Saudi Arabia dealt a massive blow to the defending Copa America champions on Tuesday with a thrilling 2-1 victory over Argentina that captain Lionel Messi says left the team feeling “dead.”
The shocking victory over one of the World Cup favorites came early in the second half when Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari scored two goals within a five-minute span. Despite a goal by Messi in the 10th minute, Argentina was never able to regain momentum.
“The truth? Dead,” Messi said after the match when asked how the team felt. “It’s a very hard blow because we did not expect to start in this way.”
“Things happen for a reason. We have to prepare for what is coming, we have to win, and it depends on us,” he added, via ESPN.
“There are no excuses. We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong, and we have shown it. It is a situation that we haven’t gone through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.”
Tuesday’s match is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, and for Messi, he is likely hoping to avoid heartbreak in what will be his last World Cup.
“Surely this is my last World Cup,” he told reporters during a press conference Monday. “My last opportunity to win it.”
Argentina will return to Lusail Stadium on Saturday for their second group stage match, this time against Mexico, ranked No. 19 in the FIFA rankings.
“This group always stood out for its evenness, its strength, and it is time to be more united than ever,” Messi said Tuesday. “We have to go back to our training base and try to win the next game.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.