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[FM20] - Experiment: A Fairer 2026 FIFA World Cup

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Posted (edited)

A FAIRER 2026 FIFA WORLD CUP

 

Ever since FIFA announced that the 2026 FIFA World Cup would be expanded from 32 to 48 countries, I've been dreading the day the tournament would arrive. Not for the fact it's held in three countries or a possibly excessive expansion of the amount of teams. No, it's for the proposed format of a sixteen group round robin with three countries each.

It will mean that no less than sixteen nations will have flown to North America, perhaps playing their first World Cup ever, for only two games. It also creates the possibility of a ton of agreements in the final group games, as there will always be a country watching on the sidelines as the other two group members will square off. The Disgrace of Gijón isn't that far back in our collective memory, but memories of useless passing in the own half might well become part of our collective lore from the summer of 2026 on. And with this age of ecological durability and greener ways of transport, this format sounds like a step back in time. 

---

About two years ago, I stumbled upon a tweet by Leandro Shara. A Chilean innovator who proposes a new structure for football tournaments. In light of the proposed expansion of the 2022 and 2026 World Cups, he came up with a system called the POT system.

 

In it, he proposes a World Cup of 36 countries with a revolutionary new structure. It's been mentioned in different media albeit pretty low-key.

Quote

Afbeelding kan het volgende bevatten: tekst

Quote

Een alternatieve opzet van de WK-eindronde.

 Basically, it means a restructuring of the concept of the pool play phase. Instead of dividing all teams over groups and letting them battle it out, with the possibility of calculated games in the last round of pool play, no groups are drawn at all. In fact, everybody is divided into pots as usual, but then a computer will generate a schedule for every team, involving teams from every single pot. That way, you can generate an equal schedule for every team, irregardless of how many teams participate in the tournament. And instead of ranking all teams per group, you rank all teams in one, collective table. That table can be used as the seeding for the knockout round. It also guarantees that no country knows its fate until the last games are played. It's become virtually impossible to calculate the needed result. A couple of tournaments have already adapted this format. The initial phase of the first CONCACAF Nations League used this format to divide the initial groups and the Copa Perú, a tournament which decides one single champion out of literally hundreds of teams in just a couple of months.

---

This led me to think what the 2026 FIFA World Cup COULD look like. For now, it looks like FIFA will not change its format of the 16 groups of 3 countries. However, I'd still like to see what a World Cup would look like if this system would be employed. To come up with a possible schedule, I've looked at some of the requirements the FIFA issued for a new schedule and tried to see how I could adapt this system to it.

1. I know FIFA tries to schedule as little games as possible, with the current World Cup format of 64 games and the proposed 2026 one of 80.
2. An even more important aspect is the fact that the possible champion preferably should not play more than seven games in the tournament.
3. An even distribution of continents in the pool play phase -- no country should face a country from the same continent with the exception of European nations, to a maximum of one opponent.

These considerations have led me to come up with the following proposal:

91610b24e5e0cffec81b4ca34341111f.png

- All nations will be distributed to one of four geographical hubs, to reduce travel time.
- All hubs will contain four teams from each pot.
- In every hub, a team will face one team of each pot, for a total of three group games per country.

80206bbcd3fef9e83b953e3aee0d17b7.png

- During pool play, the results of every country will be put in one big table.
- Every result matters and can influence the final standings.
- The best 24 countries will advance to the knockout round, with the other 24 eliminated
- The eight countries that did best will automatically qualify for the Round of 16.
- The other sixteen countries will participate in the first knockout round.

38dff2e0eeffd879b13c60609b108ac3.png

This means that:
- This World Cup has a total of 96 games (including a bronze medal game).
- Every finalist plays a maximum of seven games, or eight if it participated in the first knockout round.
- Every country is guaranteed of at least three games.
- Geographical division will be upheld
- No useless games in pool play. Every game matters. Right up to the final one.
- Every nation plays a more or less balanced schedule: everyone faces a team from Pot 1, Pot 2 and Pot 3.
- Travel for all teams can be restricted to more narrowed down regions, reducing the ecological footprint of this tournament.

What's the aim of this thread?

I intend to simulate this tournament and report it in this thread. Not by diving into the editor, but in a way I've always done it: by setting up matchups through FM Touch's versus mode. I export teams from Football Manager and see what the AI makes of it. To save some time, I'll let FM run the regular FIFA World Cup qualification for the 2022 version and adjust the amount of qualified countries according to the proposal set by the FIFA:

05176859ff30c57d6a359789ba221674.png

I'll briefly mention the results of the World Cup Qualifiers and my fantasy to come up with the eventual 48 nations participating in this Fairer 2026 FIFA World Cup. After that, I will draw this World Cup and intend to write match reports along the lines of fictional gamedays in a way I imagine this tournament could be scheduled. It's mostly just a way to document it out of interest how this tournament could be, but I hope you guys will enjoy reading it as well. Perhaps it's a positive and innovative format for scheduling tournaments in the future.

 

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

QUALIFIERS - OFC

43c93359b2ee6712ee83b2fd1fe2fbc3.png

f6a48564e3f4b6806ad31513e38598ef.png

For the OFC section, I did not have to make a lot of changes. The distribution of places has increased from 0.5 to 1, which means that the winner of this section will qualify directly to the World Cup. This means that New Zealand will participate in the World Cup. The second placed team will qualify for the intercontinental playoff. New Caledonia lost the final, but as they're not a full FIFA member, another country has to take their place. I've decided on giving the ticket to Papua New Guinea based on their group result.

Qualified from OFC:

23px-Flag_of_New_Zealand.svg.png New Zealand

Qualified from OFC for Playoff:

20px-Flag_of_Papua_New_Guinea.svg.png Papua New Guinea

Edited by Timetxu

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Interesting idea. Will follow to see how it plays out. 

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QUALIFIERS - AFC

786d7bdedb422e64e6f30b9c87107c41.png

PLAYOFF:

ec05cc4d782da01639e5a7b114a0ac6c.png

27d0b3c35a590dde8a2272bf6ae5e734.png

b25cec9772d5a6518d6ecdfb29fda096.png

Asia will receive eight direct qualifying spots and has one team qualifying for the intercontinental playoff. This means that the amount of teams qualifying has doubled. Therefore, not only Australia, South Korea, Japan and Iran qualify for the 2026 World Cup, but also Iraq, China, Uzbekistan and the United Arab Emirates. A final playoff (in FMT) was needed between the two fifth placed teams to decide which team would advance to the intercontinental playoff. This turned out to be Syria.

Qualified from AFC:

23px-Flag_of_Australia_%28converted%29.svg.png Australia
23px-Flag_of_South_Korea.svg.png South Korea
23px-Flag_of_Iraq.svg.png Iraq
23px-Flag_of_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China.svg.png China
23px-Flag_of_Japan.svg.png Japan
23px-Flag_of_Iran.svg.png Iran
23px-Flag_of_Uzbekistan.svg.png Uzbekistan
23px-Flag_of_the_United_Arab_Emirates.svg.png United Arab Emirates

Qualified from AFC for Playoff:

23px-Flag_of_Syria.svg.png Syria

 

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QUALIFIERS - CAF

985846b2a8c0e7f27e68181180f0b7e4.png
3050c95cb3458bd395dc366dad2d54f7.png

3ae0cca706204e34c03095e73f284ccb.png
205b7d87ce0cc30ba500fad82e6f2c69.png

This one was a bit more complicated. As CAF goes from five direct entrants to nine, the format for the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers was a bit weird. As I didn't want to just go with the nine best group winners, jeopardizing an actual group win, I decided to automatically qualify the eight best group winners and let the two group winners with the "worst" record battle it out in a playoff, which proved to be Egypt and Tunisia. The winner of that playoff, Tunisia, will automatically qualify for the World Cup. The loser will go to the intercontinental playoff.

Qualified from CAF:

23px-Flag_of_Burkina_Faso.svg.png Burkina Faso
23px-Flag_of_Morocco.svg.png Morocco
23px-Flag_of_Mali.svg.png Mali
23px-Flag_of_Ghana.svg.png Ghana
23px-Flag_of_Nigeria.svg.png Nigeria
23px-Flag_of_C%C3%B4te_d%27Ivoire.svg.png Ivory Coast
23px-Flag_of_Senegal.svg.png Senegal
23px-Flag_of_Cape_Verde.svg.png Cape Verde
23px-Flag_of_Tunisia.svg.png Tunisia

Qualified from CAF for Playoff:

23px-Flag_of_Egypt.svg.png Egypt

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QUALIFYING - CONCACAF

f212f1bbf488bdfa9605f1052b2d7a7b.png

e002e9af91614013cf185ce5dac02fe3.png

This section definitely was hardest. In real life, the CONCACAF has completely split up its best six nations from the rest. Where the best six will play the classic Hexagonal right from the start, with the best three countries qualifying for Qatar, the other nations will battle it out in a group stage + knockout tournament. The winner of that tournament then faces the number four from the Hexagonal for not even a direct entry, but an intercontinental playoff.

As CONCACAF will go from 3 to 6 direct entries, I've decided to give the winner of the knockout tournament a direct entry (thus Canada) and the top five from the Hexagonal as well. This still is just subjective, but I feel like it works and given Canada is one of the hosts of the 2026 World Cup, I didn't want them out. As the host confederation gets an additional playoff spot, this means that the last team in the Hexagonal, as well as the losing finalist of the knockout tournament will receive intercontinental playoff berths.

Qualified from CONCACAF:

23px-Flag_of_Mexico.svg.png Mexico
23px-Flag_of_the_United_States.svg.png United States
23px-Flag_of_Honduras_%282008_Olympics%29.svg.png Honduras
23px-Flag_of_Jamaica.svg.png Jamaica
23px-Flag_of_Costa_Rica.svg.png Costa Rica
23px-Flag_of_Canada_%28Pantone%29.svg.png Canada

Qualified from CONCACAF for Playoff:

23px-Flag_of_Panama.svg.png Panama
23px-Flag_of_El_Salvador.svg.png El Salvador

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QUALIFYING - CONMEBOL

6c7ae392523c368b50680688dc8fe266.png

This qualifying section was definitely the easiest. CONMEBOL will go from four to six direct entries, with the number seven participating in the intercontinental playoff. Thus:

Qualified from CONMEBOL:

22px-Flag_of_Brazil.svg.png Brazil
23px-Flag_of_Argentina.svg.png Argentina
23px-Flag_of_Uruguay.svg.png Uruguay
23px-Flag_of_Colombia.svg.png Colombia
23px-Flag_of_Peru_%28state%29.svg.png Peru
23px-Flag_of_Paraguay.svg.png Paraguay

Qualified from CONMEBOL for Playoff:

23px-Flag_of_Ecuador.svg.png Ecuador

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QUALIFYING - UEFA

1a0515f47f5cf22922f90a8ab5106b8b.png
344e433a64f4ef420b04278d0d2e4790.png
8f08ad47a9f596118b88ac628b9e746f.png

cd855f133dfded06b02e182102417bbe.png

40b5cae1da3bd1fd22ea868d272e7048.png

44328efd6b7857e630149dbeaf545efe.png ca3f37b869bd12ef3a70ee260eba73d0.png

 

This was also a rather complicated one. For the 2022 World Cup, all group winners will automatically qualify for the final tournament, with the ten runners-up being joined by the two best Nations League teams that did not finish in the top 2 of their World Cup qualifying group for a total of twelve countries playing it out in three different playoffs for the last three berths.

In my simulation, I decided to uphold this system. But as the amount of teams from Europe qualified increased from thirteen to sixteen, I decided to give a couple of second placed teams direct entries to get to the right number. Therefore, the four best runners-up (Sweden, Slovakia, Belgium and Turkey) directly qualified for the World Cup, with the other six being joined by the two countries based on their Nations League performance (Iceland and Bosnia & Herzegovina). These eight countries were split over two different playoff paths, with the two winners qualifying for the World Cup.

Qualified from UEFA:

23px-Flag_of_Portugal.svg.png Portugal
23px-Flag_of_Croatia.svg.png Croatia
23px-Flag_of_Spain.svg.png Spain
16px-Flag_of_Switzerland.svg.png Switzerland
23px-Flag_of_France.svg.png France
20px-Flag_of_Denmark.svg.png Denmark
23px-Flag_of_Italy.svg.png Italy
23px-Flag_of_the_Netherlands.svg.png Netherlands
23px-Flag_of_England.svg.png England
23px-Flag_of_Germany.svg.png Germany
23px-Flag_of_Sweden.svg.png Sweden
23px-Flag_of_Slovakia.svg.png Slovakia
23px-Flag_of_Belgium_%28civil%29.svg.png Belgium
23px-Flag_of_Turkey.svg.png Turkey
23px-Flag_of_Scotland.svg.png Scotland
23px-Flag_of_Austria.svg.png Austria

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QUALIFYING - INTERCONTINENTAL PLAYOFF

af3b6d221ee93a61cd1143c24f3a8e7e.png
66743d93eec3aa8256c7448277688417.png

 

b7550c744facff451fd4663d4a22bcb7.png
97974adcbab3445a853a5506535565f7.png

After all of qualifying, six teams will remain with a final shot at qualifying for the 2026 World Cup. The six team knockout tournament is basically a mini-Confederations Cup, as the games are planned to be held in the World Cup host country. Based on the FIFA Rankings, the best two nations will receive a first-round bye, with two finals eventually deciding the final two qualified countries.

Qualified from Playoff:

23px-Flag_of_Ecuador.svg.png Ecuador
Egypt Egypt

 

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Posted (edited)

THE DRAW - PART 1

Now that qualifying is done, let's take a look at all 48 qualified nations and their distribution over the pots, according to the FIFA Rankings for September 2019 (where I exported all national teams from):

1605bd59570b9d42ef394ed184a5f090.png

To lessen the travel time for all teams, and to ease the creation of a schedule, all 48 teams will be distributed to one of the four regional hubs. Every hub will consist of twelve nations in total, with four from every pot. This gives a bit of a group draw feel to it, but remember that every nation will only face three nations in their same regional hub with one from every pot.

0e2d528f2461f0686091be60d5a8f620.png

As of writing this, the six venues in Mexico and Canada have been confirmed, but the ten in the US have not yet. I've run one FM save to see what the AI have come up with and those are the ten US cities that you see here.

So basically, we will draw four teams from every pot into one of the four hubs. To keep the spread as equal as possible and to keep the possible schedules more or less competitive, there will be two teams drawn from the top eight teams per pot and two teams drawn from the bottom eight of every pot.

This will - hopefully - make scheduling pretty easy, as every nation will then face a team from the opposite part of their pot, as well as two nations from the top and bottom of their respective pots.

Edited by Timetxu

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THE DRAW - PART 2

We'll start of this draw by drawing all teams from Pot 1, but not before we've done a little shimmying to guarantee the three host nations three guaranteed home games. I've done this by putting Mexico in the Southern Hub, Canada in the Northern Hub and the USA (after a draw) in the Western Hub:

cd37fb215c5573b3134520fea878bcad.png

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THE DRAW - PART 3

So let's get going by drawing the teams from Pot 1. First, I've drawn the top eight nations:

2b5fcd32dd574e60d2745ec037b413ac.png

And now we will continue by drawing the bottom eight nations from Pot 1:

368c0f98e06a1c39f8f604f708cd9a85.png

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THE DRAW - PART 4

Now it's time for the countries in Pot 2 to be drawn:

61a1387854c3e7253ed78355a525fb16.png

And the bottom eight countries:

37b2724b28ec34a219db410ad9f5e3ed.png

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THE DRAW - PART 5

We're reaching the final part of the Draw as we'll be seeing where the countries from Pot 3 will be looking for training camps.

547b6ca39f54ba72c6412f6234952064.png

And we'll finish the draw with final eight nations:

34f5a41db3cfee79359d3eadc1ab0cad.png

And there we go! Your 2026 FIFA World Cup draw!

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THE SCHEDULE - PART 1

This is why you should always do a test draw first, kids. Upon completing the draw, I've spent the last 24 hours trying to figure out a schedule, using the following rules:

1. Everyone plays one team from each pot in their regional hub
2. You cannot face a team from the same confederation, with the exception of Europe; a European side can face another European side in one of their three games. A team from another confederation can face up to two European sides.
3. The team you face from your same pot is from the opposite part of the pot (if you're from the top eight, you face a team from the bottom eight and vice versa).
4. The remaining two games are played against a team from both the top and the bottom of the two pots which are not your own to promote the most equal spread of quality among all schedules.

 

Now, upon scheduling this draw, I realised two issues which prevented me from making a workable schedule. The first issue was that, because the amount of African teams has increased to amount superior of eight, it was impossible to create any schedule without African sides facing eachother. As there are ten African sides in this simulation, I had to let go of the rule that prevents teams from the same confederation meeting eachother just a little bit. This means that in the two hubs where we find three African countries, there will be one all-African game (so two in total in the entire round robin).

The second issue was that I should have prevented drawing two teams from the same confederation in the same bottom/top section of a pot (except for European sides). In the original schedule, I had the UAE and China together, Mali and Cape Verde, South Korea and Japan and Uzbekistan and Iraq. It proved impossible to schedule anything because it would always lead to the error of having either the nation from the same confederation in another pot having to play them, or a team from another confederation, but one that had already scheduled a game against a team from that confederation.

So, yes. A lot of theory. This meant that I had to shuffle around the draw a little bit. The good thing it did not mess up the integrity of the draw, as all the teams were kept in the same top eight/bottom eight and pots. Therefore, the amended draw is still valid. I just had to interfere a little bit:

c94bb1cc79a854fb8469cadbd44785a2.png

As you can see, I had to do four switches, without messing about with the integrity of the draw.

---

This leads us to the first rough match schedule of the tournament. In the next update, I'll arrange all the games in an order with venues and all, but for now, these are the three games all the countries have been assigned. I'm very happy with the relative strength of everyone's schedule. Looks like it's pretty fair with everybody getting one big nation, one tough outfit and a lesser known one.

40b54b50d813ac5f40b32015c804711f.png

1ee8516cd1c0df3038ffbe70cfae84e4.png

dd1dbe7a1933166000e4991b14746486.png

5e2b48658dcc4910e1bf917b169bd68c.png

Just a quick glance at this schedule gives me the feeling that there's a lot more top games in here, as well as equally matched games. Should definitely give a round robin that will be exciting to the end!

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Posted (edited)

THE SCHEDULE - PART 2

After rearranging the hubs just a little bit, I've been able to create a schedule for every country. Essentially, in every round a country from one pot will play against a country from another pot, with the four countries from the remaining pot battling it out between them. To keep the tournament exciting until the end, I've decided to randomize the structure of the games. This means that there will be pot 1/2 games, pot 2/3 games, as well as pot 1/3 games in every round of fixtures.

Therefore, this is the schedule for the first round of group play. I've decided to grant Canada the right to play the Opening Game, with some alluring stadiums for the hosts to start their campaign in: BMO Field in Toronto for Canada, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for Team USA and the Azteca Stadum for Mexico.

1af3fab0cb5347fe37df76a86ccb5b10.png

The structure of this thread will be as follows: every post I'll simulate two games and give reports from those games. This means that we'll have a "day games" duo and a "night games" duo. After every day (ie. every two updates), I'll show the overal table.

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 1 - GAME 1

Well, the World Cup is about to get underway in Toronto and we can look forward to five weeks full of games. It'll be Canada, one of the host nations, taking on Denmark today. In just 96 games, we will know who the next World Champion will be!

First Round of Pool Play
BMO Field, Toronto, Canada

iconfinder_Flag_of_Canada_96339.png.d2ec91183305894c6988452d81ae906d.png canada_1.png.0e590e61e53e5510dbcf85fe3b284a50.png56d88d431e93599b7a3b5228a0d816e6.pngdenmark2.png.bd830092c1759e777f7d820afa4ea69d.png iconfinder_Flag_of_Denmark_96204.png.cf1c9f5ff7c4c50874bb51a43f639821.png

Lineups:

Canada (4-2-3-1 Narrow):
Borjan; Córdova, James, Henry, Davies; Hutchinson Yellow card, Eustáquio, David, Arfield Yellow card, Osorio; Cavallini

Denmark (4-4-2 Diamond Narrow):
Schmeichel; Wass (Substituted offSubstituted in 12' Stryger Larsen Yellow card), Kjær, Christensen, Skov; Delaney Yellow card, Falk, Billing, Eriksen (Substituted offSubstituted in 46' Højbjerg); Dolberg (Substituted offSubstituted in 52' Poulsen), Fischer

Report:
It was a flying start for the hosts Canada as they bombarded the Danish goal in the first half. Definitely not the start that Denmark had expected. Especially when defender Daniel Wass had to leave the field with an injury after only twelve minutes. Despite being the better side, Canada did not manage to score before half time and as the second half went on and Denmark had used all their substitutions by the 52nd minute, the European side started to finally get into the game. Canada was reduced to just a couple of long range efforts in the second half and saw how Denmark had two goals ruled out for offside. Nevertheless, the Danes never really looked threatening all game and with the game entering stoppage time, the game looked destined for a draw. However, a free kick by Canada leftback Juan Córdova was met by the head of Denmarks Simon Kjær for the own goal in stoppage time. Ecstacy in Toronto as the hosts looked to steal their first victory at a World Cup ever, but it was Cavallini who turned joy into pandemonium with a long shot in the bottom right corner of Schmeichels goal and made it even 2-0.

Statistics:
Goals 0
13 
Shots 12
On Target 6
1.7 
Expected Goals 1.6
57% 
Possession 43%

Man of the Match:
Juan Córdova - Canada
(Clean sheet, 4 crosses completed, 2 chances created, 6 tackles won, 26 recoveries, own goal assist)

 

(As I genuinely enjoy writing these extensive recaps, I'll probably stick to just one update per post or it'll take way too long to have two games simulated)

 

 

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 1 - GAME 2

After the opening game has been played, we travel a couple of miles east to Montreal, where one of the dark horses for World Cup glory get the action underway.

First Round of Pool Play
Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada

iconfinder_Flag_of_South_Korea_96165.png.1e080a2de12f217e74d27ac0ef7510e0.pngsouthkorea1.png.041954d38bed0ed70558c3e7c3a1b5de.pngcc3a2871df62505394f3164d8aa6cb0c.pngcolombia1.png.6c62f677f201df2094d63a39e9543f67.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Colombia_96299.png.0a1f912bcc03cc65658d65b38a1cb865.png

Lineups:

South Korea (Positive 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Cho H.W.; Lee Y. Yellow card, Hong J.H. Yellow card, Kim M.J. (Substituted offSubstituted in 90+3' Kim K.H.), Kim J.S. Yellow card; Hwang I.B., Lee J.S. Yellow card, Hwang U.J. (Substituted offSubstituted in 73' Kim B.K.), Kwon C.H., Son H.M. Yellow card; Hwang H.C.

Colombia (Positive 4-4-1-1):
Ospina; Arias, Sánchez, Mina, Fabra; Cuadrado Yellow card, Uribe, Lerma (Substituted offSubstituted in 73' Cuéllar), Díaz Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' Quintero); Rodríguez, Zapata

Report:
After the early goal by Duván Zapata - a lovely headed goal in the box after a cross from Juan Cuadrado - it was a counter-attacking masterclass from Colombia. South Korea seemed to dominate possession for most of the game, but had no answer to the deadly speed of their South American opponents. South Korea star Son Heung-min had a disappointing game and after seeing his side miss chance after chance in the final quarter of the game, it was another lethal breakaway from Juan Cuadrado that sealed the fate of the game.

Statistics:
Goals 2
15 
Shots 22
On Target 8
1.6 Expected Goals 2.5
50% 
Possession 50%

Man of the Match:
Juan Cuadrado - Colombia
(2 assists, clean sheet, 4 crosses completed, 3 key passes, 1 chance created, 5 tackles won, 11 recoveries, 10 dribbles, 8 fouls received)

Edited by Timetxu

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17 minutes ago, Millerman said:

Loving this.

Thanks for following :D

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DAY 1 - GAME 3

It's a fitting theatre for today's game as the reigning World Champions France will take on Cape Verde in MetLife Stadium in New York: the final venue where the next champion will be crowned.

First Round of Pool Play
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Cape_Verde_96209.png.f39ae2f3926ea0762b9da59373d6a9b5.pngcapeverde2.png.e89a4df8c644b31d523fe243bfac9e56.pngf1e14c3564470883e190850cd2eae884.pngfrance1.png.9f66d14df894406ba784e754b0cbddeb.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_France_96147.png.85d9f9020523702d3573bac1e68154af.png

Lineups:

Cape Verde (Defensive 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Vózinha; Gégé, F. Varela, Ponck, Stopira; Rocha Santos (Substituted offSubstituted in 80' H. Tavares), Monteiro, Gomes (Substituted offSubstituted in 67' Pereira), Djaniny, Rodrigues Yellow card; Zé Luís

France (Positive 4-1-2-3 DM Wide):
Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Mendy (Substituted offSubstituted in 80' Hernández); Kanté, Pogba, Matuidi; Dembélé (Substituted offSubstituted in 81' Coman), Griezmann, Mbappé

Report:
The pitch in MetLife Stadium might have been waterclogged well before the game started, but that did not stop the attacking efficiency of both teams. Within ten minutes, France looked destined for a walkover of their African counterparts, but a breakaway goal by Garry Rodrigues kept things interesting. The remainder of the game was a complete siege of the Cape Verdean goal, but France needed a brilliant free kick by man of the match Ousmane Dembélé to really walk away with the game. Still, the World Champions would have hoped to get more goals in to bolster that all important goal difference. Cape Verdes World Cup debut was far from bad.

Statistics:
Goals 3
6
Shots 34
On Target 15
0.7
Expected Goals 4.2
46% 
Possession 54%

Man of the Match:
Ousmane Dembélé - France
(1 goal, 1 assist, 6 crosses completed, 3 key passes, 1 chance created, 4 interceptions, 20 recoveries)

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Posted (edited)

DAY 1 - GAME 4

We conclude this Opening Day from Philadelphia where we'll see if China has come any closer to their goal of becoming the 2030 World Champions against heavyweights Brazil.

First Round of Pool Play
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_China_96342.png.ccadcf54976aa77435d39b322032f868.pngchina1.png.106a611145b5ecadf210eb714a3bc457.pngbc3e9eaadb0b1acaef7b15ac685ad9a8.pngbrazil1.png.0a3ca29e5a302e8ca0517bc4a2e44b8c.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Brazil_96143.png.cd6455845c21ab0c7bb61771198d9802.png

Lineups:

China (Defensive 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Yan; L. Zhang Yellow card, Z. Gao(Substituted offSubstituted in '78 Liu), Shi Yellow card, Yu Yellow card; Yennaris, Zheng (Substituted offSubstituted in 83' Chi), L. Gao Yellow-red card, Huang (Substituted offSubstituted in 38' Hao Yellow card), Wu Yellow card; Elkeson Yellow card

Brazil (Cautious 4-2-1-3 DM Wide):
Alisson; Danilo (Substituted offSubstituted in 56' Silva), Militão Yellow card, Marquinhos, Sandro; Fabinho, Casemiro Yellow card, Arthur (Substituted offSubstituted in 62' Coutinho); Everton (Substituted offSubstituted in 67' Costa), Neymar, Firmino

Report:
There was no doubt who was going to win this match. It was gallery play on display by Brazil as they beat China five goals to nil with some stunning goals along the way. It was always going to be tough for the Asian side, but an early exit for midfielder Gao Lin made it virtually impossible to salvage anything from this game. Brazil goalkeeper Alisson only touched the ball three times on the night as Neymar and Roberto Firmino were the stars with two goals apiece.

Statistics:
Goals 5
Shots 29
On Target 10
0.1 
Expected Goals 3.5
54% 
Possession 46%

Man of the Match:
Roberto Firmino - Brazil
(2 goals, 1 assist, 3 key passes, 2 chances created, 5 shots)

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 1 - STANDINGS

After the first four games of this World Cup, we can start looking at the table. Not a lot to say yet, but Brazil can be vary happy with that goal difference as that might help them stay in that top 8 and qualify directly for the Round of 16. Denmark is in an early pickle, though.

3785fdbf61f4b978bd06faa96e6b7b2f.png

7cb54991215024e3792b5668844bc121.png2e1c73d403ee5dfabcefa26a64bda5c5.png 

(FYI: FPP stands for Fair Play Points. I'd imagine it'll be used more as a tiebreaker in this format than previously)

 

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 2 - GAME 1

It's a new day of World Cup action and we start off with the two remaining games from the Northern Hub. The first one is an all-European confrontation:

First Round of Pool Play
BMO Field, Toronto, Canada

iconfinder_Flag_of_Slovakia_96298.png.72e0373cfe7b78221125a062eaa40cca.pngslovakia1.png.619764b316d0246f738459ad441a8ded.png2dc14cf2c5a66593d175583b9c73b306.pngscotland1.png.9bd192d7d0f796f516184df6a35899a4.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Scotland_96289.png.0d666c8948e484ae8892ac16ead87e46.png

Lineups:

Slovakia (Cautious 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow):
Dubravka; Pekarik, Skriniar Red card, Vavro, Hancko; Hrosovsky, Hamsik, Lobotka (Substituted offSubstituted in 2' Valjent), Duda; Bozenik (Substituted offSubstituted in 69' Duris), Kucka

Scotland (4-4-1-1):
Gordon; O'Donnell, Souttar, Cooper, Robertson, Forrest Yellow card, McGregor, McTominay Yellow card, Fraser; Christie (Substituted offSubstituted in 82' Armstrong), Griffiths (Substituted offSubstituted in 56' Naismith Yellow card)

Report:
Pure chaos for Slovakia as key player Milan Skriniar had a completely brainless moment when he launched himself onto Leigh Griffiths with a two-legged tackle after only 65 seconds and got sent off straight way. That was the only moment Slovakia showed anything of note in the game as the team limited itself to defending their goal for the next 88 minutes. They did extremely well, though, as Scotland did not manage to capitalize on their majority in numbers. A game which will definitely give the Tartan Army reason for wonder as to how they did not manage to score a goal here.

Statistics:
Goals 0
Shots 22
On Target 7
0.2 
Expected Goals 3.0
56% 
Possession 44%

Man of the Match:
Stephen O'Donnell - Scotland
(clean sheet, 6 crosses completed, 4 key passes, 1 chance created, 17 recoveries, 94% passing accuracy)

Edited by Timetxu

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15 hours ago, PaulHartman71 said:

Good stuff so far

 

12 minutes ago, collindinho said:

Following with interest. Great so far! :applause:

Thanks guys! Happy you're following along!

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DAY 2 - GAME 2

It's the last game for the teams in the Northern Hub. And with another Pot 2 confrontation, both teams will definitely want to win this one.

First Round of Pool Play
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Tunisia_96360.png.3487166b7d37c5e0c254543c766b6a86.pngtunisia1.png.8e5b6262629acc8f56c2e417f800e88a.pngef08f4dc67e27e9dbb65703913ed7155.pngcostarica_1.png.ca371f14b434b0c1b4486dca76da1b8d.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Costa_Rica_96369.png.dca323b736143002559e0c9097ca9430.png

Lineups:

Tunisia (Cautious 4-2-2-2 DM Narrow):
Hassen; Dräger, Meriah (Substituted offSubstituted in 88' Ben Youssef), Abdennour, Haddadi; Skhiri, Bronn (Substituted offSubstituted in 70' Khenissi), Sassi Yellow card, Chaalali; Jebali, Khazri

Costa Rica (Cautious 5-3-2 WB):
Navas; Gamboa, González, Duarte, Calvo, Oviedo (Substituted offSubstituted in 45+1' Díaz); Guzmán Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 82' Tejeda), Ruíz, Borges; Rodriguez (Substituted offSubstituted in 70' George), Campbell

Report:
For such an important game, both teams showed up rather defensively for their confrontation. It looked like the sides rather didn't lose than take the risk of putting up a decent attack. With both sides retreating to their own halves most of the time , a 0-0 was the only just outcome of this game. However, a flash of genius from late substitution Yeltsin Tejeda sent the Costa Rican fans in raptures as he beautifully curled the ball in the top corner from twenty yards out with just minutes to spare.

Statistics:
Goals 1
Shots 10
On Target 3
0.7 
Expected Goals 0.7
60% 
Possession 40%

Man of the Match:
Yeltsin Tejeda - Costa Rica
(Late substitution winner)

 

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DAY 2 - GAME 3

The two remaining games on day 2 will be confrontations between Pot 3 teams in the Western Hub. Some must-win games already!

First Round of Pool Play
AT&T Stadium, Dallas, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Mali_96196.png.01d7ae53640ce0c839a65dccbbb31683.pngmali2.png.bc31685cdeb4e53c1982a66d66803281.png63b08283230a24d42a60a5436fcfa083.pnguae2.png.95f59c890ff2fe1afa116f22b94dbc03.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_United_Arab_Emirates_96244.png.043c2f3b86c4ef80465e1350e2d191d3.png

Lineups:

Mali (Cautious 4-4-2):
Samassa; H. Traoré, Wagué, Konaté (Substituted offSubstituted in 79' Dibassy), Koné; F. Diabaté (Substituted offSubstituted in 73' Diaby), Samassékou, Haidara (Substituted offSubstituted in 84' T. Doumbia), M. Doumbia; K. Coulibaly, Marega

United Arab Emirates (Cautious 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Khaseif; Lashkri, Al-Kamali (Substituted offSubstituted in 86' Al-Ruimaithe), Abbas, Hezam; Al-Ali Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 75' Khalifa), A. Abdulrahman, Caio, O. Abdulrahman, Mabkhout (Substituted offSubstituted in 75' Saleh); Khalil

Report:
Despite being a game between two (presumed) Pot 3 sides, Mali showed they're absolutely a force to be reckoned with this tournament. Their offense, spearheaded by FC Porto's Moussa Marega, gave the Arabs nightmares. Perhaps a 5-1 final score was a tad lopsided, but it just goes to show the quality of finishing of the Eagles.

Statistics:
Goals 1
22 
Shots 9
On Target 4
2.8
Expected Goals 1.3
42% 
Possession 58%

Man of the Match:
Moussa Marega - Mali
(2 goals, 4 shots, 7 recoveries)

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DAY 2 - GAME 4

It's the last game of the day and - no spoilers - we've saved the best for last.

First Round of Pool Play
Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Japan_96239.png.30c632a1d875bfd40cf28cc0aac25abe.pngjapan1.png.2fafc433130b07bf3cb519bbbf838d24.png54be687a5df49e0af44bfc7fc70805ff.pngegypt1.png.2765e582df0f3a6aff05316cd8b35b38.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Egypt_96251.png.55548d096b91c2e344985a000f92b62b.png

Lineups:

Japan (Cautious 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Kawashima; Sakai, Yoshida, Tomiyasu Yellow card, Nagatomo; Endô Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 82' Kamada), Shibasaki, Minamino, Kagawa, Nakajima; Ôsako (Substituted offSubstituted in 82' Okazaki)

Egypt (4-1-2-3 DM Wide):
El Shennawy; Elmohamady, Samir, Gabr, Hafez; Elneny, Gomaa, Morsy (Substituted offSubstituted in 59' Magdy); Salah, Trezeguet (Substituted offSubstituted in 90+3' Sobhi), Hassan

Report:
It must have been something in the air, because Japan and Egypt treated the fans to an extremely attractive game. The opening half had a very big Liverpool theme to it as Takumi Minamino and Mohamed Salah opened the scoring for both sides. Saleh Gomaa prevented the game going into half time tied by scoring an absolute screamer from outside of the box. That did not distress the Samurai Blue one bit as they stormed out of the gates and scored some beautiful goals to put Japan back up. Mohamed Magdy, who had just come on three minutes prior, put both teams back on equal terms and although everyone was hoping for more goals in the final third of the game, a tie was probably the fairest outcome as none of the teams deserved a loss.

Statistics:
Goals 3
20 Shots 19
On Target 10
2.1 
Expected Goals 2.3
62% 
Possession 38%

Man of the Match:
Takumi Minamino - Japan
(1 goal, 1 assist, 16 recoveries, 4 fouls received, 6 dribbles, 92% passing accuracy)
 

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Posted (edited)

DAY 2 - STANDINGS

It's time to look at the table again where Mali storms the top eight.

29c13401b81134db7355f2a0e234f23c.png

f297e051d533e73774c138c515ed67c3.png88f6f463805fb8015d21e2e8dcbea6b3.png

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 3 - GAME 1

Get ready for some great games as four candidates for the world title are squaring off against some tough opposition. Starting with the Three Lions against Paraguay.

First Round of Pool Play
Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Canada

iconfinder_Flag_of_England_96304.png.c9905315e048f3adfa933221b45dc6f3.pngengland1.png.06a7f513b16b14d2f0fdc200a7c74533.pngaf9a538f4b7947339c3b660fea3164ce.pngparaguay1.png.9b7481ca5efcf0f40cf54907bc64652b.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Paraguay_96319.png.942aa8e3ae116f51ec6ccf4cd12dbc46.png

Lineups:

England (4-4-2 Diamond Narrow):
Pickford; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez (Substituted offSubstituted in 5' Tomori), Stones, Chilwell; Henderson, Maddison (Substituted offSubstituted in 71' Barkley), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Substituted offSubstituted in 76' Grealish), Alli; Abraham, Kane

Paraguay (Defensive 4-2-3-1 Wide):
Fernández; Moreira, Balbuena, Alderete, Alonso Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 80' Gómez); Rojas, Ortiz, Romero, Almirón, Gonzalez Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 60' Iturbe); Santander (Substituted offSubstituted in 68' Domínguez)

Report:
Paraguay chose a defensive approach to the game and it payed off in the first half, frustrating the Three Lions. After an early injury blow to Joe Gomez, England was stunned by Miguel Almiróns close-range header where he easily beat John Stones in the area. It must have been a thunderous half-time speech by Gareth Southgate because England stormed out of the gates in the second half and scored three times within a nine minute period. A powering header by Stones, a volley from Dele Alli and a clinical finish from Harry Kane put the Three Lions up ahead for good. Paraguayan morale seemed to drop after that because two horrendous defensive miscues gifted England another two goals. A little bit of honour was restored by a great header by Fabián Balbuena in between those two errors.

Statistics:
Goals 2
24 
Shots 6
14 
On Target 3
3.4 
Expected Goals 1.1
49% 
Possession 51%

Man of the Match:
Harry Kane - England
(2 goals, 8 recoveries, 5 shots)
 

 

Edited by Timetxu

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11 hours ago, oche balboa said:

This is great, Keep up the fantastic work 

Thanks for your comment!

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Posted (edited)

DAY 3 - GAME 2

We're continuing this quartet of title favourites with Uruguay facing Turkey.

First Round of Pool Play
Rose Bowl, Pasadena

iconfinder_Flag_of_Uruguay_96224.png.ccf7e506573f3cabe3f2b63f5c60bd8a.pnguruguay1.png.9f50a74f2ea67f6b1b6eaa49cc6b70d0.pngcb6704ab78d7ea150b632dff5c654dd6.pngturkey2.png.bc2e83518f05f82a3602f991d5268943.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Turkey_96173.png.ed545fb77fade27927730051cf1ca204.png

Lineups:

Uruguay (4-4-1-1):
Muslera; Cáceres Yellow card, Giménez, Godín, Olaza; Stuani (Substituted offSubstituted in 71' Lodeiro), Bentancur, Valverde Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 77' Torreira Yellow card), Laxalt Yellow card; De Arrascaeta (Substituted offSubstituted in 71' Cavani), Suárez

Turkey (Cautious 4-2-1-3 DM Wide):
Çakir; Çelik, Demiral Yellow card, Söyüncü, Erkin; Yokuslu, Belözoğlu, Kahveci; Ünder, Çalhanoglu, Tosun (Substituted offSubstituted in 56' Ünal)

Report:
Turkey had a strong start to the game but defender İrfan Kahveci had to pull the brakes when Giorgian de Arrascaeta stormed the penalty area. Uruguay did not waste the chance from the penalty spot and doubled their tally just two minutes later, when Luis Suárez beautifully curled in a free kick from the edge of the box. Turkish hopes did not fade, however, as they continued to create a decent amount of chances in the game and most definitely deserved a goal, or even more. However, a clinical long-range shot in the bottom corner from man of the match Federico Valverde was the definitive blow.

Statistics:
Goals 0
10 Shots 15
On Target 7
0.8 +1 PK Expected Goals 2.0
50% 
Possession 50%

Man of the Match:
Federico Valverde - Uruguay
(1 goal, 4 shots, clean sheet, 100% passing accuracy)

Edited by Timetxu

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DAY 3 - GAME 3

In this game, it's the 2010 World Cup Champions Spain against perennial dark horses Nigeria.

First Round of Pool Play
AT&T Stadium, Dallas, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Spain_96317.png.27b939920909391514ea145329d0c70e.pngspain1.png.4e8262269b28eb72aaf17c194d83473a.pngb60509ee1a7b5f2ccd80dc2b2196196a.pngnigeria1.png.91823b89a9f88f51ccc93bc453a8009a.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Nigeria_96249.png.92dcd958d696d55ea409e989b5e5acb7.png

Lineups:

Spain (Positive 4-2-3-1 Wide):
De Gea; Roberto (Substituted offSubstituted in 81' Carvajal), Ramos Yellow card, Hermoso, Alba; Busquets (Substituted offSubstituted in 81' Koke), Thiago Yellow card, Williams, Isco, Vitolo (Substituted offSubstituted in 81' Rodrigo); Morata

Nigeria (Cautious 4-4-1-1):
Akpeyi; Ebuehi, Troost-Ekong Yellow card, Omeruo (Substituted offSubstituted in 84' Awaziem), Aina; Chukwueze, Aribo, Ndidi, Iwobi; Iheanacho, Osimhen (Substituted offSubstituted in 59' Musa)

Report:
It was a very routine win for Spain tonight. The first half was very tame from both sides with the only highlight a screaming strike from Isco from the side of the box. The second half started off with another quick Spanish goal. From then on, Nigeria looked more tempted to consolidation than forcing another goal. The "boring win for Spain" headlines were already sent to the papers when Morata suddenly added two late goals to complete a pure hat-trick. Spain had another two goals disallowed in the game for offside and a pushing foul.

Statistics:
Goals 0
20 
Shots 9
10 
On Target 6
2.3 + 1 PK Expected Goals 0.9
52% 
Possession 48%

Man of the Match:
Álvaro Morata - Spain
(3 goals, 8 shots, 7 interceptions)

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DAY 3 - GAME 4

We saved the best for last on this third World Cup day as co-host United States will be facing title favourites Germany in the Rose Bowl.

First Round of Pool Play
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_United_States_96220.png.42cb406235acb07fd930416d061f69a6.pngusa_1.png.fe56c7e1db6f7d982c224d53089b84ba.png6bed7ac42cb690e4d65af53f41c92d0b.pnggermany2.png.d8860c4e7b2a027c48d5f0af9d4f6ed7.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Germany_96145.png.1b43ebaf491743b7c50191d2a735ffc2.png

Lineups:

United States (4-4-1-1):
Steffen; Yedlin, González, Brooks, Robinson Yellow card; Pulisic Yellow card, Bradley, McKennie (Substituted offSubstituted in 57' Adams Yellow card), Johnson Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 68' Arriola); Lletget, Altidore (Substituted offSubstituted in 68' Morris)

Germany (4-4-1-1):
Neuer; Kimmich, Rüdiger Yellow card, Süle, Schulz; Gnabry, Kroos, Gündogan, Reus; Havertz, Werner

Report:
Despite a late American siege of the German goal, die Mannschaft ran out deserved winners in this rather underwhelming match. The Germans stunned the home side after an early penalty goal and doubled their tally seemingly effortless with a great team goal by Timo Werner just before half time. The United States didn't know how to handle the Germans who were not intent on laying out their best football. A headed goal by Christian Pulisic, who was completely unmarked at the far post on a Paul Arriola cross, brought life back in the final quarter of the game. However, the Stars and Stripes could not muster up more than a header from Omar González.

Statistics:
Goals 2
Shots 18
On Target 14
0.9 
Expected Goals 2.1 + 1 PK
36% Possession 64%

Man of the Match:
Toni Kroos (4 crosses, 4 key passes, 1 chance created, 8 recoveries, 107 passes, 93% passing accuracy)

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DAY 3 - STANDINGS

With half of the participating countries now having played their first game, let's look at the table. It's Spain, England and Uruguay now entering the top eight while Germany would virtually need an additional knockout game to reach the Round of 16.

f66ee1e79dd2d99168687b9bc17277e1.png

1b0bf3b9cb5e11f7d78e2f2e234c64e5.png
4807ed429a96f95c66e6947fea5745c4.png

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DAY 4 - GAME 1

From the North and the West, we'll be heading East for the third hub of this tournament. Some strong nations in this area, but we're starting off with the four Pot 3 sides in two direct confrontations. They'll most definitely want to win these games!

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, United States
First Round of Pool Play

iconfinder_Flag_of_Jamaica_96149.png.49f3bcf13cb93c0447e5384fc114d7e7.pngjamaica_1.png.a486e79e6a8818df7ac4f3a443929042.png5c5062b4401e7744be6a5a48a0453ce1.pnguzbekistan2.png.045cb7b72b2c06841b3f926fced99430.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Uzbekistan_96136.png.10f81a7742624fa73f27061d41d960d2.png

Lineups:

Jamaica (4-2-3-1 Narrow):
Blake; Powell, Hector Yellow card, Mariappa, Lawrence; Pratley Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 75' McCleary Yellow card), Vassell Yellow card, Bailey, Decordova-Reid, Lewis (Substituted offSubstituted in 75' Orgill); Nicholson (Substituted offSubstituted in 65' Austin)

Uzbekistan (Cautious 5-3-2 WB):
Quvvatov; Masharipov, Xoshimov, Krimets Yellow card, A'zamov Yellow card, Ismoilov (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' Afonin); Hamrobekov (Substituted offSubstituted in 68' Aliboev), Ahmedov, Sobirxo'jaev; Shomurodov, Rashidov (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' Sergeev)

Report:
The Jamaican players fell to the earth devastated after the final whistle in Atlanta as the extremely organized Uzbekis had pulled off the upset and snatched away three points. Jamaica took early control in the game, but an Uzbeki free kick from the edge of the box was headed in at the far post by Eldor Shomurodov to put the White Wolves up ahead. The Reggae Boyz did not look all to shaken from that as they kept pushing forward for a goal. A rain of shots hailed down on the Uzbeki goal for most of the game, but the congested center part of the field prevented a Jamaican goal. That was, until Peter-Lee Vassell beautifully headed in a cross from Bobby Decordova-Reid. However, joy did not last long as on the next attack, Uzbekistan swung in a free kick from long out and after a scramble in the box, it was center back Sherzod A'zamov who could put his toe to the ball and guaranteed the first World Cup win for the Central Asian country.

Statistics:
Goals 2
27 
Shots 6
On Target 3
3.3 
Expected Goals 1.3
53% 
Possession 47%

Man of the Match:
Sherzod A'zamov - Uzbekistan
(1 goal, 1 chance created, 3 shots blocked, 4 interceptions, 5 tackles won, 8 recoveries)

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Posted (edited)

DAY 4 - GAME 2

Another confrontation between two lesser known nations. This time from Baltimore.

First Round of Pool Play
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Burkina_Faso_96171.png.0aa5b7b408b554273219a5f19ddacd27.pngburkinafaso2.png.c6f77639b0388c6b73850682e1e60179.pngf4b7e479768cd759291346db2b7af500.pngnewzealand1.png.46130a2b22c5eb147254e40c01ce1b37.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_New_Zealand_96325.png.4767a2061280ebdfa6aa27837e469e7f.png

Lineups:

Burkina Faso (Cautious 4-4-2):
Koffi; Yago, Koné, E. Tapsoba, Coulibaly; B. Traoré, C. Kaboré, Dabo, Nakoulma (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' Touré); Bandé (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' A. Ouattara), L. Traoré (Substituted offSubstituted in 63' Koura)

New Zealand (Cautious 4-4-2):
Marinovic; Kirwan, Tuiloma, Smith, Cacace; Barbarouses, Thomas, Singh, Rojas; De Jong (Substituted offSubstituted in 90+1' Just), Wood

Report:
It was a rather entertaining match between these Pot 3 sides. Although both teams started in rather defensive shapes to the game, there was a lot of action in front of both goals. Especially the first half was quite entertaining, as New Zealand scored a brace, among which a stunning strike from Sarpreet Singh. With an 87% passing accuracy, Burkina Faso showed some impeccable patience in their build-up, but they couldn't convert on some great chances in the second half. There was no real siege from the Stallions in the final part of the game, with the All Whites holding out for a win fairly easily.

Statistics:
Goals 2
16 
Shots 18
On Target 7
1.8 
Expected Goals 2.0
56% 
Possession 44%

Man of the Match:
Sarpreet Singh - New Zealand
(1 goal, 4 crosses completed, 3 key passes, 1 chance created, clean sheet, 85% passing accuracy)

Edited by Timetxu

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11 hours ago, oche balboa said:

This is a mad format 

It sure is. I'm really curious what's going to happen once the last round of pool play starts and you start filling in the knockout rounds.

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Posted (edited)

DAY 4 - GAME 3

Four very interesting matchups coming up between Pot 1 and Pot 2 teams. Starting with the vice World Champions.

First Round of Pool Play
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Croatia_96346.png.9ddda1f2b46d9dda2775c0bb5a526c5b.pngcroatia1.png.70a1fb18339b0fcfc0eee9ea94667467.png81c8888e49383e291cc59f511df92dd1.pngsenegal1.png.fec8e430c16084ef2317b06df1abc77a.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Senegal_96200.png.f7732550158a6e3b8c209ac8b02a5bdd.png

Lineups:

Croatia (5-3-2):
Livakovic; Jedvaj (Substituted offSubstituted in 73' Juranovic), Lovren, Vida (Substituted offSubstituted in 73' Skoric), Caleta-Car, Strinic Yellow-red card; Modric, Kovacic, Rakitic; Petkovic (Substituted offSubstituted in 56' Rebic), Livaja

Senegal (Cautious 4-2-2-2 DM Narrow):
Mendy; Wagué, Koulibaly, Sané, Souaré; Gueye Yellow card, Kouyaté, B. Ndiaye (Substituted offSubstituted in 78' Saivet), Al. N'Diaye Yellow card; Mané, Niang (Substituted offSubstituted in 62' Baldé)

Report:
It was a very interesting game in Kansas City as Croatia and Senegal finally gave us an evenly matched pairing. Senegal was in control earliest and scored on a fantastic strike in the top corner from the edge of the box by Alfred N'Diaye. From there on, the organised Croats slowly pushed forward and it didn't take long for them to equalise on a great header by wingback Tin Jedvaj. The rest of the game was a mix of dangerous crosses by Croatia and good central play from Senegal, but neither team managed to find the net again. Not even after a second yellow for Ivan Strinic.

Statistics:
Goals 1
17 
Shots 12
On Target 6
2.1 
Expected Goals 1.5
40% 
Possession 60%

Man of the Match:
Tin Jedvaj - Croatia
(1 goal, 3 crosses completed, 8 tackles won, 12 interceptions, 4 shots)

Edited by Timetxu

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DAY 4 - GAME 4

It's the final game of the day with another big favourite coming up.

First Round of Pool Play
FedEx Field, Landover, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Belgium_96153.png.0adc55e15a62d07a5bdea5ec86afc9ce.pngbelgium1.png.401a6b9b4ca94e0fc09873942586b2cd.png4a68884b19d678aa1fd27a14f1640b01.pngaustralia1.png.38b4617c5d4bfa1b61aa7a9f7d132edd.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Australia_96167.png.d234cd8f2d14feecdebabc85b1911246.png

Lineups:

Belgium (4-1-2-3 DM Wide):
Courtois; Meunier Yellow card, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Bolingoli; Witsel, Tielemans, De Bruyne Yellow card (Substituted offSubstituted in 77' Dendoncker); Carrasco (Substituted offSubstituted in 69' T. Hazard), E. Hazard Yellow card, Lukaku (Substituted offSubstituted in 83' Mertens)

Australia (Cautious 4-4-1-1):
Ryan; Karacic Yellow card, Degenek, Jurman Yellow card, Smith; Kruse (Substituted offSubstituted in 77' Leckie), Mooy Yellow card, Luongo Yellow card, Mabil (Substituted offSubstituted in 69' Oar); Rogic Yellow card, Giannou

Report:
It's the first real shock result of this World Cup as Australia manage to snatch a 1-0 win over heavy tournament favourites Belgium. The Socceroos took an early lead on a strong header by Apostolos Giannou. Belgium then took control of the game and managed to amass a sizeable amount of scoring opportunities. However, even though he managed to stay on the field, an early hit to Kevin De Bruyne destabilized the Belgian midfield and for all of the game, the Red Devils just seemed off. They had problems stringing passes together and really push Australia back on their own half. Some individuals moments of genius by Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard were the only real threats to the Aussie goalie Mathew Ryan.

Statistics:
Goals 1
22 
Shots 8
12 
On Target 2
3.0 
Expected Goals 1.0
47% 
Possession 53%

Man of the Match:
Brad Smith - Australia
(1 assist, clean sheet, 1 chance created, 5 interceptions, 13 recoveries)

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Posted (edited)

DAY 4 - STANDINGS

Four days in and there's finally some sensible things to say about the standings. New Zealand is the only country who played today and managed to work its way up to the top eight. For Belgium, the alarm bells will be ringing as they will definitely need to beat Burkina Faso and can't lose to Italy in their Pot 1 confrontation.

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8acb254c478d35b234acdae8871b7d27.png

Edited by Timetxu

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Posted (edited)

DAY 5 - GAME 1

It's a new day, it's a new dawn, it's a new... anyway... Four more games with some absolute crackers in here. We start off with two European giants, followed by the first two all-Pot 1 matchups!

First Round of Pool Play
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, United States

iconfinder_Flag_of_Italy_96276.png.4320ca312fae0406f97481714896b90f.pngitaly1.png.2729161638988bfd8a6c1c6e5e8ba310.pngeb77ed061334d5edb644217d5df5b73e.pngmorocco1.png.7e60ebf441aba483d114e36341c5a674.pngiconfinder_Flag_of_Morocco_96284.png.c089d5ff5d36e237e26a531a0e0d6326.png

Lineups:

Italy (4-4-2 Diamond Narrow):
Donnarumma; Lazzari, Bonucci, Acerbi, Spinazzola; Jorginho, Verratti, Pellegrini, Bernardeschi (Substituted offSubstituted in 62' Politano); Immobile (Substituted offSubstituted in 62' Sensi), Insigne (Substituted offSubstituted in 79' Belotti)

Morocco (Cautious 4-4-1-1):
Bounou; Hakimi, Saïss, Feddal, Mendyl; Ziyech, Belhanda, S. Amrabat (Substituted offSubstituted in 74' Aït Bennasser), Harit (Substituted offSubstituted in 84' Idrissi); Taarabt, En-Nesyri

Report:
We all went to bed last night with Australia surprising Belgium, but what about this result? A shock win by Morocco as another giant in the Eastern Hub has been beaten by the slimmest of margins. Italy controlled most of the ball, but a strong center block from the Moroccan defense proved too tough for the Azzurri to break through. The Italians were mostly limited to shooting from distance. They amassed no less than thirty shots, but could not find the net. The rather boring match crawled to a close but with just over ten minutes to go, a completely unexpected strike from righthalf Amine Harit surprised everyone in Atlanta. Italy had already substituted their entire frontline prior to that moment and could not muster anything from the last ten minutes. And with Italy and Belgium facing eachother in their Pot 1 confrontation, it could well be that one of these countries will not survive the first round!

Statistics:
Goals 1
30 
Shots 12
On Target 4
3.5 
Expected Goals 1.7
50% 
Possession 50%

Man of the Match:
Amine Harit - Morocco
(1 goal, clean sheet, 14 recoveries, 91% pass accuracy)

 

 

Edited by Timetxu

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