World Cup 2018, Day 10 Review: Kroos Control

After we saw a five goal game to open the tournament, and a six goal classic the following day, the goals had dried up a little at the 2018 World Cup. Belgium and Tunisia sorted that out though, by scoring seven between them in the first match on day 10.

Eden Hazard was our man of the match in Belgium’s 3-0 win over Panama, and he repeated the trick here. What made it more remarkable was that he only played 67 minutes, yet logged the third best match performance at this World Cup.

You get an indication from the chart here of how he and his colleagues had Tunisia penned back during his time in the match. Yet his replacement, Michy Batshuayi, did even better on a points-per-minute basis. Read More

World Cup 2018, Day 9 Review: Granit Xhakattack

For the first time in this World Cup, we have an expert view on all three of a day’s matches, with Brazil (here), Nigeria and Serbia (here) covered at length. So we’ll take a brief look at the other three sides from day nine here.

Costa Rica nearly, nearly kept Brazil at bay for the duration of their match, but the Seleção finally broke through in stoppage time, and added a second goal for good measure shortly afterwards. That the Ticos got so close was thanks in no small part to their goalkeeper, Keylor Navas.

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World Cup 2018, Day 8 Review: Rampant Rakitic

As the days and games tick by, we continue to see teams sent home from the tournament. Thursday’s casualties were Peru, who followed their defeat to Denmark on Saturday with a 1-0 loss to France.

It was perhaps a little surprising they bit the dust so early. Many people had thought they could be dark horses at the tournament and do reasonably well, but for most that was probably based entirely on this clip rather than anything more concrete.

That goal was against Croatia too, but more on them shortly. Kylian Mbappe scored the goal which put Peru out, and he was the game’s top performer in our view. But to my mind it was Paul Pogba who deserves the accolades, as he had a key creative role in France’s two top quality chances.

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World Cup 2018, Day 7 Review: Narrow wins all round

Morocco are out of the World Cup, but they’ve impressed a lot of people along the way. They lost 1-0 to Portugal in the first match today but it wasn’t for a lack of trying; they had 15 shots, with 11 from within the Portuguese penalty area.

But oh how they need a good striker. Hakim Ziyech amassed their most shot points, but even he only got 172. Divide that by his four attempts, and on average they each only had around a four percent chance of being scored. However, the Ajax man had a decent game overall, playing several excellent passes and making a whopping seven ball recoveries in Portugal’s half of the field. Ziyech definitely looks destined for bigger and better things.

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World Cup 2018, Day 6 Review: Lack of Lewandowski costs Poland

We’ve now seen every team appear at least once at the 2018 World Cup, and it could be argued that England have been the best so far. Weird eh?

Anyway, the last teams to join the party in Russia make up Group H. There’s an article on Colombia’s performance here, so we’ll just take a quick look at Japan.

It’s never easy to play with 10 men, let alone for 87 minutes, yet Colombia were perhaps the better side in the opening 45 minutes. The fact that Eiji Kawashima, the Japanese goalkeeper, was the top defensive performer in the first half is evidence enough of that.

Football makes fools of us all, but no sooner had the BBC commentators berated the performance of Yuya Osako then he became the game’s key player. He scored the winner, but also made a vital defensive block too. Osako also created a couple of chances, and was a worthy man of the match.


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Tunisia 1-2 England: Kane the hero, but Henderson the heartbeat

England are up and running at the 2018 World Cup, but only just. Well, not exactly. Yes they left it incredibly late to score the winner, but they had already had the best collection of chances any team has mustered in Russia this week.

Harry Kane was the hero as he scored both goals, but that aside he did very little. That’s the life of an elite goalscorer I suppose, but without the points from his brace he’d be lurking in mid-table on our rankings chart for the match.


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World Cup 2018, Day 5 Review: Hazard shines in sluggish Belgium display

Our review today will be brief, as we’ll have full length articles on both Sweden and England elsewhere on the site. As the whole of the core Twelve team supports one of those nations, you can rest assured they will be well covered here.

Sweden got the day underway with a 1-0 win over Korea Republic. Our main review of the match is here and it focusses on the victors, so we’ll take a quick look at the Asian side. They were fairly disappointing, and it’s never a great sign when your goalkeeper is one of your top performers. Cho Hyun-Woo made multiple key defensive actions, and none more so than a saving Marcus Berg’s clear-cut chance.

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World Cup 2018, Day 4 Review: Mexico stunned the holders

Day three (which we reviewed here) was notable for the fact five penalties were awarded. There were only four goals in total on Sunday, but there was still plenty of quality on display and a very notable result.

There’s only one place to start, and that’s with Mexico’s 1-0 win over Germany. Juan Carlos Osorio’s team fully deserved their victory, but the top performer on our system was Toni Kroos.

While the Real Madrid man made some impressive attacking passes, his defensive work was arguably more notable. He made 10 ball recoveries, which would be a lot anyway, but when your side has 67 percent of the possession, it’s colossal.

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World Cup 2018, Day 3 Review: Penalties Galore!

After day two featured plenty of late goals (and you can read more about that here), the theme of day three was penalties. All four matches featured at least one, and there were two in the opening game between France and Australia.

VAR played a part in some of the decisions, and five penalties across four games is absurdly high; for context, there were six penalties in the last six weeks of the 2017/18 Premier League season, or 0.1 per game.

However, despite Griezmann and Jedinak both slotting home their penalties, it was Paul Pogba who Twelve rated as the best player in the opening match on Saturday.

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World Cup 2018, Day 2 Review: The Cristiano Ronaldo Show

The 2018 World Cup began with Russia’s 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia (which we reviewed here), but Friday was when the action really got going with three matches, and a clash of two of the big guns.

The day began with a battle of Liverpool heroes present and past, as Mohamed Salah’s Egypt took on Luis Suárez’ Uruguay. Or at least it would have, had Salah been fit enough to take part. As it was, he spent the entire game on the bench.

After a fairly even start, it was Suárez who had the first clear-cut chance of the match. It came from a corner, which wouldn’t have surprised anyone who saw Uruguay in qualifying.

But Suárez put the chance wide of the post, and he also missed the first big opportunity of the second half too. The Barcelona forward was only the eighth best player in the match overall.
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