The unthinkable has happened. Argentina, picked by many as favorites or joint favorites to win it all in the FIFA World Cup, has fallen to the mighty Saudi Arabians. Everyone and their dog, maybe outside of a few ardent fans of Saudi Arabia and an oracle or two, expected a routine victory for Argentina to start their World Cup campaign. Lord and savior Lionel Messi, aka the “Messi-ah”, the “GOAT” (disputed by some), etc. etc, supported by Di Maria and co, giving Saudi Arabia a harsh opening game lesson.
The Saudis just said “NO.”
At the end of a grueling 105-minute battle between the two nations, the men in green came out on top, and in style. To their credit, FIFA did its best to award the game to Argentina. An egregious penalty was awarded to the Argentinians within the first 10 minutes to give them a lead they shouldn’t have had. Of course, Messi would convert from the spot.
It didn’t stop there. The Saudis bounced back wonderfully, playing some incredible heavy-metal football super uncharacteristic of their national team; something rarely witnessed against a squad of Argentina’s caliber. They deservedly grabbed 2 goals in the second half, courtesy of Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari. Mind you, these were two cracking finishes, with a high level of skill involved in the build-up. The game continued at a high intensity, but Saudi Arabia buckled down and held the fort admirably in defense. FIFA was having none of it, though.
The game slipped to stoppage time, and after initially being awarded a whopping 8 minutes of extra time, the referee was content to see play go on till near the 15th-minute mark. 15 minutes of extra time - of which 7 minutes were simply added as grace time! Argentina kept trying, but nothing could come of it, courtesy of a resolute effort from the Saudis. They have come here to play, and they showed that they weren’t too keen on Messing around.
FT. 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. Messi and co. silenced. The Saudis couldn’t have asked for a better start to the tournament.
Of course, this might also be the wake-up call that Argentina needed. Either way, that defense looked appalling, and teams such as Germany, France, England, and Brazil would absolutely demolish the side based on today’s game alone. Guess Messi’s magic was on full display today. That was one hell of a disappearing act.