World Cup Daily: Argentina turns Group C upside down

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Going into Tuesday’s list of games, most people had Argentina and Poland pencil in the round of 16 due to their superstar forwards, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. At the end of the day, Argentina and Poland had only one point between them.

Here’s everything that happened today at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul react during the World Cup Group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
(TBEN Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Argentina is still alive in the tournament after Tuesday’s shocking result. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends La Albiceleste.

History tells us that it is incredibly difficult to get out of the group stage if you lose your first game, let alone win the World Cup – only Spain (2010) has achieved the latter. Argentina’s next opponents, Mexico and Poland can be beaten, but as we saw on Tuesday, so can Argentina.

It’s not all good news for Saudi Arabia, either. Ironically, there could be even more pressure to get results against Mexico and Poland than before, with qualification for the knockout stage now a real possibility. But for now, Saudi Arabia is reeling from having beaten one of the tournament’s favourites, and arguably its greatest player of all time.

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If Denmark is really a dark horse to win the tournament, it didn’t look like it on Tuesday. In fact, were it not for an incredible rescue from Kasper Schmeichel, it would have gone against in his match France (11 a.m. ET on FS1 and the TBEN Sports app) all three points are needed. Dark horse or not, Denmark needs to be better in its last two games to avoid a potential tiebreaker Tunisia or Australia on the last day of the group game.

Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa leaves the field after the World Cup Group C soccer match between Mexico and Poland, at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa leaves the field after the World Cup Group C soccer match between Mexico and Poland, at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
(TBEN Photo/Moises Castillo)

While technically a scoreless draw at a neutral venue, it’s safe to say that Mexican fans will remember Tuesday’s match better than Poland’s. Not only did Memo Ochoa blocked professional goalscorer Robert Lewandowski from the spot, but Mexico fans made Stadium 974 sound like Estadio Azteca. That’s the kind of momentum you want as a team facing a motivated Lionel Messi on Saturday.

Australia opened the scoring in the ninth minute on Tuesday, but France quickly responded with two own goals and added two more in the second half. During both France’s scoring bursts, 36-year-old Oliver Giroud scored, and scored his second goal Les Blues‘ all-time top scorer alongside Thierry Henry.

With a win against Australia and a scoreless draw in the other leg of Group C, France is alone at the top of its group. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it should be the first country since 2006 to qualify for the knockout stage after winning the previous World Cup.

GOAL OF THE DAY

The only thing more special than Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina was the goal that sealed victory for them.

ASSISTANT OF THE DAY

It’s not that the assist itself was spectacular – France had two more of the same against Australia. It’s how Ousmane Dembele freed himself to get the ball across Kylian Mbappe. If Dembele is healthy, he is a threat from those positions.

SAVING THE DAY

Every four years, Memo Ochoa gets called up to the World Cup roster and makes the most ridiculous saves. On Tuesday, his legend continued with the first penalty save without a shootout by a Mexican goalkeeper since 1966. “San Memo”, indeed.

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MUST-SEE MOMENT

Argentina almost saved a point from their matchup with Saudi Arabia, but Abdullah Al-Amri cleared by Julian Alvarez attempt from outside the goal line with his head.

Given the magnitude of the victory that followed, there was no bigger game of the day.

What’s at stake tomorrow

Luka Modric was the deserved winner of the Ballon d’Or at the 2018 World Cup. Can he recapture that magic with Croatia at the age of 37? We’ll know on Wednesday.

Germany is back at the World Cup after being knocked out in the group stage in 2014. Even with key players like Marco Reus and Tim Werner injured, they threaten a deep run in the tournament. Don’t sleep on Japan either, however; the Samurai Blue are always competitive at the tournament.

Spain will usher in a new generation Costa Rica led by stars of FC Barcelona Pedro, gavi and Ansu Fati. We’ll see if that lack of World Cup experience hurts La Roja in any way.

Belgium and Croatia are the safe bets to get out of Group F, but Canada will be hungry in his first World Cup appearance since 1986. Watch out for Alphonso Davies on the left side of the field.

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