Lionel Messi, Argentina under pressure to stay on Mexico game
Hymns circulated among supporters from Saudi Arabia – and even some from Brazil – in fan parks and the streets of Doha in Doha Globalism Glass.
“Where is Messi? We broke his eye!” they sing in Arabic, using a generic expression meaning to bring shame upon a person.
Messi and his Argentine team are being ridiculed after a modest 2-1 loss against Saudi Arabia, which left their presence in the tournament in great and completely unexpected danger.
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Argentina needs an immediate recovery from Mexico on Saturday, or an embarrassing early exit awaits them.
“We have always said we will strive to win every game, and now more than ever,” said Messi.
His compatriot – already the former coach of the team – could have masterminded the fatal blow for Argentina.
Gerardo Martino captained his country, Argentina, from 2014 to 2016, losing the Copa America final in consecutive years in that time before resigning.
Now Martino is Mexico’s coach and is looking forward to leading the team to the last 16 – possibly at Argentina’s expense – and beyond. After all, Mexico has famously lost its first knockout match at each of the last seven World Cups, twice to Argentina, in 2006 and 2010.
This time, the meeting of the two teams comes in the group stage, but it already feels like a do-or-die event just seven days into the tournament, especially for Argentina.
“It’s now up to us to win three finals each,” said Martino, whose team drew their opening Group C match with Poland 1-1.
“We never imagined a scenario like tomorrow’s, but we are working for Mexico and we want the best for Mexico,” he added on Friday.
This is Lionel Scaloni’s first crisis as Argentina coach – he had not lost a match before the Saudis’ rally at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday – and it remains to be seen how he will react. Will he give the same players a chance to compensate? Or did he see enough bad things in the opening group match to necessitate some squad changes?
Central defenders Christian Romero, full-backs Nahuel Molina and Nicolas Tagliafico, and midfielders Rodrigo de Paul and Leandro Paredes appear to be the most vulnerable. Of course, Messi will not go anywhere from the starting line-up, even if he could be distributed differently.
However, Scaloni is sure of one thing.
“We will not change our approach after what happened on Tuesday,” Scaloni said. “We will play the same way.”
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Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten run ended with a loss to Saudi Arabia, and Scaloni said he was ready for it.
“For a long time, everything was perfect for us. Everything was a joy.” “I was the first to prepare for this blow… It would have been great to continue this streak but it is not possible.
“Fortunately, it came in our first match. What is important for us is to face each match as if it were the last. The match can be lost but that is how you bounce back, how you get up.”
Mexico had never defeated Argentina in three World Cup attempts, and it was Martino’s worst defeat as a Mexico coach at the hands of his countrymen. It was in September 2019, when Lautaro Martinez scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win.
Argentina will get a win of any kind on Saturday at Lusail Stadium, where the World Cup Final will also take place on December 18. It would be foolish for either team to look that far.
“There is no pressure because we are still on our own,” Martinez said Friday through a translator. “We have confidence in the coaching staff, and we have faith in every player.
“We are calm and confident and we will break our backs for Argentina.”
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