Can Lionel Messi’s Argentina repeat Spain’s 2010 heroics and go on to win 2022 FIFA World Cup title?

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Lionel Messis Argentina

Argentina suffered a shock 1-2 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their FIFA World Cup 2022 Group C opener on Tuesday.

Photo : AP

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

Argentina lost its FIFA World Cup 2022 opener on Tuesday.Saudi Arabia got the better of them by a margin of 2-1.But Argentine fans can believe, as once in the past, a team that lost its tournament opener went all the way to win the FIFA World Cup title.Lionel Messi’s Argentina entered the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar on the back of a 36-match unbeaten record. They were the pre-tournament favourites to go all the way and win the first FIFA World Cup title in 36 years, but in a surprise for almost everybody around the globe, they suffered a shock 1-2 defeat against Saudi Arabia in their Group C opener at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Tuesday (November 22).

The reigning Copa America champions haven’t lost a game in more than three years, but on Tuesday, despite taking the lead inside the first 10 minutes, they failed to get the better of the Asian side. The result sent shockwaves around the world, as it was hard to believe and explain how it was made possible.

Argentina were miles superior than their opponents on paper and on the field as well, but they failed to make the opportunities count, and as a result, now they are on the brink of a shocking first round exit from the FIFA World Cup 2022, in what is probably going to be the last World Cup tournament for superstar Lionel Messi.

Their next two matches in Group C are against Mexico (November 27) and Robert Lewandowski’s Poland (December 1), and both of them are not going to be easy games as they are far better sides than what the Saudis were. But if Argentina wants to keep alive their hopes of winning the World Cup, then they need nothing less than a win.

One more upset will surely kick them out of the contest. But with Messi in their ranks, Argentina and their fans all around the world will hope that despite the slump, they will make it to the knockout stages.

The shock defeat in their tournament’s opener has made fans worried about Argentina’s capability of challenging for the top prize, but they can relax themselves by realising the fact that once in the past, a team that lost its opening match successfully managed to go on and win the World Cup title.

The side was none other than Spain, and it happened during the 2010 edition. 12 years ago, football’s biggest tournament was played in the African continent for the first time, and South Africa got the hosting rights. Spain had entered the tournament as the reigning European champions, but in their first Group H match, they suffered a shock 0-1 defeat against Switzerland.

Swiss defensive midfielder Gelson Fernandes scored the only goal of the match in the 52nd minute to seal the deal for his side. The defeat put Spain on the brink of elimination, but they managed to get the better of Honduras (2-0) and Chile (2-1) in their next two matches and successfully managed to qualify for the round of 16 by being the best-ranked team in group H.

Their Round of 16 match was against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, which they won 1-0 thanks to David Villa’s second-half goal. In the quarterfinals, La Roja defeated Paraguay by the same margin (1-0), and once again, Villa was the scorer.

Spain was up against Germany in the semifinals, and courtesy of Carlos Puyol’s goal in the 73rd minute, they got the better of the star-studded German team. The final match of the 2010 edition was played between Spain and the Netherlands, and in that match, Spain again won by a margin of 1-0 to become the eighth team in history to win the FIFA World Cup title and only the first one to bag the title after losing their opening match.

Argentina fans can take cue from Spain’s heroic attempt in 2010 and hope that in his last dance at the FIFA World Cup, Messi will also get the chance to win the biggest prize of his career.



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