AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Regardless of a spirited effort from Canada of their first World Cup look since 1986, Belgium received the opener of Group F on Wednesday, 1-0, thanks to 3 huge saves from Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and a minimum of one missed penalty name that ought to’ve gone in Canada’s favour.
Canada had an early alternative to take the lead after being awarded a penalty kick within 10 minutes, however Alphonso Davies‘ effort was blocked by Courtois. Canada has nonetheless by no means scored a World Cup purpose. Simply earlier than the top of the primary half, Belgium’s Michy Batshuayi scored off an extended ball.
Right here is ESPN’s Julien Laurens with response and evaluation from Qatar.
1. A merciless however proud night time for Canada
Soccer may be merciless generally — and the Canadians, of their first World Cup match since 1986, definitely skilled that towards Belgium.
In contrast to different groups on this match, they confirmed no nerves from the opening whistle. They performed attacking soccer with motion, depth and keenness, pushed by the noise and the assist of the ten,000 Canadians contained in the Hamad Bin Ali Stadium. The sport plan of their supervisor John Herdman was spot on: No time on the ball for Kevin De Bruyne or Eden Hazard, urgent excessive and utilising the width of the pitch properly.
Stephen Eustaquio (what a participant) and the veteran Atiba Hutchinson — 39 years previous, the oldest participant on this World Cup and solely member of the squad alive For Canada‘s final World Cup look in 1986 — bossed the midfield. They created probabilities and led Canada to a 2.35 anticipated objectives, or xG, towards simply 0.58 xG for his or her opponent.
Canada had been the higher crew for many of the recreation, and may be happy with themselves — however they may have regrets. One defensive mistake on Toby Alderweireld‘s lengthy ball they usually conceded a purpose simply earlier than the break. As Nelson Mandela used to say: “You never lose. You win or you learn.”
This Canada crew ought to have realized a heck of quite a bit towards Belgium.
2. Courtois, king of pens and Belgium’s saviour
With out him, Actual Madrid wouldn’t have received the Champions League final season and Belgium wouldn’t have made a profitable begin on this World Cup.
Courtois got here huge once more for his nation, like so many instances up to now, saving Davies’ penalty after 11 minutes confirming that he’s the king of pens. In 2022, he has saved 5 spot kicks off the 9 he confronted — that is a powerful 55.55% ratio of saved penalties, and by far the best in Europe. Since becoming a member of Actual Madrid in 2018, he has confronted 22 penalties and saved six — however 4 of these six have occurred in 2022.
Courtois made one other save a bit in a while within the match on an Alistair Johnston shot from a decent angle, and a cushty one within the second half on a Cyle Larin header that was certainly one of Canada’s finest possibilities of the night time.
In what was a really poor efficiency by Belgium, Courtois was the one mild, actually. The remaining was so poor — the third crew of the final World Cup was not a menace going ahead, struggled defensively and conceded probabilities and harmful conditions.
It was very unconvincing and laboured from Belgium — however when you could have the present finest goalkeeper on the earth, it makes your life a lot simpler.
3. An off night time for Hazard and De Bruyne
We wished to see Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne take the sphere for various causes.
For De Bruyne, the duty was to be the conductor of this Belgian facet, to take management of the sport and be the artistic pressure. As a substitute, he bought just about the whole lot incorrect. He forgot a free Youri Tielemans twice within the first half. Simply after the hour mark, he wasted a fantastic counter assault with a poor ball for Batshuayi and later blasted his shot in a superb place over the bar.
It was a efficiency very not like the KDB we have come to know at Manchester Metropolis, maybe largely as a result of the supporting forged round him isn’t of the identical stage than the one he has at his membership however nonetheless: we count on extra from him. It’s his function to hold this crew.
For Hazard, the goal was to point out that, even in need of match health, he might nonetheless have an effect on a recreation like this one. Alas, regardless of a few good touches and turns, the show from the captain was not adequate.
He got here off after 60 minutes with no probabilities created, solely 76% of correct passes and solely two profitable dribbles. He was fouled 4 instances although, which confirmed that there’s nonetheless some life in him however it isn’t sufficient proper now.
Supervisor Roberto Martinez has been very loyal with the 31-year-old who not often performs at Actual Madrid, preserving him within the crew in any respect price. It’s unlikely he’ll drop him for the Morocco recreation on Sunday however Hazard, like De Bruyne, will likely be below strain to do higher than towards Canada.
Belgium: Courtois 8, Dendoncker 5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 4 ,Castagne 5, Tielemans 3, Witsel 4, Carrasco 4, De Bruyne 4, Hazard 4, Batshuayi 6
Subs: Onana 5, Openda 4, Meunier 4, Trossard 4
Canada: Borjan 5, Johnston 6, Vitoria 5, Miller 6, Hoilett 6, Larin 5, Hutchinson 7, Eustaquio 7, Laryea 6, , Buchanan 6, Millar 5, Davies 6, David 5
Subs: Osorio 5, Kone 5, Adekugbe 5
Greatest and worst performers
BEST: Stephen Eustaquio, Canada
The Porto midfielder bossed this recreation till his substitute after 81 minutes. The 25-year-old Eustaquio was in every single place, recovering the ball 9 instances and creating two probabilities for his crew whereas enjoying with depth, intelligence and aptitude. This has been his breakthrough season in Portugal and towards Belgium he confirmed once more how gifted he’s.
WORST: Youri Tielemans, Belgium
It was a troublesome night time for the Leicester midfielder, a lot that his supervisor determined to take him off at half time to deliver on Amadou Onana. Tielemans merely had no influence on the sport, discovering himself positioned too excessive, solely making 13 passes in 45 minutes, hardly any ahead. It was a extremely disappointing efficiency.
Highlights and notable moments
Canada got here out from the primary whistle with depth and tempo, they usually put the strain on Belgium instantly. It appeared Canada would come out in entrance quickly when a hand ball was known as within the tenth minute.
Alphonso Davies, the Bayern Munich full-back and main man for Canada, stepped as much as the spot, however Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois continued his current run of fine kind on saving penalties, and he denied Davies.
Pero ¿qué te pasó @AlphonsoDavies?
— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) November 23, 2022
Canada had been dominating the primary half and had been the much more harmful facet, even past their missed penalty likelihood. By means of the forty third minute, Canada’s anticipated objectives (xG) was 1.81 whereas Belgium’s was solely 0.15.
However soccer or soccer — no matter you need to name it — is a humorous recreation: a crew may be the “worse” facet however nonetheless be the facet profitable. With an extended lofted ball excessive within the forty fourth minute, Michy Batshuayi put Belgium forward 1-0 towards the run of play.
BATSHUAYI PUTS BELGIUM OUT IN FRONT pic.twitter.com/s6ED21MAYH
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 23, 2022
After the match: What the gamers and managers mentioned
Canada coach John Herdman on the consequence: “Proud of the performance, but you need to take three points from your first game. We had the opportunity tonight to be top of the group — that was the mission — and we missed it. But I’m proud of the performance. As I’ve said, these lads put a shift in and showed they can live on this stage. I think they made the fans proud and it made them feel like they belong here, and that was important for us.”
Herdman on what he instructed his gamers after the match: “I just showed them the stats. I showed them they belong here. I told them they belong here, and we’re gonna go and ‘F’ Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets. That’s our next mission now.” (Editor’s be aware: Canada is in Group F for the World Cup.)
Key stats (offered by ESPN Stats & Info)
Belgium’s beginning 11 towards Canada had a median age of 30 years and 181 days. That’s the oldest starting11 in a 2022 World Cup recreation but, and the oldest for Belgium since June 20, 1998 towards Mexico.
Canada is the primary crew to aim a minimum of 14 pictures within the first half however not rating a purpose and path at halftime in a World Cup match since 1986.
Canada is the primary World Cup crew to aim 14 pictures and take a penalty kick with out scoring a purpose in a primary half since 1978.
Belgium: Group F resumes on Sunday, Nov. 27, the place Belgium will face Morocco at 8 a.m. ET. Then, Belgium faces Croatia on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. ET.
Canada: Group F resumes on Sunday, Nov. 27, the place Canada will face Croatia at 11 a.m. ET. Then, Canada faces Morocco on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. ET.