The Socceroos Are More Likely To Beat Argentina Than You Think

“If you think Australia will be easy you’re wrong."

The Socceroos Are More Likely To Beat Argentina Than You Think

The Socceroos may be a molehill next to a mountain, but we have a better chance against Argentina in the round of 16 than you might reckon.

After the Socceroos’ incredible win against Denmark, putting us into the World Cup last 16 against Argentina, much of Australia celebrated as if we just won the whole World Cup.

Keeping in that delusionally optimistic spirit, here are all the reasons why the mighty Socceroos have a better chance against a Lionel Messi led Argentina than you might think.

Argentina lost to Saudi Arabia

In case you were asleep under your desk all last week, Argentina have already lost to a minnow. So don’t write us off before we even get started. In fact, why not take heed of this hilarious Saudi supporter whose “Where is Messi” video went well and truly viral.

The Socceroos have already beaten a footballing giant

Denmark (the number 10 ranked team in the world) may not be as good as Argentina (currently the second favourite, behind Brazil, to win the World Cup), but they are a bloody good side. With players hailing almost exclusively from top tier clubs around the world (Eriksen from United, Hojbjerg from Tottenham, Schmeichel formerly from Leicester, Christensen from Barcelona) they still lost to the Socceroos. Though this doesn’t prove lighting will strike twice, it at least proves it can strike.

Messi may be the GOAT, but he’s no Roy Keane

I say this as a massive Messi fan (sorry Ronaldo), but he’s not a stereotypical leader (not a yelling and screaming one, anyway). And though Argentina have finally lifted a little of the burden on themselves in recent years by winning the Copa America, they arguably lack the “we always win” mindset of a “winning is in our DNA” team like, say, Real Madrid. Also, this is their last chance to win a World Cup with the GOAT, so no pressure…

Argentina are missing Dybala

Dybala, one of the most exciting attacking players in the world, is not in form, and not getting much (or so far, any) game time, after a hamstring injury put him out of action in October.

There’s no Aguero or Higuain

Being Argentina, we’d imagine their new hold-up men are still world-class, but still, they aren’t household name legends yet.

Argentina doesn’t have a reputation as ‘solid’

Talented? Yes. Easy on the eye? Yup. Lethal? Absolutely. But compared to teams like France and Germany which, despite the latter’s shock exit, still have reputations for being consistent, Argentina still have a bit of a reputation for being hot and cold.

For instance, even though Argentina appeared to have swung the momentum back in their favour at the last World Cup in their knock out game against France, after both Di Maria and Messi got on the scoresheet (making the score 2-1 to Argentina), France were able to play the consistent card, and come back to win. Whether or not this is a deserved reputation, or whether or not it’s all a bit amateur psychology, this is the reputation Argentina have.

Otamendi is getting on a bit

He’s still a great player, but perhaps not as good as he was four years ago.

Emi Martinez’ sh*thousery could get him in trouble

Argentina’s goalkeeper, Emi Martinez, is a top-notch sh*thouse. Though this has worked in his favour previously (seeing him rile other players up while still playing well himself), there is always the chance that playing mind games and trying to troll other players and fans can backfire on you.

Their coach is sh*tting bricks

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but he isn’t taking Australia lightly. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni recently told reporters: “If you think Australia will be easy you’re wrong.”

“All the games are hard. Anyone who thinks the match against Australia will be easy is wrong. We’re not favourites.”

“If you think that just because we won today, we are going to become World Cup winners, you’re wrong.”

Australia have no pressure on them

A team of unknowns who have delighted their nation already, and have already made history, Australia will be going into Sunday morning’s clash with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

As the Sydney Morning Herald satirically put it this morning: “In anonymity is unity. Contrast these Socceroos with the Golden Generation of 2006, which had lots of stars, lots of egos. The current group is more of a Copper Generation, cheaper but functional.”

We’re team bandwagon all the way.

RELATED: Australians Celebrate Round 16 Qualification As If They Just Won The World Cup

Australia has beaten Argentina before

It may not make a shred of difference now, but did you know that in 1988, Australia beat Barcelona 4-1 in the Bi-Centennial Gold Cup. Also, as Australia proved recently against Denmark (and their $545 million squad), football is about moments, not millions. We just need one more magic one…

Argentina probably won’t be on performance-enhancing substances this time

Argentina and Australia faced off in a a two-legged playoff in 1993. The winner determined who would qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

Nearly 44,000 fans watched the first leg in Sydney – a 1-1 draw. Argentina won the second leg 1-0 in Buenos Aires, however, progressing to the World Cup.

In 2011, however, a storm of controversy emerged, when Maradona admitted “his team had taken banned drugs prior to the playoff with the Socceroos,” (Sporting News).

He also accused former FIFA vice-president and head of Argentina’s football association Julio Grondona of knowing about the drug use. Wild times, and times that are definitely a bygone era in football.

Di Maria has question marks

The biggest worry for Argentina right now is 34-year-old Angel Di Maria. The iconic Real Madrid, Manchester United and PSG star recently had an injury scare. According to Sporting News, “scans reportedly showed no specific muscular issue, with his discomfort chalked up to fatigue, meaning he could be sat for this match.”

Australia’s defence is in form

Australia have waited almost 50 years for a World Cup clean sheet. Now we have just got two in a row.

Centre backs Kye Rowles and Harry Souttar have been in fine form of late. Souttar especially is a threat at both ends with his almost two-metre tall frame.

While we are always a bit vulnerable on the wings, we have dominated our own penalty area recently and performed some beautiful last-ditch wonders. So it won’t be a walk in the park (we hope) for Messi to go all Barcelona style on us (also, he doesn’t have Jordi Alba, Suarez or Neymar to tee him up here).

Australia’s belief in themselves is also at a record high, with Aussie soccer great Robbie Slater saying on Fox Sports Lab: “It seemed impossible at the start of the tournament but the belief that’s grown in this group has been amazing.”

Argentina have had a couple of hours less rest than Australia (since their last game)

We may be clutching at straws here, but let’s be real. It’s Australia vs. Argentina. Straws are all we got.

Argentina’s coach isn’t happy about it though, saying: “I think it’s crazy that we’re playing in just over two days despite being winners of this group.”

“I can’t understand it. We have two days [to recover] and then we have to play it [the Round of 16 game].”

Messi is (arguably) at his best when he’s angry

Perhaps the Socceroos are just too nice to get the best out of Messi? And maybe that’s a good thing? The other point to note is that, while Messi is still the GOAT, he’s a bit more of a playmaker now. It’s been a while since he’s gone on a Maradona-style run from the halfway line and scored.

Australia isn’t as bereft of talent as you might think

As harshly as we often write ourselves off, we have a bit of flair (even if that flair spends a fair bit of time on the bench). Not only do we have our penalty-saving savant Andrew Redmayne, but we’ve also got Verona playmaker Ajdin Hrustic. Hrustic, who is 26, “is without rival…Australia’s most creative midfielder,” FIFA says.

FIFA calls him “elegant and confident” and says “his ability to both score and create established the Verona playmaker as the breakout star of the Socceroos’ Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign.”

Per FIFA: “Team-mates have been quick to acknowledge as much, with winger Matt Leckie lauding Hrustic’s ability to ‘at any time of the game, pick a pass or do something special’. World Cup defences should also be wary of his capacity for the spectacular in set-piece situations, which was demonstrated more than once during the World Cup preliminaries.”

We’ve also got winger Awer Mabil, who plays in La Liga. Mabil is another FIFA “player to watch” even if he tends to come on as a substitute.

There you have it: tune in on Sunday at 6am AEST to watch the match.

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