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 deliver disgrace on an individual.
Messi and his Argentina workforce are being mocked after a humbling 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that has left their presence on the event in massive — and fully unexpected — hazard. Argentina wants to instantly bounce again towards Mexico on Saturday, in any other case, an embarrassing early exit awaits.
“We all the time stated we have been going to look to win each recreation,” Messi stated, “and now greater than ever.” A compatriot — certainly the workforce’s former coach — might mastermind the deadly blow to Argentina.
Gerardo Martino led his native Argentina from 2014-16, dropping the Copa America closing in back-to-back years in that point earlier than quitting. Now Martino is Mexico’s coach and seeking to information the workforce into the final 16 — maybe on the expense of Argentina — and past.
In any case, 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 nevertheless it already has the texture of a do-or-die event simply seven days into the event, particularly for Argentina.
“Now it has ended up being three finals for every of us,” stated Martino, whose workforce tied its opening Group C recreation with Poland 1-1.
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 might be deployed otherwise.
Scaloni is certain about one factor, although.
“We is not going to change our fashion after what occurred on Tuesday,” Scaloni stated Friday. “We are going to play the identical means.” 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 part was excellent for us. Every part was pleasure,” he stated.
“I used to be the primary to be prepared for that blow … It might have been nice to proceed on that streak however that’s not doable.
“Fortunately sufficient, that got here in our first match. What’s vital for us is going through each match prefer it’s our final one. A match might be misplaced nevertheless it’s the way you bounce again, the way you stand up.”
Mexico has by no means overwhelmed 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 closing may even be performed on December 18. It might be folly for both workforce to be wanting that far forward.
“There’s no strain as a result of we’re nonetheless counting on ourselves,” Martinez stated on Friday by means of an interpreter. “Now we have belief within the technical workers, we belief each participant. “We’re calm, assured and we’ll break our backs for Argentina.”