Offside with Sahil: Argentina have their backs to the wall after shock Saudi defeat

The loss has put huge pressure on Lionel Messi, who is yet to win a World Cup title for his country



Argentina''s Lionel Messi during the match against Saudi Arabia. — AFP
Argentina''s Lionel Messi during the match against Saudi Arabia. — AFP

By Sahil Sajan

Published: Wed 23 Nov 2022, 8:50 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 6:50 AM

Football fans over the world are still recovering from one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history Saudi Arabia, who defeated Argentina 2-1 in their Group C opener. Goals by Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari stunned the favourites Argentina on Tuesday. It was certainly a fantastic moment for Saudi Arabia who are ranked No. 51 to beat Argentina, who are ranked No.3.

Their first loss for Argentina after 36 games couldn’t have come at a worse time as it was their first game in this year's World Cup. The loss has put huge pressure on Lionel Messi, who is yet to win a World Cup title for his country.

Sahil Sajan.
Sahil Sajan.

Clearly, Argentina messed up their playing XI. It was a shock for all the fans that Lisandro Martínez didn’t start the game and came on as a substitute in the 60th minute when two goals were already conceded.

Martinez has been in unbelievable form so he was expected to be the first centre back for Argentina. Instead, Nicolás Otamendi was given a start by coach Lionel Scaloni. Giving a start to Papu Gómez was another mistake by the Argentina team. Despite being a world class player Paulo Dybala too wasn’t a good selection by Scaloni for this game, given his recent injury.

There’s no taking away from Saudi Arabia, who played like real heroes for their country. They were coming in with crunching tackles and they did not get intimidated by a team like Argentina.

The world class goal by Salem Al Dawsari will always be remembered in the history of football, when he scored in the 53rd minute, leaving Argentina 37 minutes to get an equaliser.

Saudi Arabia just stuck to their guns and didn’t let the opposition go through their defence. Another star of the game for Saudi Arabia was the goalkeeper Mohammed Al Owais who made some good saves and was rightfully awarded the man of the match.

The pressure now lies on Argentina to prove their capabilities and bounce back and still be one of the favourites at the World Cup.

But now even the die-hard fans of Messi will have their doubts if Argentina can make it to the final.


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