Mighty Messi, Argentina Opens World Cup With Stunning Loss, Now Faces Uphill Climb

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Lionel Messi Y Argentina they were on the receiving end of one of the biggest stunners in World Cup history tuesday, like Saudi Arabia taken out a monumental 2-1 win at the Lusail Stadium.

After putting his team ahead with a first-half penalty in what was expected to be their easiest Group C clash, Messi was unable to prevent a remarkable Saudi comeback that leaves Argentina in a precarious position after just one match.

In 48 minutes, Saleh Al-Shehri produced a low effort to level the score against the development of the game, before Salem Al-Dawsari uncorked a spectacular right foot from the edge of the box that flew into the area Argentina net.

From there, Argentina tried furiously to recover the level.

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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.
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Defending a 36-match unbeaten streak that included victory in the 2021 edition of the Copa América, Messi and company launched wave after wave of attack, but to no avail.

saudi goalkeeper Mohammad Al Owais he was masterful, sometimes steady, sometimes exhilarating, making acrobatic saves and runs from his box to clear up problems.

In stoppage time, the goalkeeper was involved in a terrifying moment that momentarily silenced the crowd. Al-Owais flew off her line to clear the ball and his knee collided with his teammate’s chin. yasir al-shahrani with terrifying force, causing minutes of medical attention and the replacement of Al-Shahrani.

Before time ran out, Abdullah Al-Amri headed one off the line and Al-Owais jumped athletically to wrest a looping header from Julian Alvarezto seal the shocking result.

Messi did everything he could, but it wasn’t going to be his day, no matter how much it seemed like it from the beginning. The little maestro scored a penalty in the 10th minute as Argentina took full control in the opening stages. Before the first half ended, Argentina were one goal ahead and had three more disallowed for offside.

Argentina's Lionel Messi, left, and Saudi Arabia's Abdulelha Al-Malki fight for the ball during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday November 22, 2022.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, and Saudi Arabia’s Abdulelha Al-Malki fight for the ball during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday November 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

However, in the interval, everything changed, and with it the face of Group C.

Despite a career in which he has been considered one of the two best players of his generation along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi has never won the game’s biggest international award with his country. At 35, this year could be his last chance.

This is not over. Argentina will have a chance to rebound when they face Mexico in the same place on Saturday (2 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports App) before challenging Poland in their last group match. But his margin of error is very small now.

Perhaps Saudi Arabia’s performance was the first instance of regional advantage this World Cup, given that the nation borders on Qatar and a large contingent of Saudi fans attended. Perhaps it was proof that the gap between soccer’s world elite and those trying to rise to that level is narrowing.

Will it be the biggest surprise of all? Saudi Arabia he is ranked 51st in the world, but was imperious during the Asian qualifying rounds, topping his group despite being grouped with regional heavyweights Japan Y Australia.

Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after missing a chance during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi reacts after missing a chance during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, November 22, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Sure, one could argue that Senegal win over reigning champion France in 2002, or Cameroon blockbuster vs. Diego Maradona’s Argentina in 1990 was even more amazing. Or not.

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No matter. This was a surprise that will take quite a beating and the story of whether Argentina and Messi can get out of this hole will be closely watched from now on.

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