Today’s the day. Tonight’s the night. Argentina vs Australia. Messi’s 1000th game tonight, could be his last at the World Cup. Australia is the easiest nation Argentina could have faced but this WorldCup has been unpredictable.
I’m hopeful, and optimistic. Messi masterclass 🙏
— K.Shah (@kshitijshah23) December 3, 2022
There are a lot of terrible ‘capybara vs kangaroo’ memes circulating…
Argentina will wear the home kit vs. Australia. 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/gNT3IHgBvY
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) December 2, 2022
After escaping their groups in dramatic circumstances, just three days later Argentina and last-16 opponents Australia meet at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Saturday.
Both nations’ World Cup adventures now continue into the knockout stages, following the Albiceleste’s recovery from a shock opening loss to Saudi Arabia and the Socceroos’ defeat of Denmark in midweek.
Having overcome a faltering start to their latest World Cup campaign, an Argentina squad fuelled by a hard-fought victory over Mexico in their second Group C fixture secured a spot in the last 16 by bettering a limited Poland side on Wednesday.
The South American champions saw talisman Lionel Messi spurn the chance to open the scoring from a contentious first-half penalty, but were ultimately rewarded for 90 minutes of dominance by leapfrogging their European opponents at the top of the group standings…
Given the gulf in stature between the two nations in football terms, it comes as no surprise that Australia have lost each of their last four meetings with Argentina – including a crucial playoff to reach USA ’94 – though the Socceroos earned a 2-0 win when two very different squads clashed at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Yet, Graham Arnold’s men are riding the crest of a wave before they arrive in Al Rayyan for a date with destiny that sees them taking part in the World Cup knockout rounds for the first time since the fabled ‘golden generation’ of 2006.
The unfancied Socceroos defied expectations to finish second in Group D behind defending champions France, doing so only on goal difference after winning two of their three fixtures – against Tunisia and then Euro 2022 semi-finalists Denmark…