In a tournament that has produced plenty of surprises and upsets, there has not been a single one bigger than the Group C opening match defeat of Argentina at the hands of a sensational Saudi Arabia.
Coming into this tournament as the 2nd worst ranked team in the tournament, the Saudi Arabians took a great risk by starting out with a very high defensive line, suffering greatly in the first half. Conceding a penalty goal and being inches away from having two more validated - both ruled offside by a hair - they went into the dressing room feeling like they would be routed in the second half.
But after an inspirational viral speech by coach Hervé Renard, the seemingly impossible happened. Saudi Arabia came out looking like a completely different side, looking possessed as they pressed Argentina fiercely for the ball. Within 10 minutes of the start of the half, they had managed a miraculous comeback with two spectacular goals and, against all odds, they managed to keep the lead all the way to the final whistle.
What started off looking like a routine win for Argentina had suddenly turned into an absolute nightmare, putting them one loss away from elimination.
Later that day, while Messi and Co were still wondering what went wrong, Mexico made their World Cup debut against Lewandowski’s Poland.
With thunderous support from the stands, Mexico seemed like they were playing at home in the Aztec Stadium, as they passed the ball comfortably on the field to the tune of tens of thousands chanting ‘Ole!’ for every pass.
Unfortunately, none of those passes ever went anywhere. Both Poland and Mexico seemed more afraid of losing than hungry for the win, putting in tentative displays that seemed to fizzle out anytime they made it near the third side of the field.
While they might have dominated the game in terms of possession, Mexico looked absolutely toothless anytime they made it to the Polish area. Poland, meanwhile, did not seem to be able to keep the ball, much less manage to get it to the talismanic Lewandosky in any dangerous positions.
The one time that the Barca forward was put through to the area, he was victim to a soft foul in the area as Hector Moreno tugged his shirt and was ruled to have brought him down in the area. While it seemed that he had an easy opportunity to score his first World Cup game ever, there was one more obstacle standing in his way: Legendary World Cup keeper Guillermo Ochoa.
Playing in his 5th World Cup ever, Ochoa has been known for his outlandish World Cup heroics that have saved Mexico’s tournament time and time again. And this time was no different, as Ochoa pretended to launch himself to the right, only to fly to the left and stop Lewandowski’s bottom right corner strike.
It was a glorious moment that injected plenty of energy into the match, but unfortunately, it ultimately was not converted into results by either side.
While Argentina put in an ineffectual display against Saudi Arabia, they certainly managed to create plenty of dangerous chances. If given enough time, it would probably not have been long before they scored an equalizer- despite the Saudi’s heroics.
Mexico, however, seemed like they could have played another 6 hours without causing any real danger to the Polish side. Unless they take bigger risks and create more danger in their opponent’s half, they are destined to lose this match. There is only so much Ochoa can do after all.
Given their absolute need to attack relentlessly this match - and factoring in Ochoa’s divine interventions, we like Argentina Over 4.5 Team Corners at 1.71 at ComeOn.