Argentina And Germany Live To Fight Another Day: FIFA WC 2022

Argentina And Germany Live To Fight Another Day: FIFA WC 2022

The past weekend could’ve had 2 of the great footballing nations bow out in tame fashion had they lost their respective games. But as Peter Drury described it on commentary, “Magic man Messi pulled another magical rabbit out of the hat” to save the blushes for Argentina, while Germany managed to stay alive by the skin of their teeth with a goal in the final stages of the game to give them a solitary point.

On Saturday, Poland went to the top of the table by beating Saudi Arabia, who were in a strong position themselves having won their opening match. This meant that Argentina simply could not lose. Even a draw would’ve put La Albiceleste in a difficult situation, leaving their fate in hands of other teams in the group.

The tetchy atmosphere before the game had carried on into the match between Argentina and Mexico in what was an extremely fractious first 45 minutes at the Lusail Stadium. The game saw the highest number of fouls in 90 minutes this tournament, at 34. This played perfectly into Mexico’s hands, as they slowly started producing more goal-scoring opportunities towards the end of the first half.

The same theme carried on in the opening minutes of the second half as well, but a familiar script was about to unfold. Out of almost nothing, Messi collected Di Maria’s pass just outside the penalty box, and used that legendary left foot of his to drive home a perfectly placed finish into the bottom right corner.

Messi had already opened his account in the World Cup, but this was perhaps the most important goal he will have scored for Argentina this tournament, as the stadium erupted in unison to chants of “Messi!”.

Argentina then finally started looking like the side that had remained unbeaten for 36 matches prior to the World Cup, as Enzo Fernandez sealed all 3 points with a sumptuous curler that could be a contender for the goal of the tournament.

But the pass had once again come from Messi, who now has the record for the youngest and oldest player to have registered a goal and an assist in a World Cup game since 1966. He is also tied with Maradona at 8 for the second highest number of goals by an Argentinian at the World Cup, only 2 behind Gabriel Batistuta who has 10.

A final showdown against Poland on Wednesday night will determine if Argentina can qualify for the knockouts, with the top 2 spots still very much up for grabs. However, now their fate lies in their own hands, unlike what it would’ve been had they failed to win.

Meanwhile, at the Al Bayt Stadium, Germany were in a similarly precarious position. After their shock opening loss to Japan, Die Mannschaft now had to face tougher competition against Spain, who were going into this game at the back of a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica. Although the odds seemed stacked against the Germans, they had received a boost before their game knowing Japan had lost to Costa Rica, meaning they would still be alive even with a point against La Roja.

The game started off in intense fashion, as Spain hit the woodwork and dominated the opening proceedings. However, Rudiger headed the ball into the back of the net in what was thought to be the opening goal of the game, only for it to be disallowed for offside by VAR.

Besides that, Germany had very little to offer upfront apart from the moments of brilliance from the talented Musiala, who was Germany’s best player in the match.

Spain continued to boss possession and asserted their dominance, which culminated in Morata scoring in the second half and continuing his fine form. At that point, it seemed like Germany had no way back into the game and were staring at the brink of an exit. But despite their problems in recent years, Deutschland never gives up.

When Musiala dribbled past the Spain defense to find some space at the edge of the box, substitute Füllkrug, who is Bundesliga’s top scoring German this season, took control and rifled home a shot beyond Unai Simon to restore hopes for Germany.

The game ended 1-1 and Germany could only get a point, but with their final game against Costa Rica, they will go into it with much more confidence of securing a place in the knockouts. They will however need some help from Spain as well, as even a point for the Japanese would once again knock the Germans out of the World Cup in the group stages for the second successive time.

As the final round of fixtures kick off on Tuesday night, there are several permutations and combinations through which teams from every group could either qualify for the knockouts or get knocked out themselves. The next 4 days promise to be exciting at the World Cup, with the final 16 being decided after Friday.

Will previous World Cup winners Argentina and Germany make it? The last round of group stage fixtures promises to throw some surprises.

Also read: Iran vs USA – A Battle Beyond Football: FIFA WC 2022

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