The group stage of the World Cup is full! Two of South America’s sides are advancing to the knockout rounds, whereas two have been eradicated. This is what went proper for the 2 are transferring on (Argentina and Brazil) and what was wanting for the 2 going residence (Uruguay and Ecuador).
WHAT WENT RIGHT?
Group C end: 1st place, 6 factors (2W-1L-0D)
Knockout spherical opponent: vs. Australia
Most likely the most important factor that went proper for Argentina was the chance to play Poland with the intention to win Group C. Too gradual to assist centre-forward Robert Lewandowski and, much more importantly, too gradual to dam Argentina’s midfield interaction, Poland had been the right opponent for a staff in search of to verify that it had regained its mojo.
Simply as had occurred in opposition to Colombia 4 years in the past, Poland had been totally out of their depth in opposition to a South American aspect proficient at transferring the ball. Argentina ended up being rewarded for retaining religion in their very own concept. They’d been thrown off track by the extraordinary boldness of Saudi Arabia’s excessive line of defense within the first group stage sport, denying them the room to play their passing sport.
And below strain in opposition to Mexico within the second sport, coach Lionel Scaloni did his staff no favours by introducing Guido Rodriguez within the midfield holding position, a participant with out the passing expertise to begin the strikes with the required rhythm. From the second he was changed by Enzo Fernandez, Argentina began wanting just like the aspect that got here into the event on a 36-game unbeaten run.
The second objective within the win in opposition to Poland was the true essence of the Argentina aspect — a 37-pass transfer, forcing the opposing defence to shift this manner and that till house opened up for Fernandez to burst ahead and provide Julian Alvarez for an excellent shot into the far nook.
Argentina, then, have picked up momentum — and one other factor which may have gone proper for them is the best way that the draw has labored out. They are going to be thought of favourites in opposition to Australia on Saturday, and likewise in a possible quarterfinal in opposition to the winners of the Netherlands or the US.
Australia (in addition to the Netherlands and the USA) possess an athletic capability far higher than that of Poland, however the Socceroos have little time to get better from the rearguard motion they heroically produced in opposition to Denmark. They’ll certainly anticipate one other 90 — and perhaps 120 — minutes chasing after the ball, this time in opposition to an opponent with extra of a innovative.
Group G end: 1st place, 6 factors (2W-1L-0D)
Knockout spherical opponent: Switzerland
A 1-0 defeat to Cameroon on an injury-time objective in Friday’s Group H finale will probably be seen as a humiliation, and provides strain on Monday’s round-of-16 assembly with South Korea — a second shock defeat doesn’t bear serious about. And the accidents are an issue — the curse of the fullbacks and the unsure standing of Neymar.
With out the axis of Neymar and Lucas Paqueta it’s proving exhausting to interrupt the opposition down. However the first two matches — earlier than the wholesale modifications for the Cameroon sport — established Brazil’s credentials as critical candidates to win their sixth World Cup. They beat two good European sides, and neither Serbia nor Switzerland managed a single shot.
As Brazil coach Tite mentioned, his staff had been balanced with fixed aggression. It may even be that the frustration in opposition to Cameroon helps Tite to clear his thoughts — few of the gamers took benefit of the chance that they had been given, making it simpler to call a beginning XI to begin in opposition to South Korea.
Luis Miguel Echegaray recaps Brazil’s 1-0 defeat to Cameroon of their remaining Group H sport.
WHAT WENT WRONG?
Group H end: third place, 4 factors (1W-1L-D)
In the long run, what went improper for Uruguay was going to the final sport having to depend upon different leads to a gaggle the place there was so little margin for error. Ever since going out within the 2018 quarterfinals, Uruguay have been chasing the Holy Grail — balancing the brand new era with the previous guard of Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, and Diego Godin.
The stability has proved elusive, and coach Diego Alonso discovered himself enjoying a sort of whack-a-mole, fixing one downside just for one other to emerge. Pre-tournament proof led to the conclusion that in opposition to robust opposition Uruguay had been at their greatest and most stable with three in midfield, making it exhausting to discipline two up entrance and a again 4.
The answer within the first sport in opposition to South Korea? Play striker Darwin Nunez from the left wing, the place he didn’t look completely satisfied. Even so, Uruguay ought to have received, and perhaps left it too late to go for the large push. As a substitute, they settled for a scoreless draw.
Luis Miguel Echegaray reacts to Uruguay’s heartbreaking exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Within the second match in opposition to Portugal they managed to have three in midfield with two up entrance. The answer was to play a again three. The issue was that it meant taking out winger Facundo Pellistri — and Uruguay had been all the time higher when his tempo enabled the staff to play increased up the pitch. With out Pellistri they had been too passive. However when Alonso made attacking substitutions they most likely deserved a draw — hanging the woodwork for the second sport in a row — earlier than a extremely controversial penalty despatched them to a 2-0 defeat.
And so within the remaining sport in opposition to Ghana there was no possibility. Uruguay needed to go for broke. Alosno discovered a method to repair an issue which has been hanging over the staff for eight years — how to slot in playmaker Giorgian De Arrascaeta with two strikers in a 4-4-2. De Arrascaeta lacks the tempo to play extensive, and desires to float in. Uruguay solved the issue with the advances down the flank of left again Matias Olivera and the willingness of the strikers to work left. It meant the staff had been open — a obligatory threat — though it restricted the liberty of midfiedler Federico Valverde.
It labored nicely sufficient to get a 2-0 win over Ghana and momentarily dream of a mouthwatering round-of-16 conflict with Brazil. However South Korea scored a late second objective in opposition to Portugal’s second stringers — bringing to an finish Uruguay’s marketing campaign and the worldwide careers of a gaggle of gamers who put the staff again on the map within the 2010 World Cup.
Group A end: third place, 4 factors (1W-1L-1D)
Each World Cup highlights the hazards of having the ability to play for a draw. Ecuador had been the most recent victims, shedding a spot within the knockout section after a 2-1 defeat to Senegal. Ecuador threw away the primary half by being too passive. They marked nearer to their very own objective than within the earlier two video games, and because of this they had been unable to determine the identical management.
Regardless of enjoying a number of heat up video games in opposition to African opposition, Ecuador additionally appeared to search out it robust to regulate to going through a rival who can match and even overcome their very own bodily power. And when push got here to shove, an previous fear proved justified; going into the event the principle concern was the place the objectives had been going to return from. The staff lacked a spark of creativity, particularly when they didn’t mark excessive sufficient to win the ball near the opposing objective.
However lots went proper for Ecuador. It is a younger aspect that — so long as it could discover a method to change Enner Valencia — is just going to get higher. They clearly had one of the best of their duel with the Netherlands, a heat reminiscence within the coming months and a robust indication that this era belong on the large stage.