Argentina played against Saudi Arabia, for the first game of Tuesday’s FIFA World Cup fixtures, at the Lusail Stadium. A game that saw Lionel Messi get on the scoresheet as well. The reigning South American champions were not at their level best and it ended up costing them valuable points as they fell to a 2-1 defeat against the Asian natives. The tournament favourites have a tough road up ahead of them now and have to win their remaining 2 fixtures to guarantee sound passage through to the Round of 16.
Large crowds around the world tuned in for Argentina’s opening match of the FIFA World Cup against Saudi Arabia, with the masses looking to get an opportunity to watch Lionel Messi play. The game opened with a Lionel Messi attempt in just inside 2 minutes, when the PSG forward attacked a loose ball just outside the 6-yard box, but the effort was equally matched by Al Owais who parried it away from danger. VAR would intervene and at 8 minutes a potential penalty incident called for the referee to attend to the VAR screen, and after careful review awarded a penalty to the Argentinians. Lionel Messi stepped up to take the penalty kick, and he showed massive composure strolling the ball into the back of the net and sending the goalkeeper the wrong way in the process to make it 1-0 to the Albiceleste. Argentina would have thought they had their 2nd of the game through Lionel Messi’s cool finish, but the flag was up for an offside.
The Asian natives were holding a very restricting high line and pressing the Argentinians high, which was working very effectively, and Argentina had recorded 7 offsides in just 35 minutes. In the 29th minute Lautaro Martinez was off celebrating getting Argentina’s 2nd but the celebration short lived as VAR called the goal back for an offside against the Inter Milan striker. Several minutes Martinez would have the ball in the back of the net but once again it would be ruled out for another offside. Saudi Arabia’s high press and high defensive line was very vital in limiting Argentina’s runs and chances, with the score at just 1-0 heading into the break.
The second half kicked off with Saudi Arabia taking the fight to the South Americans and got their reward just 3 minutes into the half with a brilliant low placed, bottom corner aimed shot by Alshehri to get an equaliser for his nation. A goal that lit up the spirits of the supporters and the Saudi Arabia team did well to get their second of the game just 5 minutes through Salem Aldawsari in the 53rd minute with a beautiful curler into the far post to make it 2-1 to Saudi Arabia, a shocking but magnificent turnaround by the Asian natives. The Argentinians spent the rest of the 2nd half looking to get back in the game and at least rescue a draw, pushing numbers high up the pitch to force Saudi Arabia back, even bringing on new legs to get a goal. Star man Lionel Messi was looking desperate by the minute but Saudi Arabia’s defence remained fortified and solid as they kept the Albiceleste at bay for the majority of the half. It was attack after attack for Argentina and they were putting in crosses into the area but with very limited targets in the area.
Argentina face Mexico in their next fixture, a game that is sure to be tricky for both parties, and a must-win for them. Saudi Arabia pulling the first upset of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, determination playing a huge role in their victory over the reigning South American champions.