Argentina’s recreation in opposition to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday was speculated to function the right springboard for Lionel Messi’s final dance on the World Cup.
The South American facet was anticipated to brush apart its opponent, ranked 48 locations under them on this planet standings, and followers had are available in droves to observe Messi placed on a masterclass in what he says shall be his final match.
But the Argentine captain was overshadowed by arguably the most important upset in World Cup historical past and, as Saudi Arabia celebrated its win, Messi trudged down the tunnel with a face of thunder.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or, who has but to raise the World Cup trophy, didn’t cover from the embarrassment although.
As a lot of his teammates stormed previous reporters on the best way to the group bus, Messi was one in all two gamers to talk to the media – the opposite being goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
“There aren’t any excuses. We are going to be extra united than ever. This group is robust, and we’ve got proven it,” he mentioned.
“It is a scenario that we’ve not gone by way of in a very long time. Now, we’ve got to indicate that it is a actual group.”
In the grand scheme of the match, a loss within the opening match is not essentially the tip of the world – after all, Spain gained the 2010 World Cup after shedding its opening match of the match to Switzerland.
Argentina will nonetheless possible qualify for the knockout rounds if it wins each of its subsequent video games in opposition to Poland and Mexico, however the defeat was felt significantly laborious at house.
Words comparable to “nightmare” and “inexplicable” had been utilized by Argentine media reacting to the shock outcome which leaves its facet with no margin for error.
“The reality? Dead,” Messi mentioned when requested in regards to the group’s morale. “It’s a really laborious blow as a result of we did not count on to begin on this means.
“We anticipated to get the three factors that might have given us calmness.
“My message to the supporters is to have religion. We will not depart them stranded.”
Those supporters have gathered in Doha in pressure and had seemingly outnumbered the Saudis contained in the Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.
Thousands in blue and white shirts sang Messi’s title as they made their solution to the sport and continued to rejoice their hero as he graced Qatar 2022 with a penalty within the opening 10 minutes.
But, at 35, Messi shouldn’t be on the peak of his powers and the Saudis had been profitable in smothering his area at each alternative.
The Argentine gamers nonetheless regarded for Messi nearly each time they received the ball. If he did not demand the ball himself, Messi would usually orchestrate the play by pointing to the place he wished the ball to go.
But regardless of flashes of brilliance, he couldn’t discover the area to be able to change the sport. At the ultimate whistle, the Argentine followers had been slumped of their seats and it was the Saudi supporters chanting Messi’s title paradoxically.
While leaving the venue, CNN heard followers joking with volunteers and FIFA officers, asking them if that they had seen Argentina captain Lionel Messi “after he went lacking all recreation.”
See hilarious second a Saudi soccer fan tears a door from the body throughout a shock upset
– Source: CNN
Doha was abuzz with Saudi supporters lengthy into the night and flags had been nonetheless being waved into early Wednesday morning.
Jubilant followers leaving the stadium took the Metro again into downtown Doha the place celebrations continued, many singing till their voices started to interrupt.
Others had been busy reliving the expertise on their telephones, watching highlights of the targets and footage of celebrations from again house.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud subsequently ordered a nationwide public vacation for Wednesday because the world got here to phrases with such an surprising outcome.
Amid all the joy, nonetheless, Saudi supervisor Hervé Renard demanded that his facet give attention to constructing a profitable marketing campaign.
Saudi Arabia faces Poland in its subsequent recreation earlier than taking part in Mexico.
“We made historical past for Saudi soccer, it is going to keep perpetually, that is crucial,” he informed reporters after the match.
“But we want to consider wanting ahead as a result of we nonetheless have two video games, very tough for us.”
As for Messi, he may have one other day within the solar at Qatar 2022.
What appears like the tip of the world as we speak shall be a distant reminiscence if he can encourage his facet to victory in opposition to Mexico on Saturday.
There are 1000’s of followers in Doha praying that their hero can as soon as once more be the reply and make sure his standing as the best participant of all time.