Slowly and quietly, the Argentine players returned to their training camp in Doha, far from Lusail, far from a place they would never want to see again, but where, more than anything, they hope to return.
Nobody on that flight wanted to talk. The only voice was that of Lionel Messi, urging his broken teammates to stay united, reminding them that even then. defeat by Saudi ArabiaAnd their fate is still in their hands. When they arrived at the hotel, Lionel Scaloni and his coaching staff told the players that the post-match meal was optional for once. If they don’t feel like talking, they can stay in their rooms, think, and grieve.
Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia might, over time, be seen as the worst in the country’s history, surpassing even Cameroon’s embarrassment in 1990. It’s little consolation, but it should not be seen as the World Cup’s biggest shock. History: Not in the order of the USA beating England in 1950 and North Korea beating Italy in 1966.
However, it is a stark warning to the three European heavyweight members entering the contest today that nothing can be taken for granted. None of Spain, Germany and Belgium entered this tournament with expectations as high as Argentina, admittedly.
Spain, with only the seemingly immortal Sergio Busquets remaining from the team that won the World Cup in 2010, is young and energetic, but inexperienced. Belgium’s age is seen as its weakness, in the sense that its moment has come and gone. Germany has a team in transition.
Their opponents, too, will be encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s achievements. Costa Rica reached the quarter-finals eight years ago; Why do you fear Spain? Canada haven’t been here since 1986 but they have two really exciting stars to shake the Belgian defence. Japan has a team with a lot of experience in Europe. All of them, in fact, have advantages that Saudi Arabia does not have. If the Saudis can shockWhat’s stopping anyone else?