‘A cruel thing to do to them over breakfast’ – Pundits react as ‘shambolic’ Argentina lose to Saudi Arabia

Argentina superstar Lionel Messi looks dejected Credit: Alamy
Argentina superstar Lionel Messi looks dejected Credit: Alamy

Several pundits have had their say on a “shambolic” performance from Argentina that saw them stunned by a “brilliant” Saudi Arabia in their opening World Cup match.

It looked like it was going to be comfy afternoon for Lionel Scaloni’s side when his namesake Lionel Messi opened scoring from the penalty spot on ten minutes after Leandro Paredes was fouled inside the box.

After not mustering a shot in the first half,  Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina when Saleh Al Shehri hit a lovely shot across Emiliano Martinez and into the bottom corner.

And they only left it another five minutes to grab what proved to be the winning goal in a 2-1 victory when Salem Al Dawsari found the top right-hand corner with a lovely finish.

Despite Saudi Arabia producing a brilliant second-half display, the emphasis in the aftermath has been on how poor Argentina were.

Speaking on ITV, Graeme Souness said: “That was a shadow of any Argentina team I have seen. They were a shadow today.”

Former Republic of Ireland international Clinton Morrison did give Saudi Arabia credit though, he told BBC Radio Five Live: “Argentina were poor in the second half. I thought they had a few more gears to go through.

“Saudi Arabia put their bodies on the line. They were brilliant. They have a threat up front.

“Argentina’s defence lack a lot of pace, that is a problem.”

Nedum Onuoha, also on Five Live, added: “We saw an Argentina side that were pushing and pushing but Saudi Arabia were comfortable in the way they were defending.

“At times we think football is predictable, and then things like that happens and you are reminded about why we love football.

“As long as you are committed and take the opportunities you have, anything is possible.”

While BBC Sport South American football expert Tim Vickery had some strong words, he said: “People would have needed to get up early for this game in Argentina, around 7am. What a cruel thing to do to them over breakfast.

“I quite liked the first half of Saudi Arabia. Argentina’s biggest fear happened because they weren’t able to dominate the ball in midfield and have their circuit of passes. The high line of Saudi was risky but it gave them the platform to create problems.

“Argentina’s defensive stats have been brilliant but there were times in the first half where they were defending at full stretch. Romero was the weak link today.

“They lose their structure when they went behind. They looked like more of the shambolic Argentina sides of old where Lionel Messi was dropping deep to get the ball.”

Vickery added: “Argentina have got some regrouping today but I wouldn’t count them out yet.

“What are they going to do next? They’ll have to dig deep.”

READ MORE: Do FIFA and Qatar have buyers’ remorse over £200bn spent on World Cup?

 

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