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Stunned Argentina must beat stubborn Mexico to keep their World Cup dreams alive
Argentina to win 2-1
Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Lusail, Lusail Iconic StadiumBet Now
In only the fifth game of the tournament, Argentina vs. Saudi Arabia gave the world a talking point that’ll be replayed and talked about for decades to come.
The South Americans were lethargic and, you might say, complacent in how they played, believing that they would simply turn up and beat the second lowest ranked team at the tournament.
They received the shock of their lifetimes and, despite a goal from Lionel Messi, there were very few positives to take from a dismal performance. Messi and co. must play a lot better here to reignite their hopes.
Mexico were solid if unspectacular in their opening game against Poland. Despite having the better of the general play, they were lucky not to lose the match having conceded a penalty in the second half.
They have their goalkeeper, the legendary Guillermo Ochoa, to thank for the resulting save, but they’ll be worried at how few chances they created themselves.
A win will be the priority for both teams here.
FIFA Ranking: 3
Predicted Finish: Semi Finals
Reasons to be cheerful:
They created chance after chance in the first half against Saudi Arabia
The combination of Martinez and Messi upfront looks a good one
Reasons to be fearful:
Team looked completely unbalanced in their opener
Defeat here would see them head out
In only the second game of the group, Argentina face elimination if they cannot force a win out of their clash with Mexico.
Such a fate would have been unthinkable until their shocking defeat by Saudi Arabia, but so was the manner of their performance.
In the first half, it seemed as though there would be goals galore. Messi scored a penalty and had another ruled out for offside, Lautaro Martinez also had the ball in the back of the net only to see the lineman’s flag.
It seemed a matter of how many they would score. In the second half, however, all this fell away. Whatever was said in the dressing room clearly didn’t work as they completely switched off.
You would expect that the size of the task at hand here will refocus their players and they’ll put in a performance worthy of their abilities.
Star Man – Leo Messi
Despite his first-half penalty, he was quiet in a disappointing second half for the entire Argentina team. He must raise his own game to lift those around him.
FIFA Ranking: 13
Predicted Finish: Round of 16
Reasons to be cheerful
Were generally the better team against Poland
Are specialists at reaching the knockout stages
Reasons to be fearful
Failed to create any clear-cut opportunities against Poland
Will be up against a desperate Argentina side
Mexico know the size of their task here.
They must knock out one of the tournament’s favourites in order to secure their own progression, which is as daunting as it sounds.
To do so, they must raise their own game in front of goal. To come away with a goalless draw against Poland will be seen as a missed opportunity, considering how they were the better team in general play.
The Mexicans failed to create any genuine goalscoring opportunities, however, something which must be a priority as the tournament progresses.
Even defeat here wouldn’t necessarily spell the end of their tournament, depending on what happens between Poland and Saudi Arabia, but it would put all the pressure on their last set of fixtures.
They’ve reached the knockout phase in each of the last eight World Cups and will be determined to do so again.
Star Man – Hirving Lozano
Was the Mexicans’ brightest spark, coming inside off the left wing. Even he, however, was reduced to a shot from target and a simple header for the goalkeeper to save against Poland.
Should be chances at both ends
Messi to score or assist
Nerves will kick in the longer it stays 0-0
It’s simply at ‘do or die’ stage now for Argentina.
They’ve started slowly in previous tournaments, only to kick into gear when they most need to. A win here is the bare minimum expected and they have the players to do so.
Mexico will have been disappointing in coming away with a point against Poland but their attack must sharpen up.
Between two nations from the Americas, we should expect a fiery encounter. Argentina are slight favourites here, but they must now show why they were originally one of the tournament’s favourites.
Argentina to win 2-1
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