Ahead of Black Friday, we answer burning questions about the England v USA match, discuss Gareth Bale’s legacy and explain what happens if teams tie in the group stage.
Be sure to check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you all the latest news from Qatar. Here’s what you might have missed from Thursday’s World Cup action.
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Ronaldo breaks another record
After a goalless first half between Portugal and Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the second segment from the penalty spot, becoming the first male player to score in five World Cup matches. The 37-year-old scored his first World Cup goal in 2006 and has scored 118 goals for his country so far.
Rafael Leao and Joao Felix joined their captaincy in scoring for Portugal, who just beat Ghana in a 3-2 win. The match ended with a strange moment when Inaki Williams snuck past goalkeeper Diogo Costa who put the ball down, but before the striker could clear it from Costa he slipped and missed the chance to equalise.
“The important thing is that the team won,” Ronaldo said after the match [Manchester United] The chapter is closed, and the focus is solely and exclusively on the World Cup.”
He is now without a club following his recent departure from United and is hoping to send a message to this tournament to sign for a new club in the January transfer window.
Brazil opens with the goal of the tournament?
Richarlison was supposed to be Brazil’s third wheel with Neymar and Vinicius Jr up front, but the striker provided a goal for the championship contender in a 2-0 win over Serbia. The Tottenham Hotspur star’s second goal of the match had him controlling the ball in the air and then shooting it into the side corner, leaving goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic without any chance.
Meanwhile, Neymar was seen grimacing towards the end of the match and appeared to be in pain. Fans hope the PSG player will be fit to face Switzerland next Monday. Brazil have channeled the fun, beautiful and easy football their country is known for and will look forward to continuing in this form.
Today’s best reads
Bale’s World Cup ambition is more than bringing Wales away
Bale hopes to lead Wales on a deep run at the World Cup in Qatar, but what they have already achieved off the field is of greater importance.
USA vs England preview: Roundtable answering the big questions
In their opening World Cup matches, England thrashed Iran, while the United States contented themselves with a draw with Wales. How will these results affect Friday’s match?
What happens when the teams are equal in points?
The group stage of the 2022 World Cup enters the final stage, but what are the divisions between the teams in the table?
Casey Keeler says that with many players lacking excitement in recent months, fitness may be an issue for the United States for the rest of the World Cup.
Your best bets (odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
If you’re looking to bet on the World Cup, ESPN contributors Paul Carr, Dan Thomas, and Dallin Cove are here to give you essential advice on odds, options, and futures.
That’s what we have for Friday’s games.
Qatar vs Senegal (Qatar +490, Draw +260, Senegal -160)
Carr: Even without Sadio Mane, Senegal were fine against the Dutch in the opening game. I don’t see Qatar doing much against another team to defend first, after five shots from an average of 23 yards in the opener. I’ll take Senegal to win here (-160), and if you’re feeling a little bolder, go win to nothing (+129).
Thomas: Qatar was very bad in the opening match. I don’t see them getting better. Senegal to win easily 2-0.
slap: I am bold, but not bold enough to win till nothing; I’m not sure Senegal can muster a goal. But I would love for them to keep clean sheets (-114) in a slightly more conservative game.
Netherlands vs Ecuador (Netherlands -129, Draw +245, Ecuador +380)
Carr: I love the Netherlands winning here. Despite winning 2-0, Ecuador were not impressive against a mediocre Qatar team at best after the opening half hour, with six total shots and one in the final half hour. Given the strong defenses on both sides (Ecuador has seven straight stops), under 2.5 goals is also attractive at -130, and I’d consider exploiting both if it’s possible in your book.
Thomas: Test fit for the Dutch. I think this could be a 1-1 tie.
slap: I love Ecuador’s defensive prowess and all-around athleticism that may pay off on the counter. I don’t think the Dutch looked particularly threatening in the opening game. It was a low-scoring tournament, and under 2.5 (-130) was the obvious play. If you want to go aggressive, you could be as low as 1.5 (+225) moves.
Wales vs Iran (Wales +105, Draw +205, Iran +305)
Carr: Iran allowed England six goals, but only 2.1 expected goals, so the defensive performance wasn’t quite as bad as the final result suggested. With Wales’ conservative style and Iran’s defensive mentality (four goals conceded in 10 Final Round qualifiers), this game just screams low scoring, although the price of -195 for under 2.5 goals isn’t very attractive. I’d rather get extra money for less than 1.5 goals, or bet exactly 1 goal (+275). I’m also counting on Iran, looking at the better strikers in Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun, who may be able to play more than his cameos against England.
Thomas: this is difficult. I don’t expect many goals. So I’ll take it below.
slap: It’s a game Wales must win. I don’t think Iran will score on them. I think it’s 1-0, not aggressive enough to bet on an accurate result. So I’ll take Wales to win (+105).
USA vs England (England (-175), USA (+500), Draw (+285)
After watching England explode with six goals against Iran, there is no real surprise seeing them as heavy favorites against an American side who barely held off Wales in their opening match. With odds in England (-175), USA (+500), tied (+285), is there any chance for Greg Berhalter’s members to keep their balance with the Three Lions?
Carr: naturally! (The American says optimistically.) Since a draw is a good result for both teams, I think this match will be tough, especially early on. The USA tended to play this way in the toughest of the qualifiers, away in the Octagon, averaging fewer than six and a half shots and a goal expected per game in the first half. Nor did they counter-attack well against Wales. If he plays, Harry Kane will not be 100%, and Gareth Southgate has also favored the defensive setup in the major leagues. I’m leaning towards a 2.5 target at -120.
Thomas: What worried me was how brilliant everyone looked at the end of the Wales game. I can only see England winning, and a convincing victory at that.
slap: I love Paul’s positivity and my heart says the same, but my head says a tie would be awesome. Given the way the USA team played and looked, for Dan’s point in the second half, one point would be a great score. I won’t be playing for any team until I see the lineup, to confirm Kane’s start, the US squad and any changes. This will be a tight match that the United States will go into thinking they can’t lose; This may be their downfall, but I also like that, -2.5.
Given how strong the US side looked in the first half against Wales, would you risk eg, US win first half / England win second half (+1000) or any other first half score / second half score?
Carr: This is so based on the American setup that I wouldn’t play without seeing the lineup. If Timothy Weah starts again, look for the USA to power play long balls over the top and immediately threaten England’s shaky defence. If Brenden Aaronson is around, the US will probably look to push a little more defensively. And if Gio Reina starts, that could mean the United States will try to take possession of the ball. Or perhaps there is a larger tactical wrinkle coming. Regardless, this game can go many different ways depending on each team’s approach.
slap: I’ve been told I talk too much… no.
It’s still likely that the USA can advance from this group further, but did you see enough matches on Monday to roll the dice for them to actually win the second set (+800)?
Carr: That wouldn’t be the worst bet, given that a US win on Friday would mean a group win against Iran, and even a draw might suffice. But with a +500 probability of the US beating England, it’s best to bet on them winning on Friday, then roll some or all of that money into Tuesday’s game when you know exactly what the US needs to advance.
Thomas: I can not write again. So I will say that I don’t think this is a bet you should approach.
slap: Given the situation with any other team than named USA, I would never bet on them winning this group in this scenario… So again, take the emotion out of it. Any money being put on us winning the group now is wasted money. To qualify for -125 is where you need to be.
Are there any other props from this game that set you apart?
Carr: Given the predictably conservative nature of both teams, I think the +185 in no goals in the first half is worth a shot. It’s not a fun bet, but we’re likely to see a lot of caution early on, and I think this game will go into halftime 0-0 within a third of time.
Thomas: I like Paul’s bet very much. Elsewhere, the yellow of Tyler Adams who plays a lot with his heart on his sleeve at +330 looks like a great bet.
slap: I really like both bets above, but I would also add both teams to score NO -115.
News and notes
In Manchester United news, the club’s owners are looking for a world record price to sell the club, sources have told ESPN. Forbes values United at £3.8 billion ($4.59 billion), but sources have told ESPN that the Glazers are expecting offers in excess of £6 billion ($7.25 billion). Although a full takeover is the likely outcome, the Glazers said they are also looking at outside investment and “strategic alternatives.”
Iran has arrested a former member of the national team, Furiya Ghafouri, for criticizing the government. The protests that erupted nationwide after the killing of Mohsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police in Tehran, have escalated into calls for the overthrow of the government. Ghafouri expressed his sympathy with the Amini family and called for an end to the violent repression of the protests.
Bruno Fernandes said he hoped the criticism of Ronaldo would continue because it would get the best out of him. “I think he likes to work under that criticism from everyone, so I pray all of you keep doing that.” The Portugal captain has been scrutinized for comments in a surprise pre-World Cup interview where he said he had no respect for Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag and the direction the club was headed.
What caught our eye?
ESPN’s Mark Ogden explores a fan village outside Doha, Qatar that accommodates people from all over the world during their stay.
Mark Ogden took a look around the fan village at Ras Abu Fontas, 10 miles south of Doha city centre.
In conclusion, Swiss Brielle Embolo refrained from celebrating after scoring the winning goal against Cameroon. The Monaco striker grew up in Basel, but was born in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.
Nedum Onuoha is aware of the lack of celebration from Breel Embolo after Switzerland’s win against Cameroon.