So far, the eagerly awaited match between Argentina and Mexico has mainly been an invitation to prepare for the night’s sleep. Both teams are still waiting for the first clear chance to score. Argentina acted unusually nervous and, due to numerous bad passes, did not emerge dangerously in the last third. Mexico lurked in a line of five for transition situations, but also lacked the ultimate consequence. It can only get better, even if both teams still have chances of progressing with a draw on the last day of the game.
Alexis Vega just holds on from the second row. Although he clearly misses the long Winkeleck, it was worth a try. It would have been a similar thing to what James Rodríguez did at the 2014 World Cup.
That’s almost standing football, what the Mexicans play. Again and again the ball comes back to defender César Montes, who is not consistently tackled by the Argentines.
This first half didn’t deserve more than five minutes. The first clear chance to score is still a long way off.
Official injury time (minutes): 5
Alexis Vega flicks the free kick due from a good 20 meters to the right of the wall in the direction of Winkeleck. However, the flick is a bit too lax, and Emiliano Martínez has good vision. He catches the ball straight down.
Yellow card for Gonzalo Montiel (Argentina)
Montiel is clearly too late in a duel with Gutiérrez, who has just come on as a substitute. Now it’s enough for the referee, the full-back is warned.
Surprisingly, 36-year-old Andrés Guardado had to leave the pitch before the break. PSV Eindhoven’s Erick Gutiérrez takes his place in midfield.
Erick Gutiérrez comes on as a substitute for Mexico
Substitution for Mexico: Andrés Guardado
Briefly executed corner of the Albiceleste. Lautaro Martínez is free to head the ball from the penalty spot, but heads wide.
Boring! Of the four games played today, this is the weakest so far, you have to say that quite clearly. But there is still time, and the group constellation also offers excitement.
Argentina also tries the high ball. Nicolás Otamendi hits the ball from his own half but exactly on a Mexican head.
Still many interruptions, just Lisandro Martínez is injured. That will give a long stoppage time again.
Messi takes care of the matter again. He flicks the free kick from the right half-field directly onto the box, Guillermo Ochoa has to hit it with both fists!
Lionel Messi executes naturally. The cross is cleared to the back where Rodrigo De Paul is tackled by Alexis Vega. Next dead ball for the Scaloni team.
Ángel Di María with a solo run, Kevin Álvarez can only clear for a corner kick. It is the first for the Albiceleste.
Goal kick Guillermo Ochoa, an attacker is offside. That’s how it often looks, the North Americans often opt for the long ball of the goalkeeper.
In this pairing one would probably have wished for more momentum. So far it’s been a game of nerves, the pressure is clearly felt on the players’ shoulders.
Is anyone else there? No, Kevin Álvarez’s cross sails towards the stands of its own accord. El Tri is still not firing any offensive fireworks either.
Argentina is trying to remain calm, but they continue to appear conspicuously unfocused in the opposing half. Since Rodrigo De Paul and Ángel Di María lose the ball one after the other, the light blue and white cannot start a pressure phase.
Yellow card for Néstor Araujo (Mexico)
New starter Néstor Araujo hits the ball first when he tackles Marcos Acuña. The free-kick is okay, but the yellow card is overkill. There were tough duels in the early stages.
The variant is rehearsed. Ultimately, an arc lamp sails in the direction of the five-yard box, Emiliano Martínez only has the ball in the follow-up.
Hirving Lozano picks up the pace and makes the newly formed Argentine back four work up a sweat. Nicolás Otamendi finally ironed out, but owed a free kick from around 30 meters.
Daniele Orsato involuntarily intercepts a Messi pass, it continues with a referee ball. The Italian is still one of the protagonists in this match and constantly has to talk to the players to calm him down.
The nervousness can be felt on both sides, but especially among the South Americans. Lionel Scaloni gives constant instructions.
A quarter of an hour is played. Ball losses are increasing on the Argentinian side, Mexico always seems to find their way in better. But there are still no clear chances to score.
The game is being played hard, with Rodrigo De Paul and Andrés Guardado on the sidelines sliding into the ball at the same time. The first yellow card is just a matter of time.
The first dangerous approach of the game! Montiel seems overwhelmed again and can only help himself with a foul. Héctor Herrera narrowly missed the half-field free-kick from the far corner!
Mexico kept the pressure and got the first corner kick of the game on the right. But Luis Chávez also beats a completely unsuccessful cross.
Unnecessarily, Montiel now loses the ball to Vega, who hits a completely harmless low cross into the back area from the left edge of the penalty area. There is no other player far and wide.
With a free kick, but without a warning for Vega, it continues. Montiel can also participate again.
For the first time, the Italian referee Daniele Orsato is in the spotlight. Gonzalo Montiel gets elbowed in the face by Alexis Vega and stays down.
The volume level is already extremely high in the first few minutes. Argentina fans celebrate their team’s high ball possession percentage.
Now the first attack wave of the Albiceleste. Lionel Messi misses two men in midfield, but the cross from new starter Marcos Acuña is too imprecise.
Kick-off for the Mexicans, traditionally dressed in dark green, who sent Hirving Lozano on his way with a long ball.
The Lusail Iconic Stadium is filled to the last of the 80,000 seats. Thousands of fans from both sides hoped in vain for tickets in front of the arena, the last ones are said to have gone on the black market for up to 900 dollars.
The record of the last direct clashes speaks clearly for the South Americans: Argentina won the last three games against Mexico without conceding a goal, the most recent friendly in 2019 even 4-0 – Lautaro Martínez scored a flawless hat-trick in the first half. The last Mexican success was 18 years ago, at the 2004 Copa America, Ramón Morales, now 47, scored the only goal.
Even before the game starts, the game offers a lot to talk about: Does Lionel Messi really remain “the unfinished one”, does Argentina deliver a horror tournament at the first World Cup after the death of Diego Maradona? Is Tata Martino luckier with Mexico than his home country, losing back-to-back Copa América finals to Chile on penalties in two years?
On the Mexican side, Argentinian coach Gerardo Martino, who was in charge of his country’s national selection between 2014 and 2016, even made a system change: defenders Néstor Araujo and Kevin Álvarez are new in the starting XI and are divided into a five-man formation. In midfield, the 36-year-old veteran Andrés Guardado is supposed to pull the strings, in the two-man attack you can find Germany terror Hirving “Chucky” Lozano again.
After the surprising opening defeat, the South Americans, who were unbeaten in 36 games, made five changes, three of them in defence: Only Nicolás Otamendi is back, Gonzalo Montiel, Lisandro Martínez and Marcos Acuña are new in the back four. The storm with Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martínez is of course set, Guido Rodríguez and Alexis Mac Allister should set new accents from midfield.
The pressure is particularly high on the Argentinian side: The Albiceleste surprisingly lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia at the start of the tournament. The scheme was the same as in the German game against Japan – a penalty goal in the first half, two goals in the second and then a harmless run. Mexico opened the game without a goal against Poland, lucky when Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty.
Good evening and welcome to the Americas’ smash in Group C – Argentina and Mexico were without a win on Matchday 1 and are already under a lot of pressure today. Kick-off at Lusail Iconic Stadium is at 8pm!