Al Rayyan, Qatar – Despite a spirited effort from Canada In their first World Cup appearance since 1986, belgium Won Wednesday’s Group F opener, 1-0Thanks to three great saves from the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois And at least one missed penalty call that should have gone in Canada’s favor.
Canada had an early chance to take the lead after being awarded a penalty kick inside 10 minutes, but Alphonso Davis‘ The attempt was blocked by Courtois. Canada has not yet scored a single goal in the World Cup. Just before the end of the first half, Belgium’s mitchie batsuyi Scored on the long ball.
Here’s ESPN’s Julian Lawrence with reaction and analysis from Qatar.
1. A cruel but proud night for Canada
Football can be brutal sometimes – and the Canadians, in their first World Cup match since 1986, certainly experienced it belgium,
Unlike other teams in this tournament, they showed no signs of panic from the opening whistle. They attacked football with movement, intensity and passion, pushed by the noise and support of 10,000 Canadians inside Hamad Bin Ali Stadium. His manager John Herdman’s game plan was spot on: no time for the ball. Kevin De Bruyne either Eden HazardClamping high and using the width of the pitch well.
Stephen Eustaquio (what player) and experienced atiba hutchinson — For the oldest player in this World Cup at 39 and the only surviving member of the team CanadaLast World Cup performance in 1986 — dominated the midfield. They created chances and they led Canada to a 2.35 expected goals or xG against 0.58 for their opponent.
Canada were the better team for most of the game, and can be proud of themselves – but they will come to regret it. a defensive mistake Toby AlderweireldLong ball and he concedes a goal just before the break. As Nelson Mandela used to say: “You never lose. You win or you learn.”
This Canadian team should have learned a lot against Belgium.
2. Courtois, King of Pen and Protector of Belgium
Without him, real madrid The Champions League would not have been won last season and Belgium would not have made a winning start to this World Cup.
Courtois came up big again for his country, like so many times in the past, saving Davies’ penalty after 11 minutes to confirm that he is the king of Pen. In 2022, he has saved five out of nine spot kicks – this is an impressive 55.55% ratio of penalties saved, and the highest ever in Europe. Since joining Real Madrid in 2018, he has faced 22 penalties and saved six – but four of those six have occurred in 2022.
Courtois made another save a little later in the match alistair johnson shot from a tight angle, and the second half on a comfortable kyle laryn Header that was one of Canada’s best chances of the night.
In a very poor performance by Belgium, Courtois was really the only light. Everything else was so bad – the third team of the last World Cup was no threat forward, struggled defensively and conceded chances and dangerous situations.
It was very disjointed and laborious from Belgium – but when you have the best goalkeeper in the world, it makes your life a lot easier.
3. A holiday night for Hazard and De Bruyne
We wanted to see Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne on the field for different reasons.
For De Bruyne, the task was to become the conductor of this Belgian side, to take control of the game and be a creative force. Instead, he got almost everything wrong. he forgot a free Yuri Tielemans Twice in the first half. Just after the hour mark, he produced a brilliant counter-attack with a poor through-ball for Batsui and later lofted his shot from a good position over the bar.
It was a performance that was the exact opposite of the KDB we’ve come to know Manchester City, perhaps in large part because the supporting cast around him isn’t quite the same level that his club is, but still: we expect more from him. It is his role to take this team forward.
For Hazard, the aim was to show that he could still make an impact in this type of game, regardless of match fitness. Alas, despite some good touches and turns, the captain’s performance was not good enough.
He came out after 60 minutes with no chances, only 76% pass accuracy and only two successful dribbles. Although he was fouled four times, it showed that he still has some life in him but it is not enough now.
Manager Roberto Martinez has been fiercely loyal to the 31-year-old who rarely plays at Real Madrid, keeping him in the team at all costs. it is unlikely that he Morocco game on Sunday but like De Bruyne, Hazard will be under pressure to perform better against Canada.
Belgium: Courtois 8, Dendonker 5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 4, Castagne 5, Tielemans 3, Witsel 4, Carrasco 4, De Bruyne 4, Hazard 4, Batshuayi 6
sub: Onana 5, Openda 4, Meunier 4, Trossard 4
Canada: Borjan 5, Johnson 6, Vitoria 5, Miller 6, Hoilett 6, Larin 5, Hutchinson 7, Eustaquio 7, Laria 6, Buchanan 6, Miller 5, Davis 6, David 5
sub: osorio 5, corner 5, adekugbe 5
best and worst performers
Best: Stephen Eustaquio, Canada
The Porto midfielder controlled the game until his substitution after 81 minutes. The 25-year-old Eustaquio was everywhere, recovering the ball nine times and creating two chances for his side, playing with intensity, intelligence and flair. He has had a successful season in Portugal and he showed once again just how talented he is against Belgium.
Worst: Youri Tielemans, Belgium
It was a tough night for the Leicester midfielder, so much so that his manager decided to take him off at half-time to bring on Amadou Onana. Tielemans had no impact on the game, finding himself very high, making only 13 passes in 45 minutes, hardly any forwards. It was a really disappointing performance.
Highlights and Notable Moments
Canada came out with intensity and pace from the first whistle, and they immediately put the pressure on Belgium. It looked like Canada would soon be in the lead when a handball was called in the 10th minute.
Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich’s full-back and the leading man for Canada, rushed to the spot, but Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois continued his recent good form of saving penalties, and he denied Davies.
pero ¿que te paso @AlphonsoDavies,
– Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) November 23, 2022
Canada dominated the first half and were the more dangerous side, even beyond their missed penalty chance. In the 43rd minute, Canada’s expected goals (xG) was 1.81 while Belgium’s was only 0.15.
But football or soccer – whatever you want to call it – is a funny game: a team can be the “worse” side but still be the winning team. In the 44th minute, Micky Batsui put Belgium ahead 1–0 in the run of play when he lofted a long ball over the top.
Batshuayi knocks out Belgium 🇧🇪 pic.twitter.com/s6ED21MAYH
— Fox Soccer (@FOXSoccer) November 23, 2022
After the match: What the players and managers said
Check back soon…
Key Stats (Provided by ESPN Stats & Info)
The average age of Belgium’s starting 11 against Canada was 30 years and 181 days. This is the oldest starting 11 yet in a 2022 World Cup game, and the oldest for Belgium since 20 June 1998 against Mexico.
Canada is the first team to attempt at least 14 shots in the first half but not score. And Trail at halftime in a World Cup match since 1986.
Canada is the first World Cup team to shoot 14 And Take penalty kicks without scoring in the first half since 1978.
Belgium: Group F will resume on Sunday, November 27, where Belgium will face Morocco at 8PM ET. Then, Belgium will face Croatia on Thursday, December 1 at 10PM ET.
Canada: Group F resumes on Sunday, November 27, where Canada faces Croatia at 11am ET. Then, on Thursday, December 1 at 10 a.m. ET, Canada will face Morocco.