Good morning TSF! My thanks to Tony for grabbing CF yesterday morning. I had to take the foster pup to get some meds. He’s fine — just needed a pill from the vet. But I’m back today to give you my thoughts on the World Cup so far. I know you’ve been desperate for them.
Overall, the play has been as expected - a bit sloppy and disjointed, defense carrying the day for the most part, and moments of attacking brilliance. It seems as if the referees are being liberal with the yellow cards, which is fine, the players will have to adjust. They’re focusing on challenges from behind and challenges with studs showing to give cautions.
There has been much more time added back at the end of halves. We’re consistently seeing 6+ minutes. The fourth officials are more carefully tracking the amount of time lost to stoppages and delay. I’m very much in favor of the change. Time-wasting has been shown, time and again, to be an effective strategy to shorten matches.
Qatar 0 - Ecuador 2: the hosts were outclassed. Enner Valencia, who scored both goals, may have picked up a knock. His health is really important going forward.
England 6 - Iran 2: our boy Bukayo Saka scored a brace. England showed why they are one of the favorites. Unlike most of what we’ve seen so far, the England attack looked cohesive.
Senegal 0 - Netherlands 2: how much does Senegal miss Sadio Mane? They were every bit as good as the Dutch but had no cutting edge. The Netherlands, on the other hand, did not answer my main question about them coming into the tournament - where will they get goals, which might seem odd to say when they scored two.
USA 1 - Wales 1: disappointing for the U.S. not to take full points after making it to the 80th minute with a lead. Just a foolish, naive challenge from Walker Zimmerman. Gregg Berhalter got outcoached, too. He didn’t adapt to Wales’ halftime change and was at least 5-10 minutes late with his substitutions. You could see his players were tiring / cooked, and he left them out too long.
I’ll save reaction to the Argentina match for tomorrow.
On the slate today: Denmark vs. Tunisia (8 am ET), Mexico vs. Poland (11 am ET), and France vs. Australia (2 pm ET).