France, Brazil and Portugal achieved the three strongest victories in the round of 16 of the World Cup in Qatar. What do the trio have in common? A controversial decision that generated a lot of discussion: saving players in the third match of the group stage to start the knockout at a thousand, not giving chances to opponents who were beaten with great authority.
In this World Cup, no one is traveling, taking a plane, taking two or three hours of flight to arrive in another city. The guys leave the hotel and in an hour, 45 minutes are in the locker room. They only played two games, you know? The Cup is not just about protecting the player from injury, it’s not just about playing well. It’s not just that. It’s winning the match to pass the stage with morale, with confidence.”
Casagrande, commentator for UOL during the World Cup, before Brazil vs. Cameroon.
Defeat always has a sequel. France has already begun to have problems, it has begun to aggravate its internal problems. Portugal Fernando Santos must be being discussed even more. The Brazilian team could go to the round of 16 with more tranquility, but now Tite will have to explain himself. I no longer see Brazil as a favourite.”
José Trajano, commentator for UOL during the World Cup, after Brazil vs. Cameroon.
France loses to Tunisia and sweeps Poland
Already classified in the first place of Group D, with two victories, over Australia and Denmark, France placed the reserve team to fulfill the table and face Tunisia in the closing of the group stage last Wednesday. He lost by 1 to 0, but the defeat was a mere statistic due to the rest that such strategy brought to the athletes.
Against Tunisia, coach Didier Deschamps took the following team to the field: Mandanda; Disasi, Varane (Saliba), Konaté and Camavinga; Tchouaméni, Fofana (Griezmann) and Veretout (Rabiot); Guendouzi (Dembelé), Coman (Mbappé) and Kolo Muani.
The team that swept Poland 3-1 on Sunday (eight days after the last appearance of the considered starters) was the following: Lloris; Koundé (Disasi), Varane, Upamecano and Theo Hernández; Tchouaméni (Fofana) and Rabiot; Dembélé (Coman), Griezmann and Mbappé; Giroud (Thuram).
Nine players were rested and the only ones to double the journey were defender Varane and defensive midfielder Tchouaméni. Poland was not so lucky. He lost to Argentina on the same Wednesday as France faced Tunisia, and did not bother Les Bleus at any point in the round of 16 (the goal of honor, for example, only came out in the 99th minute).
France’s team played with two improvised full-backs, four defensive midfielders and without a center forward. Nor did Deschamps have reservations for specific positions. It’s a bunch. France has, after the cuts, a lots good defenders, of all kinds, but there are few attackers. And that’s why Deschamps took everybody out.”
Arnaldo Ribeiro, UOL commentator, after France v Tunisia.
Brazil falls to Cameroon and dances over Korea
The script was repeated by Brazil with Tite. Against Cameroon, last Friday (2), he did not have the lead assured, but decided to spare the starters anyway.
First place almost fell to the ground with the 1-0 defeat by Ederson, Daniel Alves, Éder Militão, Bremer and Alex Telles (Marquinhos); Fabinho and Fred (Bruno Guimarães); Antony (Raphinha), Rodrygo (Everton Ribeiro), Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus (Pedro).
Yesterday (5), in the resounding 4-1 over South Korea, Tite repeated only Militão in the team, changing the other ten players, who engaged in seven days of rest since the last match of the complete team, the 1-0 against Switzerland.
The team that destroyed the Koreans had Alisson (Weverton), Éder Militão (Daniel Alves), Thiago Silva, Marquinhos and Danilo (Bremer); Casemiro and Lucas Paquetá; Raphinha, Neymar (Rodrygo), Vini Jr (Gabriel Martinelli) and Richarlison.
South Korea, who faced Portugal on Friday (2), returned to the field on Monday with the same team, and was trampled by Brazil mercilessly, with a 4-0 score still in the 36th minute.
Many people criticized the teacher [Tite] for saving, but many do not understand this. It’s a tough competition and we showed this high intensity again because we were spared. Many criticize him, now it’s time to praise him a little.”
Richarlison, striker from Brazil, after Brazil x Korea.
Portugal loses to Korea and sweeps Switzerland
Finally, Portugal’s great defeat of Switzerland today by 6 to 1 also has this characteristic of lighter legs and less tired players.
The Portuguese closed Group H last Friday, with the already mentioned 2-1 defeat of the reserves to South Korea.
On the occasion, coach Fernando Santos took the following team to the field: Diogo Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Antonio Silva and João Cancelo; Ruben Neves (João Palhinha), Matheus Nunes (Rafael Leão) and Vitinha (Bernardo Silva); João Mário (William Carvalho), Ricardo Horta and Cristiano Ronaldo (André Silva).
Today, the relentless rout had eight different players. The team that detonated Switzerland was: Diego Costa; Dalot, Pepe, Ruben Dias and Raphael Guerreiro; William Carvalho, Otavinho (Vitor Ferreira) and Bernardo Silva (Ruben Neves); Bruno Fernandes (Rafael Leitão); Gonçalo Fernandes (Ricardo Horta) and João Félix.
Morale was at an all-time high and it will shake a little, which is normal, but on the other hand it will be a call to reason on the physical side. This group is very focused and will understand this more from that perspective, we have to continue to be the same as we have been until now. We can never slow down, in a World Cup any detail makes a lot of difference.”
Fernando Santos, coach of Portugal, after Portugal vs South Korea.
And the others?
Netherlands, Argentina, Morocco and Croatia used the same starters to decide their rankings in the group stage and later in the round of 16.
Holland did not suffer. It won by two goals difference to close the bracket (2-0 in Qatar) and also in the knockout stage (3-1 in the United States).
Argentina are alive thanks to their time-honored struggle, beating Poland well 2-0 and then sweating it out 2-1 against Australia. Morocco and Croatia needed penalties to dispatch Spain and Japan in the round of 16, respectively.
The big point outside the curve among the teams that repeated players in both phases was England.
The team scored an easy 3-0 over Wales in the third round, on Tuesday last week, and then made another 3-0, in Senegal, on Sunday, for the round of 16.
The quarterfinals will not have dates for the eight teams.
The intervals for the next games will be four to six days after the definition of the round of 16. It remains to be seen from now on the effect of accumulated tiredness and planned rest.