assault within the competitors’s first three halves, they outscored opponents 4-2 within the remaining three. The more necessary the second, the higher they performed.

Why they won’t: 1v1s. South Korea neither makes an attempt, nor wins them. The artwork of the duel is not essentially the most make-or-break in soccer, however it could possibly assist — of the highest 9 groups in floor duel win share, six superior to the knockout rounds, whereas solely three of the underside 9 did.

South Korea? They tried the fourth-fewest and, at 42%, received the second-lowest share of them. Take out left again Kim Jin-Su and star and frequent duelist Son Heung-Min, and that falls to 38%. That they charged again so effectively within the group stage with out profitable many confrontations was spectacular, but it surely will be tough to proceed doing so when you both can’t or won’t drive the difficulty.

Spain (second place, Group E)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 14%
Round of 16 opponent: Morocco (Monday, 10 a.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: Identity. While each highly effective workforce makes an attempt to dominate possession, no person does it like Spain. Luis Enrique’s squad advance to the knockouts with the very best possession price (77%), essentially the most mixed go makes an attempt (912.3 per match), essentially the most touches (1073.7 per match) and the very best go completion price, each general (91%) and within the attacking third (86%). Only 27 gamers from the World Cup’s 32 groups tried no less than 200 passes within the group stage; Spain had 5 of them, together with Aymeric Laporte… who performed in solely two matches! You do not get the ball except they allow you to take it.

There was some creativity in these passes, too — they ranked ninth in probabilities created (9.3 per match, led by Dani Olmo’s 1.7), third in each assists (1.7, Jordi Alba had two) and xA (1.2) and first in go makes an attempt into the attacking third (79.3).

Because of a seven-goal outburst in opposition to Costa Rica, they really tied with England for essentially the most objectives scored within the group stage, too. But as we’ll see, that was more the disguising of a weak point than proof of a energy.



Christian Pulisic updates on the standing of his well being forward of the USMNT’s spherical of 16 conflict with the Netherlands.

Why they won’t: Can they rating when they should? In final summer time’s Euros, Spain handled main ending points, creating stable probabilities, however failing to transform. It was the eventual motive for his or her semifinal defeat. In Qatar, nevertheless, they’ve begun to wrestle differently.

After destroying Costa Rica within the opening match — 17 photographs, 3.5 xG and seven objectives — the faucet went dry in opposition to Germany. They had 64% possession, however created nearly no hazard, trying seven photographs value 0.6 xG and ending up fortunate to snare a draw. And in opposition to Japan, after scoring on a beautiful Alvaro Morata header within the eleventh minute, they tried solely two photographs over the following 62 minutes. When a sudden Japan surge gave them the lead, they created nearly nothing of high quality down the stretch. After a torrid opener, they’ve struggled with each shot high quality and amount.

Switzerland (second place, Group G)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 2%
Round of 16 opponent: Portugal (Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET)

Why they will win all of it: What do they do flawed? Against Cameroon of their first match, the Swiss timed their urgent effectively, created higher alternatives for a lot of the recreation (remaining xG: 1.4 to 0.7), scored on a fantastically engineered sequence early within the second half and took three factors.

In their second match, they annoyed Brazil’s assault, stored the ball out of harmful areas (Brazil’s xG per shot: a lowly 0.08) and regarded as if they might steal a draw till a firecracker from Casemiro within the 83rd minute.

In a decider in opposition to Serbia, lacking a few starters to sickness, they determined one of the best protection is an effective offense, enjoying front-footed ball and scoring thrice within the first 48 minutes. Breel Embolo and Xherdan Shaqiri every contributed their second objectives of the event, and Remo Freuler put them forward for good. Up 3-2, they flipped issues round and barely allowed Serbia any appears at purpose. Serbia tried solely 5 photographs after the 48-minute mark, none value more than 0.08 xG (and solely two on the right track), and the Swiss superior.

Whatever a match requires, Switzerland delivers a reasonably good model of it. You might make a stable case that they’ve one of many highest flooring within the competitors.

Why they won’t: What do they do notably effectively? One would assume that, over the course of 4 knockout matches, you will additionally should show a excessive ceiling. They completed the group stage eleventh in objectives scored, twelfth in xG created, twelfth in objectives allowed, thirteenth in xG allowed, 14th in go completion price, thirteenth in progressive carries, 18th in progressive passes accomplished, twenty first in progressive go completions allowed, twenty sixth in progressive carries allowed … you get the purpose.

They’re dangerous at nothing, however they’re additionally nice at nothing.

United States (second place, Group B)

Title odds, per FiveThirtyEight: 1%
Round of 16 opponent: Netherlands

Why they will win all of it: The midfield is relentless. Wales could not transfer the ball by way of the midfield, in order that they began booting lengthy balls to a tall ahead. Jude Bellingham had 10 touches within the first 13 minutes however solely 40 thereafter as England discovered passing lanes by way of the midfield exhausting to return by. (Mason Mount had solely 45 complete touches in 90 minutes.) Iran created solely 60 complete touches within the attacking third till Weston McKennie went off the sphere within the sixty fifth minute. (They created 64 within the remaining 25 minutes.)

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Relentless operating and urgent from the trio of McKennie (24), Yunus Musah (20) and captain Tyler Adams (23) and fullbacks Sergino Dest (22) and Antonee Robinson (25) have made advancing the ball into harmful areas nearly not possible and allowed the US to manage massive parts of video games — granted, with out producing a lot of high quality scoring alternatives — in opposition to not solely Wales and Iran but in addition England. And in the event that they had been in a position to management Bellingham and Mount, they’ll management a lot of the midfields on this competitors.

Why they won’t: Matches are 90 minutes lengthy. One drawback with relentless operating and urgent: It wears you out, particularly when a few of your most necessary gamers got here into the World Cup with latest accidents and health issues. McKennie is averaging solely 69.3 minutes per match, Dest 78.0. And as these gamers start to tire, the Americans’ effectiveness vanishes.

  • xG, first 60 min: USA 2.19, opponents 0.91 (precise rating: US 2-0)

  • xG, final 30 min: opponents 2.23, USA 0.35 (precise rating: opponent 1-0)

Fatigue has certainly restricted sure key gamers, and supervisor Gregg Berhalter’s substitution choices (each timing and personnel) have been, to place it diplomatically, shaky. When issues transfer into recreation administration mode, the US rapidly fray. The fatigue is not going to all of the sudden get higher because the event progresses.


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