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FIFA WORLD CUP 2022

Argentina boost qualification chance: Argentina Vs Mexico

Argentina goes past the Mexican wave as the game saw a brilliant goal from Messi and a top golassoo from Enzo Fernandez

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Courtesy: Twitter/ FIFA World Cup

Argentina’s World Cup trajectory has mostly needed some heroics. Their campaign mirrors a heartbeat scan, with mighty ups and terrible lows and it is no different this time. At the Lusail stadium, ‘La Albiceleste’ (The Argentina national team) faced a familiar opponent (Mexico) in a high pressure game .  

This is the fourth World Cup meeting between the two Hispanic teams, having played before in 1930, 2006, and 2010 editions.

While Argentina needed a win at all costs, Mexico however approached the game with a sense of ‘tranquilo’. They had an advantage of a point over Argentina (having drawn their previous game against Poland) and also the confidence of having ‘The World Cup Showstopper Keeper’ Guillermo Ochoa whose record performances in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups have cemented his position as a great for the international occasion. The recent penalty save against Poland’s skipper and talisman Robert Lewandowski was another feather in his cap.

Courtesy: Twitter/ FIFA World Cup

Mexico was not only well-prepared for the Argentine all-out attack but they also dominated the first half of the game.  Chavez’s left-footed free kick in the 9th minute dangerously curled inside the Argentine ‘D’ and almost reached out to Cesar Montes who was left unmarked in front of an open goal.

The Mexican current was swift and steady throughout as Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez had to pull off a spectacular dive to save a direct free-kick attempt from Mexican forward Alexis Vega.

Argentina got few chances in the first half as they were awarded a free-kick close to goal but the ‘Messi moment’ the world was waiting for failed to arrive as the ‘GOAT’ struck the free kick way above the bar.

Throughout the game, Messi was marked heavily by two Mexican defenders, an excellent strategy employed by Mexican coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino who is aware of Messi’s capabilities having trained him twice during his stint as the manager at Barcelona (2013-14) and the Argentina National team (2014-16).

With the second half fast ending, all Argentina needed was one moment of magic that would enable them to re-discover the ‘two-time World champions inside’ and it arrived in the 64th minute of the game.

Courtesy: Twitter/ FIFA World Cup

For only one moment in the game, ‘La Pulga’ (Messi) was left unmarked by the Mexican defence and Di Maria who has largely had two quite games at the tournament so far, sniffed the opportunity through a poacher’s instinct and supplied a perfect assist to Messi who used the distraction of the defenders infront as an advantage and slided the ball to the extreme right corner of the net way beyond the hands of Ochoa who extended himself to an outstretched dive.

Not only did this moment of magic inspire the countless supporters wearing blue and white shirts around the world but it also sparked an inner fire within the Argentina captain who shouted a fiery ‘Vamos’ multiple times to the fans in the stadium.  

Argentina finally found their footing in the match and began combining to create attacks in the Mexican half. The second goal from Enzo Fernandez in the 87th minute was the perfect icing on the cake for Argentina as it helped create a decent goal difference advantage vis-a-vis the other teams in the group. The shot too was inch-perfect from the 21-year-old midfielder who plays his club football for Benfica in Portugal. It was an unbelievable joy for Fernandez who thus scored his first international goal on the biggest stage for his country after making his debut a mere two months back.

 Argentina goes on to face Poland in their final group game while Mexico meets Saudi Arabia in a clash of the titans match. Both games will be played Thursday night at 12:30 AM (IST)  

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

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