After a rousing weekend of international matches, here's who's having the worst #CaseOfTheMondays.
Not every goalkeeper can be like Neuer. Some, like Hugo Lloris, will learn that the hard way. In France’s World Cup qualifier against Sweden, in stoppage time of what could have, should have, would have been a 1-1 draw, the France and Tottenham keeper decided to dribble a backpass out of his box with a Swedish player in hot pursuit. Under pressure, Lloris sent a half-clearance, half-pass up the field...that landed right in the path Ola Toivonen, who was running onto midfield. He connected with a one-time shot that sailed past the out-of-net Lloris and into goal.
Not what you’d expect to see from a goalkeeper of his stature, but mistakes do happen — and to be fair, Toivonen’s capitalization on the mistake was a fantastic effort in and of itself. But with the Netherlands only three points back in the table, the one point that slipped away from them could have ended up being crucial.
What should have been an easy qualifying win for 33rd-ranked Hungary — and what looked like it could have been, based on the stats — ended in disaster for a team that really, really needed the win if they want any chance of catching Portugal in the table. Andorra, ranked 186th in the world, eked out a 1-0 win to nab their first competitive win in 12 years. That’s 66 games. And it’s pretty remarkable that they did:
Possession really does mean nothing — and it seems completed passes don’t anymore, either.
It was slim, but Venezuela lost the U20 world cup to England — a country that has not been in the final of any global tournament since the World Cup in 1966 — at the weekend. They had to chance to tie it up with a penalty less than 20 minutes from full time, where they trailed 1-0 thanks to England’s first-half goal, but Freddie Woodman was able to get a hand on Adalberto Penaranda’s effort. It was especially unlucky after an incredible and otherwise unstoppable shot from Ronaldo Lucena hit the post in the first half. They still looked great, though, and Venezuelans should be excited for what the future holds for these young stars.
The narrative was strong heading into Mexico’s World Cup qualifier against the United States on Sunday: Mexico’s 13 points from 5 matches; the US’ record at the Azteca, of 8 losses, two draws, and one measly win; the lineup that Bruce Arena decided to roll out: a new formation, and one shockingly with Brad Guzan between the sticks rather than Tim Howard; and, of course, the political atmosphere. But it only took six minutes for the narrative to be shattered — by none other than Michael Bradley.
Of course Mexico, unquestionably the best team in CONCACAF on paper (and, recently, in performance), tied it up before halftime — they were not about to get shut out in their fortress. But the fact that nothing more came from him in the second half was surprising. Both teams had chances; Mexico and the U.S. hit the post on some pretty incredible efforts. The U.S. are also now unbeaten at the Azteca in 3 matches, which is pretty incredible considering their list of losses and their defeat at home in Columbus back in November. It won’t hurt Mexico in qualifying, as they’ll easily top the table. But for narrative’s sake, it was certainly not the result they wanted.