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World Cup roundup, Day 8: Naive Canada punished, Germany survives

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 8 of the tournament.

Canada’s inexperience laid bare

Canada didn’t deserve to lose to Belgium. It certainly didn’t deserve to lose by three goals to Croatia. But the World Cup is ruthless. Teams of the caliber of Belgium and Croatia capitalize on chances. Canada couldn’t.

The men’s national team learned a lot of harsh lessons in just over 180 minutes of football in Qatar. Canada played incredibly well against Belgium but lacked composure in the final third. It started brightly against Croatia but lost control after 25 minutes. John Herdman’s side couldn’t put it all together. What it had in spirit, it lacked in experience.

Zlatko Dalic’s side forced Canada to backpedal and, like Belgium, took the lead minutes before halftime. The Croatians ran freely in midfield, and the Canadians switched off at the worst possible time to gift Croatia at least two of its four goals. Canada couldn’t manage the game after taking the lead and struggled to mount a comeback once it lost the advantage.

Atiba Hutchinson was one of Canada’s weakest links in the first half. The 39-year-old allowed Andrej Kramaric to streak into the area and score Croatia’s first goal, and ambled around the pitch as the Croatians passed their way through the heart of the field.

DeFodi Images / DeFodi Images / Getty

Herdman thought about substituting Hutchinson when the game was still within reach, but the captain wanted to stay on the field – and did. The coach seemingly allowed a player to make a decision that actually hurt the team, showing loyalty to a legend of the program who was clearly struggling. That can’t happen.

Herdman’s prematch comments also came back to haunt him. By saying Canada would “go and ‘F’ Croatia,” the Englishman inadvertently gave the opposition bulletin board material. The rallying cry, while intended to inspire his players, took attention away from all the good things Canada did in its opener against Belgium – the high pressing, the chances created, the fearlessness in the face of a top-ranked opponent – and left his team open to criticism. His comments, not his players’ positive play, shaped the narrative around this team.

That’s one of many lessons Canada must take to heart. The team could’ve done so much more in Qatar. It’s no longer a question of belief – it’s about execution and composure.

Germany can’t afford to bench Fullkrug

Niclas Fullkrug isn’t the most fashionable of names at the 2022 World Cup. He played in the German second tier as recently as last year and made his international debut in November at the wily old age of 29.

But Germany needed a striker. With Timo Werner unavailable, Hansi Flick called up Fullkrug.

Flick just didn’t know how much he’d need him.

Fullkrug’s vicious equalizer against Spain on Sunday salvaged Germany’s chances in Qatar. It handed the Germans their first point of the tournament, enough to keep hope alive heading into Thursday’s Group E finale against Costa Rica.

Team W-D-L GF GA GD Pts
Spain 1-1-0 8 1 7 4
Japan 1-0-1 2 2 0 3
Costa Rica 1-0-1 1 7 -6 3
Germany 0-1-1 2 3 -1 1

And Fullkrug needs to start Thursday. He was far more active in the penalty area than Thomas Muller, the man he replaced, racking up more shots than anyone on the field in just 20 minutes of playing time. Jamal Musiala took up dangerous positions with Fullkrug on the field, and Leroy Sane added a sense of urgency Ilkay Gundogan couldn’t provide.

Germany’s shape changed with Fullkrug up top, and the team finally looked capable of scoring. In a must-win situation, Flick has to make the sensible choice and ride the one player who can make a difference.

But a win over the CONCACAF minnow won’t be enough. Germany needs Spain to beat Japan, or at least hold it to a low-scoring draw, to advance to the round of 16.

Kevin De Bruyne was right

Kevin De Bruyne had a feeling.

“No chance, we’re too old,” the midfielder conceded when asked about Belgium’s chances of winning the World Cup by The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone. The interview, published Saturday, was conducted weeks earlier.

He knew. And, as it turns out, he was onto something.

Belgium, for the second consecutive match in Qatar, was outplayed and overrun by a younger, more athletic, more dynamic team. This time, though, the Red Devils didn’t escape with a result, falling 2-0 to Morocco. The outcome leaves Belgium staring at the very real possibility of a group-stage elimination after reaching the quarterfinals in 2014 and finishing third in 2018. Belgium had the chance to secure progression with a win Sunday, but De Bruyne was largely ineffectual once again, captain Eden Hazard was substituted after an hour of underwhelming play, Romelu Lukaku was a nonfactor upon his return from injury, and Thibaut Courtois, a hero against Canada, was oddly feeble.

Nick Potts – PA Images / PA Images / Getty

“We haven’t seen the best Belgium yet,” manager Roberto Martinez said after the contest. “We haven’t been ourselves.”

The problem, of course, is that the Red Devils have been themselves. This is just what has become of the lauded “Golden Generation,” which, barring a stunning turnaround in the team’s Group F finale against Croatia, will exit the tournament in meek fashion having failed to claim any silverware.

Quick free-kicks

Score one for CONCACAF

CONCACAF, at last, is on the board. After three defeats and three draws to open the tournament, the confederation picked up its first win of this World Cup on Sunday. It came from an unlikely source, too. Costa Rica, which began the competition with a humbling 7-0 defeat to Spain, rebounded nicely, picking up a surprising 1-0 win over Japan via a late, lofted strike from Keysher Fuller. Japan, remember, was coming off a stunning triumph over Germany earlier in the week. Another reminder that there’s no transitive property in football, least of all at the World Cup, where every match is its own spectacle. Los Ticos have now played 180 minutes in Qatar, and, despite having just one shot on target in that time – Fuller’s goal – are in with a chance of advancing out of Group E, widely considered the most difficult quartet in the competition. The World Cup always delivers the unexpected.

Beef between Queiroz, Klinsmann

Tension is obviously high on the pitch in Qatar, but tempers are flaring off it, too. The latest kerfuffle involves Jurgen Klinsmann and Carlos Queiroz, after comments the former made on BBC irked both the Iranian federation and the team’s manager. Queiroz demanded that the former Germany star resign from FIFA’s technical study group after Klinsmann, in reference to Iran’s win over Wales, said playing dirty and using tricks to influence the referee fits the team’s “culture.” Queiroz dubbed the remarks a “disgrace to football” during an impassioned Twitter retort. Klinsmann is a former coach for the United States. The USMNT plays Iran in a critical Group B encounter Tuesday.

Morocco proving impenetrable

Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency / Getty

The Atlas Lions are roaring. Sunday’s 2-0 win over Belgium, spurred on by raucous support inside Al Thumama Stadium, has Morocco on the verge of the World Cup knockout stage for just the second time, and first since 1986. Considering the turmoil surrounding the team just months ago, it’s a dazzling achievement just to be in this position with one group game left. Former manager Vahid Halilhodzic – who froze Hakim Ziyech out of the team – was fired in August and replaced by Walid Regragui, who only had three friendly matches before the World Cup with which to tinker and put his imprint on the team. That’s been plenty, though. Morocco has yet to concede a goal under Regragui – the team’s shutout streak stands at six matches and dates back to June – and, more impressively, hasn’t really looked like conceding in Qatar. The organized and compact Moroccans have a genuine chance of not only winning Group F going into their final game against already-eliminated Canada, but of also making a deep run in the competition thanks to an airtight backline that makes the opposition work for every little opening.

Stat of the day

Mateo Kovacic was an absolute monster against Canada.

Tweet of the day

This Alvaro Morata kid might just make it.

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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

NurPhoto / NurPhoto / Getty
  • 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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