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World Cup roundup, Day 11: Chaos in Group C, Aussies surprise everyone

The 2022 World Cup is in full swing. At the end of every matchday, we’ll review the biggest talking points emanating from Qatar and break down all the action on the pitch. Below, we look back on Day 11 of the tournament.

Rooting for chaos nearly pays off

So, so close. As the final minutes ticked away in Wednesday’s concurrent Group C fixtures – Argentina against Poland and Mexico versus Saudi Arabia – every onlooker had their abacus in hand.

With Argentina and Mexico leading their respective games 2-0 heading into stoppage time, the battle for second place in the group was, incredibly, coming down to the seldom-used fair play tiebreaker. By picking up two fewer yellow cards in the tournament up to that point, the Polish were clinging to the second spot ahead of the Mexicans. The permutations were endless as social media ate up the drama and concocted zany scenarios that would result in Poland picking up more cards. Everyone – besides the Poles and Mexicans, who were chewing their fingernails – was rooting for chaos.

Had Poland received two more yellow cards, it would’ve taken a drawing of lots to determine who would join Argentina in the next round. Polish coach Czeslaw Michniewicz seemed acutely aware, substituting veteran midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak shortly after he was shown a yellow card – Poland’s fifth of the tournament.

Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency / Getty

The Poles almost looked frightened to make any challenge, fearing punishment from the referee. It nearly allowed Argentina to score a third goal, which would have eliminated them. The South American side was inches away, quite literally, from another score on multiple occasions.

All the while, Mexico was throwing players forward with reckless abandon while seeking a third goal against Saudi Arabia. Thanks to a combination of Saudi netminder Mohammed Al-Owais, a fractional – but correct – offside call, and some wayward shooting, it never arrived. The tension rose with each chance, shredding viewers’ nerves – even if you didn’t have a rooting interest in the outcome.

In the end, Salem Al-Dawsari’s late tally meant that goal difference, not the fair play tiebreaker, decided second place in the group in Poland’s favor. But that roughly 30-minute spell was the best – and most chaotic – of the tournament so far. Only the World Cup can deliver such high drama.

Denmark stung by measly firepower

Denmark was supposed to make an impact at this World Cup. An appetizing group-stage draw alongside Australia, Tunisia, and France – already having beaten the latter twice competitively in 2022 – only lifted the Danes’ confidence after their impressive run to the European Championship semifinals in 2021.

“We have some belief now that we can do things, that we are actually a really, really good team,” forward Martin Braithwaite told theScore before the tournament started. “So, I think we have gotten more confidence since the Euro competition, and it’s going to help us at the World Cup.”

Despite beginning its campaign with two disappointing results, Denmark still had its fate in its own hands going into Wednesday’s decisive clash with Australia. This match was between a nation ranked 10th in the world and a ragtag bunch that limped into the World Cup – rather than merely claiming a win, the result should’ve been a morale-boosting victory for Denmark ahead of the knockout rounds.

Soccrates Images / Getty Images Sport / Getty

That wasn’t how things played out. Mathew Leckie’s twisting run and low accurate shot ended Denmark’s World Cup with a surprising bottom finish in Group D. There have been more shocking scorelines than Australia’s 1-0 triumph in Qatar, but Denmark’s overall performance certainly was unexpected.

Denmark’s results in Qatar

Opponent Score
Tunisia 0-0
France 1-2
Australia 0-1

Accusatory fingers will point at Denmark’s attack, and rightly so. Kasper Hjulmand deployed two forwards in the opener, a lone forward against France, and then a three-man attack, but Andreas Skov Olsen’s tame scuffed effort against Australia was the only shot on target from any player in those six starting roles. Defender Andreas Christensen was the only Danish player to score at this World Cup.

Converting, rather than creating, is definitely the primary issue. Denmark finished its campaign with 27 key passes, which is 42% more than the Netherlands managed en route to finishing atop Group A.

The Danes must yearn for another Jon Dahl Tomasson or Allan Simonsen for this era because this tournament could’ve played out so differently with a clinical striker on the squad.

Mooy typifies Aussie spirit

Aaron Mooy risked his primary source of income in an effort to give Australia a final push into the World Cup.

The midfielder refused to report for preseason training with Shanghai Port FC in May over fears that a COVID-19 lockdown would prevent him from joining Australia for its crucial playoff fixtures. Mooy was earning almost $130,000 per week in the Chinese Super League, sources told The Sydney Morning Herald’s Dominic Bossi.

“I won’t release the details of what that took for Aaron, but he’s made a big sacrifice to be here with us,” Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said at the time.

Claudio Villa / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Mooy’s dedication to his country has been evident in his showings in Qatar. Although the 32-year-old usually stands out for his technical ability and inventiveness in Australia’s midfield, he’s instead worked diligently without the ball. He put in two big challenges and smashed away four clearances in the 1-0 win over Denmark, and he was similarly obstinate in the clashes with France and Tunisia.

Sometimes you need your stars to sparkle, but sometimes you need them to roll up their sleeves and do the dirty work. Mooy, unlike other veterans at this tournament, has adopted the latter rather than chasing the former.

Deschamps up to his old tricks

Didier Deschamps couldn’t help himself. With France already assured progression to the World Cup knockout stage, he made nine changes to his starting lineup for the group finale against Tunisia. France, so entertaining and enterprising in its opening two matches, was unrecognizable en route to a 1-0 defeat. This second-string lineup has never played together, and it showed. Midfield maestro Eduardo Camavinga, in particular, looked lost playing an unfamiliar left-back role – a struggle Blaise Matuidi understands.

It didn’t harm his team, ultimately – France still won the group thanks to a superior goal difference over surprise runner-up Australia – but it called Deschamps’ decision not to include Real Madrid standout Ferland Mendy into question, especially since he had an additional roster spot available after injury forced Karim Benzema out of the tournament.

DeFodi Images / DeFodi Images / Getty

More importantly, his sweeping changes threaten to derail a French squad that was humming along. Reducing injury risk and keeping players fit – especially amid such a congested schedule – is crucial, but there was undoubtedly a less disruptive way to accomplish that.

Then again, Deschamps will point to his track record to dispel concerns: He did the same thing four years ago, making several lineup changes in the group finale against Denmark. Les Bleus, of course, went on to hoist the trophy.

Quick free-kicks

Argentina’s enticing path forward

Argentina’s defeat to Saudi Arabia, and the subsequent handwringing it inspired, already feels like a long time ago. The Albiceleste dominated Poland on Wednesday, dictating possession, swarming around the ball on the rare occasions it was lost, and crafting openings at will against an opponent that seemingly had no desire to attack. Argentina outshot Poland 24-3, holding Robert Lewandowski and Co. without an effort on target. It was an onslaught, and only Wojciech Szczesny’s brilliance kept the score close. That performance level is what everyone expected from a team that came into the tournament on a 36-match unbeaten run. Now confirmed as the Group C winner, Lionel Scaloni’s side has a higher chance of reaching the semifinals thanks to a somewhat forgiving bracket. Argentina will meet Australia in the round of 16 and, with a victory, would then take on either the Netherlands or United States for a place in the final four. If you offered Scaloni, Lionel Messi, and the entire country that option at the tournament’s start, they would have gladly accepted.

Canelo apologizes to Messi

Turns out Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was a little overzealous. Quick to chastise Messi on social media for what he believed to be an insult against his country, the Mexican boxer walked back his criticism on Wednesday after it was pointed out to him that Messi did nothing wrong with a Mexican jersey in the locker room after the two nations met in Qatar. “I was carried away by the passion and love I feel for my country, and I made comments that were out of place for which I want to apologize to Messi and the people of Argentina,” the world champion fighter said on Twitter. “Every day, we learn something new, and this time it was my turn.” So ends one of the more entertaining and unexpected off-field storylines of this World Cup.

Adios, Tata


Gerardo “Tata” Martino didn’t have many supporters among the Mexican fanbase before this tournament began. He’s struggled to regain some popularity since El Tri’s three defeats to the United States in 2021 – including in the finals of the Nations League and Gold Cup – and a team that continually wastes scoring chances is never going to endear itself to the public. Mexico belatedly looked dangerous in Wednesday’s scuffle with Saudi Arabia, but failing to add a third goal before Al-Dawsari’s gut punch deep into injury time should be the final straw. This isn’t the finest era for the Mexico men’s team, but it’s been playing considerably below expectations for some time. This will likely be the end of Tata’s tenure.

Herdman won’t ‘F’ off

John Herdman drew plaudits for Canada’s performance in its opening defeat to Belgium but then gained infamy in some quarters for declaring that his team would “F” Croatia. Well, Canada lost 4-1 to Croatia. Nevertheless, the Canucks ended a 36-year wait to return to the men’s World Cup, and the development of numerous young players in the national team camp meant that Herdman’s job was secure regardless of what happened in Qatar. The Englishman was also adamant about his desire to take Les Rouges “to the next level” and lead them at the 2026 World Cup during Wednesday’s press conference.

Stat of the day

If not for another incredible performance from Szczesny, Poland would already be heading home. In addition to spectacularly denying Messi’s thunderous spot-kick – his second penalty save of the tournament – the Juventus netminder thwarted eight other Argentine efforts on Wednesday.

Tweet of the day

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Ranking the 10 best deals of the January transfer window

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With a quiet January transfer window now complete, theScore ranks the 10 best moves made across the game’s top leagues.

10. Gift Orban ?? Lyon

Isosport/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Details: Signed from Gent for reported €12M fee

There were some concerns when Gent signed Orban in January 2023. His scoring record of 20 goals in just 21 starts was clearly impressive, but that was in Norway’s second tier. Those reservations were soon forgotten as he amassed nine goals and two assists over 10 Belgian Pro League appearances and struck five times in five Conference League outings. His productivity has since slowed, but €12 million for an intensely competitive 21-year-old striker could prove extremely fruitful business for Lyon. Orban’s outgoing personality should also be a welcome addition to the dressing room.

9. Timo Werner ?? Tottenham

Details: Signed on loan from RB Leipzig with reported €17M option to buy

Like many transfers in the January window, bringing in Werner presented a low-risk deal for Tottenham. If it works out, €17 million is an affordable sum for a forward of Werner’s pedigree. The German was largely ineffective over his first two appearances but was much better in his third outing, setting up Destiny Udogie and Brennan Johnson for goals in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Brentford. His incredible work ethic and pace, paired with Ange Postecoglou’s ability to instill belief in his players, could make this a great move for both parties.

8. Said Benrahma ?? Lyon

Details: Signed from West Ham in deal worth up to €20.4M

Lyon fought for this one, and it should pay off. After battling some administrative issues, the Ligue 1 side completed the deal a day later than expected, announcing Benrahma had joined on an initial €6-million loan deal that could become permanent for another €14.4 million. It’s a low-risk move that should enliven Lyon’s struggling attack. Benrahma’s a functional system player who can break games open and change their pace with the flick of a foot. Though he started just five times for West Ham in the Premier League this season, he hasn’t lost those progressive traits.

7. Marcos Leonardo ?? Benfica

Zed Jameson/MB Media / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Details: Signed from Santos for reported €18M fee

You just know Benfica are onto something here. They always are. Leonardo arrives from Santos in a deal that could look like a bargain in the years to come. Despite playing for one of the worst Santos sides in its 111-year history, the 20-year-old still managed to score 26 goals in 66 league appearances. He’s an old-school striker who loves to hang in the penalty area, and if Benfica can provide him with the right service, he’ll have no issues doubling that goal-scoring return.

6. Tommaso Baldanzi ?? Roma

Details: Signed from Empoli for reported €15M fee

The deal for Baldanzi is perfect in nearly every sense. Roma get a long-term replacement for Paulo Dybala without breaking the bank or running further afoul of Financial Fair Play regulations. The future Italian international also satisfies the club’s long-held preference for central attacking midfielders. Baldanzi even idolized Dybala during his formative years at Empoli. He could’ve waited to go to a club fighting for trophies, but he’ll get far more playing time at Roma, especially if Dybala’s injury issues persist.

5. Adam Wharton ?? Crystal Palace

Details: Signed from Blackburn Rovers for reported initial £18M fee

Crystal Palace are no strangers to fishing in the EFL. They plucked the thrilling double act of Eberechi Eze and Michael Olise from the Championship, and it took an impressive loan spell at Swansea City to convince the Eagles to sign Marc Guehi from Chelsea. Wharton is the next to join that contingent. The 19-year-old will bring some much-needed solidity to the midfield, but his admiration of Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, and Rodri hints at how much he treasures possession. He displays so much composure while he instigates attacks from the base of midfield.

4. Valentin Barco ?? Brighton & Hove Albion


Details: Signed from Boca Juniors for reported $10M fee

Tipping a player that Brighton & Hove Albion bought to shine usually works out, right? For a modest fee, the south coast club has acquired a cocksure 19-year-old who can play in any position down the left and also appeared across the midfield for Boca Juniors. Barco is a slippery operator, regularly dribbling past opponents and becoming difficult to track down once he’s wriggled free, and he’s constantly trying to ignite attacks with probing passes. It might take time for him to be a regular in Roberto De Zerbi’s lineup, but this signing should be yet another example of the Seagulls’ South American scouting network striking gold.

3. Jadon Sancho ?? Borussia Dortmund

Details: Signed on loan from Manchester United

Sancho is back at Dortmund – albeit temporarily – after leaving for Manchester United for around €85 million in 2021. The winger had a much-documented spat with Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag, and it’s difficult to envision a route back into the first team while the Dutchman’s in charge. By contrast, Sancho has been given a warm welcome in Germany, with club executives claiming he has no disciplinary issues and is in fine condition after being frozen out at United. It seems Sancho is in an ideal environment to revive his career.

2. Claudio Echeverri ?? Manchester City

Details: Signed from River Plate for reported £12.5M fee

Manchester City continue to bet on young talent during the January transfer window. Highly rated midfielder Echeverri follows in the footsteps of Julian Alvarez as the latest under-23 South American to sign for, if not necessarily join, the Premier League champions in the winter. Like Alvarez, whom City also signed from River Plate, Echeverri has been sent back to his boyhood club on loan for the year, allowing him to continue his development in a controlled environment. He’ll then arrive in Manchester in January 2025. City continue to hit the right note, never panicking while other clubs scramble for that elusive extra oomph to end the season.

1. Arthur Vermeeren ?? Atletico Madrid

Angel Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Details: Signed from Royal Antwerp for reported €18M fee

At just 18, Vermeeren already boasts plenty of experience. He played more minutes than any other player in Belgium’s top flight over 2023 and even captained Royal Antwerp during this season’s Champions League group stage. The midfielder has already won the Belgian league, cup, and super cup, too. Vermeeren might lack some physicality – and that weakness might not seem ideal when he’s going to play under the combative Diego Simeone – but he has a Koke-esque knack of progressing play while producing more interceptions, blocks, and clearances than the Atletico Madrid veteran. An €18-million deal is a bargain for someone who could become one of Europe’s leading midfielders.

Honorable mentions: Fabio Carvalho (Hull City), Radu Dragusin (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Transfer Deadline Day Live: Breaking down all the major deals, rumors

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Transfer deadline day is in full swing. We’re providing live, quick-hit analysis of the biggest deals and rumors until tonight’s 6 p.m. ET deadline.

Give Chelsea all of your money

Chelsea are the headline act again at the transfer deadline – but playing a different role entirely. Languishing in 10th place in the Premier League standings and without Champions League football on the horizon, the cash-guzzling Blues desperately need funds to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations ahead of the 2024-25 season. Armando Broja and Conor Gallagher are reportedly up for sale, not because they’re angling to leave but because they offer the juiciest profit margin. Chelsea are raising academy graduates for financial slaughter, having pawned off Lewis Hall, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Mason Mount for tens of millions of pounds in pure profit over the last six months. Fulham are interested in taking Broja off Chelsea’s hands, just not at the quoted £50-million asking price, according to BBC Sport’s Phil McNulty. A loan deal could be a welcome compromise.

Bayern getting instant relief

M. Donato / FC Bayern / Getty

Bayern are closing out the window strong. Signing Sacha Boey from Galatasaray for a reported €30 million solves a crisis at the right-back position, where midfielder Konrad Laimer and left-back Raphael Guerreiro have split time as square-peg-round-hole replacements for the injured Noussair Mazraoui. Further injuries to wingers Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman forced Bayern to bring in 22-year-old Granada winger Bryan Zaragoza six months ahead of his expected move to the Bavarians. The deals give Bayern the depth they need to continue competing on all fronts. Given their sputtering form and a surprisingly sustained challenge from Bundesliga title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, they need all the help they can get.

No place like home for Hojbjerg

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s future at Tottenham Hotspur has been up in the air since Antonio Conte left the club in March 2023 – and it’ll be suspended in motion for a while longer. Hojbjerg, one of former manager Conte’s soldiers in midfield, has made just five Premier League starts under Ange Postecoglou. And while he remains on the periphery of Postecoglou’s plans, Hojbjerg remains committed to the cause. He doesn’t lack options – Juventus, Napoli, Ajax, and Lyon reportedly expressed interest in the midfielder – but still feels part of something big in north London. Credit to Postecoglou for making a player with such limited minutes feel connected to the cause.

Forest keep wheeling and dealing

Nottingham Forest are sticking to their usual deadline-day formula. Having closed out the 2023 summer transfer window with an incredible seven signings, Forest are back to juggling negotiations. They’ve completed the signing of highly rated Portuguese striker Rodrigo Ribeiro from Sporting CP and Gio Reyna on loan from Borussia Dortmund. Forest are also reportedly flying in Strasbourg goalkeeper Matz Sels after abandoning talks with Crystal Palace over shot-stopper Sam Johnstone. They’re allowing some departures, too, with Serge Aurier expected to leave for Galatasaray and Orel Mangala heading for Lyon.

Other deals to watch today …

  • Said Benrahma to Lyon
  • Stefano Sensi to Leicester City
  • Tommaso Baldanzi to Roma
  • Hugo Ekitike to Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Antonio Nusa to Brentford
  • Bryan Gil to Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Enes Unal to Bournemouth
  • Serge Aurier to Galatasaray
  • Thomas Meunier to Burnley
  • Rafa Mir to Valencia
  • Maxwel Cornet to Crystal Palace
  • Matz Sels to Nottingham Forest

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The Best FIFA awards: Follow live as Messi, Bonmati eye more trophies

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World football’s top players and managers of 2023 are being recognized at The Best FIFA Football Awards show on Monday. Below, theScore is tracking all the winners of the various trophies handed out in London.

Best Men’s Player finalists

  • Erling Haaland (Manchester City and Norway)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain and France)
  • Lionel Messi (Inter Miami and Argentina)

Can Messi get one over on Mbappe yet again? The Argentine will look to retain the honor he won last year when he beat out his former Paris Saint-Germain teammate. The two superstars will face stiff competition from Manchester City striker Haaland for FIFA’s top individual prize, which was inaugurated in 2016 following the governing body’s split with Ballon d’Or organizer France Football. For this year’s award, accomplishments from Dec. 19, 2022, to Aug. 20, 2023, were taken into consideration by voters.

2022 winner: Lionel Messi

Best Women’s Player finalists

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  • Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona and Spain)
  • Linda Caicedo (Real Madrid and Colombia)
  • Jennifer Hermoso (Tigres and Spain)

Bonmati can cap one of the most dominant individual seasons in the history of women’s soccer on Monday. The World Cup-winning midfielder, already having captured the Ballon d’Or and various other accolades over the last 12 months, is looking to succeed compatriot Putellas, who won this award in each of the last two years. The qualifying period for this year’s honor was Aug. 1, 2022, to Aug. 20, 2023, the date of the most recent Women’s World Cup final, which saw Bonmati’s Spain defeat England.

2022 winner: Alexia Putellas

Puskas Award finalists

One of the sport’s most coveted individual trophies. This year’s Puskas Award, given to the scorer of the best goal, covers the period between Dec. 19, 2022, and Aug. 20, 2023. Finalists include a long-range strike to conclude an excellent team move, a sensational bicycle kick, and a perfect rabona.

2022 winner: Marcin Oleksy

Best Men’s Coach finalists

  • Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)
  • Simone Inzaghi (Inter Milan)
  • Luciano Spalletti (Napoli)

A trio of club managers are vying for the men’s coaching award; though Spalletti is the current Italy boss, his nomination came on the back of an enchanting title-winning campaign at Napoli. The two tacticians who were on the touchline for last season’s Champions League final, Guardiola and Inzaghi, square off once again, with the Manchester City boss considered the favorite after his team’s historic treble-winning season.

2022 winner: Lionel Scaloni

Best Women’s Coach finalists

Valerio Pennicino – UEFA / UEFA / Getty
  • Jonatan Giraldez (Barcelona)
  • Emma Hayes (Chelsea)
  • Sarina Wiegman (England)

A mixture of club and international coaches are vying for this prize. Wiegman and Hayes are the two most recent winners. The England manager has taken the award home on three occasions, more than any other bench boss (male or female). Giraldez, meanwhile, is looking for his first FIFA honor.

2022 winner: Sarina Wiegman

Best Men’s Goalkeeper finalists

  • Yassine Bounou (Al-Hilal and Morocco)
  • Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid and Belgium)
  • Ederson (Manchester City and Brazil)

Bounou helped Sevilla win yet another Europa League crown in 2022-23 before departing for Saudi Arabia, while Ederson backstopped Manchester City to a trio of titles during the club’s record-breaking campaign. Courtois is the only finalist to have won this award before.

2022 winner: Emiliano Martinez

Best Women’s Goalkeeper finalists

  • Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham and Australia)
  • Catalina Coll (Barcelona and Spain)
  • Mary Earps (Manchester United and England)

Three netminders who shone brightly at the 2023 Women’s World Cup will battle for this accolade. Coll helped Spain take home the title, while Arnold and Earps have become cult heroes in their respective countries. The latter, in particular, is one of the most popular footballers in England thanks to her combination of on-pitch excellence and off-field personality.

2022 winner: Mary Earps

Men’s FIFA FIFPro World11

To be announced.

Women’s FIFA FIFPro World11

To be announced.

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