Messi's Argentina opens its candidacy against affordable Saudi Arabia
The 'Albiceleste' wants to confirm its favoritism at the start of the '10' World Cup 'last dance' against the group's 'Cinderella'
MADRID, 21 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The Argentine team kicks off this Tuesday (11:00 a.m. Spanish peninsular time) its World Cup dream against affordable Saudi Arabia, in which it will be the start of the 'last dance' of a Leo Messi who arrives between cotton wool to the game and with his solidity and unbeatable guarantee Argentine, while the Asians will try to surprise and break their 'Cinderella' condition against one of the top favourites.
The 'Albiceleste' opens its candidacy for the trophy against the rival, a priori, more 'friendly' in their group. The duel arrives in the best conditions to confirm this favoritism and avoid the first doubts that could appear if the result is not positive for the Argentines. And they reach this World Cup premiere with full confidence.
Scaloni's men have only played one preparation friendly since the coach offered the list of 26 players, with the overwhelming victory (0-5) against the United Arab Emirates. The Argentine gear was still well-oiled, with an attack zone that works like a charm, led by a Messi who arrives wanting to amaze and win the only trophy he lacks.
However, from the Argentine coaching staff there is some concern about the physical condition of the '10', who trained alone on Saturday due to his Achilles tendon problem. His evolution in the last hours will mark his presence or not in the debut of one of the top candidates.
On the other hand, although the influence of the former Barça player is enormous in this group, Scaloni has enough pieces to develop, with or without Messi, a competitive 'eleven'. However, physical problems forced the coach to do without Nicolás González and Joaquín Correa, giving Atlético de Madrid footballer Ángel Correa and Atlanta United player Thiago Almada entry into the squad.
There are no doubts in the goal, since Emiliano Martínez will occupy. Ahead, the defensive line goes 'on a run' with Molina and Acuña on the flanks and Romero and Otamendi as center backs. The rojiblanco De Paul, Predes and Mac Allister would be the owners of the midfield, with an offensive phase made up of Lautaro, Di María and Messi, who could be replaced by Ángel Correa or Paulo Dybala if he does not reach one hundred percent physically.
Scaloni has known how to weave some firm wickers to support a team that is losing talent and that arrives as the current champion of the Copa América -first trophy in 28 years- and the Finalissima. Proof of their good work is the stratospheric dynamics in which the Argentine team lives, which has not lost since the semifinals of the Copa América in 2019. 36 games without defeat, just one duel away from equaling the best mark in the history of the senior teams, after Italy reached 37 undefeated duels between 2018 and 2021.
Opposite will be a Saudi Arabia that has ahead of it a company that seems dark, given the wide difference in level, a priori, between the two teams. It is the 'Cinderella' of the group, although its affordable condition could favor this ability to surprise the biggest teams. It will be his second consecutive World Cup after his participation in Russia 2018, when he was eliminated in the group stage.
Scratching something positive in the duel against Argentina would allow the Asians to head towards the dream of the round of 16, a phase that they have not reached since their debut in the World Cups in 1994. However, their realistic objective will be to avoid the last place, by presenting the worst FIFA ranking of the entire tournament (51).
More shots arrive than Argentina, since they have played eight games since September, with only two wins (Iceland and North Macedonia). The Saudis will hide behind their great result as leaders of their World Cup qualifying group, ahead of teams like Japan and Australia.
In 2012, he 'scratched' a 0-0 draw against Argentina, and they will entrust most of their options to the talented Al Dawsari, author of seven goals in the qualifying, and the national hero by converting the 2-1 victory against Egypt in the last edition.
ARGENTINA: Emiliano Martinez; Mill, Christian Rosemary, Otamendi, Coin; Rodrigo De Paul, Walls, Mac Allister; Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Di Maria.
ARABIA SAUDÍ: Al-Owais; Abdul Hamid, Al-Amri, Al-Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani; Kano, Al-Malki, Al-Brika, Al-Dawsari; Al-Faraj and Al-Shehri.
--REFEREE: Slavko Vincic (ESL).
--ESTADIO: Lusail Iconic Stadium.
--TIME: 11.00 Spanish peninsular time / World Goal and Movistar.