Portugal is growing without Ronaldo
The free-kick was won and the ball was thrown to Cristiano Ronaldo. The crowd had been singing along to his debut and cheered when he came on. Here he was on top of the ball, that theater stand. The gun hit the wall. Play can resume.
It was a brilliant part of the game in its own right, coming as it did with his team 4-1 up. The game succeeded – perhaps even because of – his absence. The difference between Ronaldo’s performance is Portugal showing that before it was amazing.
Replaced by Goncalo Ramos, apparently due to his reaction to being substituted against South Korea, what followed was a reminder that there is some talent in the squad. The talents who showed against Switzerland that they can shine when given the chance.
Of course, Portugal winning without Ronaldo is not unusual. The most famous victory in the country’s history came in the final of Euro 2016 following his early injury. But that was stoicism. This was something. This was a whipping. This was the team that was released.
However, no one, even Fernando Santos with all he saw in the game, could have anticipated what followed. First hat-trick of the tournament. The country’s biggest success in knock-out sessions. The World Cup hopes not to survive but to be revived, to be revived.
It was Ramos’ day but maybe it could have been Portugal’s championship. As the world’s media watched from the bench, Ronaldo still had the camera but Joao Felix had the ball. Along with Bruno Fernandes, they were delighted with the progress of Ramos in front of them.
There was time for Ronaldo to knock the ball into the net from an offside position, a display of finishing skills that never left him. But when Rafael Leao added a sixth, the message was not clear. The show will go on without him.
Bono’s light but Amrabat embodies the community spirit
Spain’s penalty curse continues to haunt them, but Morocco were mocked by their lack of performance. The Atlas Lions came into the shootout with their monkey behind having lost all four of their previous matches, the latest against Algeria in last year’s Arab Cup.
But thanks to Bono’s wisdom, they are only the fourth team in Africa to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010.
Bono, who missed the opening group game against Belgium due to illness, was lifted to heaven after his heroics and Walid Regragui has Morocco reaching heaven.
The first African to lead a side to the last eight, and this was a collective effort. Sofyan Amrabat covered all the grass and is expected to be included in the team of the tournament.
Back in the summer, Morocco looked in danger after a heavy defeat to the USA, but just one goal conceded in seven games since taking charge has made history.
For the first time, they can look forward to a quarter-final appearance at the World Cup. There was a jig and a Regragui bribe that even Roy Keane would have accepted.
Spain were silenced by whistles during the shootout. Sergio Busquets won the throw and decided the end, but it didn’t matter. The Spaniards were in full force at the Education City Stadium, and Madrid-born Achraf Hakimi trained Unai Simon to kick off the excitement.
Bono, a man who has spent almost his entire professional career playing in Spain, will return to Sevilla in the coming weeks. The parish in his parish but the king in Casablanca. Football is a funny old game.
Spain stumbled again on the pitch
“For the past year, in many international camps we told the players, ‘You have your homework before the World Cup. You have to take at least 1,000 penalties with this team.’
Luis Enrique knew Spain had to stay in the World Cup long before he arrived in Qatar. When the time came, he stumbled again.
Spain became the first country in the history of the tournament to lose four penalties. They met Italy in the semi-finals of last year’s Euro and were stunned by Russia in the 2018 World Cup.
“I don’t think it’s a lottery. If you train often, then the way you take penalties is better. Obviously, you can’t train pressure and depression, but you can fight it,” said Enrique 24 hours before the match. punishment of the heart.
Return to the training center.
Yakin gambling comes again like Swiss rolling
Switzerland are one goal behind to top Group G ahead of Brazil, so why manager Murat Yakin decided to switch to the last five in their first game is a question he can answer.
It certainly wasn’t something his players were willing to defend publicly. “We were all surprised by the change in order,” Xherdan Shaqiri told reporters afterwards.
The Swiss were rocked by the absence of Silvan Widmer, the team’s only right-back, but they are changing the formation and using Edimilson Fernandes – an attacking midfielder – as his replacement did not seem like a logical solution.
Yakin has made his name as a tactical maverick, whose random, bold decision-making has won him more games than he has lost in his managerial career.
But here, there is no question. There will be no problem in the 6-1 defeat, the worst in the history of the World Cup in Switzerland.
Something went terribly wrong, and after a good team performance raised hopes of a first win in the round of 16, all those hopes were brought back down to earth in just 45 minutes.
“It wasn’t a plan,” Yakin said after the game. Swiss cinema does not share that sentiment. “This defeat is a shame for Switzerland, nothing more,” was the scathing analysis of one newspaper. “The manager messed up.”