Sports Mole previews Saturday’s World Cup clash between Argentina and Mexico, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.
While the Albiceleste kicked off their quest for a third world crown by losing to ranked outsiders Saudi Arabia, their Central American counterparts survived a scare to draw with Poland on Tuesday.
Since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America, Argentina had embarked on a national record 36 games unbeaten streak and, as the reigning South American champions, had arrived among the favorites of the most experts for the last four at least.
Yet all that momentum counted for little on the first day of their World Cup campaign, as Lionel ScaloniThe team was let go in the space of six minutes in the second half at Lusail Stadium.
leading through Lionel Messifrom the penalty spot, the Albiceleste seemed in control at half-time, after seeing three other “goals” canceled for offside. Two Saudi strikes soon after the break turned the game upside down, however, and the Group C underdogs held on to record a result that will reverberate through the ages.
With the last of their global triumphs coming in the summer of 1986, Argentina were already under pressure to deliver a first World Cup trophy in nearly 40 years – particularly in what should be Messi’s swan song on the biggest scene in the game.
Scaloni must therefore quickly rally his troops before attacking the nation which won its last success at this level: a Mexican team which dominates Argentina by one point in the standings.
After beating El Tri in the very first edition of the World Cup in 1930, the Argentines have more recently knocked out their Latin rivals twice in the last 16 games, and they also remain unbeaten in the country’s last 10 encounters since. 2004.
This all works in their favor if precedent is any guide, but the world will now watch with anticipation as they react to their seismic shock against the Saudis.
One of many scoreless stalemates in the opening week of Qatar 2022, a 0-0 draw with Poland gave a relatively steady start to Mexico’s tournament on Tuesday, and in some ways only one point was gratefully received by Auntie Martino‘s men at the end.
After Hector Moreno is deemed to have slaughtered Robert Lewandowski in the box, the Polish sniper failed to convert his chance into gold from the penalty spot, as a veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa pulled off a crucial save.
The result sets up a potentially crucial encounter in terms of Group C qualification this weekend, as El Tri aim to reach the knockout stage again.
Now making their eighth straight World Cup appearance, the Mexicans have been knocked out in the last 16 in each of their last seven attempts, and former Argentina coach Martino is the man tasked with ending that trend by defying expectations and making the quarter-finals.
La Seleccion reached this point in the competition as hosts in 1986, when Saturday’s opponents lifted the trophy with a Diego Maradona masterclass on Mexican soil.
Before this year’s team can dream of emulating such a feat, they may need to at least secure a second point in Lusail or their hopes of progress will hang by a thread.
Argentina World Cup form:
Argentina form (all competitions):
Form of the World Cup in Mexico:
Form of Mexico (all competitions):
While Argentine talisman Lionel Messi trained away from the rest of his team-mates on Thursday, the 35-year-old playmaker is set to play from the start this weekend, sparing Lionel Scaloni a serious selection headache.
The Albiceleste captain’s left leg is his main concern but it seems unlikely that Papu Gomez will be called up to replace him on Saturday. Therefore, Messi should headline an attacking trident that also features Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.
Having started on the bench in the defeat against Saudi Arabia following a fitness problem, Lisandro Martinez could come for either Christian Romero Where Nicolas Otamendi as part of Scaloni’s back four. Gonzalo Montiel and Alexis MacAllister are also in the running.
Another striker has recently regained his fitness, the Mexican Raul Jimenez, will be aiming for promotion to the starting XI. The Wolverhampton Wanderers star made his first appearance in nearly three months in El Tri’s latest friendly and played from the bench on Tuesday.
by Pachuca Luis Chavez – who played no part in the CONCACAF qualifiers but worked his way into the squad in recent friendlies – is expected to continue on the left side of a midfield trio in the 4- 3-3 from Martino, while the Ajax defender Jorge Sanchez starts at the right rear.
Possible starting line-up for Argentina:
E. Martinez; Montiel, Romero, Li. Martínez, Tagliafico; DePaul, Paredes, MacAllister; Messi, La. Martinez, Di Maria
Possible starting line-up from Mexico:
Ochoa; Sanchez, Montes, Moreno, Gallardo; Alvarez, Herrera, Chávez; Lozano, Martin, Vega
We say: Argentina 2-1 Mexico
The last time Argentina were beaten in their first World Cup game was in 1990 when Maradona finally led his team to the final. Faced with the expectations of both a football-mad nation and a Mexico side in transition, this Messi-led Albiceleste can now secure a vital first win of the 2022 edition – but it won’t prove a straightforward procedure. .
For data analysis of most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match please click here.