By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Everybody just witnessed one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Entering football’s biggest competition, Argentina, led by the living legend Lionel Messi and a bunch of international superstars, lost at the hands of Saudi Arabia, the second-lowest ranked team in the World Cup, 2-1, last November 22, 2023.
It was a frustrating way to kick off their World Cup campaign after being named as one of the favorite teams to win the prestigious tournament.
Messi and the Argentinian booters were stunned after the ranked no. 51 team got the better of them in their very first game of the World Cup.
The bitter ending spoiled Messi’s fantastic start against Saudi Arabia after the superstar cashed in an early penalty goal to give Argentina an early 1-0 lead in the 10th minute of the match.
Argentina continued their relentless attack and was looking to stomp over Saudi Arabia but three crucial goal attempts that would’ve put them up by a wide margin were ruled offside in the first half.
Just when Argentina thought they could replicate its blazing start, Saudi Arabia then responded with a huge counter and shocked the fans in attendance after equalizing the match courtesy of Saleh Alshehri early in the second half.
The drama didn’t end after Saudi Arabia retook the lead five minutes after converting their first goal when Salem Al Dawsari found the back of the net in the 53rd minute.
Aside from their offensive intensity, Saudi Arabia’s defensive adjustments in the second half shut Argentina down.
It was in the 101st minute when Argentina had their best chance of tying the match at 2-all but Julian Alvarez’s header was saved clean by Mohammed Al-Owais.
It wasn’t the first time that the Argentinian national team suffered some huge World Cup shockers. Way back in 1990, the Diego Maradona-led squad got stunned by Cameroon, 1-0, and was also labeled as one of the biggest upsets on the world stage.
Saudi Arabia also broke Argentina’s 36-game winning streak that dated back to 2019 including their 2021 Copa America championship run that rewarded Messi with his first major international trophy.
If Argentina wants to advance, they must sweep their remaining group-stage matches against Mexico on Saturday and Poland on December 1.