Lionel Messi prepares for defeat as Saudi fans dominate Doha after losing in the World Cup | CNN


Doha, Qatar
CNN

Argentina’s match against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday should have been the perfect launching pad for Lionel Messi’s last dance at the World Cup.

The South American team was expected to snub their opponents, as they are ranked 48th in the world rankings, and fans have come in droves to watch Messi perform professionally in what he says will be his last tournament.

But the Argentine captain was overshadowed by the biggest upset in the history of the World Cup, and while Saudi Arabia celebrated their victory, Messi walked into the tunnel with a face of thunder.

Even so, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has not yet lifted the World Cup, did not hide his embarrassment.

With several teammates storming out to reporters on their way to the team bus, Messi was one of two players who spoke to the media – the other being goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez.

no excuses. We will be more united than ever. This group is strong and we have shown it.

“It’s a situation we haven’t had in a long time. Now, we have to show that this is a real group.”

In the grand scheme of the tournament, losing an opening game isn’t necessarily the end of the world – after all, Spain won the 2010 World Cup after losing their opening match of the tournament to Switzerland.

Argentina would likely advance to the knockout stages if they won both of their next matches against Poland and Mexico, but the defeat was particularly hard at home.

Argentine media used words like “nightmare” and “inexplicable” to respond to the traumatic outcome leaving her side with no margin for error.

“The truth? Dead?” Messi said when asked about team morale. “It’s a very tough blow because we didn’t expect to start like this.

We expected to get the three points that would have given us peace.

“My message to the supporters is to have faith. We will not leave them stranded.”

These Doha fans packed in full force and appeared to outnumber the Saudis inside Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

Thousands dressed in blue and white shirts sang Messi’s name as they made their way into the match and continued to celebrate their hero as he clinched the Qatar 2022 title with a penalty in the first 10 minutes.

But, at the age of 35, Messi was not at the peak of his power and the Saudis managed to suffocate his space at every opportunity.

Argentine players still look for Messi almost every time they get the ball. If he did not ask for the ball himself, Messi would often orchestrate the play by indicating where he wanted the ball to go.

But despite his flashes of brilliance, he couldn’t find the space to change the game. At the final whistle, the Argentine fans fell into their seats and the Saudi fans were cheering Messi’s name mockingly.

As he left the stadium, CNN heard fans joking with the volunteers and FIFA officials, asking if they had seen Argentina captain Lionel Messi “after he lost all the game.”

World Cup Saudi Arabia Argentina upset door reaction

Watch the hilarious moment a Saudi football fan rips the door from the frame during a surprise surprise

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Source: CNN

Doha was packed with Saudi fans well into the evening and the flags were still flying early Wednesday morning.

Jubilant fans who left the stadium took the metro back to downtown Doha as celebrations continued, many tweeting until their voices began to crack.

Others were busy replaying the experience on their phones, watching highlights and watching footage of the celebrations from back home.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud later ordered a national public holiday for Wednesday as the world came to such an unexpected conclusion.

Amid all the excitement, though, Saudi manager Hervé Renard demanded that his side focus on building a successful campaign.

Saudi Arabia faces Poland in its next match before facing Mexico.

“We made history for Saudi football and it will remain forever, and this is the most important thing,” he told reporters after the match.

“But we need to think about looking forward because we still have two games left, which are very difficult for us.”

As for Messi, he will spend another day in the sun in Qatar 2022.

What looks like the end of the world today will be a distant memory if he can inspire his side to victory over Mexico on Saturday.

There are thousands of fans in Doha praying that their hero can once again be the answer and confirm his status as the greatest player of all time.

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