Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Spain sizzling and Argentina offside – World Cup stats so far

The second round of group matches of the 2022 World Cup begins today and Wales open proceedings against Iran before England take on the United States tonight.

Here the PA news agency selects some key stats from the early games and looks ahead to the games to come.

Qatar – Senegal and Netherlands – Ecuador, Friday 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m

Qatar need to beat Senegal to keep any realistic hopes of qualifying, but against Ecuador their squad’s lack of strength was revealed. Despite trailing 2-0 for most of the game, the hosts were the only side to make just two of the five substitutions allocated. Senegal lost to the Netherlands by an identical result, with both goals coming in the last 10 minutes.

The Dutch went conservative in the Senegal game, recording fewer shots than their opponents. They could remain cautious against Ecuador, who have one of the six players topping the Golden Boot table in Enner Valencia with two goals.

Wales v Iran and England v USA, Friday 10am and 7pm

England will qualify with a game to go if they record a second consecutive win despite scoring six goals from just 13 shots in their defeat by Iran. They are also three away from 100 World Cup goals after going from 91 to 97 in that opening win.

Iran’s eight tries were more than either Wales or the United States drew and will serve as a warning to Rob Page that his side may not go their own way.

Poland – Saudi Arabia and Argentina – Mexico, Saturday 1 p.m. and 7 p.m

Offside cost Argentina a total of 10 and two unrecognized goals in their stunning loss to Saudi Arabia. Their opponents, meanwhile, scored two goals with just three shots.

Saudi Arabia can qualify if they also beat Poland, but conceded six yellow cards while defending their lead against the Albiceleste. Their 21 fouls and Poland’s 16 have both ranked in the top four so a rough game was to be expected.

Tunisia – Australia and France – Denmark, Saturday 10:00 and 16:00

France will qualify if they beat Denmark in a game that could be decided in the air – Les Bleus had a tournament-best seven header attempts against Australia, the Danes were just two behind, while Christian Eriksen (16) and Kylian Mbappe (14) ) rank first and joint second for attempted crosses. Another goal for Olivier Giroud would replace Thierry Henry as France’s all-time leading goalscorer.

Australia and Tunisia need a win to offer hope of qualifying ahead of their higher-ranked European rivals. Tunisia put on a lively display in the opening game against Denmark, completing seven take-ons – the most of any team ahead of Brazil (six).

Japan – Costa Rica and Spain – Germany, Sunday 10am and 7pm

Spain and Germany meet in what could be the standout clash of the group stage, with Germany facing early elimination if they lose and Japan win against Costa Rica.

Hansi Flick’s side had the most shots of any team in their opening game with 25. Spain had just 17 by comparison and found every shot on target in the 7-0 win over Costa Rica – but with a staggering 1,003 passes completed and zero shots allowed, they were as dominant as the goal line indicates.

Belgium – Morocco and Croatia – Canada, Sunday 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m

Belgium top the group after their opening win over Canada and will qualify with another, but they were surpassed 21 to nine and needed a saved penalty to help along their way.

Canada were the only team in the group even in double figures in that regard as Croatia and Morocco drew 0-0 – despite only scoring four of the 21 goals.

Cameroon – Serbia and Brazil – Switzerland, Monday 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m

Brazil started their World Cup season in a confident mood on Thursday evening, registering a tournament best with 10 shots on goal and hitting the woodwork twice. Center forward Breel Embolo looks to be the biggest threat for next opponents, with Switzerland having the second-highest behind Germany with 11 final third appearances in the central channel.

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