World Cup Daily: Argentina upset flips Group C on its head

Going into Tuesday’s slate of games, most people had Argentina and Poland penciled into the round of 16 because of their superstar forwards, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski. By the end of the day, Argentina and Poland had just a point between them.

Here’s everything that happened in the 2022 FIFA World Cup today.

Argentina’s Lionel Messi, left, and Argentina’s Rodrigo De Paul reacts during the World Cup group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Argentina is still alive in the tournament after Tuesday’s shocking result. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends for La Albiceleste.

History tells us that making out of the group stage is incredibly difficult when you lose your first game, let alone winning the World Cup — only Spain (2010) has accomplished the latter. Argentina’s next opponents, Mexico and Poland, are beatable, but as we saw Tuesday, so is Argentina.

It’s not all good news for Saudi Arabia either. Ironically, it might have even more pressure to get results against Mexico and Poland than before now that qualifying for the knockout stages is a real possibility. But for now, Saudi Arabia is reeling in the fact that it beat one of the tournament favorites, and arguably the greatest player of all time.

If Denmark is truly a dark horse to win the tournament, it didn’t look like it on Tuesday. In fact, had it not been for an incredible save from Kasper Schmeichel, it would have gone into its game against France (11 a.m. ET on FS1 and the By News4buffalo.com Sports app) needing all three points. Dark horse or not, Denmark need to be better in its final two games if is to avoid a potential tiebreaker with Tunisia or Australia on the final day of group play.

Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa leaves the field after the World Cup group C soccer match between Mexico and Poland, at the Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Although technically a scoreless draw on neutral ground, it’s safe to say Mexico’s fans will remember Tuesday’s game more fondly than Poland’s. Not only did Memo Ochoa block professional goalscorer Robert Lewandowski from the spot, but Mexico fans had Stadium 974 sounding like Estadio Azteca. That’s the type of momentum you want as a team that has to face a motivated Lionel Messi on Saturday.

France’s Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring against Australia during the World Cup group D soccer match between France and Australia, at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Australia opened the scoring in the ninth minute on Tuesday, but France quickly responded with two of its own and added two more in the second half. During both of France’s scoring bursts, 36-year-old Olivier Giroud scored, and his second goal made him Les Bleus‘ all-time leading goalscorer alongside Thierry Henry.

With a win against Australia and a scoreless draw in Group C’s other leg, France sits alone at the top of its group. Barring something unforeseen, it should be the first nation since 2006 to qualify for the knockout stage after winning the previous World Cup.

GOAL OF THE DAY

The only thing more special than Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina was the goal that sealed it for them.

ASSIST OF THE DAY

It’s not that the assist itself was spectacular — France had two more just like it against Australia. It’s how Ousmane Dembele freed himself up to get the ball across to Kylian Mbappe. When Dembele’s healthy, he’s a threat from those positions.

SAVE OF THE DAY

Every four years, Memo Ochoa is called up to the World Cup roster and makes the most ridiculous saves. On Tuesday, his legend continued with the first save a non-shootout penalty by a Mexican keeper since 1966. “San Memo,” indeed.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

Argentina nearly salvaged a point from their matchup with Saudi Arabia, but Abdulelah Al-Amri cleared Julián Álvarez’s attempt from off of the goal line with his head.

Given the magnitude of the win that followed, there wasn’t a bigger play of the day.

What’s at stake for tomorrow

Luka Modrić was the worthy winner of the Golden Ball at the 2018 World Cup. Can he recapture that magic with Croatia at the age of 37? We’ll find out Wednesday.

Germany is back at the World Cup after being eliminated in the group stage in 2014. Even with key players such as Marco Reus and Timo Werner injured, they’ll be a threat to make a deep run in the tournament. Don’t sleep on Japan either, though; the Samurai Blue are always competitive at the tournament.

Spain will usher in a new generation against Costa Rica led by F.C. Barcelona stars Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati. We’ll see if that lack of World Cup experience hurts La Roja in any way.

Belgium and Croatia are the safe bets to make it out of Group F, but Canada will be hungry in its first World Cup appearance since 1986. Watch out for Alphonso Davies on the left side of the pitch.

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