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Player ratings as Switzerland earn crucial win

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Switzerland made the perfect start to their World Cup campaign despite a valiant effort from Cameroon.

With the other two teams in the group being Brazil and Serbia, both sides went into their opening match knowing they couldn’t really afford to lose, but that didn’t make things cagey.

There were half-chances at both ends in the opening 30 minutes with Switzerland dominating possession but Cameroon being a big threat on the counter-attack.

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The African side had two real chances to take the lead with Yann Sommer saving two efforts from inside the box from Eric Choupo-Moting and Martin Hongla.

They continued to be the more threatening side after that with only a last-ditch challenge from Silvan Widmer preventing Karl Toko Ekambi from scoring the first goal of the match after 35 minutes.

Four minutes later, Switzerland had their first real chance with Nico Elvedi heading wide from a corner after Breel Embolo went through on the goal but had the ball stolen from him byJean-Charles Castelletto.

Just before the break, Manuel Akanji too had the chance to head in a corner but his effort also went wide, ensuring the sides went in level at the break.

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They didn’t stay level for long after it though with Breel Embolo giving his country the lead after 47 minutes, turning in a cross from Xherdan Shaqiri to complete a fast and fluid attack.

Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back on France ’98 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!

Cameroon almost struck back just under 10 minutes later when Choupo-Moting broke into the Switzerland box but had his shot saved by Sommer again.

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In the 65th minute, it was Onana’s turn to save the day with the Inter keeper making an excellent save from Ruben Vargas to keep it 1-0.

Cameroon struggled to create anything after that with a second Switzerland goal looking more likely than an equaliser, but ultimately there wasn’t another goal at either end, giving the European side a crucial victory.

GK: Yann Sommer – 8/10 – Played a huge part in his side’s win, making five really good saves.

RB: Silvan Widmer – 7/10 – Was the better of Switzerland’s full-backs at both ends.

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CB: Manuel Akanji – 6/10 – Missed a big chance from a corner but performed well at his own end.

CB: Nico Elvedi – 7/10 – Was rock solid at the back, winning the majority of his duels.

LB: Ricardo Rodriguez – 6/10 – Did well defensively but would’ve wanted to do more going forward.

CDM: Remo Freuler – 6/10 – Kept things ticking over well at the heart of the midfield.

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CDM: Granit Xhaka – 5/10 – Didn’t get on the ball as much as he would have hoped.

RW: Xherdan Shaqiri – 6/10 – Struggled to make an impact for most of the match but did set up Embolo’s goal with a great cross.

CAM: Djibril Sow – 5/10 – Failed to get involved for the 70 minutes he played.

LW: Ruben Vargas – 6/10 – Was often one of his team’s most dangerous players, creating a lot with his dribbles and passes, but lacked an end product.

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ST: Breel Embolo – 7/10 – Missed a few chances but took his goal really well and was a handful for the Cameroon backline.

SUB: Fabian Frei (71′ for Sow) – N/A

SUB: Noah Okafor (71′ for Shaqiri) – N/A

SUB: Haris Seferovic (71′ for Embolo) – N/A

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SUB: Fabian Rieder (81′ for Vargas) – N/A

SUB: Eray Comert (90′ for Rodriguez) – N/A

Manager: Murat Yakin – 7/10 – Ensured his team improved in the second half to get the win they needed.

GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – Made one good save and couldn’t do anything about the goal he conceded.

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RB: Collins Fai – 6/10 – Impressed with the ball at his feet but wasn’t great at the back.

CB: Jean-Charles Castelletto – 7/10 – Made some excellent tackles and blocks

CB: Nicolas N’Koulou – 6/10 – Didn’t do too much wrong but wasn’t as solid as his partner.

LB: Nouhou Tolo – 6/10 – .Performed his attacking and defensive duties fairly well.

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CM: André-Frank Zambo Anguissa – 6/10 – Battled well in midfield but would’ve hoped to create more.

CM: Samuel Oum Gouet – 6/10 – Protected his defence but couldn’t do anything in possession.

CM: Martin Hongla – 6/10 – Had a decent effort saved and made some good passes.

RW: Bryan Mbeumo – 6/10 – Was one of Cameroon’s more dangerous players on the right wing, with the decision to sub him a questionable one.

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CF: Eric Choupo-Moting – 5/10 – Caused some problems for Switzerland but missed a few good chances.

LW: Karl Toko Ekambi – 4/10 – Missed a big chance and didn’t do too much else.

SUB: Gael Ondoua (68′ for Hongla) – N/A

SUB: Vincent Aboubakar (74′ for Choupo-Moting) – N/A

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SUB: Georges-Kevin N’Koudou (74′ for Toko Ekambi) – N/A

SUB: Nicolas Moumie Ngamaleu (81′ for Mbeumo) – N/A

Manager: Rigobert Song – 6/10 – Set up his side to threaten on the counter-attack which worked well in the first half, but couldn’t find a way to break Switzerland down after going behind.

Player of the match – Yann Sommer (Switzerland)



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Football

Player ratings La Albiceleste make it through to knockout stages

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Goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez ensured Argentina’s place at the top of Group C and their place in the round of the 16 of the FIFA World Cup. Poland also squeezed through despite losing thanks to Mexico only managing to beat Saudi Arabia 2-1.

Argentina started the game brightly, getting Lionel Messi on the ball frequently in and around the penalty area – which is always the game plan for La Albiceleste. The PSG star would have the first notable shot on goal in the 10th minute, bursting into the left hand side of the penalty area before stinging Wojciech Szczęsny’s palms with a fierce strike on goal.

La Albiceleste were able to sustain that pressure with relative ease thereafter as Poland were more than happy to sit in and defend a point that would see them through to the last 16.

Marcos Acuna was next to come close for Argentina around the half-hour mark, drilling a shot just wide of the foot of the right post.

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Julian Alvarez would then force Szczęsny into a great save five minutes later, with the Juventus number one deflecting Alvarez’s effort on goal from the left side of the penalty area out wide.

Moments later we witnessed the worst refereeing decision of the tournament thus far. Argentina were awarded an egregious penalty following a lengthy VAR check after Szczęsny was adjudged to have touched (?) Messi’s face while both were up challenging for a cross into the box.

The resulting spot kick was then brilliant saved by the Poland goalkeeper, who dove to his left to tip Messi’s effort wide. Justice well and truly served.

Immediately after the second half whistle, Argentina finally got their goal. Brighton star Alexis Mac Allister would be the man to get it, latching onto a low cross from right-back Nahuel Molina to drill past Szczęsny and into the bottom right corner of the net.

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That goal would finally wake Poland up as an attacking entity and, in the 49th minute, they almost grabbed an equaliser through Kamil Glik. The veteran defender rose highest to head a set piece from the right flank just wide.

After a few tactical tweaks, Lionel Scaloni’s men firmly regained control of the game. In the 67th minute they deservedly doubled their lead through Julian Alvarez. The young forward held off two Polish defenders before firing high into the net.

It was so nearly three in the 72nd minute when Messi played a wonderful through ball into the path of Alvarez again. The forward, however, could only find the side-netting with his subsequent strike on goal.

In the 85th minute, Lautaro Martinez came off the bench to nearly knock Poland out of the competition. After latching onto a loose back pass, the Inter man stormed into the penalty area but shanked his shot on goal wide of the post.

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Jakub Kiwior then saved Poland from an early exit with a stunning clearance off the line in the 93rd minute. The towering defender got back well to head clear a dinked Nicolas Tagliafico finish to keep his nation in the tournament.

GK – Wojciech Szczęsny – 8/10 – Saved his second penalty of the group stages and looked generally unbeatable in the first half. He was finally beaten in the second, but by God what a performance regardless.

RB – Matty Cash – 3/10 – Didn’t get forward as Poland would’ve liked.

CB – Kamil Glik – 4/10 – The sort of game that suits him at this point in his career and yet he still wasn’t particularly good.

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CB – Jakub Kiwior – 7/10 – Got caught out with Molina’s cut-back cross which led to the opener. Made amends with a fantastic clearance off the line in added time.

LB – Bartosz Bereszynski – 3/10 – Struggled to defend his side.

CM – Piotr Zielinski – 3/10 – Needed to be better on the ball than he was in this one.

CM – Krystian Bielik – 4/10 – Defended quite well but generally looked hopless in possession.

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CM – Gregorz Krychowiak – 2/10 – Got stuck in when he could get near the ball…which wasn’t often because he can’t run anymore.

AM – Przemyslaw Frankowski – 1/10 – He did literally nothing and was subbed off at half-time.

ST – Robert Lewandowski – 2/10 – So, so isolated.

ST – Karol Swiderski – N/A – Did he play? He didn’t, did he? Surely not.

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SUB – Michal Skoras – 4/10.

SUB – Jakub Kaminski – 3/10.

SUB – Damian Szymanski – N/A.

SUB – Artur Jedrzejczyk – N/A.

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SUB – Krzysztof Piatek – N/A.

GK – Emi Martinez – 5/10 – He had zero to do.

RB – Nahuel Molina – 7/10 – His brilliant low cross from the right flank led to the opening goal.

CB – Cristian Romero – 5/10 – Dealt with the little threat Lewa posed well.

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CB – Nicolas Otamendi – 5/10 – An easy night at the office for Otamendi.

LB – Marcos Acuna – 6/10 – Drilled a shot just wide in the first half and got forward well.

CM – Alexis Mac Allister – 8/10 – Scored his first ever international goal at the best possible time.

CM – Enzo Fernandez – 7/10 – Another impressive performance from the young man.

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CM – Rodrigo De Paul – 4/10 – Sloppy on the ball again. Surely he shouldn’t start for this team.

RW – Angel Di Maria – 5/10 – Saw a lot of the ball but didn’t do a whole lot with it.

CF – Lionel Messi – 4/10 – Missed a penalty. He’s not very good at penalties.

LW – Julian Alvarez – 5/10 – Scored a great goal in the second half. Well deserved start for the Man City striker.

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SUB – Leandro Paredes – 6/10 – Did a decent job in midfield when he came on.

SUB – Nicolas Tagliafico – N/A.

SUB – Lautaro Martinez – 5/10 – Missed a decent chance in the 85th minute.

SUB – German Pezzella – N/A.

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SUB – Thiago Almada – N/A.

Man of the Match: Alexis Mac Allister

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Ben White leaves England World Cup squad due to ‘personal reasons’

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Arsenal star Ben White has left England’s World Cup training camp and isn’t expected to return for the remainder of the tournament.

The defender didn’t make an appearance in any of the Three Lions group stage games, and has now left the squad due to ‘personal reasons’.

In a statement released by England, the Three Lions confirmed the news: “Ben White has left England’s training base in Al Wakrah and returned home for personal reasons.

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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!

“The Arsenal defender is not expected to return to the squad for the remainder of the tournament. We ask that the player’s privacy is respected at this moment in time.”

White has enjoyed a fantastic domestic season with Arsenal, becoming the club’s first choice right-back – and one of the best right-backs in the Premier League – as the Gunners have gone from top four challengers to table-toppers.

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Poland vs Argentina: Confirmed lineups

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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.

Line-up

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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