Lionel Messi calls on Argentina to be ‘more united than ever’ after shock World Cup defeat to Saudi Arabia


Argentina captain Lionel Messi says his side need to be “more united than ever” after a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener in Qatar.

Messi opened the scoring at Lusail Stadium from the penalty spot in the tenth minute, but fine goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari saw Saudi Arabia produce the biggest win in their nation’s history.

Argentina, who saw their 36-match unbeaten run come to an end, must now beat Mexico in their next Group C match or risk being knocked out of the competition.

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Reacting to the Saudi Arabia defeat after the match, the Paris Saint-Germain forward playing in his last World Cup has called for unity amongst the Argentina players and staff.

“It is a moment to be more united than ever,” he said. “We did not expect this but it depends on us.

“We knew that they would be playing like that, we were a little bit rushed, we never ended up feeling comfortable as we have been doing. We knew that they will be holding the line well.

“Sometimes the game takes hold of you and seeing so much space, you end up doing things you can’t change.”

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni says his side will have to quickly move on from the shock defeat.

“There’s no other choice but to get up and move on,” he said.

“We don’t have to analyse more than that. Today is a sad day, but we have to raise our heads and keep going.

“We knew how Arabia was playing. We prepared the game knowing that they came out with an advanced defense. The offsides were by millimetres.

“I think the first half was all ours, but a goal can change everything. We’ll analyse their goal plays more calmly.

“The goals came in the 48th and 51st minute, they didn’t turn the game around for physical reasons. We’ll see the medical report but, in principle, most of the players are fine.

“We still think the same way. Before the game they made us the favourites, but in a World Cup these things can happen. We have to work on the aspects that didn’t go well.

“We still have two games and we’re going to push them through.

“We couldn’t get to this competition in a good way. But football is like that and the World Cup has other things. It was lost but we are going to get up and fight for the next two games.”

Argentina play Mexico on November 26 before their final group game against Poland on November 30.

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To celebrate the 2022 World Cup, we have launched our new bracket game, where you can give your predictions, challenge friends and create mini-leagues.

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