Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Qatar World Cup 2022: A look ahead to Saturday’s games

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There are three European sides in action on Saturday: Poland, France and Denmark. But the most significant game of the day looks set to be Argentina v Mexico with the losing side crashing out of the competition, so both Latin American football powerhouses will be fighting for victory in Qatar on Saturday night. 

Tunisia v Australia (11:00)

  • Tunisia and Australia meet for just the third time in history, with the last match a 2-0 Tunisia victory in the 2005 Confederations Cup.

  • Tunisia has lost just one of its last 10 matches but opened the World Cup with a goalless draw against Denmark.

  • Australia had won five straight before France routed the Socceroos 4-1 in their opening match.

Poland v Saudi Arabia (14:00)

  • Saudi Arabia was an overwhelming underdog and pulled off the upset against Argentina, but will be the underdog again against Poland.

  • Saudi Arabia has lost nine of its last 10 World Cup matches against European teams, included an 8-0 loss to Germany in 2002.

  • For Poland, star Robert Lewandowski is struggling to find the net and hasn’t scored in his four previous World Cup matches on 11 shots and a failed penalty in a 0-0 draw against Mexico.

  • Poland attempted only six shots against Mexico and has now had six goalless draws in 35 World Cup matches.

France v Denmark (17:00)

  • France overcame a slew of injuries — including the loss of striker and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema with a thigh injury on the eve of the tournament — for an easy 4-1 defeat of Australia in its opening match.

  • A win for the defending World Cup champions against Denmark would push France through to the round of 16.

  • The victory over Australia made France the first reigning champion to win its opening World Cup match of a tournament since Brazil in 2006, but only four champions have won their opening two matches of a World Cup campaign.

  • France is trying to become the first team since Spain in 2010 to win six consecutive World Cup matches. 

  • Denmark has drawn its last three matches including against Tunisia in its opening game.

Argentina v Mexico (20:00)

  • Whichever side loses this game will be going home

  • Argentina has only failed to advance out of the group stage twice in the last 60 years, in 1962 and 2002. 

  • The odds are in Argentina’s favour: it has beaten Mexico in its last 10 meetings dating to the 2004 Copa America, and it won all three of its previous World Cup matches against Mexico at the World Cup, in 1930, 2006 and 2010.

  • Mexico has failed to score in its last three World Cup matches dating back to group play in Russia 2018, and had a 0-0 draw in its opening match against Poland in Qatar.

 

What happened at the World Cup on Friday?

  • England missed the chance to advance to the last 16 by securing just a lacklustre draw against USA.

  • Colombian captain Énner Valencia has become the top scorer at this World Cup with his third goal.

  • Hosts Qatar have crashed out without scoring a single goal, from a tournament they spent an estimated €200 billion preparing for. 

  • Iran secured a stunning 2-0 win against Wales with both goals coming in injury time after the Welsh keeper had been red-carded.

What are the key talking points so far?

Some high profile teams have been humbled: Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 1-2, while Japan beat Germany 1-2, and England were lucky to hold on with a 0-0 draw against USA.  

Records have fallen: Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo made history as the first male player to score at five World Cups. 

Drama on the pitch: German players held their hands over their mouths in a silent protest before kick-off of their first game, while Iranian players refused to sing their national anthem in the first game — but were back to singing in the second game after a well-known player who didn’t make the squad was arrested in Tehran, sending a clear signal to the players in Doha.

Drama off the pitch: European countries have lodged complaints against FIFA’s ban on team captains wearing anti-discrimination armbands at the games.

Numisteamone

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