World Cup Discussion Thread - Day 27 (10 July)

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Martinez was rightly praised in his previous match, but he should be criticised here.
I don't know why, he skanked that result against Brazil who were by far the better side, both tactically and in a footballing sense.

It's weird, it was like watching Redknapp vs Keegan tactically.
It really is tragic to watch. Two finals in row playing such insipid football. France have some fantastic footballers (I said at the start of this that IMO they have the best team there) in all areas and they even have great balance of skills that go together beautifully, but Deschamps just has them playing no discernible style of football. They just stand off and wait for the opposition to give them the ball. When they do they can play some lovely stuff, but they should be filleting teams set up like Martinez had Belgium set up tonight, with almost no left side. And it's like they are playing with a back four of cb's for the use Pavard and Hernande are offensively. And they aren't even brilliant defenders.

Martinez is such a muppet, just so typical, how you can set up like that and take the chance of giving Mbappe all that pitch, if Deschamps had this team playing some kind of pro-active football, they'd have punished that Belgian set up, as it was, even playing well within themselves France had all the chances, because Martinez just can't manage the defensive side of the game at all. No left side, Chadli RWB, fucking Fellani and Dembele bouncing about like a pair dodgems driven by drunken grannies.
 
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Riandor

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I don't know why, he skanked that result against Brazil who were by far the better side, both tactically and in a footballing sense.



It really is tragic to watch. Two finals in row playing such insipid football. France have some fantastic footballers (I said at the start of this that IMO they have the best team there) in all areas and they even have great balance of skills that go together beautifully, but Deschamps just has them playing no discernible style of football. They just stand off and wait for the opposition to give them the ball. When they do they can play some lovely stuff, but they should be filleting teams set up like Martinez had Belgium set up tonight, with almost no left side. And it's like they are playing with a back four of cb's for the use Pavard and Hernande are offensively. And they aren't even brilliant defenders.

Martinez is such a muppet, just so typical, how you can set up like that and take the chance of giving Mbappe all that pitch, if Deschamps had this team playing some kind of pro-active football, they'd have filleted that Belgian set up, as it was, even playing well within themselves France had all the chances, because Martinez just can't manage the defensive side of the game at all. No left side, Chadli RWB, fucking Fellani and Dembele bouncing about like a pair dodgems driven by drunken grannies.
Well one thing I will say is, Belgium had chances, Lloris’s saves are testament to that and for me Courtois should do better at his near post.

It was a dull match really given the talent on display. I thought playing Dembele & Felliani was lunacy and whilst you criticize, Belgium had much better shape against Brazil and counter attacking outlets. Tonight France just set-up to soak it up, wait for Belgium to run into a culdusac and counter the counterers.

Boring and anti football or clever? Would France being more proactive potentially not play to Belgium’s strengths? I say both managers were poor, with Deschamps being less of an idiot than Martinez.
 
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Well one thing I will say is, Belgium had chances, Lloris’s saves are testament to that and for me Courtois should do better at his near post.

It was a dull match really given the talent on display. I thought playing Dembele & Felliani was lunacy and whilst you criticize, Belgium had much better shape against Brazil and counter attacking outlets. Tonight France just set-up to soak it up, wait for Belgium to run into a culdusac and counter the counterers.

Boring and anti football or clever? Would France being more proactive potentially not play to Belgium’s strengths? I say both managers were poor, with Deschamps being less of an idiot than Martinez.
This is pretty much it, this was a battle of who could be the most inept, and Martinez won, inevitably.

Brazil had an x/g of 3 against Belgium. That's phenomenal. It was just dumb luck and bad finishing that they didn't score a few, not a great tactical set up by Martinez. Belgium didn't even break against them second half.
 

ohtottenham!

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I just thought it was more a case of Deschamps being mindful of how Belgium could hurt France, and basically nullifying that threat. Martinez just didn't have the quality personnel at his disposal in MF to counter that. Witsel, Chadli and a rusty Dembele weren't going to help with transitions going forward. Don't think the options off his bench were going to help much either.

France are the most complete team by far in this tournament. If they play Croatia, I think they'll literally run them off the park. Kante and Pogba can just slow Modric and Rakitic, and their defence will close down any distribution to Mandzukic et al.

If it's England, then we're on a wing and a prayer...and that cherished set piece. If we get to the final, goes without saying that Jordan Henderson will need help in CM, and that we'll have a far more defensive set up.
 

Shadydan

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I just thought it was more a case of Deschamps being mindful of how Belgium could hurt France, and basically nullifying that threat. Martinez just didn't have the quality personnel at his disposal in MF to counter that. Witsel, Chadli and a rusty Dembele weren't going to help with transitions going forward. Don't think the options off his bench were going to help much either.

France are the most complete team by far in this tournament. If they play Croatia, I think they'll literally run them off the park. Kante and Pogba can just slow Modric and Rakitic, and their defence will close down any distribution to Mandzukic et al.

If it's England, then we're on a wing and a prayer...and that cherished set piece. If we get to the final, goes without saying that Jordan Henderson will need help in CM, and that we'll have a far more defensive set up.
That's his own fault for leaving Niangolan at home then.
 
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Brazil had an x/g of 3 against Belgium. That's phenomenal. It was just dumb luck and bad finishing that they didn't score a few, not a great tactical set up by Martinez. Belgium didn't even break against them second half.
What does x/g mean? I agree with you-I thought Brazil played them off the fucking park.
 

PLTuck

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France look absolutely lethal on the counter. And Mbappe should be outlawed. Insane skills, and to do it in a WC semi. Unbelievable Jeff.
 
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What does x/g mean? I agree with you-I thought Brazil played them off the fucking park.
Expected goals. It’s a metric used to express the quality of chances created by a team. 3 is high. ManC averaged an x/g of about 2.4 pg last season I think. Ours was 1.8 pg I think.

It was devised by one of these stat bods, analysing tens of thousands of types of chances and their outcome. It’s a really good way of measuring the actual quality of chances that teams are producing, not just the quantity. One shot, clean through, is worth about 40 punts from 20 yards.

https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/no-seriously-what-heck-expected-goals-xg

https://understat.com/league/EPL
 
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PLTuck

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Expected goals. It’s a metric used to express the quality of chances created by a team. 3 is high. ManC averaged an x/g of about 2.4 pg last season I think. Ours was 1.8 pg I think.

It was devised by one of these stat bods, analysing tens of thousands of types of chances and their outcome. It’s a really good way of measuring the actual quality of what teams are producing, not just the quantity. One shot, clean through, is worth about 40 punts from 20 yards.

https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/no-seriously-what-heck-expected-goals-xg

https://understat.com/league/EPL
I saw this a lot on MotD last season and couldn't work it out so thank you for the concise explanation (y)
 
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What does x/g mean? I agree with you-I thought Brazil played them off the fucking park.
To elaborate, in the Belgium v Brazil game, Belgium had an x/g of 0.49 which means, based on the quality/quantity of the chancesthey were fucking lucky to even score. Evidenced by them scoring via an own goal and a shot from the edge of the box and creating fuck all else.
 
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This is a pretty good piece from Rory Smith in the NYT:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/10/sports/world-cup/france-vs-belgium.html

France, With Flash to Spare, Reaches the World Cup Final
On Soccer
By RORY SMITH

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — They were only glimpses, fleeting and flickering and ultimately insignificant, but they were so tantalizing that they were impossible to miss.
Kylian Mbappé, inside the first 10 seconds, burning Belgium’s Jan Vertonghen away, an express train speeding past a bewildered commuter. Paul Pogba striding forward, Antoine Griezmann dancing through challenges. Mbappé again, splitting Belgium’s defense in two with a blink-of-the-eye pirouetting drag-back.
They were moments to drop the jaw and draw the breath, visions of the heights this French generation — now one win away from being crowned champion of the world — might yet scale, images of what this team of all the talents could, and perhaps should, be.

But it was not those flashes of neon brilliance that took France past Belgium in a 1-0 win that sent thousands out to celebrate on the Champs-Élysées. France is not in its third World Cup final in 20 years because of what this team threatens to be, or might become.
It is there, instead, because of what it does in the long stretches between flashes; it is there not because it shines so brightly but because it dulls whatever it faces; it is there because of what it is: a team that always has much, much more than enough, but only ever does enough, and never any more.


France has, somehow, reached the cusp of greatness without ever really having given the impression it has stretched itself, or reached its full potential. It sleepwalked through its group, with single-goal victories against Australia and Peru, and a mind-numbing goalless draw with Denmark.
In the round of 16, against an Argentina side mired in chaos and permanently on the verge of a meltdown, it roused itself for a few minutes, scored three quick-fire goals, then sank back into itself, eventually winning — again — by just one goal.
It was only in the quarterfinal, against Uruguay, that it finally broke that trend of squeaking by, but only thanks a header off a set piece and an egregious error from Fernando Muslera, the Uruguayan goalkeeper. France reached St. Petersburg, and the semifinal, hardly having broken a sweat.
It was greeted there by Belgium, whose own golden generation was supposed to provide a significantly more exacting test, to force the French out of their shells, to demand that Manager Didier Deschamps’s richly gifted players finally live up to their lofty reputations. For 50 minutes, the Belgians threatened to do just that, to draw this team into the open field. And then Samuel Umtiti scored — slipping his marker to meet Griezmann’s corner — and France drew back once more, content to contain and control.
Deschamps’s players let Belgium burn itself out, deprived it first of hope, and then of life, all the while not expending a drop of energy more than was strictly necessary.

Belgium’s Eden Hazard, in particular, had started the game as a ball of energy, twisting and turning and writhing his way past Benjamin Pavard, France’s right back; Hazard had the look of a player very conscious of the fact that this was his chance to stake a claim for greatness. By the end, he looked adrift. He had long since wandered into central midfield, craving some sort of space, some sort of peace, only to find neither. His sparkle had gone, and so had his spark.

It was not — as might be expected, in the era of counter-pressing, that frenzied style of harrying and harassing that is so en vogue in European club soccer — because the French had pummeled him and his team into submission, barely allowing a moment’s rest, but because they had done the opposite: They waited as Belgium wandered into their sleeper-hold, and then simply refused to let go.
That has been France’s unexpected forte in this tournament: its defensive strength, its imperturbability, the ease with which it blunts an attack. Only Argentina has scored against the French from open play. They are so assured in defense that none of those single-goal victories felt at all close, or tense; they all seemed to be over long before the final whistle. So, too, here: When the game ended, the explosion of joy from the French players, and their small squadron of fans, felt somehow out of place, out of context, with the torpor that had descended.

France has achieved this not, as the teams of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino seek to do, by seeking to coil itself around its prey, squeezing the breath from its opponents. Its approach resembles that of a crocodile, rather than a snake: It waits, pounces, and then sinks back beneath the surface, happy to wait again.

Given the personnel at his disposal, it is hard not to feel that Deschamps is forcing his players to do something that does not come naturally to them. This is a squad that could — should — be tearing through opponents; with its abilities, courage should not feel like a risk. There is a lingering feeling that France is not making the most of his resources, a temptation to wonder what this team might achieve, what it might become, with a less conservative, less cautious manager.

It is easy to speculate, too, that France’s passivity, that lack of ambition, might eventually prove its undoing, that in the final it will need to raise its game and will ultimately be unable — or unwilling — to do so.

There is, though, a counter argument that is no less compelling. France has met every challenge and passed them with ease. Lionel Messi could not disrupt its serenity; nor could Luis Suárez; now Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku have failed, too.
True, there has been no flawless performance, no marquee display to rival Croatia’s win against Argentina or even Belgium’s quarterfinal victory against Brazil; true, there has been a reliance on goals from set pieces; true, France has only ever edged through, rather than sweeping past clearly inferior opponents. It has always had enough, and done enough, but never more.
But those moments, those glimpses of what lies beneath, should not be forgotten. They are dangerous precisely because they hint at what might be, at what France has in reserve, should it be needed. This is a team that has another gear, another level that it can find as and when it is required.

Deschamps and his players are in the World Cup final because of what they are: a team designed to draw the sting, to suck the air from a game, to deprive the fire of oxygen. It is hard to believe they will not win it, though, because of what they might be: the team with the sting, with the air, with the fire. France, for the last month, has done what is required. It will be confident it can do so, one last time.
 
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