There’s an old saying that probably goes like this: “The World Cup can take what it gives.” And that’s exactly what fans can feel when they see how the wonderful US race in Qatar ended in a heartbreaking way thanks to the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi and Argentina weathered Australia’s late surge to set up a date with the Dutch in the quarter-finals.
Be sure to check Sportzshala throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Qatar. Here’s what you may have missed from Saturday’s World Cup events, and check back on Sunday to find out what’s next.
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– Broadcast FC Daily and Futbol Americas on Sportzshala+
The US is losing to the Netherlands: is it not 2026 yet?
Not the best way to start Saturday morning given the United States’ excellent form in the group stage and the hope that this group of young players will at least reach the quarter-finals.
– World Cup bracket: The Netherlands and Argentina organized a QF match
But the Netherlands has shown the quality gap that still exists between the US and the parties it wants to compare itself to. The tactical plan of the coach of the Netherlands national team Louis van Gaal. OrangeThe 3-1 victory was ruthlessly effective and forced the US to make mistakes (leaving the players undetected in all three Dutch goals) and do things they weren’t good at (breaking the organized defense).
Often stoic and at times combative, Van Gaal was in a playful mood after Saturday’s win, at one point leaning to the side to kiss man of the match Denzel Dumfries (one goal, two assists) on the cheek during the match. Post-match press conference. Van Gaal’s system may not be the most attractive, but it worked so well against the US that in two goals one full-back assisted the other – first Dumfries instead of Daley Blind, and then Blind instead of Dumfries.
However, there will be a sense of what could be for the US. Christian Pulisic missed early, and Hadji Wright’s lone USA goal looked more accidental than acrobatic. And of course, as has been the case for some time, there is still a need for an effective starting striker. As US national team coach Gregg Berkhalter later said: “Now we don’t have Memphis Depay.”
Did the US deserve to beat a historic force like the Dutch to take on Lionel Messi and Argentina in a made-for-television David vs. Goliath quarter-final? At least these players have achieved a lot. But in four games, they also did enough to make everyone believe there should have been more.
But let’s move forward. Whether Berhalter continues as a coach, the US has a bright future and the hype is real. Lessons will be learned, experience will be gained, and there will be much to build on. We are already starting the countdown to the 2026 World Cup.
Messi and Argentina avoid heartbreak as Australia proves its mettle
Deep down, Australia knew they had very little chance in Saturday’s round of 16 clash against Argentina. And after Lionel Messi’s first-half goal and goalkeeper gaffe gave Argentina a second second with about half an hour left, it looked like the Socceroos’ win in Qatar was coming to an end.
But that’s when the real fun began. Australia pulled back one goal after Enzo Fernandez scored an own goal and it suddenly looked like Messi’s pursuit of that elusive world title might be on the line. Aussie Aziz Behic impressed Messi best with a learned run that was desperately saved by defender Lisandro Martinez.
And then, with just seconds left, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved the night on teen Socceroos star Garang Kuol’s last try to ensure Argentina didn’t follow their traditional powerhouse Germany through an early exit in this tournament.
Australia made a name for themselves at this World Cup, as did their fans at home who stayed up all night to support them. There is no shame in the defeat of a player like Messi on Saturday. Just a group of players who gave their all and failed.
England, France in combat readiness against worthy rivals
Sunday brings two round of 16 games that are extremely attractive for completely different reasons. Four teams and only two can book a ticket to the quarterfinals. So what do they look like?
In the previous game, reigning World Cup champions France will take on Robert Lewandowski and Poland. On paper, this may seem like an easy win for Didier Deschamps’ stellar team, who are still one of the bookmakers’ favorites despite Karim Benzema, Pogba and N’Golo Kante all lost to injury ahead of the tournament. Players like Ourélien Chouameni and Eduardo Camavinga keep the situation in midfield, while the trio of Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembele do it in attack.
Although they did struggle with Tunisia in their third group stage game, ultimately losing 1–0, this was more due to Deschamps’ strong rotation of players with qualifications already secured than a sign of any significant weakness.
Poland will have to rely on its stars if they want to piss off the French. Lewandowski needs to get crossed in the box so he can force mistakes or shoot on goal, and there are a few players who can highlight a Barcelona star close to the net: Piotr Zielinski and Arkadiusz Milik are the main people in this regard. If France manages to break through the defense, Wojciech Szczesny will be in the net and, judging by some of his saves, will be in peak form. We still think that France is moving forward, but in a tournament full of upheaval, anything is possible.
As for England, they will be looking to stay on course for their first major international trophy since 1966, although a Group B victory has not given them an edge over the opposition.
Senegal didn’t miss despite a devastating injury to mascot Sadio Mane before the start of the tournament. Clean wins against Qatar and Ecuador were enough to make up for the loss to the Dutch in their first leg and they were able to score goals even after losing to Mane: all five of their goals in Group A came from different players, with key defender Kalidou Koulibaly delivering the decisive blow , securing a place in the 1/8 finals. Many of their stars, including winger Ismaila Sarr, have Premier League experience and will have no fear of their more attractive opponents.
In the meantime, England need to continue to set the pace in games and not take a slow and steady approach, as they did against the United States in the group stage in particular. When they were passive and caused pressure, they were lucky they didn’t concede, while their more positive approach to Iran and Wales resulted in nine goals scored and only two conceded. With zero margin of error from here, manager Gareth Southgate needs to be a little bolder in his tactics and team selection if they are to continue in this competition.
Harry Kane was overwhelmed, but Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford provided enough electricity to power a small town. The English version of Harry Maguire held up defensively – it’s a good thing the Manchester United version didn’t go to Doha – but they still need to show some excitement and match the team’s attacking talent.
Again, we expect them to succeed, but it’s just as likely that a 2-2 game decided 5-4 on penalties. We’re not going to say who the winner is.
Today’s top reads
Play in the World Cup without a club? Cristiano Ronaldo and few others know
This is a rare group: World Cup players without a club to call home. For some, this is a distraction; for others it is motivation.
Playstation, constantly changing DJs and “foot golf”: how France is relaxing at the World Cup
Blues aspire to become repeat champions. But you don’t know by visiting their camp that they feel any kind of pressure.
Spain got lucky after losing to Japan, but will they be able to reset ahead of the match against Morocco?
Spain were lucky to get out of Group E given how Japan fought back to defeat them. To let other teams know how to stop Red?
Your best bets (odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
If you’re looking to bet on the World Cup, Sportzshala correspondents Paul Carr, Dan Thomas and Dalene Cuff are here to give you key tips on odds, options and futures. Here’s what we have for Sunday matches.
France (-390) vs Poland (+1200), draw (+430)
Carr: The defeat of France by Tunisia does not bother me, given the rotation of the composition and unfamiliarity. Poland were lucky to lose 2-0 to Argentina (3.7 xG on 23 shots) and succumb to a lot of good chances to Saudi Arabia (1.7 xG on 16 shots). I think France is coming here with the first team and I’ll lay goals 1.5 at -115.
Cuff: Poland may have been the least impressive team to reach the round of 16. The last defeat of France was with the composition of the reserve. I think they are dominant. The game for me is to win to zero -116. I’ll probably play too Olivier Giroud To Score Anytime +120.
England (-195) vs. Senegal (+600), draw (+290)
Carr: I’m still not convinced by England manager Gareth Southgate’s willingness to go for it in the playoffs. In eight games compared to the previous two tournaments, England have only scored two away games before the 80th minute, including draws against rivals Colombia (World Cup 2018) and Denmark (Euro 2020). Senegal is missing Idriss Gouille in midfield but I think they have a decent shot to last England for at least 90 minutes so I will play. Senegal about double chance +150. If you’re feeling more daring, I don’t mind Playing them down to advance at +360.
Cuff: Here I feel the same way as Paul, I played England to be eliminated in the 1/8 finals. I just don’t believe in this team and the way Southgate sets them up. However, I thought that their opponent here would be Ecuador, which presents a different challenge than Senegal. I think I’m going to play it safe a little by not playing for the team, but I think we’ll see more goals than you expect. Over 2.5 +125.
News and notes
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