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Argentina Shocked by Sudden Defeat from Saudi Arabia


As one of the favorites for its star's final shot at the championship, Argentina and Lionel Messi entered the competition. It will now struggle to move forward.

It was planned that this time would be unique. This time was not supposed to end for Lionel Messi with those sagging shoulders, that distant gaze, and that hollow grimace, like all the others.

Qatar was not expected to be as bad as what happened to arguably the greatest player of all time while wearing the Barcelona uniform on those nights in Rome, Liverpool, and Lisbon, let alone while playing for the Argentine albiceleste in Rio de Janeiro. In a sense, it wasn't. Even worse.

Argentina's sole goal upon arriving in Qatar was to make sure that Messi's final World Cup would be remembered as the one that bestowed upon his legacy the brilliant, golden glow that only this competition, this supreme victory, can bestow.

Instead, it must now confront the terrifying possibility that it will always be associated with one of its greatest upsets and darkest humiliations in World Cup history.

Argentina's 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia was more than just a loss; it was also an embarrassment, an ignominy, and a stigma that was broadcast live on television and broadcast around the world in front of 88,000 spectators. By the time the game was over, Argentina's players appeared noticeably depleted, their faces drawn, and their eyes haunted as the delirious Saudi substitutes swarmed onto the field.

Of course, no one more so than Messi. In recent years, he has worn that appearance more often than he would like. More people are familiar with it now than one might anticipate from a player of his stature and legend.

The most illustrious career's sunset has been partially revealed in shadow: those agonizing losses to Roma, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich in his final years with Barcelona; the dreaded inevitability of disappointment snatched from the jaws of glory with Paris St.-Germain against Real Madrid earlier this year.

And after each of them, the same dejected silhouette that he cut when the whistle blew at Lusail, the stadium that will host Messi's final World Cup final next month, with hands on hips, head bowed, and eyes downcast as he walks slowly off the field. The nightmare of Argentina came true.