Qatar 2022: Argentina Coach Blasted for 'criminal' Decision During Saudi Arabia Defeat

Qatar 2022: Argentina Coach Blasted for 'criminal' Decision During Saudi Arabia Defeat

  • Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni has been heavily criticised after the team's shock defeat to Saudi Arabia
  • Scaloni decided against starting in-form Lisandro Martinez, instead going for Nicolas Otamendi on central defence
  • Saudi Arabia came from behind to secure the upset of the tournament, beating one of the favourites 2-1

Manchester United fans were up in arms on social media, as they blasted Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni for snubbing Lisandro Martinez for 34-year-old Nicolas Otamendi in his side’s starting line-up to face Saudi Arabia.

Ahead of the match, there was a surprise in the Argentina backline as Benfica centre back Otamendi was picked to keep out the Middle East opposition.

The decision was not very alarming at first, as Argentina looked like heavy favourites for the game on paper.

Lionel Scaloni, argentina, world cup, qatar, 2022, saudi arabia, decision, lisandro martinez, coach
Coach Lionel Scaloni of Argentina looks on after the Group C match against Saudi Arabia at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Photo by Pablo Morano.
Source: Getty Images

But Argentina , who were coming from a 36-game unbeaten run, were stunned by the Green Falcons despite taking a first half lead.

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Saleh Al-Shehri’s low effort, coupled with Salem Al Dawsari’s wonder strike, turned the game on its head after Lionel Messi initially gave his nation the lead from the penalty spot.

‘Criminal to bench Lisandro’

Once the result was confirmed, fans instantly took to social media to pinpoint exactly what Scaloni got wrong.

For many fans, leaving out 24-year-old Martinez was a ‘criminal mistake’ that was punished by the underdogs Saudi Arabia.

Here are some of the reactions from fans:

"I hate to say this but Argentina won’t have conceded that first goal with Lisandro Martinez on d pitch, Romero and Otamendi How do you even start Otamendi over Martinez? Are you mad?"
"Hope you can all learn your lessons while Keeping Lisandro Martinez On Bench in this Beautiful form of Him

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"You'll only win if you start the winner [Lisandro Martinez] at the back."
"Argentina paid the price for not starting Lisandro Martinez"

Argentina will now have to look for maximum points against Mexico and Poland, to have a solid chance of advancing to the knockout stages of the competition.

Saudis end Argentina's unbeaten streak

Despite being only ranked 51st in the world, Saudi Arabia caused the upset of the World Cup so far with a 2-1 stunning of Argentina on November 22.

Lionel Messi put La Albiceleste ahead from the penalty spot, only for the Green Falcons to muster a comeback for the ages.

The loss to Saudi Arabia ends Argentina's 36-match streak of victories, and puts into question their bid to claim a third Mundial title this year.

Messi’s World Cup milestone

Elsewhere, Sports Brief also reported on Lionel Messi’s unique milestone with his goal against Saudi Arabia.

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Messi recorded his name in the history books on November 22, becoming the first Argentine to score at 4 different World Cup tournaments.

With the goal against Saudi Arabia, Messi has now scored at the 2006, 2014, 2018 and 2022 World Cups - which is an incredible record.

Source: Sports Brief News