Argentina ‘dreadful’ against Saudi Arabia at 2022 World Cup says Roy Keane as Graeme Souness ‘gobsmacked’


Graeme Souness was left “gobsmacked” by Argentina’s lack of physical presence as they were stunned by Saudi Arabia at the World Cup.

Argentina came into the tournament on a 36-match unbeaten run and were among the favourites to lift the trophy.

But their campaign got off to a poor start as they lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia, who are ranked 51st in the world.

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Argentina took the lead through an early Lionel Messi penalty but created few clear chances in the second half after falling behind to two quick goals.

“I am gobsmacked,” said former Scotland and Liverpool midfielder Souness on ITV.

“I have never witnessed an Argentina team not be up for a cup in terms of a physical encounter. They were wishy-washy.

“The referee was obviously going to be lenient, Saudi Arabia were super aggressive, the referee let it go. At that point Argentina had to say to themselves ‘we have to match this or we will be in trouble’. And that’s what happened.

“I thought Argentina had another gear but they didn’t. Unless they find that yard of aggression from somewhere they can be rolled over. If that’s their quality they are nothing to fear for anyone they meet later in the competition.”

Souness, who was involved in a heated discussion at half-time with Roy Keane about the awarding of the penalty, said Argentina were a “shadow” of previous teams.

“Argentina historically are a team that don’t get intimidated, they got intimidated today by Saudi Arabia. They got rolled over from a very enthusiastic and well organised Saudi Arabia team.

“I am so disappointed in Argentina, not because they lost but the manner of the way they lost. You have to match the aggression and they never did.

“That was a shadow of any Argentina team I have seen. They were a shadow today.”

The win leaves Argentina with an uphill battle to qualify for the last 16.

They face Mexico on Saturday in Group C before finishing against Poland.

“It’s a great reminder to anyone watching that if you think you can just turn up and depend on your quality to get you over the line, you are sadly mistaken,” said former Manchester United midfielder Keane.

Erste WM-Sensation! Saudi-Arabien schockt Topfavorit Argentinien

Image credit: Getty Images

“Argentina were dreadful second half. All credit to Saudi Arabia, amazing result for them.

“The desire and fight from Argentina wasn’t there. They weren’t as a team today, it’s a huge setback for them.”

Former England winger Joe Cole was full of praise for Saudi Arabia’s display.

“For those players to come together with that intensity, physicality, desire and drive, there is no better feeling than winning a game against the odds.

“Argentina thought they could turn up and win the game, especially after going 1-0 up. The way Saudi pressed and played the high line, they were getting in their faces, leaving a bit on them.”

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