'We have to be more united than ever' - Messi in Argentina rallying cry as he insists there can be 'no excuses' for Saudi Arabia upset
- Argentina defeated by Saudi Arabia
- Messi calls for unity
- Admits defeat is a hard blow
WHAT HAPPENED? Argentina were stunned by a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia at the 2022 World Cup on Tuesday despite going into the half-time break with a one-goal advantage, courtesy of a strike from Messi from the penalty spot. The Asian giants struck twice within a span of five minutes to end the 36-match unbeaten run of the Albiceleste. The Argentine skipper wants no excuses after the shock defeat and has called on his team-mates to brush aside the result and prepare for the next game so that they can turn around their fortunes.
WHAT THEY SAID: "There are no excuses. We have to be more united than ever. This group is strong and has shown it. It's a situation we haven't gone through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group," he told reporters after the loss.
"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."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Argentina’s defeat was their first in a World Cup opener since 1990 – when they did go on to make the final – and uncomfortable questions are already being asked of the South Americans and their talismanic captain. They were tagged as the tournament favourites but, despite the loss in the campaign opener, there is everything to fight for as they can still progress to the knockouts.
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WHAT NEXT FOR ARGENTINA? La Albiceleste still have two matches to go in the group stages and will be back in action against Mexico on Saturday followed by a clash with Poland on November 30.