World Cup 2022 briefing: The bigwigs join the party on day two

Last Updated on November 21, 2022 by

The main event

The main event

After that curious opening game between Qatar and Ecuador, with its empty seats, curiously euphoric home fans and the feeling that the South Americans have slowed down, England should be involved in the first genuine World Cup duel.

Carlos Queiroz is remembered on English soil as the coach who taught Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United to defend. His Iran team is now following the same line, and will try to make it very difficult for Gareth Southgate’s men. Even if he has great affection for the English players, “they are really bright, cool and have a fantastic attitude all the time”, a dour dog cannot be ruled out.

History calls elsewhere. Monday’s opener deserves a lower mention following Wales’ return to the World Cup stage for the first time since 1958, when they kicked off the United States at the Al-Rayyan Stadium late in the game. The last goal of the World Cup final scored against Wales came from a 17-year-old Pelé in Gothenburg against a team denied perhaps the greatest player to wear the red shirt. John Charles was out through injury, having taken a terrible kick from Hungary in the group stage.

Qatar: beyond the football

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The modern contender for that Best Welshman tag, Gareth Bale, is fit and ready to take the stage he feels his entire career has been building towards. That’s a career that includes five Champions League wins and being voted the PFA Player of the Year twice in England. He defines himself with the motto “Wales, Golf, Madrid, in that order”, and as his career at the club ends, with loans at Tottenham and his move to Los Angeles FC, that list of priorities becomes increasingly defined. “It’s probably the greatest honor we could have for our country,” Bale said on Sunday. “It is history in our country. Schools will stop to watch our games.”

Wales is no total stranger to big tournaments, with Bale being the figurehead of their run to the Euro 2016 semi-finals, also qualifying for Euro 2020. Robert Page was a steadfast defender for Wales during an era of multiple national team disappointments, and managed Northampton. in 2016. Having put in what he calls the “hard yards” of his career, he’s doing a wonderful job to date, handling Bale’s fitness issues expertly, after stepping in when previous manager Ryan’s legal troubles Giggs made it unavailable.

Page quietly appreciates the story he leads his team into. “It suddenly becomes real,” he said. Mark Drakeford, the Welsh Prime Minister, will be in attendance, when many Prime Ministers have chosen to stay away from Qatar. The Labor politician attends where Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, is boycotting the tournament. “There is a difference in responsibility from someone who is the prime minister of a nation that reached the World Cup final,” Drakeford explained. “That’s a different set of responsibilities than what the opposition leader exercises.”

Talking points

Talking points

Hosts with the least (so far) Qatar unsurprisingly became the first host nation to lose their opening game. The prospect of a fairy tale trip to the final seems somewhat out of reach for the home team. They never seemed to challenge Ecuador, the 44th best team on the planet. Between them they added 11 shots, the lowest number since the records began (they began to make the statistics in 1966). This could explain why around a third of the crowd were unbothered in the second half, choosing to make a quick exit rather than enjoy the goalless 45 minutes of relative tedium. Forward and up.

Messages of support without love. Several teams have long made it clear that they will make their voices heard in Qatar through the “OneLove” armband. Some said it was insufficient, an insignificant gesture in a sea of ​​well-meaning but powerless people trying to get their point across Qatar’s discrimination. It seems FIFA considers that to be quite a significant statement, so they could make sure captains are booked for having brass collars to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community via a strip of rainbow-coloured fabric. So much so that referee Raphael Claus could be forced to book Harry Kane, first, for wearing the bracelet against FIFA’s wishes.

Dewch ymlaen, Cymru! Along with the BBC and ITV, the UK has a third free-to-air World Cup option: S4C. The Welsh-language TV channel will broadcast all Wales matches, with former player Gwennan Harries as part of the pundits team heading to Qatar. “I can’t wait to get out there and see Wales on the biggest stage in world football,” Harries said. S4C’s coverage will also include preview shows and a documentary on Wales’ previous World Cup trip, Bois 58.

Beyond the football

Beyond the football

Iran captain Ehsan Hajsafi delivered a strong political message ahead of their match against England. Against a backdrop of growing protests over the actions of the Iranian government, the AEK Athens left-back said: “We have to accept that the conditions in our country are not right and that our people are not happy. We are here, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be their voice or that we shouldn’t respect them.” Human rights groups have called for Iran’s expulsion from the competition, and in solidarity with those killed in the protests, Hajsafi added: “I would like to express my condolences to all the bereaved families. They should know we’re with them.”

Elsewhere, chaotic scenes broke out inside and outside the fan festival at Al Bidda Park in Doha an hour before the opening match was due to start, after organizers allowed too many fans to flood the venue. The venue has a capacity of 40,000, but at least twice that many people tried to get in. The police had to remove the angry fans and it took around 45 minutes to clear the excess fans from the area.

Global media-watch

Global media-watch

Jim Waterson took over the BBC’s coverage of Qatar’s inaugural event, in which he focused on the treatment of migrant workers and gay people, as well as corruption at FIFA, while the opening ceremony was diverted to a broadcast online only.

When the Qatari government decided to spend millions of pounds on an opening ceremony featuring Morgan Freeman, BTS’s Jungkook and hundreds of other artists, it probably hoped it was the moment when the global media finally focused on football instead of human rights. . What he probably didn’t expect was for the BBC to ignore the entire event in favor of a broadcast criticizing the treatment of migrant workers, highlighting corruption at FIFA and discussing Qatar’s ban on homosexuality. And that was just in the first two minutes.

The internet reacts

The internet reacts

The golden goat (boot) after a game…

Some birds are not meant to be caged…

Morgan Freeman was the face of the USA’s bid to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup. Here he is in December 2010, arriving in Zurich to make the final presentation. Qatar shocked the world by winning hosting rights and today, Morgan Freeman is the face of its opening ceremony. Epic trolling on a global scale

A rocky start for official mascot La’eeb…

Player to watch

Jesús Ferreira The American center forward is an unknown name to the European public, but all that could change this month. The 21-year-old scored 18 goals for FC Dallas last season to earn his place in Qatar and is expected to lead the line against Wales. The son of former Colombian international David Ferreira, he has been picked for his ability to pressure defenders and create space, and if he can continue his scoring form in MLS, Ferreira could be a rising star at this World Cup.

Today’s matches

England v Iran (Group B, 1pm GMT, BBC One) Neither team comes into this opener looking particularly strong up front, and there may be more drama in the stands than on the pitch. How many England fans will turn up, paid or not, and will we see protests from Iran supporters amid the ongoing political turmoil at home?

Senegal v Netherlands (Pool A, 16:00 GMT, ITV) Originally scheduled to be the tournament’s opening match, this flashy group match has come too soon for Sadio Mané, now ruled out of the tournament. His former Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk is sympathetic: the centre-back should be making his major final debut aged 31 after missing Euro 2020 through injury.

USA v Wales (Pool B, 7pm GMT, ITV/S4C) Wales’ 64-year wait for a World Cup match will finally end against the team three places above them in the world rankings. Gareth Bale is his unavoidable danger, but his LAFC clubmate Kellyn Acosta has a crude plan to stop him. “We have to kick it down the field,” the US midfielder said.

And finally …

Ferran Torres may be in a relationship with Sira Martinez, who happens to be the daughter of Spain’s head coach Luis Enrique, but the Barcelona player insists there won’t be any awkwardness in their camp. “Not at all,” Torres said Sunday when asked if he felt any additional pressure. “I think the coach and I know how to differentiate when we are family and when we are coach and player. I think we have to move forward in a natural way, just that, and we get along well.”