Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Sunday round-up: Messi does a Messi thing

For various reasons, I didn’t see a lot of the football yesterday. I was out in the evening so I had to follow Argentina v Mexico via occasional glimpses of my phone. From what I could see, a lot of people were suggesting Argentina weren’t playing very well, but then when you have Lionel Messi and he can produce the kind of goal he did, you always have a chance. The second goal was tasty too.

Previously, France left it late to beat Denmark to qualify for the round of 16. Will they rotate a bit for their final game against Tunisia? Perhaps we’ll see William Saliba make his World Cup debut. The other match in that group, between Australia and Denmark, becomes a winner take all scenario for the Danes, but a draw would more than likely see the Socceroos through (on the basis of Tunisia not doing something a bit shocking against France).

The Aussies beat Tunisia 1-0 in a game I saw nothing of, and I saw that Wojciech Szczesny saved a penalty for Poland as they beat Saudi Arabia 2-0. Again though, I didn’t get to see any of that yesterday.

Today, Japan take on Costa Rica and it looks as if Takehiro Tomiyasu is going to miss out through injury. I’m just a little bit worried about this as we saw him pick up a knock a couple of weeks before the tournament began. He played the second half of the 2-1 win over Germany, but went down late in the injury time. It has been presented to us as smart play to break up Germany’s flow, and that might well have been part of it. However, Japan had also used all five subs at that point so his presence on the pitch might have been necessary. A slight concern from an Arsenal perspective, and one to keep an eye on as the tournament progresses.

Also today, we have Belgium facing Morocco, then Croatia versus Canada, before the game of the day which is Spain v Germany this evening. The Spanish were very impressive in their opening game, Germany less so in the second half against Japan – perhaps a touch hubristic in their approach. So, needing to take something from a game against a side scored 7 in their first game really is an interesting dynamic. Go all in on attack against this Spain side and they have the quality to slice you open with just a couple of passes, so it’ll be fascinating to see how they approach it. Hopefully it’s a good game, and not a kind of dour stalemate which this kind of scenario can produce.

Right. Let’s leave it there for now. James and I will be recording episode 500 of the Arsecast Extra later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

We’ll have the pod for you around lunchtime. Until then.

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