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Argentina striker Lautaro Martinez has said his team’s second World Cup group stage match against Mexico will be “like a final” after they lost their opening match to Saudi Arabia.
Two-time winners Argentina are bottom of Group C.
Anything other than a victory over Mexico could make their hopes of reaching the round of 16 hang by a thread.
“That could define our belief in this World Cup,” Martinez said.
Lionel Messi opened the scoring from the penalty spot but Saudi Arabia came from behind after Argentina had three goals ruled out for offside.
“It was a heavy blow to our morale, but we are a strong group that is very united,” Martinez said.
“We need to stay calm, recover and think about what’s coming. Mexico is coming so we have to focus on winning no matter what.
“We are very optimistic and I think we lost because of small details, because of our own mistakes. We’ve looked at our next opponent and I think we’re ready.”
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said Messi was in good shape despite reports of a possible ankle injury, and that his side would come back from their first defeat.
“When you’re knocked out you have to get up and my players are more than capable of doing that,” added Scaloni.
“We will not change the way we play because of the defeat against Saudi Arabia. I can make a change or two in the selection but not in our system, that’s out of the question.
“This group will leave everything they have on the pitch to recover from this hard blow.”
Mexico reached the knockout stages of the last eight World Cups, but manager Gerardo Martino said his team was disappointed to have only scored a point against Poland – even though they were grateful to veteran goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa for saving Robbert Lewandowski’s penalty.
“I think we could have had a better result against Poland, so we need to analyze things beyond the result,” said Martino, who coached Messi during his short spell at Barcelona.
“We have to think that Messi will show his best version. Sometimes even without being on top for 90 minutes, anything can happen in five minutes.”
I co-comment this match and it is a bit unthinkable that Lionel Messi, probably in his last World Cup, would be eliminated in the group stage after two matches.
It could happen, but I don’t think it will. Mexico didn’t offer much against a poor Polish team and I feel desperation alone will lead Argentina to the win they need.
Sutton’s predictions: 2-1
- Lionel Messi has scored in his last five appearances for Argentina – he only scored once in six in a row, doing so between November 2011 and September 2012.
- Mexico failed to score in the last three matches of the World Cup, but never drew an empty goal in four straight matches at the tournament.
- After a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, Argentina are looking to avoid defeat in both of their first two World Cup matches for the first time.
- Argentina have lost four of their last six World Cup matches on the same level of points as they had in their previous 25 matches in the competition.
- Mexico lost all three World Cup matches against Argentina.
- Argentina are undefeated in their last 10 meetings with Mexico, winning seven and drawing three.
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