Lionel Messi’s Argentina fell to a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their 2022 FIFA World Cup opener on Tuesday afternoon (22 November). La Albiceleste were seemingly cruising in the first half after Messi converted from the spot. But two sensational second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari propelled the Saudis to a historic victory.
France, too, found themselves in trouble in their World Cup clash against Australia on Tuesday night. The Socceroos went ahead after just nine minutes of play via Craig Goodwin’s strike and looked on course to produce another massive upset in Qatar. Unlike Lionel Messi’s Argentina, however, the defending champions found their footing and eventually cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Speaking after the match, Pavard disclosed that the team had seen the difficulties Argentina went through and had vouched not to endure the same fate. The Bayern Munich man said (via GetFrenchFootballNews):
“We saw that Argentina had difficulties against Saudi Arabia. We did not want to be in the same kind of situation. We played well. Our players were calm. We were calm even when we were losing 1-0.”
Adrien Rabiot scored the equalizer for France before Olivier Giroud popped up with the go-ahead goal. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) ace Kylian Mbappe scored the third and set up Giroud for his second.
Courtesy of the brace, Giroud has taken his international goal tally to 51 (115 games), drawing level with France’s all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry.
Saudi Arabia coach questions Argentina captain Lionel Messi’s motivation after shock Group C result
Argentine legend Messi was not at his best against the Saudis, especially in the second half. He struggled to get himself in dangerous positions as the underdogs pushed him deeper and deeper down the pitch.
After the game, Saudi Arabia’s head coach Herve Renard questioned Messi’s motivations, hinting that he took the Asian team lightly.
He said (via Goal):
“Imagine Lionel Messi is playing versus Saudi Arabia. He will say they have to start well and win but you know the motivation is not like it would be playing Brazil. This is normal.”
Lionel Messi and co., who find themselves at the bottom of Group C, return to action with a do-or-die clash against Mexico on 26 November.