It wasn’t a bad World Cup campaign for the USA, even if they’ll be disappointed not to have gone further. Here’s the post-mortem on their last-16 exit.
Jack Torcello has something to add. “From pretenders to contenders – as Klinsmann said, a lot of the American players are playing this season for Champions League teams (Chelsea, Juventus) whereas not so in the past!”
We have our first bit of email correspondence, in the form of a short poem from Kurt Perleberg. “In 2022 the USA were World Cup pretenders. In 2026 the USA will be World Cup contenders.” Thought-provoking.
Argentina have also been celebrating after beating Australia 2-1. Lisandro Martínez, who came on as a second-half substitute for the Albiceleste, has tweeted: “Proud of this group. What passion, united as always we keep moving forward!”
Having secured a spot in the quarter-finals, Van Gaal has also been talking up the Netherlands’ hopes of winning the tournament. “I think we have big chances here,” he said. “We still have three matches to go. I’ve been talking about this for a year. We can become world champions – not that we will – but we can. I am talking about team bonding, how we can build the strongest possible team and I derive pleasure from the group of players and, of course, performances and results.”
Seasoned Louis van Gaal watchers will have enjoyed his reaction to the Netherlands’ 3-1 win against the USA yesterday. Not only did he give Denzel Dumfries, scorer of his side’s third goal, “a big fat kiss” in his post-match press conference, he also danced through the team’s hotel lobby with all the rhythm of an eccentric uncle in the last hour of a wedding.
Looking for a bit more background on Senegal, before they take on England later on? Here’s Ed Aarons’ scouting report.
In more unwelcome news, researchers have warned that mass gatherings in pubs and at home as people follow England’s progress in Qatar could lead to a rise in Covid infections. They have pointed to a similar effect during Euro 2020, with Professor Christophe Fraser, an epidemiologist at Oxford University, saying: “It was a much bigger event in terms of mixing people and spreading the virus than the celebrations we had at Christmas that year. That suggests that a key factor in influencing infection rates this year will be England’s performance during the World Cup.”
Jesus has posted a message of his own, addressing his younger self. It reads: “If there was a timeline and I could see you and tell you something, I would say ‘Gabriel, you are a winner’. Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support and affection.”
According to SporTV in Brazil, Gabriel Jesus could be facing three months on the sidelines with the knee injury which has brought his World Cup campaign to a premature end. Unsurprisingly, Arsenal fans have their heads in their hands.
Beyond the football
Even as we delve deeper into the knockout stages, what’s going on off the field at this World Cup is, in many ways, much more pressing. Here’s the latest.
In Deptford, south-east London, there’s a generational divide in the local Senegalese community over who to support. “Senegal represents home and I think they’ll win,” says Ndene Ndiaye. “But my children were born here and they’re English supporters all the way.”
Welcome to another day of Qatar 2022, the tournament which continues to plumb new depths. The first game today is, of course, France against Poland, aka the valiant-Napoleonic-cavalry-charge derby. Who will win the battle of the strikers, Kylian Mbappé or Robert Lewandowski? There’s another game on, too, possibly – let us find our notes, they must be here somewhere – ah yes, England against Senegal. Will it come home? Won’t it? The age-old question. And are England even any good? Here’s Jonathan Wilson with the answer.