Argentina will play Group C rivals Mexico on Saturday in an effort to bounce back from their disastrous opening encounter. Their World Cup dreams are already on the line.
The Central American counterparts to the Albiceleste came through a scare to draw with Poland on Tuesday, while the Albiceleste began their pursuit of a third world championship by losing to rank outsiders Saudi Arabia.
Argentina has started a record-breaking 36-game unbeaten streak since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America. As the defending South American champions, they entered the tournament as one of the favorites, at the very least, to make it to the final four.
All of that momentum, though, didn’t matter much on the opening day of their World Cup campaign, as Lionel Scaloni’s team allowed an early lead to slip away from them at Lusail Stadium over the course of six second-half minutes.
At halftime, the Albiceleste appeared to have the upper hand after taking the lead on Lionel Messi’s opening penalty kick after having three previous ‘goals’ disallowed for offside. However, two Saudi Arabian goals soon after the half completely changed the game, and the underdogs of Group C persevered to secure a triumph that will live on forever.
Scaloni must therefore quickly gather his team before taking on a Mexico team that is one point ahead of Argentina in the standings and the country that hosted their last success at this level.
The Argentinians have recently eliminated their Latin opponents twice in the round of 16, and they are still unbeaten in the past 10 games between the nations going back to 2004. They overcame El Tri in the World Cup’s inaugural edition in 1930.
All of which, if history is any indication, works in their favor, but the world will now be watching eagerly to see how they react to their seismic shock against the Saudis.