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World Cup 2022: Saudi Arabia pulls incredible upset in 2-1 win over Argentina

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The reaction of Argentine striker Lionel Messi during the 2022 World Cup match against Saudi Arabia on November 22, 2022.  (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)
Argentine striker Lionel Messi reacts during the 2022 World Cup match against Saudi Arabia on November 22, 2022. (JUAN MABROMATA/AFP via Getty Images)

Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten streak came to a stunning end on Tuesday with Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 defeat at the 2022 World Cup.

The Saudis scored twice in six minutes to start the second half and took the lead from Lionel Messi’s first half goal. Argentina stepped up the pressure in the second half but failed to score the decisive goal.

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Saudi Arabia had +1800 to win the first Group C match right before the match at BetMGM, meaning a $10 bet was worth $180. Meanwhile, a $10 bet on Argentina to win would net you $1.54 if they won. Simply put, this game was one of the biggest upsets in the history of the last world championships. BetMGM stated that Saudi Arabia’s 18-to-1 odds are the biggest for any winner of a World Cup game.

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Saleh Al Shehri scored the first goal for Saudi Arabia in the 48th minute. After his goal, it seemed that Argentina would simply respond to others and everything would return to normal.

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Instead, Salem Al-Dawsari scored a fantastic goal to give Saudi Arabia the lead. Saudi Arabia had three shots in the entire game. And only two shots on goal hit the target.

Argentina’s best chance to equalize could have come in the 101st minute, but a header from Julián Alvarez was saved by Mohammed Al Owais.

Argentina haven’t lost since 2019

Argentina entered the tournament as the No. 2 favorite behind Brazil and in the middle of a 36-game unbeaten streak that began in 2019. The streak included a victory in the 2021 Copa América tournament against Brazil, giving Lionel Messi his first major international trophy.

While this Argentine team didn’t have the stellar power of previous Argentine teams, it was easy to see how they could win the tournament given their form. Messi is still one of the best players in the world in attack and midfield and defense were strong.

Argentina scored 3 uncounted goals.

Argentina scored four times in goal in the first half, but three of those goals were disallowed for offside fouls.

Saudi Arabia entered the game with a clear game plan – they wanted to play in the high defensive line and try to catch Argentina offside. It can be a risky strategy – Lautaro Martinez’s non-scoring goal was scored after he was nearly offside.

But the strategy also ultimately worked. Argentina were offside seven times in the first half and then three more times in the second. The Argentines have almost 70% possession and nine corners. But the inability to finish in front of the gate, that is, when the team was in the game, cost a lot.

Argentina needs two wins

All hope is not lost for Argentina. Wins over Mexico and Poland are still popular, and the dream of Messi lifting the World Cup is not dead. But wins in the last two group stage games are far from guaranteed after what happened on Tuesday.

If Argentina does beat Mexico and Poland, they will likely qualify safely in the playoffs with six points. But a win and a draw in those two games may not be enough, depending on what happens later on Tuesday when Mexico and Poland play. If there is a winner in this game, Argentina will definitely need to beat the winner to have a chance of not qualifying from the group stage.


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