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Player ratings as Batshuayi goal sees off brave CanMNT



Belgium weathered an incredible Canadian storm to win their opening game of the 2022 World Cup 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Playing their first World Cup game in 36 years, the CanMNT pushed and pressed their illustrious opponents right from the first whistle and after som, early pressure, earned a penalty for handball in the eighth minute.

Alphonso Davies stepped up to try and score Canada’s first-ever World Cup goal, but could only divert a weak effort straight at Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.


Canada didn’t let their heads go down, though, and continued to pile pressure on Belgium, forcing mistakes and creating multiple chances for the likes of Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan.

However, Canada’s wasteful finishing came back to haunt them right on half-time when Michy Batshuayi got between a couple of defenders to meet an excellent Toby Alderweireld pass, before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Milan Borjan.

Canada ran out of steam somewhat after the break only offering brief moments of quality, with some half-time changes from Roberto Martinez helping steady the ship and see the Red Devils over the line.

Nevertheless, Canada have proved they’re here to be taken seriously at just their second World Cup, while also highlighting a number of weaknesses in the Belgian ranks.

Michy Batshuayi, Timothy Castagne

Batshuayi made the difference for Belgium. / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/GettyImages

GK: Thibaut Courtois – 9/10 – Was the reason Belgium escaped alive from this match, saving Davies’ penalty and coming up with a couple more huge interventions.

CB: Leander Dendoncker – 6/10 – Safe enough on the ball, struggled to cope with the Canadian counter-attacks.

CB: Toby Alderweireld – 7/10 – Had a few tough moments when Davies and David started running at him, but was excellent on the ball, especially with his assist for the goal.

CB: Jan Vertonghen – 5/10 – Wasteful with the ball and couldn’t keep up with the opposition.


RWB: Timothy Castagne – 4/10 – Looked mismatched trying to defend Alphonso Davies.

CM: Axel Witsel – 6/10 – Tidy with the ball but didn’t use it to any great effect.

CM: Youri Tielemans – 4/10 – The game largely passed him by. Tielemans was repeatedly a target of the Canadian press.

LWB: Yannick Carrasco – 5/10 – Was overworked on the left, with Canada repeatedly targeting his flank. Did the best he could before being brought off at half-time. Gave away the penalty.


CAM: Kevin De Bruyne – 3/10 – One of the worst performances you’re likely to ever see from De Bruyne. Woeful decision-making. Needs to improve quickly to give Belgium a chance at this World Cup.

CAM: Eden Hazard – 5/10 – Tried his best to take the game to Canada but couldn’t deal with their athleticism.

ST: Michy Batshuayi – 8/10 – Under a lot of pressure to perform in place of the injured Lukaku but always provided an outlet for Belgium. Took his goal well.

SUB: Thomas Meunier (46′ for Carrasco) – 6/10 – Helped steady things defensively.


SUB: Amadou Onana (46′ for Tielemans) – 7/10 – Made Belgium far more secure on the ball.

SUB: Leandro Trossard (62′ for Hazard) – 5/10 – Never got going.

SUB: Lois Openda (78′ for Batshuayi) – 5/10 – Didn’t adjust to the pace of the match.

Manager: Roberto Martinez – 7/10 – Got it totally wrong in the first half and was lucky to be ahead. But has to be given credit for the half-time chances, which killed Canada off.

Alphonso Davies

Davies’ miss proved costly. / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Milan Borjan – 6/10 – Could do nothing about the goal. Solid otherwise.

CB: Alistair Johnston – 7/10 – Quickly got over some early nerves to put in a blood and thunder performance.

CB: Steven Vitoria – 7/10 – Used his experience to cut out multiple Belgian advances. Very composed.

CB: Kamal Miller – 7/10 – Was in tears during Canada’s national anthem and brought that passion to the game. Almost lost himself at times, but came up with some vital challenges.


RWB: Richie Laryea – 8/10 – Was a menace down the right all game for Canada. Belgium couldn’t cope. Created four chances.

CM: Atiba Hutchinson – 7/10 – An incredible moment for the 39-year-old, making his World Cup debut with his 99th cap. Rose to the occasion with some ice-cold play on the ball.

CM: Stephen Eustaquio – 8/10 – A beautifully balanced performance from the Porto man, who was creative, destructive and composed in equal measure.

LWB: Alphonso Davies – 7/10 – Marked down for his awful penalty. Didn’t let that knock his confidence, though, with Davies constantly turning the Belgian defence inside-out. World-class talent.


RW: Tajon Buchanan – 7/10 – A really bright performance from the former New England Revolution man. Used his pace and skill to full effect and created a number of chances. Missed a couple of good ones himself, though.

ST: Jonathan David – 6/10 – A player of his quality should have come away from this game with at least one goal, if not more. Can’t be marked down too much, though, considering how much he worked the Belgium defenders.

LW: Junior Hoilett – 7/10 – Didn’t see a great deal of the ball but made it count by creating two chances from just four accurate passes. Worked hard when Belgium had it.

SUB: Cyle Larin (58′ for Hoilett) – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance with a free header.


SUB: Ismael Kone (58′ for Hutchinson) – 6/10 – Showed an impressive amount of composure considering his age. Easy to see why he’s attracting European interest.

SUB: Sam Adekugbe (74′ for Laryea) – 7/10 – Picked up where Laryea left off.

SUB: Liam Millar (81′ for Buchanan) – 5/10 – Tried to make things happen but never found his range.

SUB: Jonathan Osorio (81′ for Eustaquio) – 6/10 – Did fine but wasn’t given enough time to make a real difference.


Manager: John Herdman – 8/10 – Preyed on Belgium’s weaknesses with a well-organised and perfectly executed press. Deserved way more from this match but just ran out of ideas in the second half.

Player of the match – Stephen Eustaquio (Canada)

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Poland vs Argentina: Confirmed lineups



Poland vs Argentina

France, who have already secured a spot in the last 16 of the World Cup 2022, play Tunisia on Wednesday in their final Group D matchup.

In the meantime, the African nation is last in the standings and must defeat the current champions to advance to the knockout stages.


Poland XI (4-4-1-1): Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Kiwior, Cash; Frankowski, Bielik, Krychowiak, Zielinski; Swiderski; Lewandowski

Argentina XI (4-3-3): Martínez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuña; De Paul, Enzo Fernández, Mac Allister; Messi, Álvarez, Di María

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Mauricio Pochettino discusses next managerial job



Ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he’d be open to taking a national team job.

Pochettino has been without a job since being sacked by PSG in the summer, despite winning his first silverware as a coach at the club – lifting the Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France.

The former PSG boss has been linked with a number of clubs since then, but speaking to Sky Sports, Poch insisted that he is also open to a move into international management, stating: “It wasn’t under my consideration to go [into international management] but now, yes I am open. Why not?

Harry Symeou hosts Jack Gallagher and Toby Cudworth to look back on Germany ’06 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!


If you can’t see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!

“Yes, of course we are still young, full of energy, and day-by-day I like the adrenaline to train, to be involved. Maybe the national team is a different job, but why not? If it’s not the next job, then maybe in the future. It’s not specific that all I want is Argentina. If another country, why not? For sure, that would be good also.”

Pochettino also took the time to discuss England’s World Cup credentials, stating that he sees them as one of the favourites to win the tournament in Qatar.

“England have the quality to be one of the teams with an opportunity to win the World Cup,” he said. “I saw a very good performance against Wales, and I believe the quality is there. It’s all about believing and performing in a way which can grant you the possibility to be there.


“But I really, really believe this year England can fight to try to lift the World Cup. [Gareth] Southgate is doing a fantastic job. He was a little bit unlucky in the final of the Euros against Italy, but he’s doing a fantastic job and deserves a lot of credit.”

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Player ratings as Eagles of Carthage knocked out of World Cup despite shock win



Tunisia stunned France with a shock 1-0 win, but their hopes of reaching the last 16 of the World Cup were ended by Australia’s own unlikely victory against Denmark elsewhere in Group D.

The Eagles of Carthage fought tooth and nail to keep their hopes of advancing alive and put in a solid display against the rotated reigning champions, but their 2022 journey has come to an end at the benefit of the Socceroos.

Tunisia thought they took an eighth-minute lead when a Wahbi Khazri free-kick was flicked on and in by Nader Ghandri, but the linesman had his flag raised for a marginal offside and the goal was chalked off.

France looked very disjointed after making so many changes, though created a decent chance on the break with Youssouf Fofana slipping through Kingsley Coman, but his first touch took him away from goal and his off-balance strike sailed wide.


Steve Mandanda was forced into a save when Aissa Laidouni’s second-time cross was nodded on by Anis Ben Slimane, before Eduardo Camavinga – filling in at left-back – had to retreat and prevent a similarly deep ball from reaching the free Nader Ghandri.

Just after the break, Laidouni robbed Fofana of possession in his own box and curled one narrowly over the top of Mandanda’s crossbar as Tunisia went closer to finding a crucial opener.

And Tunisia took a deserved lead when Fofana lost possession too easily again, and Laidouni found Khazri to weave his way past the French backline and poke a shot past the flailing Mandanda.

With the clock running down, France finally showed signs of life with substitute Kylian Mbappe forcing a save from Aymen Dahmen and Randal Kolo Muani blasting wide at the end of Les Bleus’ only real sweeping move of the afternoon.


Tunisia nearly clung on through eight minutes of stoppage time before Antoine Griezmann’s deflected volley found the back of Dahmen’s net with essentially the last kick of the game, only for it to be ruled out by a lengthy VAR check.

However, Australia’s win had already been confirmed by this point and the Eagles of Carthage’s fate was already sealed.

GK: Aymen Dahmen – 5/10 – Didn’t inspire a lot of confidence but France barely attacked so it hardly mattered.

CB: Yassine Meriah – 7/10 – Got forward down the wing to support Kechidra. Helped by the fact France played without wingers.


CB: Nader Ghandri – 7/10 – Got his head on most high balls and defended with authority.

CB: Montassar Talbi – 7/10 – Just as Meriah did down the right, Talbi was of great use down Tunisia’s left.

RM: Wajdi Kechidra – 7/10 – Gave Camavinga plenty of problems in tandem with Ben Slimane.

CM: Ellyes Skhiri – 8/10 – After a poor showing against Australia, Skhiri came roaring back with a monster midfield performance.


CM: Aissa Laidouni – 8/10 – Took control of the midfield battle and teed up Tunisia’s opener.

LM: Ali Maaloul – 6/10 – Found it hard at times to get by Disasi but worked hard for the cause.

RF: Anis Ben Slimane – 6/10 – Brought a good mix of work ethic and quality in possession.

LF: Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane – 6/10 – Similarly covered every blade of grass down his flank.


CF: Wahbi Khazri – 9/10 – Gave France all sorts of problems in his hour on the pitch, eventually scoring the opening goal.

SUB: Issam Jebali (60′ for Khazri) – 5/10

SUB: Ghaylen Chaaleli (74′ for Ben Romdhane) – 5/10

SUB: Ali Abdi (84′ for Ben Slimane) – N/A


Manager: Jalel Kadri – 7/10 – Tunisia produced an authoritative performance despite the obvious gap in quality.

GK: Steve Mandanda – 4/10 – Looked every bit of his 37 years of age, slow to react to danger and made a hash of saves.

RB: Axel Disasi – 5/10 – Played out of position on his senior debut for Les Bleus but handled himself well.

CB: Raphael Varane – 4/10 – Made captain in Hugo Lloris’ absence. Didn’t defend with much seniority.


CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – Put in a few recovery challenges but always looked awkward.

LB: Eduardo Camavinga – 3/10 – Hung out to dry in his first real outing as a left-back.

DM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 6/10 – Tried his best to hold the fort but needed more help.

CM: Jordan Veretout – 3/10 – Way out of his depth. Hid at times and just shouldn’t be starting a World Cup match.


CM: Youssouf Fofana – 3/10 – Looked bright early on but continually dribbled his way into trouble, culminating in Tunisia’s opener.

AM: Matteo Guendouzi – 3/10 – Failed to link midfield and attack. Gave the ball away loosely.

CF: Kingsley Coman – 5/10 – Progressed the ball well when coming deep to receive it but didn’t threaten Tunisia where it mattered.

CF: Randal Kolo Muani – 5/10 – Likewise helped out in deeper areas but not enough in the final third.


SUB: William Saliba (63′ for Varane) – 4/10

SUB: Adrien Rabiot (63′ for Veretout) – 4/10

SUB: Kylian Mbappe (63′ for Coman) – 3/10

SUB: Antoine Griezmann (73′ for Fofana) – 5/10


SUB: Ousmane Dembele (79′ for Guendouzi) – 4/10

Manager: Didier Deschamps – 3/10 – Sure, it was a dead rubber for France and Deschamps was right to rest his key men, but the XI he picked seriously lacked cohesion.

Player of the Match – Wahbi Khazri

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