Lukaku’s missed opportunities cost Belgium their World Cup trip

Romelu Lukaku missed several chances to score a winning goal for Belgium against Croatia on December 1, 2022, in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 event.

Belgium only had to beat Croatia by one goal to move on to the next round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. It instead landed a goalless draw to add only one point to its name in the final fixture of Group F.

Lukaku was presented with several chances to convert the shot into a goal. Fortune was probably not on his side as he went on to miss all the golden chances. One of the favorites in the tournament will no longer appear in the current edition of the FIFA World Cup. It will, however, look to bounce back in the next edition.

Croatia is the least affected at the moment. The drawn result has added one point to its name, giving it the second spot with 5 points in the table, just below Morocco.

Croatia’s coach, Zlatko Dalic, reflected on the entire incident and claimed that his team was indeed fortunate that Belgium had no opportunities to score. The FIFA World Cup 2018 runners-up did not anticipate an easy match because Belgium is known for fighting back in international tournaments.

Belgium was also expected to put up a strong show because no one really believed that the side could have consecutive bad World Cup events.

Croatia went with Josko Gvardiol as a defender. The 20-year-old proved his worth by making crucial interventions against Belgium. He was playing with a protective mask, but that did not stop him from making a huge difference in his performance.

Only three of the total 16 shots that Belgium attempted found the target. Four of Croatia’s 11 shots were successful in finding the target. By keeping 52% of the possession, Belgium appeared to play more aggressively. Clearly, this did not work for Martinez’s team at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.

Croatia moves on to the knockout round, hoping to replicate their run at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they managed to face France in the final round. France won the match 4-2, giving Croatia a reason to return for redemption.

Japan and Croatia will face each other in the Round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 on December 5, 2022, at 8:30 pm IST at Al Janoub Stadium. Croatia has only one win to feel confident about in the group stage, while Japan has been able to deliver two upsets, one against Germany and another against Spain. The only match that Japan has lost so far in the tournament is against Costa Rica, where Fuller scored a last-minute goal to save the embarrassment.

Japan retaliated with higher intensity and intended to do the same against Croatia in the knockout round. Notably, Croatia has scored in only one event thus far, against Canada in the pool stage.

Adil Husnain

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