Belgium: A mystery over De Bruyne

The Belgian candidacy looks stronger now and fairly ambitious.

After beating Brazil with a tremendous tactical move by Roberto Martínez, the Red Devils definitely flourished in Russia, their game improving match after match. The team who have been carried by Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku finally displayed the class of Kevin De Bruyne, a player deemed to find a place in Fifa’s Best three, even though he fell asleep in the first matches. At least Manchester City’s Babyface woke up against the Canarinhos and dominated the first half of the match while humiliating his City colleague, Fernandinho.

Although in the quarterfinals, the Red Devils had their problems. Belgium have a huge concentration of talent, but they struggle to find the necessary balance between attack and defence, which conceded two goals against Japan, and 26 shots to Brazil, who scored once. The Alderweireld-Kompany-Vertonghen trio, which may have the supply of Vermaelen as a line of four, is used to facing danger.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Allez Les Bleus, On The Counter-Attack

France have steadily improved as the tournament has progressed and are now starting to justify the hype surrounding their presence at Russia’s World Cup. They have kept three clean sheets from five matches and been largely untested thus far – even against powerful teams such as Argentina and Uruguay.

Didier Deschamps’ team proved to be comfortable when they let the opponents retain ball possession. When it happens, France is able to put their offensive threats – Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann – to play at their best in the situation they are more suited for: on counter attack.

Instead, when France were forced to control the game through possession, as they did against Uruguay, they faced trouble trying to provide their forwards with good chances.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Sweden 0-2 England: Jordans key to victory

In their first quarter final appearance at a FIFA World Cup since losing to Portugal on penalties in 2006 in Germany, England ensured that the dream of football coming home is alive and well after a 2-0 win against Sweden. A fantastic display once more by Jordan Pickford along with two headed goals by Harry Maguire and Dele Alli meant that the Three Lions are in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup for the first time since the 1990 edition.

A goalkeeper who is capable of playing with his feet helped Gareth Southgate’s team to build from the back, and Pickford made 20 passes (13 of which came from inside his area). Not only that, against Sweden, England kept their first clean sheet of the entire tournament thanks to his impressive saves. That and coming off the back of a first ever penalty shootout win at a World Cup can only help the team grow in confidence.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Brazil 1-2 Belgium: Luck helps those who dare

Some defeats take time to produce a fit explanation. Within the first fifteen minutes after the Brazil 1-2 Belgium match, I wrote an article in Portuguese in which chance, especially Fernandinho’s own goal in the 13th minute, was determinant to the whole outcome of the match, notwithstanding the clever moves of Belgium’s coach, Roberto Martínez. By deploying Kevin De Bruyne in a central position in his offensive line, with Lukaku and Hazard menacing Marcelo and Fágner respectively, he found a way to stop the Brazilian build-up, which is usually concentrated on the flanks.

But that opinion seemed lame to many. The tide of counter-opinions came strong and fierce to maintain that Tite was the one to blame, being tamed in a tactical knot. He was stubborn with keeping Gabriel Jesus on the field, and took too much time to make substitutions that could neutralize the danger that came from the inside. Had Tite managed it well, they say, De Bruyne’s second goal would not have happened so easily, and Brazil could have had a chance.
Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Hosts Retain Respect as Russian World Cup Fairy Tale Ends

Vassiliy from Vladivostok got up at 4:00 in the morning to watch his team lock horns with Croatia in the quarter-final of the World Cup. More than two hours of gruelling battle later as Russia were waving their goodbyes following a penalty shootout heartbreak, Vassiliy returned to bed feeling proud.

There wasn’t a single reason for him to feel disappointed or angry as the team he wholeheartedly cheered throughout the World Cup fairy tale in one of Russia’s 11 time zones reached the end of the road. Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Croatia 2-2 Russia (4-3 pens): An ode to Modric but problems still persist

Croatia are the last semi-finalist of the World Cup after Vatreni got past Russia on penalties. Croatian people waited two decades for this to happen. Vatreni finally did it, but it was really rough, dramatic and thanks to a penalty shoot-out win over the hosts at the Fisht Olympic Stadium, following a 2-2 draw after 30 minutes of extra time.

Croatia have knocked out the host nation at a World Cup for the first time in their third attempt, following unsuccessful battles against France in 1998 and Brazil in 2014.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Belgium beat off Brazilian fightback

Belgium managed to fight off a late Brazilian resistance to beat the Seleção 2-1 in the Kazan Arena.

Roberto Martinez decided to reward his super substitutes from the previous match against Japan by starting Nacer Chadli and Marouane Fellaini instead of Mertens and Carrasco, in a move that was highly praised after their excellent performances last Monday.

Brazil started the game brightly dominating possession and Belgium got lucky when Brazil nearly took the lead in the 8th minute when Thiago Silva latched onto a corner but could not get the correct contact and the ball instead hit the post from 4 yards out.

The Red Devils took the lead in the 13th minute after Fernandinho scored an own goal from a corner. The goal came against the run of play which helped the Belgian side’s morale a lot.

In the 31st minute, Romelu Lukaku drove forward from his own half brilliantly beating a number of Brazilian midfielders. Once he reached midway through the Brazilian half he played the ball off to Kevin De Bruyne who let fire from outside the box giving Belgium a 2-0 lead. KDB hit the ball so sweetly that it didn’t rotate in the air as it was fired into the bottom left corner.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

The stats don’t lie! Sweden had a very good World Cup.

In interviews after their 2-0 defeat to England, Andreas Granqvist, Emil Forsberg and the other Swedish players gave a similar message. They were disappointed, feeling England had got the better of them on the day, but they were also proud of what they had achieved.

And so they should be. Granqvist, in particular, has put in amazing performances at this World Cup.

After the quarter-final match, Granqvist joined three other of our top five ranked players (all three from Brazil) on the journey home. His defence and his power driving the team forward remains something he should be proud of. He is the foundation on which Sweden were built.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Uruguay’s last breath was a sad metaphor of their own

The great question for Uruguay was how to maintain their game model without Edison Cavani. As we talked about here, Uruguay’s strength is based on their duos’ work: Godin & Gimenez at the back and Suarez & Cavani at the front. Throughout the World Cup, there was no midfield build-up play star man or ideas that pushed the team to work the ball from the middle.

Tabarez likes the long balls. It was always like that, and there’s no difference in this 2018 team. Well, Cavani had important work as forward, sometimes building deep position in the six yard box, other times opening the field creating chances and giving assistance.

Against France, Cristhian Stuani, a 31 year old forward from Girona FC, was responsible for replacing the PSG star man, and replicating all his actions on the pitch. That would be a burden for any player, but especially for an ordinary forward with no great international background.

Looking at his Twelve dashboard, Stuani scored -14 points in 58 minutes played. A really terrible performance by a player who is expected to be a great part of the scene. A lot of errors and a poor job with the ball made Stuani’s performance forgettable.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download

Uruguay 0-2 France: Mastery by the Uruguayan from Macôn

Just like in a movie script, the game between Uruguay and France was decided by the French player who feels Uruguayan. Antoine Griezmann did not even celebrate his goal, but he really was the “Man of the Match” in Nizhny Novgorod, where France assured a place in the semi-finals.

For the second goal it may be inevitable to talk about the incredible error of Fernando Muslera, but the merits of the French number 7 were mainly displayed in Varane’s goal, given the perfection with which he served his colleague via a free kick. To avoid Godin and Giménez’ aerial power, France bet on the anticipation. A poisonous approach from Deschamps’ team, who used an opponent’s weapon to put the game in their own favour.

Read More

DOWNLOAD OUR APP TO FOLLOW MATCHES LIVE

Download Download