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

Belgium were able to hold off Canada for a 1-0 win on Wednesday in their Group F opener at the World Cup. 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 their chances to win. In a great moment early in the game, Alphonso Davies stepped up for only the third penalty of his career, firing a stunning shot right into the arms of Thibaut Courtois.

Canada were dominating the game, taking the ball away from Yannick Carrasco, but Belgium’s half-time changes that brought in Amadou Onana and Thomas Meunier were able to help regain control. Canada had a lot of chances but were unable to make them count while Belgium would now concede strangled on Group F after Croatia and Morocco played out a goalless draw early this morning.

Despite the win, Belgium prevailed allowing Canada to get off 22 shots for an xG of 2.61. The Red Devils only conceded nine shots with Batshuayi taking five of them. He only put one on goal, but it was the one that mattered in the end. With Kevin de Bruyne creating just four chances, someone will need to be there to make our chances count towards Belgium’s third World Cup final in 2018.

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Here are some takeaways from the game:

Thibaut Courtois can’t wait

There is no denying the Real Madrid striker’s status as one of the best goalkeepers in the world. While Davies’ penalty wasn’t great, he counted all the way to stopping Canada’s momentum early before making three more saves during the game. Behind a chaotic back line, Courtois kept his cool making great saves and controlling the game. Late on, one of his best saves came on Cyle Larin’s header as the Canadian international scored three shots that created a chance after coming into matcha like a sparkplug. Late when Belgium needed a break, Courtois did smart things like chest down the ball to his feet instead of catching.

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If Belgium have a deep run at the World Cup with a patchwork midfield and an aging defence, Courtois will be called upon for more big saves.

Conclusion is key

Both teams had issues finishing their chances but Canada was too big. While this was 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 for an xG of 1.01 but was unable to test Courtois with any of them. As long as it goes Canada will go in this tournament but the energy needs to turn into goals.

Late in the match, Belgium were able to settle into a shell, passing the ball between themselves while receiving pressure from Canada. But John Herdman’s team was unable to make them pay for it. Even the game delivery set leaves a lot to be desired. It wasn’t all doom and gloom when Belgium was the best team in Group F, but both Croatia and Morroco were able to slow the game down so Canada didn’t dictate the pace. Without early goals, things could fall apart before they get going for the Canucks.

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Does Belgium have an attacking problem?

For one of the best teams in the world on paper, not being able to create chances in this opening game must be a concern for Roberto Martinez. Playing with fire on their kits, you would expect some to translate to Belgium’s game but Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and the defense left a lot to be desired. The Belgian wing-backs wanted to go forward and create chances but Carrasco won possession easily and Timothy Castagne was wasted with his move. With such a professional team, Martinez has other options such as Leandro Trossard who can push the team forward but line changes will be needed on Sunday against Morocco.


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