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Saudi Arabia defeat was wake-up call Argentina needed

Saudi Arabia shocked the football world by beating Argentina but defender Lisandro Martinez believes it has benefited the South Americans.

Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Argentina Training - Qatar University Training Site 3, Doha, Qatar - November 29, 2022  Argentina's Lionel Messi, Nicolas Otamendi, Rodrigo De Paul, Paulo Dybala and Alejandro Gomez during training REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Lisandro Martínez believes Argentina are a better side for having lost their World Cup opener to Saudi Arabia. The Copa América champions were stunned 1-2 by the Saudis a week ago but bounced back well by beating Mexico 2-0 on Saturday, thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernández.

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Argentina head into their final Group C game against Poland knowing only a victory will guarantee their progression, although a draw may be enough. Martínez said: “I think a defeat is when you really learn and you learn things you were not aware of when you are winning and being successful. That defeat means the squad is more prepared. That’s the good side of defeats, you have to analyse and then take the positives. We know we have a big team, big players and have great potential but that doesn’t just apply to Argentina. We have to believe in our qualities.”

The Manchester United centre-back is aware, however, of the threat that Poland, and star striker Robert Lewandowski in particular, will pose. He added: “They are a very tough opponent and have top players such as Lewandowski. We have to be well organised so they don’t hit us on the counter. Lewandowski moves so well, and is always trying to create goal-scoring opportunities, we have be fully focused. It all comes down to details. We should not overload ourselves with too much pressure. We have been doing a good job of that and we need to keep working on it. We have to show the playing style that we are renowned for.”

Tough group stage

Coach Lionel Scaloni said it should not be a surprise that Argentina have found qualification to the knockout phase so problematic. “How many teams are competing here? Only three have qualified,” he said. “Everyone else is fighting to go through. When I spoke beforehand about our group, I said it was going to be challenging and that everything was going to be up in the air until the last game. Even if we’d drawn one and won one, the last game was going to be key. Obviously, after the win against Mexico we are feeling better emotionally. We now feel we are on the right path.”


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