The Saudi Arabian defenders and goalkeeper made life miserable for those in the attacking department of La Albiceleste.
The opening match in Group C of the 2022 FIFA World Cup saw one of the biggest shocks of the tournament as Argentina fell to a 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia. The South American giants took the lead in the 10th minute of the match thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty after which many believed them to go on and record a massive victory. However, their hopes were soon turned to despair as two quickfire second-half goals by Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari saw the men in green roar into the lead. Argentina tried their level best to turn the tables around but the Saudi Arabian defence stood like a wall in the face of all their attempts. It was a historic result as it was Argentina’s first defeat against an Asian nation in world cup history. Here are some of the key takeaways from the match.
Despite having one of the strongest sides on paper at the competition, Argentina’s defensive line on the day seemed quite shoddy as they let two quick goals in right after the start of the second half. There were questions raised over Lionel Scaloni’s choice to bench Lisandro Martinez who is having a tremendous season at Manchester United. Martinez’s introduction in the match in place of Cristian Romero stabilized the backline as the men in blue and white did not concede again.
One would think that having the likes of Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez at the front would mean a fantastic attacking lineup but that was simply not the case against Saudi Arabia. While there were enough opportunities that were created, nobody really made it count. Another problem for the South Americans was their attacking positioning. The team had 10 offside calls against them, more than their tally in the entirety of the 2018 world cup. It will definitely be a point of concern for Scaloni as his men will have tougher tests in the form of Poland and Mexico later in the group.
Although Argentina’s finishing was not up to the mark, credit should be given where it is due. The Saudi Arabian defenders and goalkeeper made life miserable for those in the attacking department of La Albiceleste. Goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais made a jaw dropping point blank range save in the second half to keep his team in the lead at one point. That was followed a few minutes later by Abdulelah Ali Awadh Al Amri who executed a fantastic headed goal line clearance. If they can keep this form up for the rest of the group matches, the men in green have a chance of making it through to the last 16.