Argentina beats Mexico once again, diminishing their hopes for a successful World Cup


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Mexico’s central midfielder Érick Gutiérrez, left, battles for possession with Argentinian forward Lionel Messi in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Mexico at the World Cup in Qatar on Saturday.

Argentina faced Mexico in one of the most important matches of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Saturday afternoon. The match had the highest demand for tickets alongside England vs. USA, according to a report from earlier this year. 

The game was at Lusail Stadium in Lusail, Qatar, the same stadium that will host the final game of the World Cup in front of 80,000 fans. Argentina imposed themselves over Mexico with a final score of 2-0, with goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernández. 

Mexico and Argentina have had a longstanding rivalry in the history of international soccer, dating back to the first World Cup in 1930 when Argentina defeated Mexico 6-3.  

Since then, they have met twice in the knockout stage, and Argentina has eliminated Mexico on both occasions. Mexico fans have been eager to finally be the ones to eliminate Argentina from the World Cup.

The rivalry goes beyond the pitch, however. Before Saturday’s game, Argentina and Mexico fans got into a brawl in Qatar, which reportedly left several individuals with minor injuries.  

Despite tensions, neither of the teams had the best start to this year’s World Cup prior to Saturday’s match.

This World Cup has been also special for its controversies around human rights violations, as stated by NPR. From accusations of near to slave labour with the kafala system to inhumane working conditions in the construction of many of the stadiums to strong allegations of bribery and corruption inside FIFA to choose the Arab country as a host despite the evidence of it being a bad pick. There have also been controversies around Qatar’s hostility towards LGBTQ people and symbols, an important element to note beyond the excitement on the field. 

Argentina had a shocking loss against Saudi Arabia, with a final score of 2-1. Meanwhile, Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa hardly rescued a tie against Poland, stopping a penalty in the second half. 

The first half gave Mexico fans a glimmer of hope. Mexico’s winger, Alexis Vega was close to scoring a magnificent free-kick from outside of the box, although Argentina’s goalkeeper, Emiliano Martínez, was able to stop it. The first half ended with a 0-0 score. 

It was not until minute 64 in the second half that Lionel Messi scored a long-range shot to the bottom right corner from outside of the box, leaving Mexico with little to offer for the rest of the game. Midfielder Enzo Fernández sealed the win for Argentina in minute 87, dribbling into the box and scoring on the top right corner of Mexico’s goal. 

Argentina’s victory makes it hard for Mexico to advance to the next round, although not impossible. To advance, Mexico has to beat Saudi Arabia next Wednesday, though it also depends on the result of Argentina and Poland’s game. Either Poland has to beat Argentina, or Mexico has to significantly increase their goal difference in just one game. 

Argentina does not have an easy road into the next round either. A victory against Poland would be enough to secure the pass, but in the event of a tie, they would have to depend on Mexico and Saudi Arabia’s score and goal difference to see who would make it to the next round. Losing their third game would significantly reduce Argentina’s chances of advancing to round 16. 

Early elimination would be hard on fans from both Argentina and Mexico. This World Cup is likely to be the last for many star players and fan favorites of both teams. 

The 35-year-old Messi has played professional soccer for the last 18 years, and this will be the last World Cup he participates in.

“The decision has been made,” he told media outlets last month

Failing to make it past the group stage would be a lamentable way to end his career, many would argue. 

Likewise, Mexico’s Guillermo “Ochoa” and Andres Guardado seem to be at the near end of their careers, and going home so early would leave a bitter taste in their legacies. 

Philip Meyers, a DePaul professor and member of Chicago Sports Media, said that Mexico has had a historical impact on the World Cup. He mentioned how Mexico was the first country outside of South America and Europe to ever host a World Cup.

“The pageantry and the ability and all of the culture that they brought to the game too is so influential,” Myers said. 

Despite never winning a tournament, Mexico has one of the biggest fan bases. According to Azteca Deportes, Mexico brought the most fans to the renowned tournament compared to other countries in 2018 when it was held in Russia. Mexico is also set to become the first nation to host the World Cup three times in 2026, co-hosting with the U.S. and Canada. 

Contrarily, Argentina won the World Cup twice back in 1986. This was the same World Cup where Argentina’s player Diego Maradona scored a historic goal with his hand, tricking the referee into thinking it was his head, now remembered as “la mano de Dios,” or “the hand of God.”

Alongside Brazil and France, Meyers thinks that Argentina is a top contender for winning the World Cup this year.  

Even if this World Cup ends early for either of these two teams, this does not mean either country was a failure for this edition. Meyers said how far a country gets in a World Cup isn’t a measure of their success. 

“We have to celebrate the sport, the culture and so many more things than just winning a World Cup or making a semi-final or making a quarter-final that defines success,” Meyers said.