After a shocking loss to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener, Argentina bounced back and ended the first stage at the top of Group C.
The Copa America champions were highly touted as one of the favorites to win the competition, but the stunning 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia brought them back to the ground.
Argentina bounced back and showed their winning form by defeating Mexico 2-0, and then Poland 2-0 to rise to the top of the group.
They will face Group D runner-up Australia in the knockout round at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 3.
The spirited Australians
The low-key Socceroos had their own battles to fight, reaching the round of 16 for the first time since the 2006 World Cup. They defeated Tunisia 1-0, then Denmark, also 1-0, to advance.
Learning from their early defeat, Argentina is coming into the next round with more determination. Team captain Lionel Messi said they could not take for granted that they will move on to the quarterfinals.
He says the team will have to prepare as best as they can, as “the game against Australia will be difficult.”
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni had taken off Angel Di Maria in the match against Poland due to some discomfort in the player’s quadriceps. However, he is likely to be fit to compete against Australia. The Albiceleste will be expected to play with a complete squad.
Julián Álvarez starts alongside Lionel Messi with Argentina’s World Cup dreams on the line 🇦🇷
It wasn’t too long ago that he was just a kid trying to get a picture with his hero 🥺❤️ pic.twitter.com/8uSo9zPfv1
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) November 30, 2022
Argentina possible starting lineup:
Julian AlvarezRodrigo De PaulAngel Di MariaEnzo FernandezAlexis Mac AllisterEmi MartinezLionel MessiNahuel MolinaNicolas OtamendiCristian RomeroNicolas Tagliafico