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Argentina’s Lionel Messi: ‘There are no excuses for Saudi Arabia defeat’

Argentina’s Lionel Messi: ‘There are no excuses for Saudi Arabia defeat’

Argentina star Lionel Messi has admitted that there are “no excuses” for their shock 2-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their opening Group C match at the 2022 World Cup.

The two-time world champions have been regarded as one of the favourites to go all the way in Qatar, but they have opened their account to this year’s tournament with a disappointing defeat against a nation ranked 49 places below them.

Argentina began on the front foot and Messi opened the scoring in the ninth minute from the penalty spot, before they had three goals disallowed for offside midway through the first half.

La Albiceleste struggled to find their rhythm and they were caught out twice early in the second half, with strikes from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari turning the game on its head in dramatic fashion.

Argentina eventually fell to one of their worst defeats in World Cup history – losing after leading at half time for the first time since 1930 in the final against Uruguay – and they have seen their 36-game unbeaten run across all competitions come to an end.

Argentina's Lionel Messi looks dejected after Saudi Arabia score their first goal on November 22, 2022© Reuters

Speaking to reporters after the match, Messi said: “We knew that Arabia is a team with good players, that moves the ball well and that advances the line a lot. We work on it, but we speed up a bit.”

“There are no excuses. We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong and they have shown it. It is a situation that we did not have to go through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.

“It’s a very hard blow for everyone, we didn’t expect to start like this. Things happen for a reason. We have to prepare for what’s coming, we have to win or win and it depends on us”.

“We have to go back to the base of who we are. We have to think about what’s to come.”

Head coach Lionel Scaloni has described Tuesday’s defeat as a “sad day” Argentina, but he believes all his side can do in pick themselves up and move on quickly before their second group fixture.

“There’s no other choice but to get up and move on. We don’t have to analyse more than that. Today is a sad day, but we have to raise our heads and keep going,” Scaloni said at a press conference after the game.

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni pictured on November 22, 2022© Reuters

“I think the first half was all ours, but a goal can change everything. We’ll analyse their goal plays more calmly.

“The goals came in the 48th and 53rd minutes, they didn’t turn the game around for physical reasons. We’ll see the medical report but, in principle, most of the players are fine.

“We still think the same way. Before the game they gave us as favourites, but in a World Cup these things can happen. We have to work on the aspects that didn’t go well. We still have two games and we’re going to push them through.

“We couldn’t have gone into this competition better. But football is like that and the World Cup has other things. It was lost but we are going to get up and fight for the next two games.”

Argentina will now prepare for their second Group C fixture against Mexico on Saturday, before taking on Poland in their final group game on November 30.

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