Doha. Lionel Messi and Argentina have been mocked a lot after their humiliating 1-2 defeat in their FIFA World Cup opener to Saudi Arabia, which will put the team under immense pressure to bounce back when they take on Mexico on Saturday. Argentina’s survival in the tournament is in jeopardy from their opening match defeat and they will need to bounce back immediately against Mexico if they are to keep their hopes alive.
Otherwise he will have to be out of the tournament in shame. ‘Fan parks’ in Doha and on the streets are saying in Saudi Arabic, ‘Where is Messi, we broke his eye.’ Which in the local language means ‘to shame a man’. Messi said that we have always said that we will try to win in every match. And now it will be more than ever. Former Argentina player and ex-coach Gerardo Martino is now the coach of Mexico and he is preparing a strategy to give a blow to the rival team. Martino led his country Argentina from 2014 to 2016, suffering back-to-back Copa America final defeats before he stepped down. Now he is trying to take Mexico to the last 16 as a coach, for which he would not like to leave any stone unturned against Argentina.
Mexico has lost its first knockout stage match in each of the last seven World Cups, twice to Argentina in 2006 and 2010. But this time both the teams are meeting in the group stage but only seven days have passed in the tournament and this match is being felt as ‘do or die’. And this is especially so for Argentina. “I don’t think their result (against Saudi Arabia) will change the way they play,” Martino said. Mexico played out a 1-1 draw with Poland in their opening match in Group C.
Argentina definitely need to make some changes to the way they play. This will be Lionel Scaloni’s first crisis as Argentina coach as they were unbeaten before Tuesday’s loss to Saudi Arabia. It has to be seen how he reacts. Will he give the same players who played in the last match a chance to improve? Or will they need some changes to their line-up in the opening match? Centre-backs Cristian Romero, full-backs Nahuel Molina and Nicolas Tagliafico and midfielders Rodrigo de Paul and Leandro Paredes are among the players who could be ruled out.
Surely Messi can’t go anywhere from the starting line-up. Scaloni said there was no other option but to keep going. He said that we will continue to think in the same way. They made us favorites before the match against Saudi Arabia but such things can happen in the World Cup. You have to work on those aspects which did not go well. Mexico have never beaten Argentina in three attempts at the World Cup, and Martino’s worst defeat as Mexico coach came in September 2019 when Lautaro Martínez scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 win.