Sky Sports’ writers mirror on Saturday’s motion because the knockout part of the World Cup will get beneath means…
Messi magic lights up this Argentina crew
The legs don’t transfer as rapidly as earlier than and everybody is aware of we’re within the endgame now however is there a extra thrilling sight in soccer than Lionel Messi with the ball at his toes? Through to a different quarter-final after beating Australia, his World Cup dream is alive.
This was Messi’s greatest recreation of the match. He had essentially the most pictures and created essentially the most possibilities. It wanted his magic to unlock the opposition and as soon as he had accomplished so he was actually in a position to get pleasure from himself. The hope for Argentina is that it’s a signal of what’s to return.
Argentina have been sturdy favourites in each recreation thus far and a function of those matches has been Messi’s makes an attempt to search out area when opponents are set on stifling him. But if Argentina do go all the way in which in Qatar there can be several types of exams forward.
His efficiency as soon as his crew had been forward is perhaps a touch of how harmful he may turn out to be within the latter levels of this World Cup. If opponents pursue a extra open recreation towards Argentina then that may very well be a giant mistake as a result of Messi remains to be on it.
Scaloni’s Argentina are nonetheless enhancing
“With Leo playing this beautifully,” mentioned Lionel Scaloni afterwards, “these are very exciting moments.” The Argentina supervisor deserves large credit score too. He has bought this World Cup marketing campaign again on monitor after that alarming begin towards Saudi Arabia.
There have been extra free-flowing Argentina sides than this one however at every of the final eight World Cups, they’ve fallen quick. This one a minimum of appears more likely to maximise its possibilities. The profitable soccer they delivered on the Copa America remains to be in them.
The crew is clearly constructed round Messi however Scaloni continues to tweak issues, making changes each delicate and easy. The emergence of Julian Alvarez helps. He brings the vitality that’s wanted given Messi’s comparatively restricted off-the-ball motion.
Scaloni is ready to rotate the full-backs and, tactically, it’s fascinating that he can comfortably change to a few on the again if the scenario calls for it. With Angel Di Maria more likely to be out there once more for the quarter-final, there are alternatives. And with Messi, there’s all the time hope.
Australia exceeded all expectations
Though Argentina had been deserved winners, they created little earlier than Messi’s objective and wanted some fortune to not concede an equaliser late on. That is testomony to the work of Graham Arnold in turning his crew into such harmful opponents at this World Cup.
Scaloni praised Arnold’s crew for “pressing very smartly” and in that opening half an hour, particularly, they brought on loads of issues for Argentina. Had Aziz Behich or Garang Kuol snatched a late objective then who is aware of what might need occurred in extra-time.
Expectations had not been excessive and the coach confronted criticism coming into the match. But a modest facet has made reminiscences in Qatar, profitable as many matches at this World Cup as they’d received at each different World Cup mixed. There ought to be solely satisfaction.
Van Gaal’s Netherlands present why he favours warning over chaos in win over USA
At the tip of the group part, Louis van Gaal snapped at recommendations from the Dutch media that his facet had been boring and they wanted to open up. His facet’s first-half efficiency towards USA within the final 16 appeared like a direct message to the press: I understand how to progress at main tournaments.
From the primary whistle, the Netherlands allowed USA to have the ball and backed off right into a mid-block. The Americans, who had thrived on the vitality and enthusiasm of their youthful midfield of their earlier matches in Qatar, out of the blue discovered themselves required to go their means by a well-structured defence. They struggled.
And after they slipped up the Netherlands broke with tempo, accelerating up the sphere with excellence to reveal their opponents’ sluggish central defence. It was a ploy which required humility from the favourites – however had the Dutch 2-0 up and comfy on the break.
In the second half, calmness turned to chaos. Whether it was brought on by the Dutch getting over-confident or USA’s determination to throw the whole lot they’d on the downside, the sport opened up.
Twice the Netherlands needed to clear the ball off their goal-line earlier than Haji Wright’s uncommon objective halved the deficit for USA. There had been possibilities at each ends – though USA’s ambition was finally their downfall, with Denzel Dumfries’ objective, quickly after Wright’s strike, ending the possibility of a dramatic turnaround.
It was an thrilling second half – however unpredictable. And that is not how Van Gaal needs it to be. He’s by no means misplaced a match in control of them at a World Cup. The Netherlands’ supporters should trust his judgement.
Can the USA overcome last-16 hurdle on house soil in 2026?
USA supervisor Gregg Berhalter hailed the “progress” his facet have made at Qatar 2022 within the aftermath of defeat to the Netherlands in Doha within the first of the last-16 ties on Saturday, earlier than admitting they’d “come up short” of their bid to make the World Cup quarter-finals for the primary time of their historical past.
Perhaps we’d be speaking a few first look within the final eight had Christian Pulisic, as he actually ought to have, opened the scoring early on as a substitute of fluffing his traces because the USA dominated the early exchanges.
But in the long run, Netherlands’ larger expertise, match know-how and finally, ending noticed Louis van Gaal’s crew over the road as USA had been eradicated from the round-of-16 stage for the third World Cup in a row.
However, given their spectacular showings within the group stage – the place they went unbeaten, together with having the higher of a goalless draw with England – as Tyler Adams, Pulisic, Sergino Dest, Yunus Musah and Weston McKennie all caught the attention, and that the subsequent World Cup is in North America, don’t guess towards the USA lastly breaking their last-eight hoodoo subsequent time round.