Martinez gives Lukaku update as 'below par' Belgium prepare for Morocco
Belgium play Morocco in their second Group F fixture at World Cup 2022 in Qatar knowing that a win will take them into the knockout rounds. The Red Devils were second best during their opening match against a spirited Canada and only won 1-0 thanks to poor finishing from their opponents and a lovely strike from forward Michy Batshuayi.
Morocco meanwhile got their World Cup campaign started with a goalless draw against Croatia. In truth it was a game of low quality with the European side failing to capitalise on their possession whilst Morocco held their own defensively but offered little at the other end of the pitch.
Roberto Martinez was critical of his team after the Canada win but said that tournament football is all about peaking at the correct time so he will be hoping his Belgium side get the job done against Morocco this afternoon and secure progression to the last 16.
Belgium should have enough quality to in midfield to dominate and control the match but if Morocco can keep them at bay too – and possibly collect a point or three – they will be well set to reach the round of 16 themselves will a final group game against Canada to come.
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Kick off: Belgium 0-0 Morocco
Belgium get the ball rolling and send it back to Toby Alderweireld. Morocco immediately drop off the European side and all the Belgians to calmly work their way up the pitch.
Belgium vs Morocco
The teams make their way out onto the pitch ahead of kick off at 1pm. Morocco took a point from their first game against Croatia whilst Belgium defeated Canada.
Roberto Martinez’s men will reach the last 16 if they win today so expect Belgium to dictate play from the start.
Belgium’s best is behind them but enough magic remains for one last shot at World Cup glory
It is the last chance for Belgium’s golden generation, but not their best chance. Not according to their captain, anyway. Belgium have spent much of the period since the last World Cup as officially the international game’s best team. Now they are ranked second on the planet, sandwiched by the South American superpowers of Brazil and Argentina.
But if Fifa’s figures suggest they are among the favourites, other numbers – principally their ages – suggest they are not. They were semi-finalists in Russia. That, Eden Hazard felt, was nearer their peak. “To be fair, I think we had a better chance to win four years ago,” the Belgium skipper said. “The team was better four years ago but still we have the quality to win games and competitions. We have a few guys who are a bit older.”
Hazard’s justification for each part of his analysis was instructive. He cited Belgium’s strengths, while being aware of the deficiencies that, logically, mean their finest opportunity has gone.
Elite talents remain even if the Golden Generation has in part been disbanded by advancing age
Belgium undercooked for Canada game
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez believes his side were not prepared for their opening match against Canada and is expecting a better performance today.
“We arrived at the first game with five (training sessions) and that means the team is not ready. We have seen teams start really well (in matches) but then they could not manage the game,” he said.
“You will see teams being ready only after three games. They are having to get ready while they are in the tournament and that is dangerous because it can cost you points.”
Belgium vs Morocco
The fans are excited for this one. Kick off is at 1pm and Roberto Martinez will be hoping his Belgium side improve on their opening performance this afternoon.
Jurgen Klinsmann seeks to cool tensions in Carlos Queiroz row
Queiroz called for Klinsmann to resign from his role as a member of Fifa’s Technical Study Group in a Twitter thread posted on Saturday after the 1990 World Cup winner spoke about how Iran had deployed gamesmanship and “worked the referee” during their win over Wales on Friday.
Queiroz called the remarks “outrageous” and a “disgrace to football”.
Klinsmann has also faced wider criticism for his remarks, which were made during punditry for the BBC, and sought to smooth the waters in an interview with BBC Breakfast on Sunday.
Queiroz called for Klinsmann to resign over his initial remarks about the Iran national team.
Costa Rica earn World Cup redemption as Japan near another tragedy from jaws of triumph
Japan arrived in Qatar hoping to atone for their most infamous of visits to this country, when a stoppage-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Iraq on neutral ground during the qualifiers for the 1994 World Cup denied them their first-ever place at a finals. There have been seven consecutive qualifications since - a remarkable rise to becoming an established footballing nation - but if they leave without reaching the knock-out stages of this tournament, they will be left to lament this defeat as their new ‘Tragedy of Doha’.
After their exceptional win in the first round of group games, not to mention Costa Rica’s 7-0 defeat, this was a chance for Japan to all but secure a place in the last-16 and pile pressure on Germany before their meeting with Spain later this evening. Instead, Keysher Fuller’s 81st-minute winner has turned Group E on its head and produced a plausible scenario where all four sides go into the final round level on points.
Hajime Moriyasu may try to look on the bright side and philosophise that three points after two games is par for the course. But in the cold reality of a World Cup, while witnessing Moriyasu and his players bow apologetically to their supporters at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, the only conclusion to be drawn from a scrappy contest with a sensational finish is that his side have wasted the golden opportunity that beating Germany presented.
Japan 0-1 Costa Rica: Los Ticos bounced back after a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain in their Qatar World Cup opener
Belgium vs Morocco
Belgium’s victory in the group stage of the 1994 World Cup is the only competitive meeting between these sides.
The Red Devils have won their last eight World Cup group-stage matches to equal the tournament record achieved by Brazil on two occasions (1986-1994 and 2002-2010).
Morocco have won only two of their 17 World Cup matches (D6, L9). They claimed victories in their final group stage fixture in 1986 (3-1 against Portugal) and 1998 (3-0 against Scotland).
They have only reached the knockout phase at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.
FT Japan 0-1 Costa Rica
Costa Rica end a seven-match winless run at the World Cup (D4-L3). Their last World Cup victories dated back to the 2014 group stage: against Uruguay (3-1) and Italy (1-0) respectively.
Belgium vs Morocco
After a poor performance against Canada which luckily saw them win 1-0 Belgium will qualify for the last 16 if they also defeat Morocco becoming just the second team, after France, to do so.