On Turkey Day, we’re thankful for the thriller between Portugal and Ghana and Richarlison with an acrobatic finish for Brazil against Serbia. Switzerland beating Cameroon by one goal and South Korea drawing 0-0 with Uruguay whetted our appetite for goals, which we got more of in the third and fourth games later in the day.
Ahead of Black Friday, we answer the burning questions surrounding England vs. United States, discuss Gareth Bale’s legacy and explain what happens if teams are tied in the group stage.
Be sure to check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Qatar. Here’s what you might have missed from Thursday’s World Cup happenings.
– World Cup news, features, previews, and more
– Stream FC Daily and Futbol Americas on ESPN+
Ronaldo breaks another record
After a goalless first half between Portugal and Ghana, Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring in the second stanza via a penalty, becoming the first male player to score in five World Cup campaigns. The 37-year-old scored his first World Cup goal in 2006 and has tallied 118 goals so far for his country.
Rafael Leao and Joao Felix joined their captain in the scoring for Portugal, who just edged Ghana in a 3-2 win. The match ended with a bizarre moment when Inaki Williams snuck up behind goalkeeper Diogo Costa who placed the ball down, but before the forward could take it off Costa, he slipped and missed the chance to equalize.
After the match, Ronaldo said, “The important thing was that the team won. The [Manchester United] chapter is closed, and the focus is solely and exclusively on the World Cup.”
He’s now without a club after his recent departure from United and will hope to send a message this tournament to sign with a new club in the January transfer window.
Brazil open with goal of the tournament?
Richarlison is supposed to be Brazil’s third wheel with Neymar and Vinicius Junior up front, but the striker provided a goal of the tournament contender in the 2-0 win over Serbia. The Tottenham Hotspur star’s second goal of the game saw him control it in the air and then volley it into the side corner, leaving goalkeeper Vanja Milinkovic-Savic with no chance.
Meanwhile, Neymar was seen grimacing at the end of the game and looked to be in pain. Fans will hope the Paris Saint-Germain player is fit for their clash against Switzerland next on Monday. Brazil channeled the entertaining, beautiful and easy-on-the-eye football their country is known for and will look to carry on this form.
Today’s top reads
Bale’s World Cup ambition is more than Wales going far
Bale hopes to lead Wales on a deep run at the Qatar World Cup, but what they have already achieved off the pitch is of greater significance.
USA vs. England preview: A roundtable to answer the big questions
In their World Cup openers, England crushed Iran, while the US settled for a draw vs. Wales. How will those results affect Friday’s matchup?
What happens when teams are level on points?
The group stage at the 2022 World Cup is entering the final stage, but what are the tiebreakers to separate teams in the table?
Your best bets (odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
If you’re looking to bet on the World Cup, ESPN contributors Paul Carr, Dan Thomas and Dalen Cuff are here to give you key tips on odds, options and futures.
Here’s what we have for the Friday matches.
Qatar vs. Senegal (Qatar +490, Draw +260, Senegal -160)
Carr: Even without Sadio Mané, Senegal was decent against the Dutch in the opener. I don’t see Qatar doing much against another defense-first team, 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 bolder, go for a win to nil (+129).
Thomas: Qatar were so bad in the opener. I don’t see them improving. Senegal to win easily 2-0.
Cuff: I’m bold, but not bold enough to win to nil; not sure Senegal muster a goal. But I do like them keeping a clean sheet (-114) in a slightly more conservative play.
Netherlands vs. Ecuador (Netherlands -129, Draw +245, Ecuador +380)
Carr: I like Netherlands to win here. Despite the 2-0 win, Ecuador wasn’t that impressive against a mediocre-at-best Qatar team after the opening half hour, with only six total shots and one in the final half hour. Given solid defenses on both sides (Ecuador has seven straight shutouts), under 2.5 goals is also appealing at -130, and I’d consider parlaying the two if that’s possible at your book.
Thomas: A proper test for the Dutch. I think this could be a 1-1 draw.
Cuff: I like Ecuador’s defensive prowess and overall athleticism that might yield fruit on the counter. I don’t think the Dutch looked particularly threatening in their opener. It’s been a low-scoring tournament, under 2.5 (-130) is the obvious play. If you want to get aggressive, under 1.5 (+225) could be a move.
Wales vs. Iran (Wales +105, Draw +205, Iran +305)
Carr: Iran allowed six goals to England, but only 2.1 expected goals, so the defensive performance wasn’t quite as bad as the final score suggested. With Wales’ conservative style and Iran’s defensive mindset (four goals conceded in 10 final-round qualifiers), this game just screams low-scoring, although the -195 price for under 2.5 goals isn’t very appealing. I’d rather get plus-money for under 1.5 goals, or bet exactly one goal (+275). I also lean Iran, given the better forwards in Mehdi Taremi and Sardar Azmoun, who might be able to play more than the cameo he had against England.
Thomas: This is tricky. I don’t expect many goals. So I’ll take the under.
Cuff: It’s a game Wales has to win; I don’t think Iran will score on them. I think it’s 1-0, not aggressive enough to bet an exact score. So I’ll take Wales to win (+105).
USA vs. England (England (-175), USA (+500), Draw (+285)
After watching England’s six-goal outburst against Iran, there’s no real surprise to see them as heavy favorites against an American side that barely held on to tie Wales in their opening match. With the odds sitting at England (-175), USA (+500), Draw (+285) is there any chance Gregg Berhalter’s charges can keep it level with the Three Lions?
Carr: Of course! (The American says optimistically.) Since a draw is a decent result for both teams, I think this game will be tight, particularly early on. The US tended to play that way in the toughest qualifiers, away in the Octagonal, averaging fewer than six shots and half an expected goal per game in the first half. And they didn’t show signs of counterattacking well against Wales. If he plays, Harry Kane won’t be 100 percent, and Gareth Southgate has also preferred a defensive setup in major tournaments. I lean toward under 2.5 goals at -120.
Thomas: The concern I would have is how knackered everybody looked at the end of the Wales game. I can only see an England win, and a convincing one at that.
Cuff: Love Paul’s positivity and my heart says the same, but my head says a draw would be great. Given how the US team played and looked, to Dan’s point in second half, a point would be a great result. I won’t play a side until seeing lineup, to confirm Kane starts and the US lineup and any changes. This will be a tight match that the US will go into thinking they can’t lose; that might be their downfall, but I do like the under as well, -2.5.
Given how strong the US side looked in the first half against Wales, would you take a chance at say, USA Win 1st Half/England Win 2nd Half (+1000) or any other 1st Half Result/2nd Half Result prop?
Carr: This is so dependent on the US setup that I wouldn’t make a play without seeing the lineup. If Timothy Weah starts again, look for the US to aggressively play long balls over the top and threaten the shaky England defense immediately. If Brenden Aaronson is in, the US will likely look to press defensively a bit more. And if Gio Reyna starts, that might mean the US will try to possess the ball. Or maybe there’s a bigger tactical wrinkle coming. Regardless, this game could go a lot of different ways depending on each team’s approach.
Cuff: I’m told I talk too much…NO.
It’s still more likely that the US can advance from this group than not, but did you see enough from the matches on Monday to roll the dice on them to actually win Group B (+800)?
Carr: It wouldn’t be the worst bet, considering that a US win on Friday would mean a win over Iran would win the group, and even a draw might be enough. But with +500 odds for the US to beat England, you’re better off just betting them to win Friday, then roll some or all of that money over to Tuesday’s game when you know exactly what the US needs to advance.
Thomas: I can’t just write no again. So I will say I don’t believe this is a bet you should go anywhere near.
Cuff: Given the situation with any other team not named the US, I would never bet them to win this group in this scenario… So again, take the emotion out of it. Any money laid on the US to win the group now is money wasted. To qualify at -125 is where you should be.
Are there any other props from this game that stand out to you?
Carr: Given the anticipated conservative nature of both teams, I think +185 on no first-half goals is worth a shot. It’s not a fun bet to make, but we’ll likely see a lot of caution early on, and I think this game gets to half-time 0-0 well over a third of the time.
Thomas: I like Paul’s bet a lot. Elsewhere, a yellow for Tyler Adams who very much plays with his heart on his sleeve at +330 looks like a brilliant bet.
Cuff: I actually really like both the bets above, but I’ll 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 tell ESPN. Forbes values United at £3.8bn ($4.59bn), but sources have told ESPN the Glazer family expect offers in excess of £6bn ($7.25bn). 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, Voria Ghafouri, for his criticism of the government. Nationwide protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police in Tehran, have escalated into calls to overthrow the government. Ghafouri expressed sympathy for Amini’s family and called for an end to the violent crackdown on protests.
Bruno Fernandes said he hopes criticism of Ronaldo will continue because it gets the best out of him. “I think he likes to work under that criticism from everyone, so I pray all of you to keep doing that.” The Portugal captain was scrutinized for his comments in a bombshell interview before the World Cup in which he said he doesn’t respect Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag and the direction the club is headed.
What else caught our eye
ESPN’s Mark Ogden explores one of the fan villages outside Doha, Qatar, that accommodates people from around the world during their stay.
And to close out, Switzerland’s Breel Embolo refrained from celebrating after scoring the winner against Cameroon. The Monaco forward grew up in Basel, but he was born in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.
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