The footballing world still hasn’t quite recovered from Tuesday’s giantkilling in Lusail as relative sporting minnows Saudi Arabia claimed an almighty scalp against Lionel Messi’s Argentina, who were on a 36-game unbeaten run heading into Qatar. Lionel Scaloni now has the unenviable task of trying to rally the troops ahead of Mexico on Saturday.
Copa America winners last year, Messi finally got the footballing monkey off his back by claiming a first international trophy for Argentina. However, the big one is the World Cup. The PSG forward will likely see this tournament as his last chance, one final shot at etching his name in Albiceleste folklore alongside 1986 winner and footballing immortal Diego Maradona.
Tuesday’s shock result has cast immediate doubt on that aspiration. For Mexico, they required the heroics of a World Cup veteran to claim an opening point against Poland. Cult hero Guillermo Ochoa, who relishes the World Cup, once again rose to the occasion to deny Robert Lewandowski from the spot and secure a 0-0, keeping Group C exceptionally tight heading into the weekend’s round of fixtures.
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Argentina may feel hard done by following Tuesday’s result. They had three goals disallowed following offside checks by VAR, and peppered the Saudi net, with Mohammed Al Owais making five saves, the most of any goalkeeper so far. Incredibly, Argentina registered 10 offsides against Saudi Arabia, double the most by a single nation in any match at the 2018 World Cup (five). Herve Renard’s high line absolutely rattled the Argentine attack.
Despite having a relatively quiet game, Messi still managed to get on the scoresheet and create three chances for his teammates. His early penalty means he is the first player to score in four different World Cup tournaments for Argentina, while his three created chances has so far been bettered only by Ismaila Sarr, Theo Hernandez, Christian Eriksen and Antoine Griezmann. The PSG forward remains as threatening as ever.
11 Sep 2019 – Argentina 4-0 Mexico – International Friendly
21 Nov 2018 – Argentina 2-0 Mexico – International Friendly
17 Nov 2019 – Argentina 2-0 Mexico – International Friendly
09 Sep 2015 – Mexico 2-2 Argentina – International Friendly
27 Jun 2010 – Argentina 3-1 Mexico – World Cup
These two nations have met regularly since the birth of football. More recent outings have seen them lock horns in friendlies, but they actually met in the 2010 World Cup. Diego Maradona’s side won 3-1 in the Round of 16 thanks to goals from Carlos Tevez (two) and Gonzalo Higuain. You would have to go back to 2004 for the last time Mexico beat Argentina. Ricardo La Volpe outfoxed Marcelo Bielsa 1-0 in the Copa America thanks a Ramon Morales free-kick. It’s been one-way traffic since then.
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