The final round of the group stages of the FIFA World Cup 2022 can be described as nothing short of an enthralling film of endless twists and turns. With two games kicking off simultaneously to maintain equality, a team’s qualification often boils downs to the final minute and the last kick.
Wednesday was a day with no shortage of drama as some of the tournament favourites including France and Argentina took to the field in massive games. It saw upsets, and nail-biting finishes as three more teams confirmed their progression to the knockouts.
The day began with the Group D games kicking off early. Denmark faced Australia in a must-win game and dominated the proceedings throughout. Despite having the better chances, they went down by one goal owing to a moment of magic by Mathew Leckie.
France took on Tunisia in a game of little value, yet massive in terms of the result. Didier Deschamps’ men went a goal down in the 58th minute when Wahbi Khazri got the better of Steve Mandanda. Antoine Griezmann scored a dramatic equaliser in the final second of the game only for it to be ruled out by VAR.
Group C then saw its games begin with all four teams in contention for a spot in the next round. Mexico got the better of Saudi Arabia and were within touching distance of the target but fell short on goal difference by a single game.
Both Argentina and Poland qualified in the other game, but it was the Argentines who outclassed their opponents on the night. Lionel Messi’s side walked away with a 2-0 win following a strong performance.
Madrid Universal brings you an overview of the performances of Real Madrid players on Wednesday.
Eduardo Camavinga (vs Tunisia)
Camavinga made his FIFA World Cup debut against Tunisia as the manager opted to make wholesale rotations for the final group stage game. With the top spot almost sealed before kickoff, the team had nothing to lose and Camavinga started at left-back.
Though the French outfit fell to a shocking 1-0 defeat to Tunisia, the Real Madrid youngster dished out a fine performance. He played the entire ninety minutes and was one of the team’s best players.
With six clearances, three interceptions and a whopping 11 tackles, he worked hard at the back and held the fort. Further, he won 16 of his 22 attempted ground duels and 66% of aerial duels.
While Tunisia did get into spaces behind him at times, there is no doubt that the Real Madrid youngster left a strong impression on Didier Deschamps and will see more playing time in games to come.
Aurelien Tchouameni (vs Tunisia)
Like his compatriot, Tchouameni played the entire 90 minutes and led the French midfield from the front. He recorded north of 100 touches with a pass-completion rate of 96%. He also completed 100% of his long balls and had four defensive actions.
He seemed to be lacking creativity at times as France tried to create chances late in the game. Yet, he was far better than his teammates like Youssouf Fofana and Jordan Veretout who struggled on multiple fronts.
Modric, Camavinga start in a 4-4-2: How Real Madrid could line up against Union Berlin
Real Madrid will begin their quest for their 15th European crown as they start the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League season against Union Berlin in Group C tonight at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid have made a solid start to the season, winning five in five in La Liga, although they have not always been convincing victories.
But Los Blancos have found a way to collect maximum points from difficult situations and will be eager to carry forward that form and momentum into Europe’s premier club competition.
Leading up to the game, Real Madrid have greeted both good and bad news on the injury front. Ferland Mendy is back in the squad for the match, which comes in as a big positive, while both Arda Guler and Vinicius Jr are closing in on a return.
However, onto bad news, in-form right-back Dani Carvajal picked up an injury and has been ruled out of the contest, and could potentially miss the derby against Atletico Madrid later this week.
With less than 12 hours left before kickoff, here’s how Real Madrid could line up against the German opposition, who are debuting in the UEFA Champions League.
With no Thibaut Courtois in the mix, on-loan goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga appears to be the preferred choice in goal ahead of Andriy Lunin. As such, the Spaniard should keep his place between the sticks tonight for Real Madrid against Union Berlin.
Dani Carvajal’s absence will see Lucas Vazquez start at right-back, as was confirmed by Carlo Ancelotti during his press conference. Meanwhile, Fran Garcia should make his UCL debut, slotting in at left-back despite the availability of Ferland Mendy.
At the heart of the defence, it is unlikely that Ancelotti will change the pairing of Antonio Rudiger and David Alaba, with captain Nacho Fernandez once again featuring off the bench.
As has been the case throughout this season, it is the midfield department that Ancelotti will have some major decisions to make.
Aurelien Tchouameni has been in fine form as the defensive midfielder this campaign, but the Frenchman could be rested tonight, with his compatriot, Eduardo Camavinga. starting as the lone pivot.
Meanwhile, Federico Valverde, who was on target against Real Sociedad over the weekend, should continue as one of the interiors, even though he recently revealed that he has been playing with an injured arm.
Luka Modric should make his second start of the season for Los Blancos, replacing fellow veteran Toni Kroos in the starting XI. Jude Bellingham will occupy the tip of the midfield diamond for Los Blancos.
As has been the case during Vinicius Jr’s absence, Rodrygo Goes and in-form forward Joselu will form the strike partnership up top.
Real Madrid Predicted Lineup: Kepa, Vazquez, Rudiger, Alabal, Garcia, Camavinga, Valverde, Modric, Bellingham, Rodrygo, Joselu.
Toni Kroos is certain to come on at some point in the second period to help Real Madrid provide control in the game. Fellow veteran Nacho Fernandez is also likely to be called upon to relieve one of the defenders.
Dani Ceballos and Ferland Mendy could make their first appearances of the season after their injury layoffs, while Brahim Diaz is also expected to get some minutes.