The first round of games in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup has come to an end and Juventus’ contingent in Qatar has been heavily involved throughout. Let’s take a quick spin around the squads and see how the Bianconeri have performed.
Wojciech Szczesny [Poland 0-0 Mexico] - Juve’s starting goalkeeper had a solid game between the sticks, keeping his clean sheet streak going from his club run of six straight games leading up to the winter break. Certainly El Tri’s wayward finishing with only four shots hitting the target of their 11 attempts meant Tek’s job was not a very difficult one. Next is the game on Saturday against Saudi Arabia.
Alex Sandro [Brazil 2-0 Serbia] - The first of a trio of Juventus defenders in the Seleção squad, the fullback seemed rejuvenated playing for Brazil. Sandro was heavily involved for Tite’s side in their win, looking more like the Sandro of old. The 31-year-old made a team-best 90 passes at 94% accuracy (second on the team), cracking a shot off the post from distance and his seven clearances and one interception also led his side.
Danilo [Brazil 2-0 Serbia] - The versatile defender started at the right back position putting in an efficient performance in both halves of the pitch, matching his Juve teammate’s intensity on the other side. The 31-year-old ended up with exactly one shot, one tackle, one interception, one clearance, one block, one aerial and one foul.
Gleison Bremer [Brazil 2-0 Serbia] - The summer signing was on the substitutes bench and did not feature in the game with Thiago Silva and Marquinhos getting the nod.
Filip Kostic [Serbia 0-2 Brazil] - The wide player did not make Dragan Stojkovic’s starting lineup and was not one of the five subs used either as the Serbs went looking for a second half equalizer.
Adrien Rabiot [France 4-1 Australia] - Juve’s player of the season continued his fine form (and occasional errors) into his Les Bleus adventure. With a handful of midfielders injured, Rabiot has been elevated to a starting role for Didier Deschamps and he paid him back scoring once and picking up an assist as France overcame a surprising opener from the Aussies to run riot. In a French squad laden with superstars, Rabiot easily held his own and his performance portends well for both player and team.
Leandro Paredes [Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia] - The summer signing has been poor at times for Juve leading to his being dropped by Massimiliano Allegri, and his performance for the Albiceleste in the stunning upset by Saudi Arabia showed no reason for the coach to change his mind about him. Being one of the least worst players on a team that was littered with ineffective performers is not really a credit despite his 93% passing accuracy when he did have the ball. On paper, this was a smart transfer, but Juventus are slowly realizing why PSG were happy to be rid of him.
Weston McKennie [USA 1-1 Wales] - The USMNT looked incredible for large parts of the first half as they ran over Wales and did basically everything but score more than once. However, once they did take the lead they sat back (a la Juve) and let Wales push forward looking for the equalizer in the second half, which duly arrived. McKennie though had a relatively quiet game, likely tempered by his early thirteenth minute booking. When he went off in the 66th minute, he had won one aerial, and had no shots, dribbles, tackles or interceptions, but did add two blocks and clearances each.
Angel Di Maria [Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia] - The high but disciplined backline of Saudi Arabia meant Argentina resorted to balls over the defence in the first half, and every single time they strayed offside. Di Maria saw plenty of the ball as he attempted to make things happen on the right flank, but his two shots and five dribbles came to naught, with his six losses of possession the highest among his teammates.
Dusan Vlahovic [Serbia 0-2 Brazil] - The Juventus striker did not start for Stojkovic, but came on after the hour mark when Brazil took the lead. It was a frustrating night for Vlahovic, who has often struggled against physical central defenders. He won two aerials, had three losses of possession but with only ten touches the forward failed to get a shot off or complete a dribble in the half an hour or so he was on the pitch.
Arkadiusz Milik [Poland 0-0 Mexico] - The striker was an 88th minute substitute as the Poles went looking for a winner to settle the stalemate after star Robert Lewandowski saw his penalty saved. Milik managed one dribble and no shots from nine touches in the little time he was on.