Lionel Messi has claimed that there are ‘no excuses’ after his Argentina side were the subject to one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
One of the pre-tournament favourites, Argentina took the lead when Messi converted a penalty after ten minutes, and had three more goals ruled out for offside as both he and Lautaro Martinez strayed beyond the last line of defence before slotting home.
But, in a blitz start to the second half, Saudi Arabia found a well-deserved equaliser, before talisman Salem Al Dawsari curled home just moments later to hand them an unlikely lead, which they then held onto with a fierce defensive performance.
It means that Argentina’s 36 game unbeaten run came to an end, while they also sit bottom of the group ahead of Mexico’s meeting with Poland on Tuesday evening. The Albiceleste will likely now need to beat both to qualify out of their group, and cannot afford another defeat.
Speaking after the game, Argentinian icon Messi, for whom this tournament will be his last, was quick to outline the simplicity of their situation.
“There are no excuses. We have to be more united than ever. This group is strong and has shown it”, he explained. “It’s a situation we haven’t gone through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.”
“It’s a very hard blow for everyone, we didn’t expect to start like this. Things happen for a reason. We have to prepare for what’s coming, we have to win and it depends on us.”
His side are back in action on Saturday, when they face Mexico in a game that they cannot afford to drop points in.