Takeaways from the 2022 World Cup: Argentina should worry; France is OK without stars, and goalkeepers shine.
Day 3 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup provided us with some monumental moments as well as a number of scoreless draws. Argentina was defeated 2-1 against Saudi Arabia, despite having Lionel Messi leading the charge and having the third lowest odds (+650) to win the whole tournament.
The Saudis fought back from a goal down to score twice early in the second half, and their goalkeeper, Mohammed Al Yami, made many outstanding saves. Our Igor Mello named it one of the greatest five upsets in tournament history, and it ranks first or second in my opinion.
In other news, despite several of its key players being injured, France seems to be on the mend. They stunned Australia with a productive, explosive offensive performance.
Here are the scores and takeaways from the day’s action — and while you’re at it, join up for our new newsletter covering the beautiful game in all its beauty, including daily World Cup updates, here.
World Cup scores for Tuesday
Saudi Arabia 2, Argentina 1
Denmark 0, Tunisia 0
Mexico 0, Poland 0
France 4, Australia 1
France appears fine without injured stars
Where are Paul Pogba, Karim Benzema, and N’Golo Kante? No worries. France did not have the three of superstars with them in Qatar due to injuries, but it was hard to tell in the 4-1 triumph against Australia.
After a hesitant start, France looked really impressive, and although the defense had a number of weak moments, the assault was electrifying, scoring twice in each half.
After trailing only nine minutes in, Antoine Griezmann dived deep into the middle to get things going, and it quickly became an opening game in which France could attack at free. Didier Deschamps’ squad ended with 23 shots, seven of which were on target.
The final result, although not flattering to Australia, might have been considerably worse. Kylian Mbappe scored once and Olivier Giroud scored twice to equal Thierry Henry for the first all-time in France scoring, but both wasted golden chances in front of a goal that would have blown the game open.
Nonetheless, they were able to allay any fears about the champions curse and exactly how good this bunch can be. After the first 90 minutes, the response is quite excellent.
Argentina is in a state of fear.
Messi may have seemed cool in the mixed zone after the game, but I’m here to tell you it’s time to be concerned.
Argentina looked boring despite not losing in three years and coming off Copa America triumph.
There were some rumblings that the squad wasn’t as fit as they would have wanted to be for this game, and it appeared to bear out since they played like a totally different team from the dominating one we’d seen recently.
“We anticipated gaining three points, which would have given us peace of mind,” Messi told reporters after the game. “Everything happens for a reason. We must prepare for what is to come. We must win, and our success is dependent on it.
“There are no justifications. We will be more bonded than ever before. This group is strong, as seen by our actions. We haven’t experienced anything like this in a long time. We must now demonstrate that this is a genuine organization.
There is no way around it — Argentina was completely outplayed in the second half. Saudi Arabia was compact with a clever offside trap; they battled for one another, exerted pressure, and occupied space to cause major issues for this assault.
“It’s a difficult defeat, but we have to keep believing in ourselves,” Messi added. “We must go on and turn the page. We need to figure out what went wrong. Concentrate on the positives and prepare for the game against Mexico.”
Argentina might be eliminated if they do not defeat former boss Tata Martino in that encounter. However, the starting lineup for the following game is likely to vary significantly.
Rodrigo de Paul had a terrible game with multiple blunders in the middle, Leandro Paredes had little control of the game, and Nahuel Molina provided nothing.
It’s possible that Alexis Mac Allister will launch an assault, and players like Angel Correa and Geronimo Rulli should be prepared for a do-or-die scenario.
Saudi Arabia was the least skilled team in the group, and Argentina now has little room for mistakes the rest of the way.
Goalkeepers, not goal scorers, grab the spotlight.
What a day it was for the goalkeepers. El Tri earned a point as Meme Ochoa saved a penalty kick from Robert Lewandowski. And what can you say about Mohammed Al Yami in terms of Saudi Arabia?
He made five stops, two of which were very impressive, most notably the early save on Messi’s low shot. When you have a decent goalie, you might get some unexpected outcomes, as both did on this day.