DOHA, Qatar (AP) — A chant has been doing the rounds amongst Saudi Arabia supporters — and even some from Brazil — within the fan parks and streets of Doha on the World Cup.
“The place is Messi? We broke his eye!” they sing in Arabic, utilizing a slang expression which means to carry disgrace on an individual.
Messi and his Argentina group are being mocked after a humbling 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that has left their presence on the event in massive — and utterly unexpected — hazard.
Argentina wants to right away bounce again towards Mexico on Saturday, in any other case an embarrassing early exit awaits.
“We at all times mentioned we had been going to look to win each recreation,” Messi mentioned, “and now greater than ever.”
A compatriot — certainly the group’s former coach — might mastermind the deadly blow to Argentina.
Gerardo Martino led his native Argentina from 2014-16, dropping the Copa America ultimate in back-to-back years in that point earlier than quitting.
Now Martino is Mexico’s coach and trying to information the group into the final 16 — maybe on the expense of Argentina — and past. In spite of everything, Mexico has famously misplaced its first match of the knockout stage in every of the final seven World Cups, twice to Argentina, in 2006 and 2010.
This time, the groups’ assembly comes within the group stage nevertheless it already has the texture of a do-or-die event simply seven days into the event.
Particularly for Argentina.
“I don’t assume the outcome that they had (towards Saudi Arabia) modifications their method of enjoying,” mentioned Martino, whose group tied its opening Group C recreation with Poland 1-1.
With Argentina, one thing has to alter, that’s for positive.
That is Lionel Scaloni’s first disaster as Argentina coach — he hadn’t misplaced a recreation earlier than the Saudis’ rally at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday — and it stays to be seen how he reacts. Will he give the identical gamers an opportunity to make amends? Or did he see sufficient unhealthy issues within the opening group recreation to necessitate some modifications to his lineup?
Heart again Cristian Romero, full backs Nahuel Molina and Nicolás Tagliafico, and midfielders Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes appear most in danger. After all, Messi goes nowhere from the beginning lineup, even when he may very well be deployed otherwise.
“There isn’t any different selection however to stand up and transfer on,” Scaloni mentioned. “We proceed to assume in the identical method. Earlier than the sport (towards Saudi Arabia), they made us favorites, however in a World Cup these items can occur. It’s important to work on the facets that didn’t go nicely.”
Mexico has by no means crushed Argentina in three makes an attempt on the World Cup, and Martino’s worst defeat as Mexico coach was by the hands of his countrymen. That was in September 2019, when Lautaro Martínez scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win.
Argentina will take a win of any type on Saturday again at Lusail Stadium, the place the World Cup ultimate can even be performed on Dec. 18. It might be folly for both group to be wanting that far forward.
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80
AP World Cup protection: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports