‘A very heavy blow’: Messi on FIFA World Cup 2022 defeat to Saudi Arabia

Following a crushing defeat by 2-1 in the opener against Saudi Arabia in the Group C of FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar on 22 November, Argentinian captain Lionel Messi said that it was “very heavy blow”. He vowed South American champions would bounce back from the defeat.

“It’s a very heavy blow, a defeat that hurts, but we must continue to have confidence in ourselves,” news agency AFP quoted Messi as saying, adding, “This group is not going to give up. We will try to beat Mexico.”

Both Argentina and Saudi Arabia had chosen the 4-3-3 formation. With referee Slavko Vincic decided to award a penalty shoot out to the Argentinians as Saudi players foul an Al Beiceleste star, Messi took the shot and hit it to the keeper’s right with aplomb in the 10th minute. This gave Argentina a lead by 1-0 against Saudi Arabia.

However, for Argentina the lead didn’t last long. Post half time, they hardly manage the lead and Saudi Arabia equalized the the score in the 48th minute with Saleh Al-Shehri scored a goal with a neat finish after a straight pass through the Argentinian defence.

ALSO READ: FIFA World Cup 2022: Even Messi’s stunner goal couldn’t save Argentina, Saudi Arabia win by 2-1

Then again, Saudi Arabia’s Salem Aldawsari spanks a right-footer to the top left corner at in the 53rd minute. This resulted in Saudi Arabia 2 – 1 Argentina.

Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais restricted Messi’s several attempts with his brilliant saves.

Reacting on Saudi Arabia’s squad, Messi said, “We know that Saudi Arabia is a team with good players, who move the ball around well and play a high line,” adding, “We worked on that but we rushed it a bit. There are no excuses, we’re going to be more united than ever before. This group is strong and has shown it before. We had not been in this situation for a long time. Now we must show that this is a true group.”

The Albiceleste have now two Group C games remaining — against Mexico on Saturday and then Poland the following Wednesday. The star-studded squad will try to salvage their hopes of claiming a third world title.

For Messi, considered one of the greatest players of all time, this may be his last chance to lift football’s greatest prize. “We have to go back to the basics of who we are. We have to think about what’s coming next,” said the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner.

With agency inputs.

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