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Sport Preview: World Cup 2022 - Sun 27th Nov 2022

World Cup Previews: Sun 27th Nov

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Selections

Croatia vs Canada: Sun 27th Nov, 4:00pm

Belgium’s fortunate 1-0 win over Canada was a kick in the teeth for Concacaf’s top team.

“Canada deserved to be better than us in the way they played,” said Belgium boss Roberto Martinez after Wednesday’s 1-0 win.

The team ranked second in the world came away with the win, but they were second best on the night against a Canada team who swamped them from start to finish in Al Rayyan.

The only thing that was missing for Canada was composure in the penalty area as they chalked up 22 shots on goal.

John Herdman’s team were better all over the pitch, apart from in the box, where they fluffed their lines on a number of occasions.

Belgium were the heavy 8/15 favourites to sink the world’s 41st-ranked team, but it would have been easy to mix the two up on a night when Canada’s high-energy pressing had Belgium on the back foot.

A missed penalty in the first-half did not help Canada’s cause, but they were unlucky not to be given another spot-kick in a high-octane clash.

Michy Batshuayi’s goal won it for Belgium, who did have slightly more possession. But it was Canada who imposed themselves from the off, pressing Belgium into mistakes.

Canada’s pacy front five made Belgium look like the ageing team they are and if any of Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan, Junior Hoilett or Alphonso Davies can find their shooting boots they will be a match for anyone.

The 23 goals in 14 games in qualifying suggests they can reverse their fortunes in front of goal.

Former Leeds, Trinity and All Saints student Herdman, rallied his troops on the pitch afterwards and he made it clear that his team were worthy of the world stage.

Confidence should not be an issue against Croatia, who were sluggish in their draw with Morocco.

The African side were more than a match for the 2018 finalists, despite surrendering possession.

Luka Modric and Co could only muster two shots on target and they looked devoid of any attacking ideas.

Another pedestrian display from them will end in defeat against a Canada side, who will be desperate to right the defeat to Belgium.

Canada are a tasty-looking 13/5 and that is worth a bet.


Spain vs Germany: Sun 27th Nov, 7:00pm

Germany’s late collapse will be a huge concern for coach Hansi Flick.

All looked to be well with 15 minutes to go against Japan. Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty had them ahead, but not in control.

However, Germany switched off and two goals in eight minutes sent them to a shock defeat.

Flick said afterwards: “The individual mistakes that we made in the second half must not happen to us. We need to build up the players now.”

But the coach must shoulder some of the blame after ringing the changes. Thomas Muller, Gundogan, Kai Havertz and the brilliant Jamal Musiala were all subbed and things went wrong quickly.

The stats do not quite do Japan justice though. Germany had 74% possession and had 24 shots, but Japan were in the game for long spells before they broke through late on.

Germany did hit the woodwork and waste a number of chances, but Japan had threatened on several occasions before substitute Ritsu Doan equalised.

Flick’s men will have to be more efficient in front of goal and cut out the mistakes if they are to have any joy against Spain.

Spain are the favourites to chalk up another Group E win after hammering Costa Rica 7-0.

Costa Rica were so bad though it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the game which saw six different scorers for Luis Enrique’s men.

Ticos did not press Spain anywhere near enough and what is certain is that Germany will not give Spain the type of space they enjoyed on Wednesday.

The way Germany fell apart late on though is hugely worrying and Spain are more than capable of taking advantage of that.

Enrique will know that a win over Germany would probably put the 2014 winners out of the tournament, with Japan expected to roll over Costa Rica.

If Spain score first, it could mean Germany have to go for broke and it could turn into a classic with plenty of goals.



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