Home Soccer World Cup group stage deciders: Teams in trouble, surprise packages

World Cup group stage deciders: Teams in trouble, surprise packages


In 2026, the World Cup will expand from 32 to 48 teams, likely with a structure of 16 groups of three. I’m all for expansion – it will let us know more teams, players, coaches and fan bases, which is almost always a plus in my book – but I hate the idea that teams are only guaranteed two games before relegation. . Since everyone played two matches at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, we have only just begun to get to know these teams and bet on what will happen next.

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which is follow within the next four days? Almost all.

After two rounds of matches, only three teams have officially qualified for the play-offs (France, Brazil and Portugal) and only two have been officially eliminated (Qatar and Canada). Twenty-seven teams still have work to do, and there are already a lot of plot twists.

Let’s take stock of what we have achieved in the last nine days and where we still have to go.

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Whose odds have changed the most (for the better)?

For the most part, teams that started the competition as the most capable of advancing continued. Prior to the World Cup, the SPI FiveThirtyEight ratings gave six teams at least an 80% chance of reaching the Round of 16 – Brazil, Argentina, France, Portugal, Spain and England – and currently five of them are at 90% or higher. (Argentina gained 78% after suffering a shock loss to Saudi Arabia, only to beat Mexico in return.)

However, the shares of some other teams rose sharply.

Morocco (91% chance to advance compared to 46% at the beginning of the competition). There was nothing pleasant about Morocco drawing 0-0 with Croatia in each team’s first leg, but combined with a 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday, Walid Regraga’s side are well positioned to move forward. Stars Hakim Ziyech and Ashraf Hakimi combined assists and created six chances, Fiorentina midfielder Sofyan Amrabat was a machine when it came to rebounding the ball, and the Moroccans thoroughly outplayed Belgium. Either a draw with Canada or a Croatian victory over Belgium is all they need to move forward.

Poland (75% chance, 37% increase). As in the case of Morocco, in Poland’s second match, the story of the start of the meeting with a goalless goal is very different. Their 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia put them in first place in Group C – one point ahead of Argentina and Saudi Arabia and three points ahead of Mexico – and finally star Robert Lewandowski scored his first World Cup goal. Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is on his head and although progress is far from stable ahead of Wednesday’s match against Argentina, they are in good shape.

Iran (58% compared to 34%). Iran turned the odds around by beating Wales 2-0 on Friday. Stoppage-time goals from Ruzbeh Ceshmi and Ramin Rezayan greatly boosted their chances as they no longer need a win over the US to move forward (provided Wales don’t beat England); now all they want is a draw. Their heavy defensive structure suggests they would love to stalemate against the US, but their best moments in this tournament have come on the offensive side.

Ecuador (71% compared to 48%). The draw with the Netherlands, combined with Senegal’s loss to the Dutch, put Ecuador in a good position. In many ways they can thank Valencia’s Enner – he scored all three of Ecuador’s goals (and their last six goals in the World Cup overall) – but with the way they dominated the Netherlands (they made 15 shots with 1.7 xG and conceded only two rolls at 0.1) they probably should have secured all three points. As it stands, they still have to at least play Senegal to secure a promotion.

Australia (45%, up from 22%). A beautiful early transition header from Mitchell Duke gave Australia a surprise 1-0 victory over Tunisia on Saturday and significantly changed Group D’s chances. . Denmark are favorites but so far they haven’t played as well as expected and their 0-0 draw against Tunisia in the first leg opened the door for the Australians.

Whose odds have changed the most (for the worse)?

Canada (0% chance to advance, compared to 37% at the beginning of the competition). Canada entered the competition as a team with great potential and no World Cup track record. In both of their first two matches, they put in a lot of firsts before the last got the better of them. They outplayed Belgium in their first match but gave up their only perfect counter-attack and lost; then, against Croatia, the most veteran of the veteran teams, they quickly took the lead but lost 4-1. Call it a learning experience if not otherwise.

Mexico (17%, up from 54%). Mexico has suffered so far the same thing that all CONCACAF teams have suffered: the struggle for goals. The region’s four teams have only scored three goals in six matches, and none of them have been scored by Alexis Vega, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and Mexico. They were better than Poland for most of their opening match and on Saturday they were sometimes level with Argentina, but so far they have managed to draw 0-0 and lose 2-0. They now need a win over Saudi Arabia (which would require points) and either a Poland win over Argentina or a big Argentina win over Poland to move forward.

Belgium (33%, compared to 62%). Nine players have accumulated at least 120 minutes in total in Belgium’s first two matches; eight of them are at least 29 years old and three are at least 33 years old. Despite all the technical skills and obvious talent, this team still boasts – creator Kevin De Bruyne, goalkeeper Thibault Courtois and others. – both Canada and Morocco made them look downright slow. And now they need to beat 2018 finalists Croatia to advance.

Tunisia (4%, up from 32%). After an encouraging performance in a 0-0 draw with Denmark, Tunisia could well position themselves to move forward with a victory over seemingly underdog Australia. Instead, they lost to the Australians despite having created better opportunities. Now they will have to both upset France and hope that Denmark does not tear Australia apart. It would be a real miracle.

Wales (5%, up from 32%). On 2 May 1984 at Wrexham Racecourse, Mark Hughes scored in the 17th minute as Wales defeated England’s Bobby Robson in the final British Home Championship. This is the last time they’ve beaten their neighbors – they’ve been 11-1 down in six games since then – and any hope of promotion begins with the end of that nearly four-decade-long streak. They either need to beat England and hope Iran and the US draw or beat England four goals. Their chances likely ended with Iran’s stoppage time goals against them.

Biggest remaining group stage matches

Led by the disappointment of Saudi Arabia in Argentina, we saw some really shocking results in the first week or so of the competition. While a host of equally wild results can shake up the competition – like Wales knocking out England, Cameroon upsetting Brazil or Japan knocking out Spain – there are some matches we know will be especially impressive.

Tuesday: Ecuador (71% chance of promotion) vs. Senegal (30%). Ecuador will win or draw, and Senegal needs to win.

Tuesday: Iran (58% chance of advance) vs. US (38%). Unless Wales topples the apple cart with a shocking victory over England, Iran will either win or draw, and the US will be done with the victory.

Wednesday: Denmark (51% chance of advance) vs. Australia (45%). Except that Tunisia upsets France, Australia either wins or draws and Denmark needs to win. (Odds in favor of the Danes receiving who are winning, but so far they haven’t played as well as expected.)

Thursday: Croatia (76% chance of exit) vs. Belgium (33%). After two disappointing performances, Belgium needs a win (or a draw combined with Canada’s loss to Morocco) to move forward. Croatia just needs a draw (or help from Canada).

Friday: Switzerland (68% chance of promotion) vs. Serbia (30%). Drawn with Cameroon in one moment (and with worse goal difference), Serbia needs to beat Switzerland and hope Cameroon doesn’t perform a miracle against Brazil. Sanz said a miracle, the Swiss just need a draw.

Friday: Uruguay (49% chance of exit) vs. Ghana (42%). This is the 2010 World Cup quarter-final rematch we’ve been waiting for, and the stakes are high too. While South Korea could confuse things by beating Portugal for four points, the winner of this matchup, whether it’s Ghana (three points) or Uruguay (one), will have excellent promotion chances.

Awards watch

FIFA presents individual awards after the competition, including the Ballon d’Or (best player), Golden Boot (top scorer), Golden Glove (best goalkeeper), and the Young Players’ Award. Let’s check how these competitions are going.

Golden Ball

Of the 10 occasions when the Ballon d’Or was awarded, eight times it went to a player of one of the two finalists, and the other two to a semi-finalist. Based on current odds, it is most likely to go to a player from Brazil (39% chance of reaching the final according to FiveThirtyEight), France (27%) or Spain (23%). But while we wait to see how the elimination rounds stack up, let’s use this as an excuse to reveal the nerds’ stats.

Here are the 10 players who have so far scored the most expected goals (xG) and expected assists (xA) in the competition, excluding penalties:

Kylian MbappeFrance (2.79)
Antoine GriezmannFrance (2.51)
Olivier GiroudFrance (2.16)
End of ValenciaEcuador (1.60)
Alexander MitrovicSerbia (1.48)
Robert LewandowskiPoland (1.39)
Dani OlmoSpain (1.24)
Jean-Charles CastellettoCameroon (1.19)
Sardar AzmounIran (1.13, in just 81 minutes!)
Jonathan DavidCanada (1.09)

Four out of 10 from France or Spain, so let’s add Vinicius the Younger (1.05) and Richarlison (0.99) Brazil and Lion Messi (0.56) because he is Lionel Messi and we have…

Source: www.espn.com