Croatia 4-1 Canada: World Cup 2022 – as it happened

Last modified: 06: 31 PM GMT+0

The 2018 finalists came back from an early deficit to blow away the Canadians in the second game

Bryan Graham was at the match today and here’s his report:

Canada is eliminated, but let’s consider a parallel here …

In 1990, the US played in its first World Cup in 40 years. They showed glimmers of promise but didn’t ever look like advancing. Four years later, on home soil, they followed a solid draw against Switzerland with a comprehensive defeat of Colombia, many a pundit’s pick to make some noise in the Cup.

This year, Canada is playing in its first World Cup in 36 years. They’ve showed glimmers of promise. In 2026, they’ll be on home soil.

And so I bid adieu on this fine day in which I’m still trying to recover from a fine day of curling. Enjoy Spain-Germany and what’s sure to be a wild week in this topsy-turvy World Cup.

Mailbag …

Mary Waltz: “Canada play deserved a better outcome but they will be flying home. Even though they kicked us around during qualifying most Americans were rooting for them. O, Canada.”

Bruce Cooper, before the last goal: “Croatia is sitting two and now they are throwing up a bunch of guards. No amount of sweeping will get us to the button.”

I think they were just throwing through the house at the end.

Aaron agrees with Patrick: “as a fellow Canadian, I would like to agree with the comments from Patrick “The coach’s dumb comment recently, the players’ little temper tantrums and unfriendliness to the opposing teams.” Especially the coaches comment as a) it was always unlikely that Canada was going to beat Croatia b) it’s not a polite thing to say c) he now looks a total ass.”

I can’t agree with that. Come into the game with some swagger. Send a message that you’re not intimidated. He’s less Ted Lasso and more Jesse Marsch.

More on that from Alex Wells: “Totally agree with this Patrik character. But shouldn’t we go one step further and introduce lifetime bans for any player who dares to engage in such unthinkable behaviour as “little temper tantrums and unfriendliness to the opposing teams”? No place for that in the football we all love!!”

So a sport ridden with players who dive, feign injury in hilarious fashion and kick each other when the ref isn’t looking should introduce lifetime bans for “temper tantrums and unfriendliness?” I’ll assume this is sarcastic.

Richard Slassor responds to my question on fun plans for the rest of the day: “Spain vs. Germany.” Indeed.

Andrew Gall: “By the way. The Croatians are booing Milan Borja because he is Serbian. Not for the back passes I don’t think.”

If so, that would be horribly unfair to someone whose family fled the violence in the Balkans.

Tino Andjic: “All the Canada-loving hype after the 1st matchday apart, Croatia is simply miles ahead of Canada, both technically and tactically. Mr. Herdman may want to reassess who … schooled whom tonight.
Perhaps a logical conclusion to make after all is that Belgium - after matchday 2 - looks like the weakest team in the group (although they, unlike Canada, can still go through).”

With Belgium, I think we’re seeing the typical throes of a golden generation failing to pass the torch in time.

Conor Biggs: “I am boycotting the World Cup but see no reason to deprive myself of your entertaining text commentary. Keep it up!”

Funny you mention that. I planned on paying less attention to this Cup, which is one reason I took a substitute teaching gig this week and will not be watching (or live-blogging) for the next five days. I hope to return to this space after that, though.

Full time: Croatia 4-1 Canada

After so many unpredictable games in this Cup so far, this was very much what you would expect at this level – an experienced side of accomplished top-tier players tearing apart an inexperienced team from an unheralded soccer country that relies too heavily on a couple of outstanding players.

Canada simply doesn’t have the defensive backbone to compete here when a strong team plays competently. The fearsome Canadian counter never materialized.

All credit to Croatia. That was a clinical, professional win.

Goal! Croatia 4-1 Canada (Majer 90+4)

Miller whiffs on the ball 45 yards out, and Orsic and Majer race away with only Borjan to beat. Orsic plays to Majer, and it’s a simple goal. Nothing Borjan could do.

Congratulations to the reader who predicted 4-1.

Majer scores Croatia’s fourth goal.
Majer scores Croatia’s fourth goal. Photograph: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP
Majer celebrates scoring Croatia’s fourth goal with Orsic.
Majer celebrates scoring Croatia’s fourth goal with Orsic. Photograph: Marko Đurica/Reuters


90 +3 min: A promising Canadian attack with some half-chances, and it ends with Hoilett hitting the side netting. If this was a 1-1 game in the 60th minute, you’d say that’s a sign of life.

Someone explain to me why the crowd whistles every time the ball goes to Borjan, but Croatia can wait 30 seconds to take a restart with impunity.

90 +2 min: Croatia free kick, and they take far longer to take it than the referee should allow.

90 +1 min: Croatia shot. Meh. Another save for Borjan, who made a couple of mistakes but wasn’t responsible for the goals.

Canada has six minutes to salvage something.

89 min: Nothing’s happening.

The Greek goal was offside in the Monty Python sketch, by the way. Confucius needed VAR.

86 min: Croatian foul at midfield gives them time to make the subs.

Orsic replaces Perisic.

Pasilic replaces Kovacic.

And Modric departs, a safe move giving the yellow card he just picks out. Majer takes his spot.

Can Canada make them pay with a quick counter? Evidently not. (Python reference.)

84 min: Miller and Modric get mad at each other, and the referee handles it with yellow cards and the universal symbol for “cut it out.”

Croatia is about to make three subs. I will list them for posterity when they come in.

83 min: Croatia is calmly maintaining possession.

Victoria Pearson: “A little too much sweeping on some of these Canadian balls, and I’m not sure they’re always calling the line correctly. Here’s hoping they figure themselves out and draw to the button soon. Update courtesy of my 11-year-old daughter: “Canada’s hopes have been swept away!” I have created a monster.”

They’re not even getting across the hog line now.

80 min: Matt Guthrie brings us back to the philosophy discussion by reminding me of the great Monty Python philosophers’ football sketch. Canada could use a “Eureka!” moment here.

Stephen Larose hails John Herdman: “As a Canadian I was actually happy that Herdman made the statements he made after the Belgium game. Instead of focusing on Davies’ penalty miss or the frustration of playing great for 93 minutes in a 94 minute game, the world media was focusing not on the players but on Herdman. Taking the focus and pressure off the players is what a great manager does.”

He’s going to make a European club proud one day.

78 min: CHANCE for Croatia, but Borjan makes two leg saves like a good hockey goalie.

(Borjan has spent much of his life and career in Croatia and Serbia, so he’s probably not as familiar with hockey as his teammates.)


77 min: Hoilett shoots. Don’t get excited. It’s from 25 yards out, it’s not hit with pace, and it’s not on target.

Ben Barclay: “I think Eustaquio is injured, but Atiba Hutchinson, and I love the man, should have come off in the first ten minutes.”

The veteran simply wasn’t up to the task today.

76 min: Croatia gets a corner and slowly walks over to take it. They slowly play it short. They slowly pass it back.

So, does anyone have fun plans for the rest of the day?

74 min: Cavallini makes a nice turn at the side of the box, and Davies nods it forward to a teammate who is … about three yards offside.


Croatia brings in Vlasic, who apparently is fit enough for a cameo appearance, replacing Kramaric.

Canada brings in Adekugbe for Hutchinson. Also, Cavallini replaces David.

Reminder: Canada is eliminated with a loss. And it’s hard to imagine anything else happening here.

Goal! Croatia 3-1 Canada (Kramaric 70)

Too easy. You can fault several Canadian defenders and midfielders for simply failing to put a foot in, and Perisic’s cross just rolls across the field to Kramaric, who scores from 16 yards out.

Kramaric gets his second and Croatia’s third goal.
Kramaric gets his second and Croatia’s third goal. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Kramaric celebrates in front of fans.
Kramaric celebrates in front of fans. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images


69 min: Osorio loses the ball in a dangerous space, but Borjan is there to snuff out any danger.

Canada gets possession and passes back to Borjan. The crowd whistles again.

68 min: Nothing to report.

Michelle Peters-Jones responds to Anis Aslaam: “The euphoria in Canada is because while ice hockey is the most watched game, soccer is the most played game. For example, in Edmonton, over 25K kids play minor soccer. The arrival of the Canadian Premier League has been huge, and with now world class players like Davies and David, we have really embraced football. It’s why this World Cup is huge! Normally Canadians just split their loyalty to other teams, mostly by heritage, so to have a team, which is actually quite good is a huge thrill.”

Bruce Cooper: “It has to be tough for Herdman to take off Atiba Hutchison. He has been a stalwart for Canada for years especially during Concacaf qualification. But against European competition he looks far too slow. Maybe with Eustáquio out injured Herdman is out of central midfield options. Fraser??”

Davies has actually been drifting all over field, including the center.

66 min: A long spell of Croatian possession, and Borjan finally collects an errant pass. The keeper hurls the ball to midfield … and out of play.

Patrik writes: “Thanks for the great play-by-play. Emailing from Canada. I like a good football match and I like a team that shows respect for its opponents. I can’t say that about our national team. The coach’s dumb comment recently, the players’ little temper tantrums and unfriendliness to the opposing teams. Canada’s bringing a hockey mentality to football. No thanks! Croatia has good style and deserves to win. I’ll get behind Canada when they improve their attitude.”

Seems a bit harsh.

The camera finds a Croatian supporter sporting water polo headgear.


63 min: Davies shoots … straight into the wall.

62 min: Davies on the run, unusually, on the right, and it takes two slide tackles to get the ball away.

Hoilett enters to replace Laryea.

Gvardiol wraps up David and concedes a free kick 20 yards out.

Brozovic slides in on Davies.
Brozovic slides in on Davies. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock


60 min: Is there a game-changer on Canada’s bench? Probably not, but Reading’s Junior Hoilett is warming up.

Croatia brings on forward Bruno Petkovic for the goal-scorer Livaja, who did excellent work in place of Vlasic.

59 min: My apologies for not identifying a lot of Croatian players. This is going quickly.

Another patient Canadian buildup yields naught but a giveaway 30 yards from the Croatian goal.

58 min: Borjan plays the ball directly to a Croatian attacker. To his relief, the ensuing shot is tame and easily held.

56 min: CHANCE for Canada, and where did THAT come from? It’s a big save from Likavokic in the end, tipping over a 20-yard shot from David after Osorio’s excellent work down the right.

In the buildup, Lovren committed a foul deemed worthy of a yellow card.

54 min: CHANCE, and a massive save by Borjan on Kramaric, who was teed up nicely for a shot near the penalty spot and placed it with power to Borjan’s right. The Canadian keeper did quite well there, showing the shot-stopping skill that bedeviled Concacaf foes, including the USA.

Kramaric reacts to a missed chance after a save by Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Kramaric reacts to a missed chance after a save by Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images


54 min: Canada gets players forward. Their tentative passes do not find them in an attacking space.

53 min: Croatia completes passes all over the field, unperturbed by Canada’s pressure, which is less energetic than in the past.

51 min: Oh my, that’s dangerous. Borjan remains rooted three yards from the ball while a cross comes out and nearly lands neatly for a Croatian attacker.

Now a yellow card to Buchanan for clipping a Croatian attacker’s calf. Impetuous.

Buchananfouls Gvardiol and gets a yellow card.
Buchananfouls Gvardiol and gets a yellow card. Photograph: Darko Vojinović/AP


50 min: Will the tradition of whistling when the ball is passed back to the keeper cease one of these days? It made sense in the 1970s and 80s when the keeper could pick up the ball and hold it for eternity. Not so much now.

48 min: This is a patient Canadian buildup, ending with an impatient Buchanan cross. But they win it back, and suddenly it’s a half-chance.

Then an excellent CHANCE, as Osorio surprises everyone by an unleashing a 20-yard shot that skims past the far post. This is better from Canada.

47 min: Johnston makes a solid play at last, intervening to shield the ball and earn a free kick.

Halftime subs: Jonathan Osorio replaces Stephen Eustáquio, the normally excellent midfielder who was struggling today and went down injured.

Young attacker Ismaël Koné curiously replaces Larin.

Hutchinson, the 39-year-old captain who labored in midfield, remains out there, as does Johnston. My faith in Herdman may have dropped a bit here.

To the inbox …

Amar Breckenridge: “So, Davies gets to go down in history as the first Canadian to score in a *Men’s* World Cup.”

Indeed, Canada has 34 goals in Women’s World Cups, though it has only reached the semifinals once. In the Olympics, they’ve been on the podium three times and won it last year.

Kari Tulinius: “As a Stuttgart fan, it’s painful to see “our” Borna Sosa allow Buchanan all the time and space in the world to measure his cross. Usually he’s really good, both at the back and going forward. The silver lining is perhaps that he’s now slightly less likely to be bought in January, which is the eternal fear of supporters of big clubs that are a step below the top elite.”

Buchanan has been forced back on defense, though, so perhaps that helps a bit.

Douglas Wills: “Yep definitely not Socrates. The only true wisdom is knowing you know nothing!! Thanks for the live commentary!”

I am indeed a wise man by that measure.

Anis Aslaam: “Can any Canadians in MBM here today inform me regarding the euphoria felt in Canada regarding their chances in the World Cup? Just curious, considering football isn’t Canada’s number one sport.”

No. 1 would be ice hockey, though I vote, of course, for curling, the reason why my legs feel like they were hit repeatedly by a hammer. Long day on the ice yesterday.

Speaking of ice hockey, here’s Jer Cullinane: “Match might be more exciting for Canadians if they allowed fist fights as a conflict resolution device, perhaps with 5 minute sinbinning as a moral glossover.”

Justin Kavanaugh: “More unsolicited advice from the academy of philosophy majors you seem to have uncovered: Your Rai correction just proves what the original Socrates (the Greek international) almost said: The undeleted digital life is not worth living. As for Canada, what didn’t kill their chances in the opening game has already made them stronger.”

That’s a nice reminder that I should delete Twitter one day.

Shawn Grant, writing before the momentum switch: “Canada have done well to bypass Croatia’s neutral zone trap. They’re finding space in the high slot, and Livakovic looks susceptible both top shelf and five hole. Croatia may have to resort to long balls, so it’s to their benefit FIFA did away with the two line pass rule for this tournament. Shawn in Buffalo (Go Sabres!)

Go Caps! Nah, their window has passed. Great Cup win, though.

Pierre-Yves Lebon: “There are colleges.... in the province of Quebec. Of course, there are universities as well in Quebec.”

Does the word “college” have an accent? Which way would it point?

Along those lines, from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous: “I live in Canada and I certainly went to and graduated from a top college in Ontario and have a career in the field my diploma is in. The college I went to is allowed to award 2 and 3 year diplomas and 4 year degrees in some engineering fields. The colleges just may not have varsity level sports teams like the universities. But to say we don’t have colleges here is completely wrong when Ontario alone has multiple and they are covered by the same provincial ministry as universities!”

I miss college.

Pete Leihy adds his name to his pregame 3-0 prediction, which he now revises to 4-1. That’s looking plausible.

Alexander Green, whom I believe is a law student at the University of Colorado, foresees a Canadian red card in the second half.

Does everyone know the term “DOGSO”? Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity. Yes, also plausible.

Allyson Jule says “Canada geese” and “Canadian geese” are both acceptable, and with that, I have to get back to the game.

The Guardian posted a compelling look at Croatian goal-scorer Marko Livaja before the Cup. He was the only player in this lineup who did not play in the opener.

Halftime: Croatia 2-1 Canada

Relief for Canada at that whistle.

OK, give me a minute to catch my breath, and I’ll plow through your comments.

45 +4 min: Croatia again attacks Johnston, and Kamal Miller has to race back in the center to cut out the cross. Miller pounds the grass in anger and frustration at how things are going.

45 +3 min: Canada holds the ball for a bit in the Croatian third, getting a bit of a rest, but once they turn it over, the Croatian counter attack is devastating. After I thought it would be the other way around!

I did, though, say both teams would score, didn’t I?

45 +2 min: Johnston, who has had a dreadful half, keeps the ball in play but just leaves it for an onrushing Croatia attacker, and Croatia gets another decent chance out of it. His day should end at halftime.

45 +5 min: We’ll have five minutes of stoppage time here, and that’s Very Bad News for a Canadian team that desperately needs to get into the locker room for John Herdman to make some adjustments and push the right buttons.

Canada head coach John Herdman reacts.
Canada head coach John Herdman reacts. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images


Goal! Croatia 2-1 Canada (Livaja 44)

Ugh, Canada. Slow to react in every step of midfield after that quick free kick, and Livaja has plenty of space to pick his spot from the top of the box.

Second straight game Canada has conceded to fall behind right before halftime.

Livaja puts Croatia ahead.
Livaja puts Croatia ahead. Photograph: Darko Vojinović/AP
Livaja celebrates with teammates.
Livaja celebrates with teammates. Photograph: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images


44 min: Looks like a handball on a Canadian attacker, and Croatia barely settles the ball before taking an astonishingly quick free kick. They know they might not be on the front foot forever.

OK, while he’s getting treated …

Malcolm Shuttleworth: “Do I detect a certain amount of complacency creeping into the mindset of the so-called bigger teams at the World Cup? Germany, Argentina, Belgium, England and now Croatia have all come a cropper. Surely not a coincidence?”

Probably not. Or perhaps the world is flatter than we realize, more teams have players in Europe’s big leagues, and players from Saudi Arabia’s league – and, yes, from Major League Soccer – can play.

39 min: Free kick to Canada, but the Croatian midfield is starting to boss the game. Croatia wins it and races upfield. Its 2-on-4, but on that right flank, that’s almost a mismatch for Croatia. Canadians flock back like Canada geese to address the situation.

(My understanding is that it’s “Canada geese,” not “Canadian geese.”)

Modric has words with Laryea. I don’t know what those words are.

Now more bad news for Canada: Outstanding midfielder Stephen Eustáquio is down. Looks like a cramp. Hopefully not worse.

I promise I’ll engage with all the comments at halftime. This game hasn’t had a lot of lulls. Or LOLs.

GOAL! Croatia 1-1 Canada (Kramaric 36)

Yeah, that was coming. On the aforementioned Canadian right flank, Perisic finds Kramaric left unattended in the box, and the Hoffenheim attacker slots it home.

Kramaric scores to make it 1-1.
Kramaric scores to make it 1-1. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images


35 min: CHANCE for Croatia, with Livaja managing a firm shot despite having two defenders around him. Borjan holds his ground and knocks it out for a corner kick.

34 min: Speaking of Wake Forest, I once saw a presentation by a Wake Forest coach who showed game film and spoke with disapproval about a rival college that tries to create chances with long throw-ins, saying he wants to prepare his players for the “next level.”

Croatia has looked exceptionally dangerous on long throw-ins.

So what would the “next level” be after the World Cup?

32 min: Canada’s best defender on the right may be Tajon Buchanan. He races back from his forward position to clean up a mess left by Alistair Johnston, whom Croatia has identified as the weak link here.

Johnston plays for CF Montreal and previously played collegiately at Wake Forest, a small-ish college that punches above its weight in sports, even if their gridiron team lost to my Duke team yesterday. (Sorry.)


31 min: Lovren gets a forearm into Davies’ face. That might have worked at Liverpool … no, wait, it didn’t. Free kick for Canada, toward the center of the field about 25 yards out. Served into the box, headed clear. Canada retains possession and plays back to Borjan so everyone can have a quick rest.

28 min: Canada wanted a free kick on the right flank, but I didn’t see much there. Fans give a whistle.

Laryea gets the ball in his own box and dithers a bit, then is a bit lucky that an impatient Croatian attacker fouls him.

A freeze-frame of the offside decision shows that it was correct. Probably. I don’t trust freeze-frames like that because you don’t know when the ball was actually struck. But the helpful rectangles carved out by the lawn mower certainly made it seem the correct call to my aging eyes. (I do have relatively new glasses. And I’m a referee. This is exactly like the Under-12 games I typically officiate, of course.)

Gooooaaal … no. It’s a nice attack against a shaky Canadian defense, but a pass in the buildup is judged to have been offside. Correctly, to my eyes on the replay.

But Canada’s defense looks a bit vulnerable, and Croatia’s attack looks better than Belgium’s. I did not expect to write the second half of that sentence.

Kramaric see's his goal ruled out for offside.
Kramaric see's his goal ruled out for offside. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA


Stat of the day:

⏱️ - Croatia🇭🇷 have conceded the fastest goal at both of the last 2 World Cup finals

2022 - 68 seconds (Alphonso Davies🇨🇦)
2018 - 57 seconds (Mathias Jørgensen🇩🇰)#CROCAN #FIFAWorldCup

— Gracenote Live (@GracenoteLive) November 27, 2022

24 min: Canada completes a long string of passes in the attacking third. Which of these teams has the experienced European pros? Which one has a bunch of players from Major League Soccer who played college soccer in the USA and university soccer in Canada? (I apparently made the mistake of saying Canada has “colleges” last time. I learn so much from readers.)

22 min: Croatia is getting the best of Canada’s right flank, where Alistair Johnston and Richie Laryea are failing to shut anyone down. Put a pin in that.

20 min: Croatia is tentatively pressing, giving Borjan plenty of time with the ball at his feet. They forced one turnover, but Canada gets it back and Croatia faces the intimidating sight of Davies heading down the left flank with the ball. Fortunately for them, his cross misses both of his teammates.

Travis Giblin writes to say that he made it home in time from Costco to see the goal. That was fast.

19 min: Didn’t I say Croatia needs to win this game in midfield? They’re not. Davies swipes the ball with panache and starts an attack that yields a corner kick.

17 min: Again, an unconvincing play from Borjan, who awkwardly punches a cross down and not that far away. The defense holds firm and draws a foul.

Note, however, that the Canadian goal started with a long, accurate kick from the Belgrade-based keeper.

15 min: Davies isn’t content with one, of course. These Canadian forwards are buzzing around the Croatian penalty area.

Croatia must win this game in midfield. The more time the Canadian attackers have to run at this defense, the more miserable our checkerboard-kitted friends will be today.

Davies in action.
Davies in action. Photograph: Alex Grimm/Getty Images


Richard in Dallas: “As a fellow philosophy major, don’t worry about your bank account. In one hundred years, it won’t matter. But your mistaking Rai for his (now deceased) brother, Socrates, will live on the Internet forever......”

Only if you screen-shotted it, because I raced back, verified the identity and changed it. So there. Not sure if it was my mistake or a crossed wire, so to speak.

12 min: A Croatian corner kick, some nifty footwork from Modric, and the marquee Europeans are starting to show their class. A ball goes out near the flag and is ruled a throw-in rather than a corner kick, but the throw-in is so long that there’s hardly a difference.

Canada weathers a relatively mild storm.

9 min: More danger from Canada, but the AR’s belated flag states the obvious – Cyle Larin was offside.

Croatia, though, is playing with fire by giving him that kind of space.

So anyway – the officials are mostly Uruguayan, led by referee Andres Matonte. The lead VAR is Mauro Vigliano of Argentina.

7 min: I’ve been singing the praises of Canadian keeper Milan Borjan, and he responds by fumbling a deflected cross. He quickly pounces on it, but that’s a bit nervy.

5 min: Fox commentator Cobi Jones notes that Croatia may have to open up now, which will subject them to a dangerous Canadian counterattack. US fans shudder at the memory of qualifiers.

4 min: Croatia suddenly look nervous. Wouldn’t you?

GOOOOAALLL!!! Croatia 0-1 Canada (Davies 2)

It’s a dream start! Big distribution from Borjan, then Buchanan patiently waits to see Davies making his run, and that header is a thing of power of beauty.

Davies scores for Canada.
Davies scores for Canada. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters
Davies celebrates scoring.
Davies celebrates scoring. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters


Key event

Tweet! from Uruguayan referee …WAIT!!!

Quick check of the mailbag before we launch into what could well be a frenetic start …

Richard Hirst: “My invocation of everyone from The Band to Paul Peschisolido may not have won Canada the last game (although it should have done), but it has put them in a position from which qualification is a formality. Win by a couple of goals today, then the last two games are draws, and Morocco and Canada both qualify - simple.”

I envy Canadian optimism as well.

Matt Burtz: “As someone who did go to law school and is a lawyer, trust me, you made the right decision. Good luck to Canada from an American.”

My bank account begs to differ.

Bruce Cooper: “Extra points if your minute by minute includes curling references. Let’s confuse the heck out of the Europeans. Go Canada go!! We are here watching in our Toronto basement decked out in one u12 women’s jersey, one 2020 Olympic Jersey and a 1972 Summit Series hockey jersey. Canada soccer failed at jerseys this year. Also is John Herdman a real life Ted Lasso?”

For the record, Bruce wrote before I made the Ted Lasso reference.

And Andy Flintoff says my photo of Socrates is actually of Rai, Socrates’ younger brother. Hmmm … I’ll have to check that.

Anthem time. We the people of the United States of America envy a couple of things about Canada. First, Rush. Second, health care. Third, the national anthem. No offense to Francis Scott Key, but O Canada simply blows the Star-Spangled Banner away.

The entire team is singing with gusto, including John Herdman, the manager who would draw all sorts of Ted Lasso comparisons if not for the complicating fact that he is English. He took New Zealand’s women and Canada’s women to dizzying heights before getting the job with Canada’s men. It’s safe to say his phone will be buzzing with offers after this Cup.

From the mailbag:

Bogdan Kotarlic: “This World Cup maybe lacks in quality of the football and the number of goals scored but it is very exciting and full of surprises. I think that, from a fan’s point of view, it can be best described as “interesting”. Do you agree?”

There was some debate on social media about whether the USA-England game was The Most Compelling 90 Minutes in the History of Association Football or A Complete Waste of Time by Two Teams Content With a Draw. The dazzling highlights haven’t been there, apart from England’s demolition of Iran and the Brazilian goals, but it’s undoubtedly dramatic. Better than seeing all the favorites grind out 1-0 or 2-0 wins against overmatched underdogs desperately parking the bus.

Philip Podolsky asks, surely in reference to my philosophy degree: “Analytic or continental, was it?”

A lot of Greek stuff, plus a philosophy of music class (intriguing) and a philosophy of law class that convinced me not to go to law school. In retrospect, a big mistake, but then I wouldn’t be here with you today, would I? (Nor would I have met my wife.)

Rai, the younger brother of Socrates, presents The Socrates Award to winner Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane in October. Not the same Socrates I studied at Duke. I think. I didn’t do very well.
Rai, the younger brother of Socrates, presents The Socrates Award to winner Bayern Munich’s Sadio Mane in October. Not the same Socrates I studied at Duke. I think. I didn’t do very well. Photograph: François Mori/AP

Unnamed writer: “I predict a 3-0 win to Croatia. Canada will try to attack, but Croatia will gradually take the game away from them.”

Canada will score. Croatia will score. Which team does more, I don’t know.

Bear in mind – Belgium proved that a bunch of over-30 players will struggle against Canada’s enthusiastic pressure.

And Val Reed of Winnipeg says I’m doing quite well. Thanks, and I hope you are as well.

I am, incidentally, nursing the effects of spending 15 hours in a curling club yesterday, six of them on the ice.


Croatia lineup

Croatia also has made one change up front, with Marko Livaja in place of Nikola Vlasic, who left their opener at halftime with an apparent calf injury.

Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb) is in goal.

At the back, the name most familiar to Premier League followers is Dejan Lovren, the subject of many a Liverpool supporter’s nightmares. He’s in the center with 20-year-old RB Leipzig player Josko Gvardiol. On the outside, it’s fellow Bundesliga defender Borna Sosa (Stuttgart) and Celtic’s Josip Juranovic.

In the midfield, the star man is Real Madrid’s 37-year-old Luka Modric, who starts again alongside Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic.

Yikes. That’s a good midfield. They couldn’t score against Morocco?

Up front: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim) and Livaja (Hadjuk Split).

Canada lineup

One change: Cyle Larin gets the call up front in place of Junior Hoilett.

Alistair Johnston, Steven Vitória and Kamal Miller hold down the back in front of outstanding keeper Milan Borjan, who had little to do against Belgium other than pick the ball out of the net on a superbly taken finish off what you could easily be considered Belgium’s only great chance.

Stephen Eustáquio is the embodiment of a midfield anchor. Captain Atiba Hutchinson is still plugging along at age 39.

Out on the left wing – defender, midfield, forward, wherever – is Alphonso Davies, from the Vancouver Whitecaps via some club called Bayern Munich. The prodigy looked as good as expected against Belgium but unfortunately took a weak penalty, perhaps rattled when the referee took about 45 minutes to set things up. (Mild exaggeration.)

Richie Laryea is out on the right. Up front is the aforementioned Larin, the leading scorer in the last round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, with Jonathan David, the second-leading scorer (tied with Christian Pulisic) in that round, and Tajon Buchanan.

Davies and Johnston are on yellow cards.

Time to bounce back 😤

Your Canadian XI set to take on Croatia in Qatar 🌎🏆#CANMNT | #TFCLive

— Toronto FC (@TorontoFC) November 27, 2022

Belgium-Morocco fallout: Fox just aired part of a postgame interview with Belgium manager (for the moment) Roberto Martinez. I have no idea what he said. He was just shouting with the panicky voice of someone who knows he is feeling much more pressure than he was an hour prior.

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez walks off dejected at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez walks off dejected at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Already getting email, and I haven’t even finished my chai latte.

Travis Giblin: “I’m in line waiting for Costco to open and there is 5 of us in line watching the end of the Belgium vs Morocco game. We’re all here early, hoping to get our stuff and get home for the Canada game. This group is wide open if Canada can bring the same effort they brought to Belgium! Here’s to a good one!”

This group is open and Costco is not. The world has gone mad. Dogs and cats are playing together in harmony. Pickleball is the sport of the future. Rachel Homan and Tracy Fleury are curling together. What next?


Hi folks, Beau here, and I’m lying on the floor in an existential and epistemological panic.

What do we make of any of these results? Can we be sure of anything? If Japan beat Germany, and then Costa Rica beats Japan, then is Japan good? Is Germany that bad?

So what do we make of Canada, which dominated Belgium and still lost. Canada also beat Japan in the last friendly before the Cup started. But Belgium just laid an egg against Morocco. So is Canada better than Germany? Worse than Morocco?

And why did I major in philosophy? (And music, because I collect useless degrees.)

Maybe we’ll know more in three hours. Or maybe we’ll just be more confused …


Here’s a look at how the teams did in their first matches in Qatar. Croatia’s draw with Morocco looks a lot better now after the way they played against Belgium today, while Canada may wish they had been more aggressive against a team that clearly has problems.


Beau Dure

The GuardianTramp

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