Messi, Argentina under pressure for Mexico game at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – A chorus of chants filled the ranks of Saudi Arabia’s supporters – and even some from Brazil – in fan centers and the streets of Doha at the World Cup..

“Where is Messi? We broke his eyes!” they sing in Arabic, using slang words meaning to bring shame to a person.

Messi and his Argentina team were criticized after losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia which has placed their presence on a large – and unprecedented – danger.

Argentina must fight back against Mexico on Saturday, barring an early embarrassment.

Messi said, “We always say that we will look to win every game,” and now more than ever.

A relative – in fact the team’s former coach – could pose a threat to Argentina.

Gerardo Martino led his country Argentina from 2014-16, losing the Copa America final in the same year before quitting.

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Martino is now Mexico’s coach and is looking to lead the team to the last 16 – perhaps at the expense of Argentina – and beyond. After all, Mexico has famously lost its first match of the tournament in each of the last seven World Cups, twice to Argentina, in 2006 and 2010.

This time, the teams met in the group stage but it already felt like a do-or-die moment just seven days into the competition.

Especially for Argentina.

“I don’t think the result they had (against Saudi Arabia) changed their game,” said Martino, whose team tied its opening Group C match with Poland 1-1.

With Argentina, something has to change, that’s for sure.

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This is Lionel Scaloni’s first challenge as Argentina coach – he had not lost a game before the Saudis’ rally at the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday – and it remains to be seen how he will do. Will it give the same players a chance to adjust? Or has he seen enough bad things in the team’s opening games to warrant some changes to his system?

Cristian Romero, full-backs Nahuel Molina and Nicolás Tagliafico, and midfielders Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes seem to be most at risk. Of course, Messi did not go anywhere from the starting lineup, although he could have been sent out differently.

“There is no other option but to get up and move,” Scaloni said. “We continue to think the same way. Before the game (against Saudi Arabia), they favored us, but in the World Cup these things can happen. You have to work on the negative. “

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Mexico has never defeated Argentina in three attempts at the World Cup, and Martino’s biggest downfall as Mexico’s coach has been among his countrymen. That was in September 2019, when Lautaro Martínez scored a hat trick in a 4-0 win.

Argentina will win it all on Saturday back at the Lusail Stadium, where the World Cup final will also be played on December 18. It will be a lie for the two teams that will look away. before.

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Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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