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Croatian coach Dalic warns of Belgian quality despite stories of crisis

The Belgium team has had mixed results so far PHOTO @thibautcourtois

🌟 #FIFAWorldCup 2022

⚽ Croatia vs Belgium 6pm
⚽ Canada vs Morocco 6pm
⚽ Japan vs Spain 10pm (UBC tv)
⚽ Costa Rica vs Germany 10pm

✳ Enrique: We want to beat Japan to win the group

Doha, Qatar | XINHUA & FIFA.COM | Belgium may be on the verge of crashing out of the World Cup in the group stage unless they beat Croatia in their last group game on Thursday, but Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic insisted that his team is still a force to be reckoned with.

The 2-0 defeat to Morocco has sent shockwaves through the Belgian camp, with rumors of internal divisions and coach Roberto Martinez saying that “There was no enjoyment. There was too much responsibility.”

However, Dalic warned that Belgium still have the capacity to get through.

“We are playing against the second-best football team in the world. They are a great team and if we could choose we would not have selected this match to be the decisive one,” he told the press, adding that his side would not “fool ourselves by their under-performance in the last two games.”

“Belgium are a top team, they have Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard and we will not be fooled by media stories and some rumors. We are expecting the best of Belgium, a top-notch national team.”

“They have not become bad football players overnight,” said the coach.

Spain will seek top spot – coach

Spain coach Luis Enrique was giving nothing away about his line-up to face Japan on Thursday in the last round of matches in Group E.

A draw will be enough to see the Spanish through and even a defeat would possibly still see them into the last-16 on goal difference and the coach is expected to make some changes as he rests players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, while preferring not to risk Gavi and Rodrigo Hernandez, who have struggled with slight physical problems in the last couple of days.

“We are not going to speculate with any player,” Enrique told the press ahead of his game, before adding that whoever played, Spain would go for the win.

“We want to win to be first in the group of death. We have no intention of speculating because we want to be the first,” he said.

A win would put Spain on track for a possible quarter-final clash with tournament favorites, Brazil, but when asked about the possibility of finishing second to avoid Brazil, the Spain coach was clear with his preferences.

“I hope we do play Brazil, because that means we have won our group and got through to the last-16.”

“We have discussed (finishing second in the group) it, but it’s pointless, because you can be knocked out in any game. We aren’t looking at who we could play in the round of 16 or Brazil in the quarterfinals.”

“If you want to win a World Cup you have to beat everyone, and that is the objective,” insisted Enrique, who also valued a Japan side that shocked Germany in their opening match.

“They have seven players who were at the Olympic Games, where we beat them in extra time. They also have players in Europe, some in the Bundesliga. They are dynamic, fast and stick close to you.”

“We won’t have much time to think because they have a great midfield, with a lot of good players. I expect us to control the ball, but I also expect it to be a very difficult game,” he insisted.

Referee Frappart reaches career pinnacle

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 is set to create a milestone in the history of refereeing. When Costa Rica and Germany meet in Group E on Thursday, there will be no man in the middle, but a woman – France’s Stephanie Frappart, who will become the first female to take charge of a men’s World Cup match. Her appointment was announced by the tournament organisers on Tuesday and means the 38-year-old match official will take her place in the history of the game. Frappart took charge of two matches in the qualifiers for the tournament, but her presence at the World Cup itself is a significant moment.

The Frenchwoman was the fourth official in the 0-0 draw between Mexico and Poland on the opening matchday in Group C, becoming the first woman to occupy the role at a men’s World Cup. Frappart is no stranger to the biggest stage in the game, having officiated in six matches at the last two FIFA Women’s World Cup competitions – Canada 2015 and France 2019.

Frappart also has experience of elite men’s club competitions. In early November, she refereed Real Madrid’s 5-1 home defeat of Celtic in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, and was also in charge of Juventus’ meeting with Dynamo Kyiv in the same competition in December 2020, a match in which Cristiano Ronaldo scored. In 2019 she became the first woman to referee a Ligue 1 match, between Angers and Strasbourg, and that same year she took charge of the UEFA Super Cup match between Liverpool and Chelsea, earning praise from Jurgen Klopp in the process.■

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