After Argentina fell 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their first 2022 FIFA World Cup match, the pressure is now on Lionel Messi and Co. to win against Mexico on Saturday or face crashing out in the group stage of the competition.
A win keeps the South American nation’s hopes of reaching the knockout stage, but a loss likely ends their tournament, which would be a shocker considering many had them as the favorite.
Meanwhile, a draw would keep Argentina alive. Still, it remains a complicated road as they won’t control their destiny and will rely on other results going their way before and after their match against Mexico.
Mexican national team manager Gerardo Martino, who has managed Argentina in the past and is an Argentine, will not think twice about defeating his home country and ending their World Cup hopes.
“Mexico has to win, we will do it all for Mexico to win. There is no other answer,” Martino told reporters (h/t Reuters).
“I know where I was born. I can tell you the hospital I was born in, the year I was born, describe for you my hometown in Argentina – but I need to do the impossible for Mexico to win. I cannot do any other thing.”
Additionally, Martino states that his squad is prepared for what Messi will bring to the pitch, knowing what’s at stake for him, considering an elimination in the group stage would be a disappointing ending to his international career.
“Those who have faced Lionel will say exactly the same thing: Whether we can stop him or not, it will all depend more on if he maybe has a bad day than on what we can do to actually stop him,” Martino added.
“However, we always need to prepare as if Messi will show his best version. We can never speculate that maybe he won’t because many times it has happened that during the 90 minutes, five (minutes) were enough for him to decide the whole game.”