Teamwork makes the dream work

Saka, Sargent climb; Hazard falls

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The times are counting right down to the beginning of the World Cup in Qatar, with the host nation kicking all of it off on Nov. 20 once they tackle Ecuador.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, extra (U.S.)

All 32 finalists are making their closing plans for the event, hoping that star gamers do not get struck down by harm and head into the World Cup in high kind. Away from that, there’s loads of gamers who’re desperately hoping to interrupt into their nation’s 26-man squad, which must be named by Nov. 13.

Every week, we’ll check out the favourites to see how they’re shaping up and in addition examine in with different nations as their gamers both shine or battle.

World Cup finals bracket and fixtures schedule

JUMP TO: United States | France | Germany | Spain | Belgium | Portugal | Netherlands | Argentina | Brazil | Mexico | Australia | Senegal | Morocco | Cameroon | Ghana | IR Iran | Japan

ENGLAND
Fixtures: IR Iran (Nov. 21), United States (Nov. 25), Wales (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Phil Foden & Bukayo Saka: All issues being equal, England will play 3-4-3 of their World Cup opener towards Iran with Harry Kane beginning at centre-forward and Raheem Sterling occupying one of many superior positions subsequent to him. Foden and Saka are the frontrunners competing for the opposite attacking spot and after Foden’s tremendous hat trick for Manchester Metropolis towards Manchester United final weekend, Saka delivered a equally influential efficiency as Arsenal beat Liverpool 3-2 at Emirates Stadium. Saka scored twice, the second of which got here within the type of a match-winning penalty — the largest spot kick he has taken since lacking for England within the Euro 2020 ultimate shootout towards Italy.

STOCK FALLING

Trent Alexander-Arnold: This is not the primary time Alexander-Arnold has appeared right here, however one other chastening expertise in an enormous sport will do little to win over coach Gareth Southgate, who’s already sceptical concerning the 24-year-old’s defending. He was substituted at half-time in Liverpool’s loss at Arsenal with an ankle downside which, if something, put him out of his distress, after being caught out for each targets his workforce conceded within the opening 45 minutes. The second was significantly embarrassing, drifting out of place with no hope of getting the ball, vacating Liverpool’s central defensive space as Arsenal counter-attacked and Gabriel Martinelli crossed for Saka to attain.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Information that Kyle Walker is a doubt for the finals after present process groin surgical procedure shall be an enormous blow to Southgate. Walker was a sure starter for England, almost certainly on a the suitable aspect of a three-man defence, the place Southgate depends closely on Walker’s restoration tempo to snuff out potential counter-attacking risks. He has not but been dominated out, nonetheless, and Southgate will certainly give him each probability to make the squad. With out him, England’s already suspect defence is weaker. — James Olley


UNITED STATES
Fixtures: Wales (Nov. 21), England (Nov. 25), IR Iran (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Josh Sargent: Sargent continued his robust begin to the season with Norwich Metropolis, scoring his seventh purpose of the season within the Canaries’ 3-2 loss to Preston North Finish on the weekend. With Ricardo Pepi bagging one other two targets for Groningen, Sargent wanted to do his bit to remind supervisor Gregg Berhalter that he must be on the ultimate roster, and he did simply that with a excellent run and end to attain Norwich’s first purpose.

STOCK FALLING

Chris Richards: With slightly below a month to go till Berhalter names his roster, Richards continues to be on the mend from a hamstring harm. Not solely did Richards not play in Crystal Palace‘s 2-1 win over Leeds United, he hasn’t even begun coaching with the primary workforce but. If wholesome, Richards is a close to lock to be included, however Berhalter might want to see that the defender is again to full health to ensure that that to occur.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

The sight of Christian Pulisic getting on the scoresheet for Chelsea was most welcome given his significance to the U.S. assault. However long run, essentially the most notable a part of the weekend was the return to well being of a number of gamers. Fulham defender Antonee Robinson, Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah, Lille‘s Timothy Weah and Celtic’s Cameron Carter-Vickers all bought on the sector, with Robinson and Carter-Vickers going the complete 90 minutes. The primary three in that listing are considered important to the U.S. workforce’s probabilities of getting previous the group stage. — Jeff Carlisle


FRANCE
Fixtures: Australia (Nov. 22), Denmark (Nov. 26), Tunisia (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Adrien Rabiot: Simply when he wanted it essentially the most, Rabiot produced his finest efficiency shortly final week towards Maccabi Haifa within the Champions League. The Juventus midfielder scored twice and was very dominant in a must-win sport for Juve. He was good towards Milan too regardless of the defeat and he’s exhibiting that he’s nearly again to his finest. With coach Didier Deschamps uncertain which of his midfielders shall be prepared for the World Cup, Rabiot scored some brownie factors.

Antoine Griezmann: Lastly, the striker shall be a standard footballer once more. On Monday, Atletico Madrid formally introduced that he had signed completely for them from Barcelona after weeks of solely being allowed to play half-hour per match! Now, Diego Simeone will have the ability to play him as a lot as he needs, which is an enormous aid for Griezmann with the World Cup across the nook.

STOCK FALLING

Anthony Martial: Deschamps has been actually affected person with Martial all year long. It has been a on and off relationship between the Manchester United ahead and the France workforce however he was a candidate for the World Cup. Nevertheless, his new harm setback, just a few days after making his return with a purpose at Omonia final week and an help towards Everton on Sunday, is an enormous blow and diminishes his possibilities to go to Qatar.

Lucas Hernandez: It appears like a race towards time for the Bayern Munich defender to be prepared and match for the World Cup. His thigh harm has stored him out for a month already and he’s nonetheless not again on the pitch. He ought to begin working once more this week and hopefully play by the top of the month. Will that be sufficient for Deschamps? Time will inform.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

There are nonetheless some issues for Deschamps as he’s nonetheless monitoring the progress of his injured gamers, particularly N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba who’re two massive considerations for France. Kylian Mbappe reportedly being sad at PSG in the meanwhile can also be a fear for Deschamps. — Julien Laurens


GERMANY
Fixtures: Japan (Nov. 23), Spain (Nov. 27), Costa Rica (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Niclas Fullkrug: There is a massive clamour for the inclusion of the in-form Werder Bremen striker, to provide coach Hansi Flick a real centre ahead possibility. Fullkrug at 29 hasn’t represented Germany past under-20 degree however leads the Bundesliga scoring charts with eight targets, serving to catapult Bremen into the highest 5. He netted the late penalty winner away to Hoffenheim on Friday whereas additionally organising the opener for hanging companion Marvin Ducksch. — Derek Rae


SPAIN
Fixtures: Costa Rica (Nov. 23), Germany (Nov. 27), Japan (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Brais Mendez: The Actual Sociedad midfielder is banging within the targets after a summer time transfer from Celta Vigo … may he be making a late run for inclusion? He has 4 caps, however none since November 2021.

STOCK FALLING

Ferran Torres: An everyday for Spain however struggling for minutes with Barcelona. He didn’t make the most of his begin towards Celta Vigo on the weekend. — Sam Marsden


BELGIUM
Fixtures: Canada (Nov. 23), Morocco (Nov. 27), Croatia (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Kevin De Bruyne: There isn’t a shock right here. De Bruyne is the Belgium worldwide who’s most in kind. Week-in, week-out, he’s delivering for Manchester Metropolis and he’s even getting rested at instances by Pep Guardiola (towards Copenhagen, and he solely got here on for 21 minutes towards Nottingham Forest), which is nice so near the World Cup.

Leandro Trossard: The Brighton ahead is giving Roberto Martinez a headache. Trossard’s efficiency in scoring a hat trick at Liverpool 10 days in the past was distinctive. He’s in nice kind and, not like Eden Hazard, he’s match, performs frequently and shines. He’s definitely pushing for a spot in Belgium’s beginning XI in the meanwhile..

STOCK FALLING

Eden Hazard: There’s nonetheless not a lot sport time for him at Actual Madrid. He hasn’t performed a single minute for Los Blancos for a month, since Sept. 11 towards Mallorca the place he began and was taken off after 59 minutes. And that was whereas Karim Benzema was out! Now that Benzema is again, it’s actually time to fret for Hazard. He’ll arrive on the World Cup with only a few minutes on the pitch below his belt.

Charles De Ketelaere: He’s taking longer to adapt to life at AC Milan than was hoped. He was benched by coach Stefano Pioli for the large conflict towards Juventus on the weekend, and the workforce did very well with out him. His 65 minutes towards Chelsea final week have been very poor and he nonetheless hasn’t scored since making the transfer to Italy.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

The massive fear in fact is the type of Hazard. The Belgium captain does not play at Madrid and coach Martinez is worried. He has different choices however Hazard is a large participant for him. For the remainder, issues are wanting good. — Julien Laurens


PORTUGAL
Fixtures: Ghana (Nov. 24), Uruguay (Nov. 28), South Korea (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Cristiano Ronaldo: He might not have began towards Everton on Sunday, however his introduction off the bench for the injured Martial gave Manchester United a spark and resulted in him scoring the winner, and his 700th profession purpose. United’s No. 7, who pushed to depart all through the summer time and who supervisor Erik ten Hag mentioned was “pissed off” with an absence of sport time, may very well be in line for a protracted spell within the workforce amid ongoing considerations over Martial’s harm file.

STOCK FALLING

Pedro Neto: Unhealthy information for the Wolves winger, who has been dominated out of the World Cup after struggling an ankle harm towards West Ham United. — Dale Johnson


NETHERLANDS
Fixtures: Senegal (Nov. 21), Ecuador (Nov. 25), Qatar (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Frenkie de Jong & Arnaut Danjuma: Excellent news from Spain, the place De Jong and Danjuma have recovered from their accidents. De Jong appeared as a 63rd-minute substitute after greater than two weeks out as Barcelona beat Celta Viga. Danjuma began for Villarreal towards Austria Vienna final week and scored instantly, however was substituted at half-time towards Actual Sociedad on the weekend after a below-par efficiency.

Matthijs de Ligt: He is began a fourth consecutive match for Bayern Munich as a result of harm to Lucas Hernandez. Towards Borussia Dortmund (2-2), proficient Dutch striker Donyell Malen additionally got here on within the seventieth minute however Ryan Gravenberch, who performed his first 90 minutes towards Viktoria Plzen within the Champions League, stayed on the bench the entire sport.

Cody Gakpo: The PSV Eindhoven star continues to impress. After 75 minutes he scored the one purpose of the sport towards Heerenveen, the second time this season that he has proved to be the distinction maker. He’s unquestionably the MVP within the Eredivisie this season with 9 targets and 6 assists in simply 9 video games. In all competitions, he has been concerned in 23 targets — as many as Erling Haaland, though Gakpo has featured in three further matches.

Jeremie Frimpong: He scored two targets in Xabi Alonso’s first sport as coach of Bayer Leverkusen, his second brace of the season. Along with Ramy Bensebaini (Borussia Monchengladbach, additionally 4 targets) he’s the top-scoring defender within the Bundesliga. He’s performing very properly nevertheless it is not prone to be a part of the group who’re going to Qatar. Louis van Gaal solely needs gamers who he is aware of, or has bought to know, which means any participant not chosen as much as the final worldwide break is unlikely to make it to the World Cup.

STOCK FALLING

Remko Pasveer: After Ajax suffered their largest European loss when shedding 6-1 to Napoli, many gamers got here in for criticism. Daley Blind and Pasveer confirmed their weaknesses, however just a few days later Pasveer did not play in any respect properly towards FC Volendam, who’re on the backside of the desk however scored twice. Pasveer has conceded 13 targets in his final 5 video games. — Max Toemen


ARGENTINA
Fixtures: Saudi Arabia (Nov. 22), Mexico (Nov. 26), Poland (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Enzo Fernandez: On this lengthy, 35-game unbeaten run, Argentina’s midfield trio have been firing collectively splendidly properly. Leandro Paredes will get the strikes going, Rodrigo De Paul provides thrust and Giovani Lo Celso performs delicate passes, bringing Lionel Messi into play near the opposing purpose. However what would occur if one of many trio have been to be out of motion? Exequiel Palacios has lengthy been the following in line, however has run into harm issues — making the rise of Fernandez very attention-grabbing. Final week, Fernandez was applauded off the sector by Benfica followers when he made a late exit towards Paris Saint-Germain. As he has carried out frequently since becoming a member of from River Plate, Fernandez put in a strong shift, concerned in all phases of the play and organising his aspect’s purpose in a 1-1 draw. He has seemed equally at dwelling after his latest promotion to the senior Argentina aspect. Coach Lionel Scaloni can relaxation relieved that he has a ready-made midfield reinforcement.

STOCK FALLING

Paulo Dybala: Sunday’s weird harm, when he suffered a muscular downside in scoring a penalty for AS Roma, was dangerous information certainly for a participant who has persistently flattered to deceive for his nationwide workforce. There’s hypothesis that he is not going to be slot in time for Qatar. Argentina wish to have him in reserve, however they have this far with out him. Dybala hardly featured in World Cup qualification, was not in Brazil for final 12 months’s Copa America triumph and has scored a really disappointing three targets in 34 appearances for his nation. His hopes of bettering that file within the World Cup have taken a blow. — Tim Vickery


BRAZIL
Fixtures: Serbia (Nov. 24), Switzerland (Nov. 28), Cameroon (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Gabriel Martinelli: With one other splendid show on the weekend, Martinelli is making life laborious for Brazil coach Tite with so many attacking choices. Even with 26 squad slots out there, it’s laborious to see how Martinelli can get himself on the airplane. Assuming that Tite takes one reserve for every defensive and midfield place, that leaves him with 9 slots left for entrance gamers. Neymar is assured, as are wingers Raphinha, Vinicius Junior and Antony, plus nearly definitely Rodrygo. Richarlison will go as a central striker, backed up by Pedro and, absolutely, Gabriel Jesus. It’s most likely the case that Roberto Firmino is battling with Olympic hero Matheus Cunha for a slot, with benefit Firmino — the Liverpool man is the closest they must a Neymar substitute. And that is the 9 slots all gone.

Barring accidents, there’s one various — repeat what Brazil did final month. That might imply leaving out Daniel Alves, having Danilo as the only real right-back, with Eder Militao supplying cowl, thus releasing up an additional house. To take 10 entrance gamers in a squad of 26 may seem an exaggeration and it may very well be a threat — however Martinelli is enjoying so properly that the thought would possibly properly be flickering by Tite’s thoughts. — Tim Vickery


MEXICO
Fixtures: Poland (Nov. 22), Argentina (Nov. 26), Saudi Arabia (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Hirving Lozano: After a gradual begin to the 2022-23 Serie A marketing campaign with Napoli, it was welcome information to see Lozano rating within the 4-1 win towards Cremonese final Sunday. The purpose was the primary of the season for the 27-year-old and got here simply two weeks after he scored the lone purpose for Mexico in a pleasant vs Peru.

STOCK FALLING

Alfredo Talavera: Not the perfect efficiency from Mexico’s second-choice goalkeeper. The targets weren’t solely his fault, however veteran Talavera did not cowl himself in glory in FC Juarez’s 3-0 loss to Toluca within the first spherical of the Liga MX playoffs. With no video games left to play earlier than the World Cup, Talavera will now put together for the event after a bitter finish to his season.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Lozano’s Serie A purpose will present aid for Mexico supervisor Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who just lately famous that there are not any ensures that key injured attackers like Jesus Corona or Raul Jimenez shall be match for the World Cup. Lozano shall be a useful member of El Tri‘s frontline in Qatar, and can due to this fact want to realize extra momentum and minutes earlier than the event. — Cesar Hernandez


AUSTRALIA
Fixtures: France (Nov. 22), Tunisia (Nov. 26), Denmark (Nov. 30)

STOCK CLIMBING

Mitch Langerak: His determination to finish his retirement from worldwide soccer final month out of the blue turned the Socceroos’ goalkeeping shares from certainly one of its most settled positions into certainly one of its most intriguing. And whereas he won’t have performed within the latest video games towards New Zealand — coach Graham Arnold opting to start out Andrew Redmayne in Auckland as a result of the A-League Males’s (ALM) offseason had denied him latest minutes — the 34-year-old continues to rack up minutes with Nagoya Grampus within the J1 League and was spectacular of their 1-1 draw with Kyoto Sanga.

Langerak has twice damaged the season clean-sheet file of the Japanese top-flight since signing for Nagoya in 2018 and arguably would have had significantly greater than his present tally of eight Socceroos caps had he not stepped away from the nationwide workforce because of household causes in the course of the pandemic. Now again within the fold, he is placing his finest foot ahead in an unlikely push for Australia’s No. 1 shirt in Qatar.

Chris Ikonomidis: After an harm ravaged 2021-22 ALM marketing campaign — not helped by an extended stint in quarantine after representing his nation — Ikonomidis largely fell off the radar of the Socceroos heading into this marketing campaign, overshadowed by the likes of Awer Mabil and Craig Goodwin on the wing. His barnstorming look off the bench in Melbourne Victory’s 3-2 win on the opening day of the Australian top-flight’s 2022-23 season, although, demonstrated that the attacker cannot be discounted for a late push for a spot on the airplane to Qatar. Launched as a 62nd-minute substitute within the Huge Blue, the 27-year-old grabbed a purpose and an help in Victory’s win — on the very least giving himself a platform to construct on earlier than Arnold names his squad subsequent month.

STOCK FALLING

Mat Ryan: On the actual time that Langerak is making strikes in Japan, the Socceroos incumbent between the posts has discovered himself out of the blue consigned to the bench at his Danish membership FC Copenhagen simply weeks out from the World Cup. Coming back from a long-term harm, Kamil Grabara has changed Ryan in Copenhagen’s XI in latest fixtures. Ryan’s kind with the Socceroos has at all times been exemplary and he stays an integral chief for the workforce. But when he will proceed to observe from the sideline whereas Langerak performs properly, it is inevitable that questions are going to be requested.

Marco Tilio: He started the ALM season with Melbourne Metropolis needing to place collectively a robust run of kind to bolster a case for choice, so beginning on the bench in his aspect’s opening 2-1 win over Western United and being pressured to attend till the 73rd minute to enter the competition was hardly what he wanted. Much more unlucky for his hopes of reaching Qatar, none of these forward of him within the pecking order at Metropolis — together with fellow Socceroos Mat Leckie and Jamie Maclaren — put in the kind of performances that may recommend coach Patrick Kisnorbo must make a change forward of their coming assembly with Brisbane Roar. Tilio additionally missed a late probability to seize his aspect a 3rd. — Joey Lynch


SENEGAL
Fixtures: Netherlands (Nov. 21), Qatar (Nov. 25), Ecuador (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Habib Diallo & Boulaye Dia: After being criticised for his or her profligacy in the course of the worldwide break, Senegal’s attacking choices now seemingly cannot cease scoring because the World Cup approaches. Diallo of Strasbourg and Salernitana‘s Dia have been each among the many targets this weekend — a significant increase for coach Aliou Cisse — whereas Famara Diedhiou, who led the road within the Africa Cup of Nations ultimate, returned to motion for the primary time since sustaining an harm in June.

STOCK FALLING

Pape Abou Cisse: The AFCON-winning defender was lower from the Olympiakos squad forward of their assembly with OFI Crete after clashing with supporters following a 3-0 humbling by Qarabag in midweek. The membership publicly criticised the defender’s behaviour after he confronted followers, and it stays to be seen whether or not he nonetheless has a future on the membership.

Edouard Mendy: The goalkeeper continues to be out of Chelsea‘s Premier League aspect as new boss Graham Potter places religion in Kepa Arrizabalaga, and his inactivity is a rising concern.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Chelsea have misplaced religion in Mendy at precisely the incorrect time for Senegal, and a month has now handed with out enjoying in any respect for the Blues. He is such an necessary participant for the Teranga Lions, so his place is not unsure, however that is removed from ideally suited preparation. In contrast, Kalidou Koulibaly‘s robust return to motion below Potter is encouraging information. — Ed Dove


MOROCCO
Fixtures: Croatia (Nov. 23), Belgium (Nov. 27), Canada (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Imran Louza: Damage-hit since arriving at Watford in a £9m transfer final 12 months, Louza’s begin to the season has once more been overshadowed by health issues. Coming back from 5 months with out a sport, he made his third look in six days for the Hornets as they have been defeated at Blackpool, scoring the guests’ comfort purpose with a scrumptious curling free kick. His purpose adopted on from a latest help within the 4-0 mauling of Stoke Metropolis and, on present kind, Louza must be pushing for a Morocco return.

STOCK FALLING

Romain Saiss: The Morocco skipper was withdrawn with harm 13 minutes into Besiktas’ 1-0 victory at Giresunspor. He is anticipated to overlook the weekend’s derby with Trabzonspor, however his setback is not anticipated to have an effect on his World Cup participation. With Nayef Aguerd nonetheless sidelined, the Atlas Lions can’t afford one other key defensive absence.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Hakim Ziyech has the potential to be a key asset for Morocco after ending his worldwide exile, and although he solely made a four-minute cameo as Chelsea defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers, his return to Premier League motion will deliver cheer to educate Walid Regragui. It was the playmaker’s first league look since Aug. 30, and he now must characteristic extra frequently to make sure that he is match sharp for the World Cup. Ziyech has come down with sickness forward of Chelsea’s Champions League sport at AC Milan. — Ed Dove


CAMEROON
Fixtures: Switzerland (Nov. 24), Serbia (Nov. 28), Brazil (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Andre Onana: Earlier than this weekend, Onana’s failure to unseat Samir Handanovic at Inter Milan had been a priority for Cameroon followers, leaving their No. 1 goalkeeper wanting match sharpness. Following some underwhelming shows by Handanovic, coach Simone Inzaghi opted at hand Onana his first Serie A begin towards Sassuolo on the weekend, and whereas it wasn’t a flawless show — the ex-Ajax man conceded — it now seems that he’ll be given the possibility to impress within the weeks to return. Midfielder Samuel Oum Gouet additionally returned to motion for KV Mechelen, having missed the earlier three fixtures.

STOCK FALLING

Martin Hongla: He stays benched at Hellas Verona, and hasn’t featured since Sept. 4, whereas Rigobert Music will certainly be hoping for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to get a bit of extra enjoying time than the eight minutes he was afforded in Der Klassiker.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Onana’s “promotion” at Inter is a significant increase, whereas the remainder of the squad is wanting wholesome. Music will watch on with intrigue to see how new Lyon head coach Laurent Blanc makes use of Karl Toko Ekambi within the coming weeks, whereas formidable FA president Samuel Eto’o ought to pull out the stops to try to persuade Youssoufa Moukoko, who turned the youngest purpose scorer in Der Klassiker, to ditch Germany for Cameroon in time for the World Cup. — Ed Dove


GHANA
Fixtures: Portugal (Nov. 24), South Korea (Nov. 28), Uruguay (Dec. 2)

STOCK CLIMBING

Daniel-Kofi Kyereh: The SC Freiburg participant has blossomed right into a priceless component within the Ghana squad since making his first begin for the nationwide aspect, and is reaching the perfect type of his profession simply in time for the World Cup. His pleasant purpose towards Hertha Berlin on Sunday helped the Breisgau-Brazilians to an away draw, and he is now scored three targets in his final three matches. Contemplating that is his first marketing campaign in a high division, Kyereh should be thought-about amongst Africa’s breakout stars of the season.

STOCK FALLING

Daniel Amartey: Wout Faes‘s arrival at Leicester Metropolis has resigned Amartey to a bench position for Brendan Rodgers’ beleaguered Foxes. He was launched within the 67th minute with Leicester main 1-0 at Bournemouth on Saturday, with Rodgers seeking to protect the guests’ benefit. They misplaced 2-1.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Kyereh’s emergence as a purpose risk from midfield comes as a lift to a Black Stars aspect who’ve scored simply three targets of their final 5 matches. Nevertheless, Thomas Partey remaining harm free and persevering with to show influential as Arsenal preserve their robust begin to the season is Ghana’s actual optimistic of the week. — Ed Dove


JAPAN
Fixtures: Germany (Nov. 23), Costa Rica (Nov. 27), Spain (Dec. 1)

STOCK CLIMBING

Takehiro Tomiyasu: After his personal health points firstly of the season noticed him lose his place within the Arsenal aspect, Tomiyasu benefitted from an harm to Oleksandr Zinchenko to reclaim his place in Mikel Arteta’s beginning XI. And the versatile defender definitely acquitted himself admirably, holding his personal towards the fearsome Mohamed Salah in a formidable 3-2 win for the Gunners.

STOCK FALLING

Kaoru Mitoma: There isn’t a denying Mitoma’s uncooked expertise, and the Brighton hierarchy — in addition to the followers — look to carry him in excessive regard, with the anticipation that he’ll ultimately set up himself within the Premier League. But, each sport that he sits on the sidelines and is restricted to substitute appearances is one other week gone the place one of many Samurai Blue’s X-factor gamers fails to garner any significant and priceless minutes forward of the World Cup.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Tomiyasu was at all times going to be a lock for Japan within the backline however the truth that he may doubtlessly get extra enjoying time for an Arsenal outfit who’re flying excessive bodes properly for the Samurai Blue, particularly given captain and centre-back companion Maya Yoshida is dealing with a far-less completely happy time within the Bundesliga with Schalke in the meanwhile. However Mitoma’s inactivity may begin being a priority for coach Hajime Moriyasu, particularly given others like Takumi Minamino at Monaco and Vissel Kobe’s Yuya Osako are struggling to make an impression and competing for his or her membership on the incorrect finish of the desk respectively. — Gabriel Tan


IR IRAN
Fixtures: England (Nov. 21), Wales (Nov. 25), United States (Nov. 29)

STOCK CLIMBING

Karim Ansarifard: Solely earlier this 12 months, it seemed like Ansarifard — a seasoned campaigner with 94 caps to his title — won’t even be headed for the World Cup, given rumoured unrest between him and then-Iran coach Dragan Skocic. With Skocic now changed by Carlos Queiroz, the 32-year-old Ansarifard has returned to the fold and simply final week confirmed the type of predatory instincts that can turn out to be useful for Crew Melli with a scientific end in Omonia’s slim loss to Manchester United within the Europa League.

STOCK FALLING

Sardar Azmoun: A making an attempt 12 months for Azmoun bought worse for when he tore a proper calf muscle forward of Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-0 Champions League loss to FC Porto. Though Azmoun has struggled for targets just lately, he would have nonetheless been anticipated to play an necessary position in assault for the Iranians however, with an estimated six-to-eight week restoration interval, may miss out altogether.

HOW ARE THEY LOOKING?

Ansarifard discovering kind is a bonus however he’s unlikely to have the ability to absolutely fill any potential void ought to Azmoun be unavailable. The double act of Azmoun and Porto striker Mehdi Taremi is one that may have triggered issues for any opposition defence. The Iran devoted will now have their fingers crossed that the Leverkusen man recovers in time to make Queiroz’s squad, even when he has to overlook the primary sport or so. — Gabriel Tan

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