Argentina’s Lionel Messi, third from left, is congratulated after scoring from the penalty spot his facet’s opening objective in the course of the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. (AP Photograph/Jorge Saenz)
Preview: A chant has been doing the rounds amongst Saudi Arabia supporters — and even some from Brazil — within the fan parks and streets of Doha on the World Cup.
“The place is Messi? We broke his eye!” they sing in Arabic, utilizing a slang expression which means to carry disgrace on an individual.
Messi and his Argentina group are being mocked after a humbling 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that has left their presence on the match in huge — and utterly unexpected — hazard.
Argentina wants to right away bounce again towards Mexico on Saturday, in any other case an embarrassing early exit awaits.
“We at all times stated we had been going to look to win each recreation,” Messi stated, “and now greater than ever.”
A compatriot — certainly the group’s former coach — might mastermind the deadly blow to Argentina.
Gerardo Martino led his native Argentina from 2014-16, dropping the Copa America remaining in back-to-back years in that point earlier than quitting.
Now Martino is Mexico’s coach and trying to information the group into the final 16 — maybe on the expense of Argentina — and past. In spite of everything, Mexico has famously misplaced its first match of the knockout stage in every of the final seven World Cups, twice to Argentina, in 2006 and 2010.
This time, the groups’ assembly comes within the group stage but it surely already has the texture of a do-or-die event simply seven days into the match, particularly for Argentina.
“Now it has ended up being three finals for every of us,” stated Martino, whose group tied its opening Group C recreation with Poland 1-1.
“We by no means imagined a state of affairs like tomorrow’s,” he added Friday, “however we work for Mexico and we wish the very best for Mexico.”
That is Lionel Scaloni’s first disaster as Argentina coach — he hadn’t misplaced a recreation earlier than the Saudis’ rally at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday — and it stays to be seen how he reacts. Will he give the identical gamers an opportunity to make amends? Or did he see sufficient unhealthy issues within the opening group recreation to necessitate some modifications to his lineup?
Heart again Cristian Romero, full backs Nahuel Molina and Nicolás Tagliafico, and midfielders Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes appear most in danger. After all, Messi goes nowhere from the beginning lineup, even when he may very well be deployed in another way.
Scaloni is bound about one factor, although.
“We won’t change our model after what occurred on Tuesday,” Scaloni stated. “We’ll play the identical approach.”
Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten run ended with the loss to Saudi Arabia, and Scaloni stated he was ready for it.
“For a very long time, every thing was excellent for us. All the things was pleasure,” he stated. “I used to be the primary to be prepared for that blow … It could have been nice to proceed on that streak however that’s not doable.
“Fortunately sufficient, that got here in our first match. What’s essential for us is going through each match prefer it’s our final one. A match will be misplaced but it surely’s the way you bounce again, the way you stand up.”
Mexico has by no means crushed Argentina in three makes an attempt on the World Cup, and Martino’s worst defeat as Mexico coach was by the hands of his countrymen. That was in September 2019, when Lautaro Martínez scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win.
Argentina will take a win of any type on Saturday again at Lusail Stadium, the place the World Cup remaining may even be performed on Dec. 18. It could be folly for both group to be wanting that far forward.
“There’s no strain as a result of we’re nonetheless counting on ourselves,” Martinez stated Friday via an interpreter. “We’ve belief within the technical workers, we belief each participant.
“We’re calm, assured and we are going to break our backs for Argentina.”
With inputs from AP
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