she was It’s supposed to be Lionel Messi’s crowning moment For Argentina – the championship from which he is eliminated Diego MaradonaThe national team remained – but the 2022 World Cup has been a mixed experience for the 35-year-old so far.
Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina in their first match, before getting their campaign back on track with a 2-0 victory over Mexico, with Messi scoring the first goal.
This means that with a match remaining in Group C, Argentina are still on course to advance to the knockout stages of Messi’s fifth World Cup campaign.
Argentina comes in second place with three points, one point behind Group C leaders Poland, and it knows that winning its last match against Poland will guarantee its progress.
Defender Lisandro Martinez said the team, including Messi, is only getting better.
“It all depends on the details,” Martinez said Tuesday at a news conference. “We saw that with Messi’s goal. Before that, the game (against Mexico) was very difficult.”
We know what we are capable of. We can play better and know that we are not at our best level yet. “But we are trying.”
Argentina faces Poland, led by its famous striker Robert Lewandowski He scored his first goal in the World Cup The last time against Saudi Arabia.
The 34-year-old Lewandowski, who is also the country’s top scorer like Messi, missed a penalty kick in a damp kick from the 0-0 draw against Mexico in Poland’s opening match, but redeemed himself for the second in the 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni was full of praise for Lewandowski, calling him “the best player”.
“It would be an honor and a pleasure to see him up close as a football fan,” Scaloni said. “Is he on the same level as Messi? You just have to enjoy such a good player. Why compare one player to another? It’s not helpful.”
After their famous victory over Argentina, Saudi Arabia’s victory over Mexico will guarantee its first qualification to the round of 16 since 1994, while a draw means that it will need Poland to beat Argentina.
Saudi national team coach Hervé Renard said his team has already defied expectations.
“No one around the world believed we could play at this level. Yes, in Saudi Arabia we know the players very well, but they are unknown to the fans all over the world,” Reynard said in a press conference after the Poland match. “We are still alive.”
Mexico’s hopes are much weaker, and they need to beat Saudi Arabia by at least three goals, with Poland not losing to Argentina.
The other group that reached its climax on Wednesday is Group Four, which sees Australia face Denmark and Tunisia face France.
World Cup champions France have already sealed their place in the next round with two victories in the same number of matches.
However, the rest of the group remained in the balance with Australia on three points and Denmark and Tunisia on one point each.
Australia have a great chance of advancing to the last 16 for the first time since 2006 – a win would ensure their progress, although a draw would suffice if Tunisia fail to beat France.
Striker Matthew Leckie recalled the Australian team’s success in Germany 16 years ago ahead of Wednesday’s crucial game.
“We always thought we could create something special,” Leckie said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“When the Australian national team was knocked out of the group in 2006 I was a proud fan and now we have the opportunity to be players and do that.
“We have seen how much pride it makes people to come home. So we do it for the country, for ourselves, for our friends, for our family and that is motivation in itself.”
Australia will face Denmark who have struggled to create clear openings, despite looking solid defensively
Having scored 30 goals in 10 World Cup qualifiers, Denmark have scored just once in Qatar, prompting Denmark coach Kasper Hjolmand to jokingly suggest he might have to call up Norway striker Erling Haaland.
On the eve of Denmark’s main game against Australia, Hjulmand kept his cards close to his chest when it came to which team he might pick on Wednesday.
“The way everyone looks now is ready,” Hjulmand told the media. “We have 26 players who all deserve to play. They are all good enough and deserve to play.
“All we have to look at is what kind of technical approach we have to take tomorrow, what structure we have to play with and who we know fits together.
“I trust all the players we’ve brought in, so there are many ways to do that.”
Australia vs. Denmark: 10 a.m. ET
Tunisia vs. France: 10 a.m. ET
Poland vs. Argentina: 2 p.m. ET
Saudi Arabia – Mexico: 2 p.m. ET
United States: Fox Sports
United Kingdom: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC
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