Belgium vs. Canada score: Michy Batshuayi goal spoils Reds’ fine performance; Alphonso Davies misses PK

Belgium edged out Canada with a 1-0 win on Wednesday in the opening match of World Cup Group F. In the 44th minute, a goal from Michy Batshuayi after a long ball over the top from Toby Alderweireld made the difference, but Canada had chances to win. In a big moment early in the game, Alphonso Davies stepped up to take only the third penalty of his professional career, firing a disappointing volley into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.

Canada were in control of the game, winning the ball from Yannick Carrasco, but first-half changes for Belgium bringing on Amadou Onana and Thomas Meunier were able to help regain control. Canada had a lot of chances but wasn’t able to capitalize on them while Belgium will now have Group F choke After Croatia and Morocco drew 0-0 earlier this morning.

Despite the victory, Belgium was passed allowing Canada to loot 22 shots for xG 2.61. The Red Devils only took nine shots while Batshuayi took five. He only set one goal, but it was he who ultimately mattered. With Kevin De Bruyne creating four chances on his own, someone will need to be there to make chances count towards Belgium’s third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.

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Here are some points obtained from the match:

Thibaut Courtois is unstoppable

There is no denying the Real Madrid goalkeeper’s status as one of the best in the world. While Davies’ penalty wasn’t great, he read it all in to stop Canada’s early momentum before making three more saves during the match. Behind a chaotic defensive line, Courtois kept his cool, made great saves and managed the game. Late on, one of his best saves was a header by Kyle Larraine as the Canadian forward took three shots and created an opportunity after entering the matcha as a spark plug. Late on when Belgium needed a break, Courtois did clever things like pushing the ball to his feet instead of catching it.

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If Belgium are going to run deep into the World Cup with a mixed midfield and top defence, Courtois will be called upon to make more big saves.

Finishing is key

Both teams had problems finishing their chances but Canada was bigger. While this is their first World Cup appearance since 1986, they started the game as a team that deserved to be in the game. Star striker Jonathan David took seven shots xG from 1.01 but wasn’t able to test Courtois with any of them. As far as it goes, Canada is going to go in this tournament but the energy needs to be turned into goals.

By the end of the match, Belgium managed to settle into a shell, passing the ball between themselves while welcoming pressure from Canada. But John Herdman’s side couldn’t make them pay for it. Even the set gameplay delivery left much to be desired. It’s not dismal when Belgium are the best team in Group F, but both Croatia and Morocco are able to slow the game down so Canada doesn’t dictate the pace. Without early scoring, things could fall apart before they go to the Canucks.

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Is Belgium facing an offensive problem?

For one of the best teams in the world on paper, not being able to create chances in such an open game should be a concern for Roberto Martinez. Playing with fire to their kit, you’d expect some to translate into Belgium playing but Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and the defense left a lot to be desired. The Belgium wing-back wants to go further and create chances, but Carrasco was easily sent off and Timothy Castagne was getting lost in his passes. With such a talented squad, Martinez has other options such as Leandro Trossard who could push the team forward but squad changes will be needed on Sunday against Morocco.


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