Pedri and Gavi evoke memories of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta in Spain rout – World Cup hits and misses

Pedri, Gavi evoke Xavi, Iniesta memories

“Our only goal is to control the game continuously,” stated Luis Enrique when it was throughout. Spain did that, thrashing Costa Rica 7-0, thanks in half to the affect of their two teen sensations.

Pedri and Gavi have been merely excellent in Spain’s opener, pulling their stricken opponents aside seemingly at will. Helped by the presence of their Barcelona group-mate Sergio Busquets, they accomplished 152 of 162 passes between them.

That’s not all they did both.

  • Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats
  • World Cup outcomes | Fixtures | Group tables

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Pedri created a succession of scoring probabilities earlier than his withdrawal, whereas Gavi, Spain’s youngest participant to function in a World Cup at 18 years and 110 days, grew to become the youngest scorer in the competitors since Pele in 1958, his gorgeous strike for the fifth purpose capping a fairly sensible particular person efficiency.

As Spain search to recapture their former glories, it’s not possible to observe Pedri and Gavi and not be reminded of Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, Barcelona group-mates of a earlier technology, who, along with Busquets, helped flip La Roja into World Cup and European Championship winners a decade in the past.

There is an extended method to go if they’re to match these feats, of course. The actual checks are nonetheless to come back for Enrique’s aspect at this event. But what Pedri and Gavi are doing is already extraordinary. At Gavi’s age, neither Xavi nor Iniesta had made a senior look for Barcelona, not to mention Spain.

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  • 2022 World Cup: Teams, schedule, venues

  • World Cup fixtures

  • World Cup tables

The future may hardly be brighter.
Nick Wright

Belgium are usually not a group to be feared

Roberto Martinez placed on a courageous face. Having dodged a gap-evening shock by the hands of Canada he had each proper to concentrate on the positives, however scratch beneath the floor of the end result and alarm bells will nearly actually be ringing.

This World Cup was billed because the final likelihood for Belgium’s golden technology to do it on the large stage, however their underwhelming, disjointed debut in Qatar raised the suggestion that likelihood might have already handed.

It could seem untimely to achieve such a conclusion one recreation right into a event for a nation who’ve the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois in their ranks, however issues over Belgium’s credentials are myriad.

  • Belgium 1-0 Canada – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

Michy Batshuayi was the match-winner however the sight of the previous Chelsea and Crystal Palace striker main the road shone a light-weight on their overdependence on damage-susceptible Romelu Lukaku. At the again, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld, two defenders revered in their prime, have been continuously laid low with the Canadian assault.

Had Canada possessed a striker with the identical high quality as Alphonso Davies then Belgium would have suffered the identical destiny as Argentina and Germany. They received away with one on this event, however there was nothing to recommend the identical would occur in opposition to higher opposition.
Jack Wilkinson

Croatia and Modric present indicators of regressing

Croatia have been unable to discover a well past Morocco

Croatia are perennially gradual starters, having misplaced their opening recreation in three of their 5 World Cup appearances, with the exceptions being 1998 and 2018, once they reached the ultimate.

But in opposition to Morocco on Wednesday, it felt as if their emphasis was positioned on enjoying to not lose.

  • Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats
  • World Cup outcomes | Fixtures | Group tables
  • Full schedule for Qatar 2022 | Team guides

Zlatko Dalic’s aspect are twelfth in the FIFA rankings, 10 locations above Morocco, however they cancelled one another out in this opening Group F contest. The Atlas Lions have solely misplaced twice because the starting of 2021 – as soon as on penalties to Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations – and it’s clear to see why they’re so onerous to beat on this proof.

Croatia's Luka Modric was the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner

Croatia’s World Cup qualification was clean and they topped their Nations League group forward of France, however having failed to attain previous Morocco, the bookmakers will really feel vindicated in having them as outsiders in Qatar.

Luka Modric, the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner, stated earlier than kick-off it was necessary to respect Morocco, describing their gamers as phenomenal and extremely motivated – but he struggled to impose himself in a Croatia aspect that seems to be regressing.

Their finest moments predictably hinged on Modric, who was given the liberty of the park, floating effortlessly from again to entrance, with soccer’s conventional midfield roles seeming to not apply to Croatia’s captain. He dropped deeper and deeper to get onto the ball however Croatia lacked spark.

At 37, Modric stays a maestro in the Real Madrid midfield. He pledged he would bow out of the sport if Croatia win the World Cup, however there was little indication from this stalemate to recommend that eventuality is probably going.
Ben Grounds

How Japan’s victory was cultivated in Germany’s yard

Japan's Ritsu Doan (proper) performs his membership soccer in Germany, as do a quantity of his group-mates

It might be stated that Germany – or the home leagues no less than – had a hand in their very own shock 2-1 World Cup defeat to Japan.

Ritsu Doan, who performs for Freiburg, pounced on a rebound to equalise earlier than Bochum’s Takuma Asano sprinted clear of Nico Schlotterbeck and beat Manuel Neuer from a slim angle.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu had 5 Germany-based gamers in his beginning line-up and three, together with the scorers, on the bench. He credited the Bundesliga and Bundesliga II for serving to enhance his footballers.

  • Germany 1-2 Japan – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

“I believe it’s a historic moment, a historic victory. If I think about the development of Japanese soccer, thinking of players, for them this was a big surprise,” he stated.

“They’re fighting in a very strong, tough, prestigious league. They’ve been building up their strength. In that context we believe that those divisions have been contributing to the development of Japanese players. I’m very grateful for that.”

While information of the best way to play with and in opposition to sure gamers works each methods, Japan actually used no matter inside data they could have needed to devastating impact. They had by no means overwhelmed Germany earlier than this assembly.

The stats level to Germany’s dominance – 70 per cent possession, 25 pictures in comparison with Japan’s seven, nearly 4 instances as many passes as their opponents. However, the 4-time event winners have been unable to capitalise and have been punished by a Japan aspect cultivated in their very own yard.

They constantly posed a risk on the counter-assault with their tempo and ambition. While his foul for the penalty was clumsy, Japan’s ‘keeper Shuichi Gonda was key to their victory. His high quality and want epitomised this Japanese victory.

The victory is additional proof that the non-European and South American sides need to be in the World Cup simply as a lot because the groups being painted as favourites. ‘Flat’ appears to be the phrase of the week in Qatar to explain the efficiency of some of the groups anticipated to go far.

Japan beating the nation that helped them develop their soccer construction is proof the apprentices are right here, however the masters have to get up.
Charlotte Marsh and Adam Williams

Musiala – A celebrity is born

A star is born: Jamal Musiala

Jamal Musiala is not going to bear in mind his first World Cup match with a lot fondness – however when his profession ends this may simply be a mere blip on a showreel of greatness. From what we witnessed for giant elements of Germany’s opening encounter, Musiala will likely be lighting up many main tournaments in the subsequent decade.

  • World Cup outcomes | Fixtures | Group tables
  • Full schedule for Qatar 2022
  • Download the Sky Sports App

The 19-yr-outdated has flourished for Bayern Munich, scoring 9 targets and delivering six assists this season, and regarded a participant in tip-high form enjoying off the left of Germany’s entrance three. His contact is like silk and he has that uncommon capacity of gliding with the ball which makes him so onerous to defend in opposition to – as seen when dancing previous 4 Japan defenders halfway by the second half which opened up an excellent alternative. The end was not fairly there – to rob the world of a basic World Cup second – however every thing else was.

Negative headlines will encompass Germany – however a celebrity has been born.
Lewis Jones

Morocco stubbornness may trigger an upset

Achraf Hakimi will get away from Modric as Morocco held Croatia to a draw

Morocco pissed off Croatia and their excessive-depth urgent may very well be a thorn in the aspect of extra groups.

Croatia had lots of the ball (63 per cent), however they weren’t allowed to do something with it because the Atlas Lions harassed, giving no time to their opponents.

  • Morocco 0-0 Croatia – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats

A look on the stats supplies all of the proof required. Selim Amallah utilized defensive stress 80 instances and Youssef En Nesyri made 70 sprints, so it was no shock Croatia didn’t have time to breathe and Modric couldn’t weave his magic.

Morocco will take a draw. On paper, you’ll think about Belgium and Croatia transfer on from the group, leaving Canada and the African aspect behind. However, this end result signifies Group F will likely be tight.

Morocco have solely misplaced twice because the begin of 2021, conceding 10 targets in 14 video games. As Gareth Southgate proved in Euro 2020, groups which might be onerous to interrupt down can go far in knockout soccer.

Could Morocco be bidding for the trophy? Probably not – though, the way in which issues are going, something is feasible. But if they’ll play like they did on Wednesday in opposition to Croatia, they may head into the Canada recreation with an opportunity of leaving the group to face Spain or Germany in the spherical of 16.
Adam Williams

Costa Rica produce worst efficiency up to now

Costa Rica have been humiliated by Spain on Wednesday

“A passive and woeful attempt at trying to play football.”

Those have been the phrases of Sky Sports’ Graeme Souness on ITV as Spain thumped Costa Rica 7-0 in Doha to report their greatest World Cup victory.

The 2010 winners have been sensible, however they have been helped by a particularly poor Costa Rica aspect. The Central Americans managed simply 18 per cent possession and did not create a single try. It is simply the second time a group has not had a shot on purpose in a World Cup match since 1966, after Costa Rica themselves in opposition to Brazil in 1990. Wednesday’s hammering by Spain was additionally their greatest World Cup defeat.

  • Spain 7-0 Costa Rica – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats
  • World Cup outcomes | Fixtures | Group tables

“I did not think Costa Rica could get any worse, but they actually surpassed how bad they were in the first half. They were all over the place,” stated Sky Sports’ Gary Neville.

Costa Rica have made large strides in worldwide soccer in the previous decade, reaching the quarter-finals – their finest end – in 2014 and qualifying for Qatar to make it three consecutive appearances at World Cup finals.

But in their first aggressive encounter with Spain, they have been a shadow of the aspect that upset the percentages eight years in the past by ending as group winners forward of Uruguay, Italy and England.

“Spain’s players will never have played in such an easy international as they have tonight,” Souness added.

Japan, who shocked Germany in Group E’s opening fixture, are Costa Rica’s subsequent opponents on Sunday. On this proof, Los Ticos are absolutely heading for an early exit.
Dan Sansom

Canada full of power however missing leading edge

Alphonso Davies holds his head in his arms after seeing his first-half penalty saved for Canada in opposition to Belgium

It was a case of what may need been for Canada. They largely outplayed Belgium all through and brought about all types of issues to their creaking defence with their power and verve, however simply couldn’t discover the breakthrough.

Had Davies transformed an early penalty, it could have been a really completely different recreation, however his tame effort was saved by Courtois and from there they only lacked the essential leading edge that was proven by Batshuayi on the different finish.

  • Belgium 1-0 Canada – Match report
  • How the groups lined up | Match stats
  • World Cup outcomes | Fixtures | Group tables

They had 22 pictures in complete – 5 greater than Spain mustered in their 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica earlier in the day – however simply three of these ended up on the right track. They additionally beat Belgium in phrases of Expected Goals (xG) by 2.61 to 0.76.

It was an actual likelihood for a younger aspect to put down an actual marker on the largest platform of all, however in the tip it was a possibility missed. They should discover a method to purpose in opposition to Croatia and Morocco if they’re to have any likelihood of reaching the final 16, however there may be lots of potential there.
Simeon Gholam

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