Diary of the World Cup 2022: Day 21
First things first: Being a sport of football mournta moment to remember Wahl levelone top level journalist.
French 2 – 1 English
It doesn’t feel right to split one of today’s two games into a “Game of the Day” and then a side game, because both games are so much fun.
Due to the narrowing talent gap between the teams at this World Cup and the similarity in management, I sometimes wonder how any team actually won. We know that the next few weeks will be a major autopsy in the British press about where Britain went wrong and why it did not return home. One wonders what Harry Kane will experience over the next few months after missing the second penalty that left the game in a 2nd draw..
And yet, these games are now decided by odds so ridiculously thin that no matter how loudly the tabloids shout and how deeply analysts dig, all that they will find is “sometimes you just can’t win”. England probably had their best squad ever, and to be honest, they played much better than France today. Their tactics are mostly spot-on. Their numerical advantage in midfield was reflected in the fact that both Jordan Henderson and Jude Bellingham drifted out to join Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden. That forced the French midfield duo of Aurélien Tchouameni and Adrien Rabiot to drift wide, exposing the midfield completely, or let England overload on the flanks, which also meant England could keep defenders. The wing was quite reserved to prevent Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembélé from getting an own goal.
And yet, sometimes, a player like Tchouameni fires a shot from 25 yards. Sometimes, a player like Antoine Griezmann, who spent most of the night with lint in Declan Rice’s pocket, hits a nice cross for Olivier Giroud to head Harry Maguire and go into the net.
Yes, Kane missed the second penalty. You can’t miss opportunities when they come (ask Chrisitan Pulisic). Yes, maybe Saka was fouled before France’s first goal. It is easy to say that England, thanks to their history, always found a way to take them down and France, thanks to their history, always found a way to win. It would be better to have a more realistic explanation than knowing that sometimes the ball bounces one way and sometimes it bounces the other way. The latter cannot be fixed.
But that’s the game, it’s the sport. France played quite stalemate for most of the match, tHumorous and ragged protective heir. They seem to have run out of ideas in attack. And yet, two moments of excellence, and a goal from England, and you will get your results. It’s a testament to how much control any manager or team can have, and no matter how well and thoroughly they do it, there’s still plenty of opportunity. You can’t plan for an opposing goalkeeper like Hugo Loris to have an eyepatch (ask Brazil).
Sometimes, you just lose. There’s a long list of sides that I could name that have never won anything and you look back and you’re stunned. Argentina or Portugal in the 2000s or Belgium in the 2010s. Italy won the Euros, sandwiched between not even qualifying for two World Cups. It doesn’t have to be meaningful. Sometimes, you just lose.
Morocco 1 – 0 Portugal
We officially have the league’s weird team, which we suspect will happen before the tournament gets into the weird rankings on the calendar (and of course they’ve taken down the weird team I bet to win! win, because that’s how I roll). Morocco becomes the team from Africans to reach the semi-finals. And it deserves it.
There’s always an urge to mock a defensive team like Morocco for most of the game by getting lucky and taking a seven-second lead. You could more easily make that argument for Croatia, who needed their goalkeeper to stay on top to even make Brazil incur penalties. Although Morocco’s Yassine Bounou made a save or two, it wasn’t that he was required to perform devilish rituals to get his team through.
Morocco took control of this game and coach Walid Regragui coached the team so thoroughly that it felt like there were no holes. Portugal, at least in the first half, did what Spain couldn’t and tried to attack more directly, sending more passes over the defensive line to try to create space between the lines. defender and defender. Portugal helped them out a bit by not letting their most direct starting player, Rafael Leao, and none of the finds really connected. Morocco were not attacked and continued to choke the life of the game with a high (ish) central defense with no space. Portugal started with too many players wanting to drift in to help their goal, but Morocco still had to defend.
The lesson of the day is that you can’t miss the bear when you make a shot, and that helps when you have a striker like Youssef En-Nesyri who can make gravity disappear for a brief second. while he’s interested in something:
From there, it was easy for Morocco to drop deep and challenge Portugal to find a way, while still posing a great threat from counter-attacks as they were smooth and quick in their moves and movements. pass to the field when there is space. They actually have more chances than Portugal when leading 1-0.
Also, they had the biggest angry moment of the tournament:
What is surprising is that Regragui has only been working for a few months. But he has a plan, he has attracted his players and as the talent gap between the teams narrows, that could go a long way at the World Cup. It’s still happening in Morocco.
Goals for the day
Morocco is important and will live on in history, but for the sheer quality it was Tchouameni’s strike of choice. Even if Jordan Pickford had a normal-sized arm, he would clap:
Venom, is that word.
Does VAR damage anything?
England should have been awarded a penalty before they were awarded the first, as Saka was essentially dealt at the edge of the French box. But other than that, not special, though The funny and lame complaints of Portugal and Pepe.
Did Alexi Lalas say anything stupid?
He mostly leaves that to Clint Dempsey, who wants to give a big thank you to Cristiano Ronaldo for all he’s done, which sounds pretty awkward and aloof… you know.
The eulogy of the deceased
England – As a Bears fan, I know when I’m watching a team and fan base draw attention and noise far beyond its merits. As is the team that invented the sport. Britain and its supporters will have no consolation when it’s out of luck again, and they’ll tear themselves apart trying to find something tangible they can blame in the hope that it might. is resolved in Germany 2024. And the pressure will increase even more, the urgency crushes, and it will continue to feed itself. And the self-punishment story will essentially be the story. The problem is that England, like the Bears, rarely even come close to victories that match their perceived status. One Euro final, one recent Super Bowl for each. England are still well positioned for the future, with the ages of Saka, Foden, Bellingham, Rice, Mount, Rice, Phillips, Rashford. But the pressure is getting worse, the expectations are as heavy as elephants, and it feels like it will always break their backs. They will fire Gareth Southgate from the job as a coach after this, but who could do better or differently? This is England, and they can never safely wait for the bounces to come their way.
Portugal – Most fans will dine on this for a while:
Ronaldo may have cried when the World Cup finally went, or that he didn’t start over, or that he was about to become meaningless by taking Saudi Arabian blood money, or some combination thereof. . He has been the Portuguese for a long time, but now they would be a better team without him. It’s hard to sympathize with a man who even turned his national team into something of his own. He has trophies and medals. He had goals (he was also freed from prison many would say he shouldn’t have). But when Messi is gone, there will be sadness and appreciation. At this point, most just say to Ronaldo, “Fine, get out.”