Saudi Arabia beat Argentina to cause the first upset of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They came from behind to win 2-1.
We all predicted that Argentina would easily see off a Saudi Arabian side that sits at a ranking of 51 in the world. And when Messi slotted in a penalty after 10 minutes, a serious drubbing looked likely.
But it’s the World Cup and anything can happen. Argentina had three goals ruled out for offside; and having weathered the storm, the Green Falcons came out in the second half a different team.
Ten minutes of magic
The game turned in the first ten minutes of the second half when Saleh Al-Shehri brought the game level with a low effort. When Salem Al Dawsari put them ahead, the stands erupted.
Saudi Arabia then battened down the hatches and showed fierce determination not to let Argentina equalise. The win puts them top of Group C for now.
To say this was a shock result is to put it mildly. Argentina came into the tournament as one of the favourites. They’d been on a 36-game unbeaten run, including winning the 2021 Copa America. They cannot afford any more slip ups to provide Messi with a fitting end to his World Cup career.
What were the odds of this happening?
The odds of a Saudi win were 500-1 after Messi put the Argentinians ahead. Few people saw Saudi Arabia making any dent in the tournament. Only Ghana rank lower than them out of the 32 teams.
Needless to say, the Green Falcons players were absolutely elated when the final whistle blew, screaming into the sky as the whole bench surged onto the pitch to join the celebrations. They are the only non-European team to beat Argentina since Cameroon in 1990.
Of course, history saw Argentina make it to the final after that humiliating defeat, and there’s still a chance they could do so now. To do so, Messi will have to start scoring from an onside position, and enough to take home the Golden Boot.
Saudi Arabia will be clinging onto the fact that the last three teams to beat Argentina at the World Cup went on to the finals with two of them winning it. They were Germany in 2014 (winners), France 2018 (winners), Croatia 2018 (runners-up).
Favourites for the title?
The odds now see England leap to second favourites behind Brazil for the tournament. France take third favourite spot, whilst Argentina slide into fourth position.
Argentina had been 5/1 to win in Qatar but the odds have now shortened to 17/2.
World Cup Winner Odds
England: 13/2 (were 7/1)
Argentina: 17/2 (were 5/1)