Punch News Today

World Cup heavyweights risk early exit

World Cup trophy

Two of the most successful nations in World Cup history face early elimination from the 2022 edition in Qatar.

Argentina went into the tournament as the second favourites to lift the trophy, yet lost their first game 2-1 against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, after going in ahead at half-time.

A day later, Germany were defeated by the same scoreline against Japan, having also been 1-0 up at the break.

Now both teams go into tough second fixtures knowing that they could be leaving the global showpiece far earlier than planned.

Ahead of their upcoming matches, we take a look at what would need to happen for the two-time World Cup winners Argentina and the four-time champions Germany to go out of the tournament.

After their defeat to Saudi Arabia, Lionel Scaloni’s team find themselves bottom of Group C, with Poland and Mexico having drawn 0-0 in their encounter.

Quite simply, Argentina must not lose to Mexico on Saturday, as defeat would seal their elimination from this World Cup.

Saudi Arabia and Poland face each other earlier in the day. Regardless of the result in that match, a defeat for La Albiceleste would see two teams on four or more points, making qualification for the knockout stages impossible.

Should Argentina avoid defeat and keep their qualification hopes alive, a second-place finish might see them face France in the last 16, with Tunisia, Denmark and Australia being the other possible opponents.

The good news for Argentina is that they are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Mexico in all competitions (seven wins, three draws) since a 1-0 loss in the 2004 Copa America.

They have also won all of their last three World Cup meetings against Saturday’s opponents, most recently securing a 3-1 victory in 2010.

The defeat to Saudi Arabia ended a 36-match unbeaten run and that loss could have easily been avoided, with Argentina consistently breaking through the defensive high line in the first half.

Everything points to Argentina surviving until at least the final group games, as long as Lionel Messi and his team-mates can recover from that monumental shock.

Germany could lose again when they face Spain on Sunday night and still have a chance of qualification.

They would however, be reliant upon Costa Rica beating Japan, which seems unlikely on the evidence of Spain’s 7-0 win against the Central Americans.

Anything more than a point for Japan would see Germany exit the competition if they lost to Spain.

Were Germany to get a positive result to set up qualification, they would face an opponent from Group F, which includes Belgium, Croatia, Morocco and Canada.

Germany do not have a dominant record against Spain to give them confidence.

Of the past seven games between the European nations in all competitions, Germany have won just one (two draws, four defeats), and have not earned victory in a competitive encounter with La Roja since Euro 1988.

They met most recently in the group stages of the Nations League, with the teams drawing 1-1 in Germany and Spain delivering a 6-0 thrashing in the reverse fixture.

That game saw Ferran Torres score a hat-trick and the Barcelona forward has already made a mark at the World Cup, with a brace against Costa Rica.

Germany’s defeat was not as big a shock as Argentina’s, as Hansi Flick’s side came into this tournament with just two wins from their previous eight matches (five draws, one defeat).

Source link