Is there a extra irritating participant to look at than Darwin Nunez? He is received all of it. But blows so cold and warm.
To coin a basic Paul Merson phrase, Darwin Nunez is sort of a bag of Revels. Someday he is a scrumptious toffee – so succulent and silk. Someday he is a sickly espresso chocolate – getting marked out of the sport by a 39-year-old Pepe for Portugal, who turned the third-oldest outfield participant in World Cup historical past by changing the injured Danilo.
On paper the match-up regarded a possible fertile space for Uruguay to take advantage of. Nunez – an £80m striker in his prime – up towards a person who turns 40 in February taking part in with out a lot defensive cowl round him. Nevertheless, Uruguay failed to take advantage of the plain tempo of Nunez. Sure, the service into him was nor as much as normal however Nunez didn’t assist his trigger with a sketchy technical efficiency the place his – and Edinson Cavani’s – hold-up play in assault frequently meant Uruguay had no platform within the sport. It was not till Nunez and Cavani have been hooked with their workforce chasing an equaliser that Uruguay began to reveal the failings within the Portugal backline.
Uruguay now have a must-win conflict with Ghana to maintain their World Cup dream alive. Nunez could have to look at that from the bench judged on this displaying.
The controversy over Cristiano Ronaldo’s phantom contact on Bruno Fernandes’ cross for Portugal’s first objective towards Uruguay will entice loads of consideration. However the truth that it goes down as a objective relatively than help doesn’t alter Fernandes’ essential function in it.
The Manchester United midfielder went on to attain the second objective from a penalty that he had received. Add these targets to the 2 assists that he offered for his team-mates late within the win over Ghana and Fernandes may simply be the participant of the match up to now.
He’s the one man to attain twice and help twice. No one has been concerned in additional targets. It has not all the time been fluent however Fernandes is discovering moments. All this from a participant who it was stated couldn’t perform at his greatest for membership or nation when Ronaldo is round.
That eve-of-tournament interview that led to Ronaldo’s United exit offered the backdrop and the nationwide workforce was engulfed within the fall out. A video of Fernandes showing to shun Ronaldo fuelled the chatter. However each World Cup success story has its setbacks.
Portugal are via to the knockout levels with a sport to spare. They’re prone to progress as Group H winners and might anticipate to be favourites to achieve the quarter-finals. A World Cup that started with fuss over his relationship with Ronaldo may but finish in glory.
Cameroon have been hurtling in the direction of a record-equalling ninth straight defeat at a World Cup finals when Aleksandar Mitrovic accomplished a positive workforce objective for Serbia simply eight minutes into the second half on the Al Janoub Stadium.
Supervisor Rigobert Music loooked out of concepts however that was the cue for Vincent Aboubakar to come back off the bench. Cameroon modified to a 4-4-2 formation with Aboubakar, who top-scored on the Africa Cup of Nations finals earlier this 12 months, partnering Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting up entrance.
It will show a change that will flip this roller-coaster Group G fixture on its head. First he offered an ideal chip into the online for 3-2, then he beat the offside lure, raced clear and whipped over a low cross for Choupo-Moting to stage the tie and hold Cameroon alive within the competitors.
Aboubakar turned the primary substitute to each rating and help a objective in a World Cup match for an African nation.
Earlier this month, the striker who performs in Saudi Arabia for Al Nassr, claimed the one distinction between him and Mohamed Salah is the Liverpool ahead has the possibility to ‘play in an enormous membership’.
Aboubakar informed 90FootballFr: “I am not impressed by him. I can do what he does. I simply do not have the chance to play in an enormous membership. I perceive folks’s attitudes, he is among the best goalscorers within the Premier League. It is smart that once you go on a few participant like that, folks will discuss.
“However I did say that it was my opinion, my viewpoint. I do not give a toss if folks do not prefer it.”
Having been not noted by Music towards Switzerland, Aboubakar made his level on the proper stage. Cameroon’s greatest possibilities of conquering Brazil of their last sport will contain taking part in him from the beginning.
As had been the case of their opening win over Serbia, Brazil have been made to attend towards Switzerland.
For a very long time, with out talisman Neymar, they struggled for any form of fluency in assault and, once they have been in a position to set up management within the last third, they have been met with a wall of crimson shirts that restricted their esteemed opponents’ alternatives.
Throughout half-time at Stadium 974, although, head coach Tite knew he needed to introduce contemporary blood onto the pitch. New concepts have been wanted as the specter of a Swiss sucker-punch lingered and grew.
Actual Madrid’s Rodrygo got here on and, inside 20 minutes, he was concerned within the transfer that concluded with Brazil having the ball within the internet via home team-mate Vinicius Jnr, although it will quickly be chalked off for offside.
Later, on got here Manchester United’s Antony and Arsenal’s Gabriel Jesus for Raphinha and Richarlison. The energy in depth at Tite’s disposal is extraordinary – and, in the long run, he harnessed it to perfection.
Vinicius and Rodrygo intuitively linked up, combining for Casemiro to slam dwelling the winner that retains Brazil good and makes them simply the second nation, after France, to qualify for the final 16.
Sky Sports activities’ Gary Neville was impressed by the way in which Tite finally utilised his attacking gamers, too. Talking on ITV, he stated: “He did not have sufficient [of his attackers] on the pitch firstly of the sport however in the direction of the top it regarded the best kind of stability for the standard they’ve.”
“And so they’re now in an excellent place the place they’ve not solely [qualified] however all these proficient gamers, we may see them within the third sport.”
It is a horrifying thought.
Cameroon threw warning to the wind with their backs towards the wall.
Rigobert Music’s aspect regarded down and out after an intra-team fall-out, stress from above and a few targets conceded proper on the finish of the primary half. It may have gotten messy however the Cameroonians had different concepts.
It was a nervy begin for Cameroon, who hosted the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this 12 months, with components of desperation falling into their sport from the primary whistle. Serbia regarded sharp and will have ripped Cameroon aside early doorways if they’d taken their possibilities.
Sure, they scored a objective towards the run of play. However any momentum gained from confidence disintegrated in a matter of minutes. The half-time team-talk would have been important.
Cameroon proceeded to threat all of it – they’d nothing to lose. On got here one other striker in Vincent Aboubakar. The second half was a case of fireplace preventing either side pushed excessive up the pitch.
Intriguingly, as you may see within the graphic under, the sport appeared to play out on the identical aspect of the pitch – you’d be dissatisfied in the event you have been sat on the opposite aspect of the stadium.
As stress mounted on this must-win match, Music may have instructed his aspect to defend deeper, hoping to catch Serbia on the counter. As a substitute, he went for targets in a fearless strategy, for which he must be praised.
Whereas it was a tactic that led to Serbia scoring a 3rd, it additionally created alternatives for the African workforce to attain a quick-fire double – snatching a draw from a superior Serbia aspect on the day – by way of possession within the last third.
Cameroon didn’t safe three important factors and might be on their manner out of the World Cup, however the spirit they confirmed within the face of adversity reminds you why you like the attractive sport: something occurs… and it normally does.
After ending above Portugal in qualifying and arriving on the match with Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic of their ranks, it is not laborious to see why Serbia have been tipped by many to be darkish horses on the World Cup.
Nevertheless, regardless of scoring 3 times towards Cameroon on Monday, Serbia discover themselves backside of Group G with only one level after two matches because of some shambolic second-half defending.
All just isn’t misplaced for Dragan Stojkovic’s aspect however they are going to now have to beat Switzerland of their last sport on Friday to face any likelihood of reaching the final 16 for the primary time as an unbiased nation.
However their defensive document up to now in Qatar have to be a priority, with Serbia – who had solely conceded 20 targets in 21 video games below Stojkovic – now transport 5 in simply 180 minutes of soccer.
The 2 horrendously executed offside traps that allowed Vincent Aboubakar to attain Cameroon’s second objective and arrange their third have been significantly puzzling – as was the failure to introduce Dusan Vlahovic as they chased a winner.
The Juventus striker has six targets in 10 Serie A video games this season and has been probably the most productive forwards in Italy in recent times, however has been handed simply 24 minutes of soccer in Qatar, all of which got here towards Brazil.
The pairing of Mitrovic and Vlahovic – with a mixed 60 targets in 88 worldwide video games – was deployed a number of instances in qualifying however Stojkovic has appeared reluctant to take action in Qatar.
However with victory towards Switzerland important, the time has certainly come at hand Vlahovic his first begin of the match, whereas Stojkovic will little question be drilling his back-three in coaching this week.
Heading into their Group H conflict with South Korea on Monday, Ghana knew that defeat on the Training Metropolis Stadium would see them exit the competitors after simply two video games, which meant the stress was effectively and really on Otto Addo’s aspect.
Fortunately, although, Mohammed Kudus picked the best time to make Ghanian soccer historical past after the Ajax midfielder headed his workforce right into a 2-0 half-time lead, earlier than then sealing a 3-2 win with a composed end halfway via the second interval.
Because of this, the 22-year-old turned the primary Ghana participant to attain two targets in a World Cup match, whereas he additionally turned the second youngest African participant to internet twice within the competitors.
That double means Ghana’s World Cup destiny is now in their very own fingers forward of their last conflict with Uruguay on Friday.
Heung-Min Son is likely one of the most devastating forwards in world soccer, and his look within the World Cup regardless of damaging his eye socket in the identical month has been exceptional. The problem is, he has probably not led the South Korean line as we all know he can.
Son is understood worldwide for his skill to make and rating targets for Tottenham alongside his associate in crime Harry Kane. Nevertheless, neither of them has scored on this World Cup whereas they captain their respective nations.
South Korea drew 0-0 with Uruguay within the first match and within the second they misplaced out to Ghana 3-2. Who was on the scoresheet for the Asia aspect? Not Son, however Cho Gue-sung, a striker on mortgage at a Korean second-division aspect, was the one to attain twice.
Son is the celebrity. You may hear it is him on the ball earlier than you may see the quantity because of the roar the gang makes each time he will get concerned. However the celebrity is getting upstaged.
Is it the harm? Maybe. You additionally wonder if the stress of being the participant who drags his workforce via tournaments in a Messi or Ronaldo-esque method is an excessive amount of for the 30-year-old.
He isn’t the one nationwide icon struggling in Qatar. Kane has already been talked about, however Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne and Luka Modric may be added to the checklist.
It is necessary to notice Son was an architect within the second South Korea objective, together with his world-class via ball opening Ghana up, resulting in the cross and eventual end. Nevertheless, a have a look at the stats suggests there’s extra to come back from Son. His midfield associate Hwang Inbeom accomplished essentially the most passes, Kim Jinsu essentially the most crosses and Cho essentially the most pictures.
Kane and Son are superheroes once you convey them collectively, however whereas aside, it presently looks as if their powers diminish.
Son was outshone as his workforce went down swinging towards Ghana. South Korea’s last likelihood towards Portugal beckons and, like daybreak, they are going to hope Son will rise and shine once more.
Early within the first half, Switzerland full-back Silvan Widmer glanced up on the Brazil penalty field, thought of the time and area he had out on the best flank with the ball at his toes… and turned again in the direction of his personal half and knocked a protected move to a team-mate.
It was plain then that, even with Brazil lacking Neymar, Switzerland’s gameplan was low threat soccer in possession. After they did not have the ball, they swiftly retreated in numbers, typically having all 11 gamers again to defend.
With 10 minutes to play, the Anticipated Objectives statistic learn: Brazil 0.66. Switzerland 0.30. In different phrases, on the expense of their ambitions, Switzerland had completely annoyed a Brazil aspect missing inspiration with out their star No10.
That was after all, till Casemiro blasted within the late winner off an in any other case wonderful Manuel Akanji.
When that occurs, inevitably questions are requested of the strategy. Might Breel Embolo have given Thiago Silva extra to consider? Was Alex Sandro’s scrambled block on Fabian Rieder’s cross, when Brazil all of a sudden regarded uncovered, an instance of the issues Switzerland may have precipitated if they’d been a contact extra adventurous?
In his post-match evaluation, Sky Sports activities pundit Gary Neville defined on ITV how Brazil had wanted to make subs to get the stability of their workforce proper throughout the sport. Switzerland, who didn’t land a single shot on track on Monday, should discover the best stability in-game too.