Winners and losers of Day 3 & 4 of the World Cup

First of all, sorry for missing a World Cup post after Day 3 games. Sometimes life gets in the way. Hope nothing big happened! (I know things did; we’ll come back to at least some of them.)

Honestly, there have been several games over the past few days that show why, even if we all find almost everything surrounding these big tournaments offensive at best, we can’t help but get sucked in. The potential and inevitable reality of real drama, excitement, broken records, heroic returns, joy and heartbreak. This is the ingredient list that makes the World Cup a World Cup. In an international tournament, anyone can get it.

So let’s examine who got it and who survived the last few days. We have two game days to cover and you probably won’t be working on Thursday, so I’ll create an extra winner and loser for this one.

The Underdog, by Spoon: I don’t know exactly, but I have a feeling it probably got more plays on Spotify and other streaming services in the last 48 hours than it has at any point outside of the six months following its release as the lead single from Spoon’s sixth studio album , Ga Ga Ga Ga Gain 2007. First, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina, a team touted by many (including mine) as favorites to win, and withstood multiple offside goals to take a 2-1 lead before Leo Messi and his Compatriots apparently forgot how to score goals, reminiscent of several scenes from the movie Space Jam.

A fool might have called this result a coincidence, but even an accident otter could have told you that we all had more excitement ahead of us. It was just over 24 hours before the next upset, but it came in the second game of Day 4 when Japan beat Germany. Observant viewers may have noticed early in the game that Germany are hardly the juggernauts that methodically worked their way up to winning the trophy in 2014, but even the most staunch believer in the Samurai Blue’s undisputed ability must have been at least a little surprised by the result . Germany took the lead from a penalty in the first half, but two Bundesliga substitutes, Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano, struck late in the second half to secure victory and reward Japan for a much-improved second half.

Canada did their best to join the underdog fun but failed to find the shot on goal in the 1-0 defeat by Belgium at the end of the day.

European powerhouses that may have been dismissed too lightly: Maybe it was just me, but I feel like I’ve heard and read quite a bit of skepticism about France and Spain participating in this tournament. France, the current holders, are dealing with an objectively worrying injury crisis and while Spain put on a pretty solid performance at Euro 2020, the ghosts of the last two World Cups still loomed as they haven’t been combated by a World Cup qualifying cycle , which was mostly about getting the job done against countries like Georgia and Kosovo. Some skepticism was appropriate.

France had a difficult start to the tournament as Australia went 1-0 up in the 9th minute, but 18 minutes later France had found an answer through Adrien Rabiot and they have never looked back. The French attack fired on all cylinders as Olivier Giroud scored twice, Kylian MbappĂ© went on the scoresheet and Antoine Griezmann dished out pennies. Of course, they will face tougher competition than Australia, but it’s far too early to count them out of their title defense.

Spain left absolutely no opportunity for a bad start as they were all over Costa Rica from kick-off to finish. Their 7-0 victory was the first real bang of the tournament. They had six different goalscorers and there was no shortage of stunners in the field, none more beautiful than Dani Olmo’s opener.

Nishi Yoshiteru: Nishi Yoshiteru may not have fielded for Japan in the win against Germany, but he has ensured the Samurai Blue have been well fed in five consecutive Men’s World Cups. He’s the team boss and while taking part in five world championships is a remarkable achievement for anyone, it seems extra special for an employee like him. The team included him as a “27th” member in the squad photos. As the team sees success on the field, it’s cool to see someone being recognized for their work off the field.

Thierry Henry: No disrespect to the impossibly handsome New York Red Bulls legend, but he is on today’s losers list. Olivier Giroud equaled Henry’s all-time goalscoring record for the France men’s national team with a brace against Australia. Both players are level with 51 goals but Giroud has reached that mark in 8 fewer games (115 compared to Henry’s 123) and looks well placed to score a lot more depending on how the team played in their opening win Has.

Group C non-Mexican forwards and penalty takers: Guillermo Ochoa reminded the world that he ranks among the world’s top scorers for a few weeks every four years. Ochoa saved a 0-0 draw and a point for Mexico against Poland, the biggest highlight being his penalty against Robert Lewandowski. Some might poopooen the parade and say Lewandowski’s shot was saved too easily or not placed well enough, but these folks should be ignored and ostracized by their communities. Penalties are so skewed towards the penalty taker at this point that any save should be celebrated, and Ochoa showed considerable skill at reading the take and landing well and extending his nosedive. Attacking players from Argentina, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the tournament were made aware that it takes something special to beat Ochoa.

FIFA: No need to be cute here, FIFA, Gianni Infantino and everyone involved in arranging this World Cup and allowing Qatar to retract their assurances and quell dissent and protest belong in the losers category. European teams who had intended to wear anti-discrimination rainbow OneLove bracelets were threatened with vague “serious penalties” if they wore the bracelets. There has been speculation that the punishment could be a yellow card – a sanction FIFA doesn’t really have the authority to issue – or even a ban. In protest of this decision, the German team posed for their line-up photo with their mouths covered. Belgium, whose away kit features the word ‘Love’ on the neck tape, was ordered to remove the word from their kits after the kits were initially approved, but the version of the kit sold at fan events in Qatar always includes it nor the sign. The behavior of FIFA and Qatar is reprehensible, but if there is justice in the world it will only backfire on them.

2:00 a.m. Switzerland vs. Cameroon: Immovable object vs. unstoppable force. Okay, not sure which is which, but we’re talking Nouhou vs. Xherdan Shaqiri here. Shaqiri had a good but definitely somewhat disappointing season with the Chicago Fire in which he recorded 7 goals and 6 assists in 29 games but is still expected to help lift Switzerland if they get a chance getting out of Group G, which also includes Brazil and Serbia. Nouhou and Cameroon will be hoping to build on a solid AFCON and Nouhou will likely line up opposite Shaqiri and have at least some responsibility for capping his contributions. Whatever your opinion of the Sounders left-back, we’re all hoping for a good tournament for him. You either have to be a dead sick night owl or wake up ridiculously early and take a very solid nap if you want to see this one live.

Watch the game on FS1, Telemundo or stream it on and Peacock.

05:00 Uruguay vs Korea Republic: Darwin Nunez seemingly found his shot on target just in time for the tournament before coming into the break with Liverpool, he has the profile of a player perfectly suited to tournament football and his game suits Diego Alonso’s tactical and stylistic approach to Uruguay like a Puma kit. South Korea are a solid side with some very exciting young talent scattered up front, but their obvious star, Son Heung-min, may not be entirely healthy. Uruguay’s success would make Nico Lodeiro happy, but Korea’s success would make Kim Kee-hee and everyone associated with BTS happy. Personally, I would love to see non-European and South American teams succeed in the hope of breaking the hegemony that we oddly revere in American football culture, but your real interests are your own.

Watch the game on FS1, Telemundo or stream it on and Peacock.

08:00 Portugal vs Ghana: I won’t talk about this guy. You know the one – he was banned from entering the US for a while due to legal charges and just ended his contract with Manchester United. He sucks and I hope he loses and things that make him sad keep happening. Sorry to everyone else in Portugal, hopefully he will retire soon. Ghana has given USMNT fans no little heartache, but not everyone is a USMNT fan and even they can probably get on board here to cheer for Ghana.

Watch the game on FOX, Telemundo or stream it on and Peacock.

11:00 a.m. Brazil vs. Serbia: Brazil have a really strong squad that will likely go as far as Neymar can match them. They are among the favorites to win the tournament, but they are also a team full of fascists. As a rule, fascists are bad, and Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters are fascists, and I don’t think we should support fascists. Admittedly, I don’t know nearly that much about the political views of the Serbian players, probably because they didn’t vocally and publicly support a fascist. If they can beat Brazil they have a pretty good chance of getting out of the group, but even a draw would be a pretty good result.

Watch the game on FOX, Telemundo or stream it on and Peacock.

30 minutes after the final whistle you can watch replays of all matches in English on or in Spanish on Peacock.

This is your match thread for Day 5 matches. Avoid interacting with your family here with us. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.


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