Canada would have won without Belgium’s Courtois

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Despite strong efforts from Canada in his first World Cup appearance since 1986, Belgium win who opens Group F on Wednesday, 1-0thanks to 3 amazing saves by the Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and at least one missed penalty that should have been in Canada’s favor.

Canada soon had a chance to take the lead after being awarded a penalty in the 10th minute, but Alphonso Davies‘ the attempt was blocked by Courtois. Canada has yet to score a goal at the World Cup. Right before the first half ended, Belgium Michy Batshuayi Score from a long ball.

Here’s ESPN’s Julien Laurens with reaction and analysis from Qatar.

JUMP TO: Player Rating | Best/worst performer | Highlights and remarkable moments | Quotes after the game | main statistics | upcoming match schedule

rapid response

first. A brutal but proud night for Canada

Football can be cruel at times – and the Canadian, in his first World Cup game since 1986, has certainly experienced it before. Belgium.

Unlike the other teams in this tournament, they did not appear nervous right from the opening whistle. They play attacking football with movement, intensity and passion, fueled by the noise and support of 10,000 Canadians inside Ahmad bin Ali Stadium. Their coach John Herdman’s match plan was precise: no ball time. Kevin De Bruyne or Player Eden HazardPress high and make good use of the width of the field.

Stephen Eustaquio (What a player) and veteran Atiba Hutchinson – at 39, the oldest player at this World Cup and the only member of the team alive for Canadalast time at the World Cup in 1986 — commanded midfield. They created chances and helped generate 2.35 expected goals, or xG, for Canada compared to just 0.58 xG for their opponents.

Canada were the better team for most of the game and can be proud of themselves – but they will regret it. A defensive mistake on Toby Alderweireldthe ball was long and they conceded a goal just before halftime. As Nelson Mandela once said, “You never lose. You win or you learn.”

This Canadian team should have learned a lot against Belgium.

2. Courtois, king of pens and savior of Belgium

Without him, Real Madrid won’t win the Champions League last season and Belgium won’t have a winning start to this World Cup.

Courtois was again great for his country, like so many times in the past, parrying Davies’ penalty after 11 minutes and asserting that he is king of penalties. In 2022, he has saved five of the nine penalties he has faced – an impressive save rate of 55.55% and by far the highest in Europe. Europe. Since joining Real Madrid in 2018, he has faced 22 penalties and saved six times – but four of those six have happened in 2022.

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Courtois made another save a little later in the game Alistair Johnston shot from a tight angle, and a comfortable shot in the second half on one Cyle Larin That header was one of Canada’s best chances of the night.

In a lousy Belgian performance, Courtois was really the only light. The rest were so poor — the third-placed team of the last World Cup was no threat up front, struggling defensively and conceding chances and dangerous situations.

It is very unconvincing and made in Belgium – but when you have the best goalkeeper in the world right now, it makes your life so much easier.

3. An unhappy night for Hazard and De Bruyne

We want to see Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne on the pitch for different reasons.

For De Bruyne, the mission was to be the conductor of this Belgian team, control the game and be a creative force. Instead, he got pretty much everything wrong. He misses a free Your Tielemans twice in the first half. Immediately after time was up, he wasted a great counter-attack passing the ball badly to Batshuayi, and then fired from a favorable position that sent the ball over the bar.

It’s a very different performance from the KDB we know at City of Manchester, probably largely because the supporting cast around him isn’t on the same level as the ones he has at his club but still: we expect more from him. His role is to carry this team.

For Hazard, the aim is to show that, even when he’s not physically fit, he can still make an impact in a game like this. Alas, despite some good touches and turns, the captain’s performance was not good enough.

He came on after 60 minutes with no chances created, only 76% of his passes correct and only 2 successful dribbles. However, he has been fouled four times, which shows that he still has some life left, but not enough for now.

Coach Roberto Martinez is loyal to the 31-year-old who rarely plays at Real Madrid, keeping him at the team at all costs. It’s unlikely he’ll let him go Maroc Sunday’s game but Hazard, like De Bruyne, will be under pressure to do better than against Canada.

Player Rating

Belgium: Courtois 8, Dendoncker 5, Alderweireld 6, Vertonghen 4 ,Castagne 5, Tielemans 3, Witsel 4, Carrasco 4, De Bruyne 4, Hazard 4, Batshuayi 6

Prep: 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

Prep: Osorio 5, Kone 5, Adekugbe 5

Best and worst performers

BEST: Stephen Eustaquio, Canada

The Porto midfielder played this game until being substituted after 81 minutes. The 25-year-old Eustaquio was everywhere, recovering the ball nine times and creating two chances for his team-mates when playing with intensity, intelligence and sophistication. This has been his breakout season in Portugal and against Belgium he has once again shown how talented he is.

BEST: Youri Tielemans, Belgium

It was a difficult evening for the Leicester midfielder, so much so that the manager decided to give him a half-time break to bring in Amadou Onana. The Tielemans simply had no effect on the game, finding themselves in too high a position and making only 13 passes in 45 minutes, with almost no strikers. It was a really disappointing performance.

Highlights and remarkable moments

Canada entered at the first whistle with intensity and speed, they immediately put pressure on Belgium. It looked as if Canada would soon take the lead when a serve was called in the 10th minute.

Alphonso Davies, a Bayern Munich full-back and Canada’s top player, steps up to the position, but Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has continued his recent fine form when it comes to saving penalties, and he has been a part of that. refuse Davies.

Canada dominated in the first half and were the much more dangerous side, even missing the penalty opportunity. As of the 43rd minute, the expected number of goals for Canada (xG) is 1.81 while Belgium’s is only 0.15.

But football or soccer — whatever you want to call it — is a fun game: one team can be the “worse” side but still the winner. With a long pass to take the lead in the 44th minute, Michy Batshuayi gave Belgium a 1-0 lead.

After the game: What did the coach say?

Canadian coach John Herdman on the results: “Proud of the performance, but you need to take three points from your first game. Tonight we had a chance to top the table – that was the mission – and we missed it. But I’m proud. about the performance like I said, these guys have changed and shown that they can live on this stage I think they made the fans proud and it made them feel like they belong here this, and that’s very important to us.”

Herdman on what he told his players after the game: “I just showed them the stats. I showed them they belonged here. I told them they belonged here, and we’re going to see F Croatia. It’s that simple. That’s it. Our next mission now.” (Editor’s note: Canada is in Group F for the World Cup.)

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said of the win: “Canada deserves to play better than us in the way they play. I think the result reflects what we have to do and how we protect each other and take our chances. It was a win and we did. need to play better and develop. We’ve been here five days, we have to grow with these games. Many of the top teams are losing games.”

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • Canada are the first team since 1978 to take more than 20 shots (22) and a penalty without scoring in a World Cup match.

  • Canada’s 2.59 expected goals (xG) against Belgium makes them the team with the highest total expected goals to be eliminated from this tournament.

  • Canada was the first team to take at least 14 shots in the first half but failed to score and traces at halftime in a World Cup match since 1986.

  • Belgium’s starting line-up against Canada has an average age of 30 years 181 days. It is the oldest starting line-up in a match at the 2022 World Cup and Belgium’s oldest since June 20, 1998, against Mexico.


Belgium: Group F continues on Sunday, November 27, when Belgium will face Morocco at 8 a.m. ET. Belgium then faces Croatia on Thursday, December 1 at 10 a.m. ET.

Canada: Group F continues on Sunday, November 27, when Canada will face Croatia at 11 a.m. ET. Canada then faces Morocco on Thursday, December 1 at 10 a.m. ET.


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