Five reasons why Australia WILL beat Argentina at the World Cup
The Socceroos' clash with Argentina in the Round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup has all the ingredients for a classic.
Despite widely being written off before they'd even touched down in Qatar, the Aussies have somehow found themselves facing off against the tournament favourites lead by one of the greatest players of all-time.
Naturally, people Down Under are buzzing about it – and it seems there's a sense of optimism in the air.
So yes, here's five reasons why Australia will categorically beat Argentina on Sunday morning.
(Please take these with a pinch of salt, of course.)
Mooy will have Messi in his pocket
Eight Ballon d'Ors, ten La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, a club-record 35 trophies and well over 600 goals for club and country.
Throughout his decorated 19-year career, Barcelona and Argentina legend Messi has played against some of the biggest and best names football has to offer.
But forget all that!
Because there's one bloke running the show in the Australian midfield that could very well prove to be Messi's toughest test yet – his kryptonite, so to say.
Messi is yet to come up against a bald-headed, green and gold-wearing midfielder by the name of Aaron Mooy.
The likes of Harry Souttar and Mathew Leckie have received the majority of the plaudits during Australia's World Cup run so far, but if truth be told Mooy has been instrumental in the middle of the park.
Keeping it simple, the guy's pass completion rate must be up there with the very best in Qatar.
With a brilliant range of passing under his belt, Mooy can turn defence to attack in the blink-of-an-eye and is often the one who sets the tempo for the Socceroos.
And in defence, he's equally as frustrating to play against.
A little Jack Russell Terrier, Mooy and Jackson Irvine work in tandem to completely lock off that midfield, making it hard for teams to break down the Aussies.
So those little pockets of space where Messi usually likes to operate in will likely be filled by Mooy.
If Messi doesn't get a sniff, you'll know why.
If Saudi Arabia can do it, so can the Socceroos
It'll go down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Saudi Arabia shocked the world by miraculously beating Argentina in their opening clash in Qatar.
Messi and Co has been leading since the 10th minute of the match after Messi himself slotted home from the spot.
But incredibly, the Argentinians took their foot off the gas and allowed for the Saudis to make their way back into the game.
Complacency? Almost certainly.
Saleh Alshehri found the equaliser shortly after half-time before Salem Aldawsari bagged the winner just a few minutes later.
Even despite going behind, the Argentine players rarely threatened Saudi Arabia's goal as they held on for a famous victory.
Granted, the Argies have a strong star-studded squad, but it's this sort of lacklustre effort which Australia will be hoping to capitalise on.
If there's one thing the Aussies don't lack, its heart, so expect them to go toe-to-toe in the fight right until the final bell rings.
If it goes to pens, there's only one winner
While the Aussies will be hoping for an emphatic 3-0 win courtesy of a stunning Mitch Duke hat-trick, Graham Arnold's side probably won't mind if it goes to a penalty shootout either.
Given Argentina's ropey history with spot kicks, the Socceroos will undoubtedly fancy their chances.
Even during this World Cup, Argentina have failed from the spot with main man Messi having his effort against Poland saved by Wojciech Szczesny.
That moment to forget means he has now missed four penalties in his international career, taking his combined tally for club and country to 31.
From an Argentinian perspective, if the greatest player of his generation can't bury one from 12 yards out, then how on earth are his teammates going to manage?
On top of that, the Socceroos boast a penalties icon in the form of Andrew Redmayne.
The Sydney FC shot stopper became an overnight national hero when he emerged as the saviour in Australia's qualifying clash with Peru.
Not only did Redmayne, AKA the 'Grey Wiggle', launch the opposing keeper's water bottle contemning shootout notes into the crowd, but he also went on to make crucial saves.
If Messi is standing face-to-face with Redders after 120 minutes of action, I know who I'm putting my money on.
Souttar the saviour
Argentina may boast a front three consisting of Messi, Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria, but they're going to be in for the shock of their lives when they come up against Harry Souttar.
At 6-foot-6-inches tall, the 24-year-old is a man mountain at the back.
Forgetting the fact that he was born and bred in the heart of Scotland for a second, Souttar has emerged as an Aussie fan favourite.
Reliable in the air, he is also so comfortable on the ball, especially given his height.
With the 1-0 win over Denmark, this Australia side became the only Socceroos team to register two clean sheets at a World Cup – and Souttar had a big part to play in that.
"Harry has been out for a year with an ACL, he’s played three games before he came in," Arnold said.
"I just had so much belief in that boy. I know his mentality is so strong.
"I tell you what, if I was a Premier League club, I‘d be banging on his door real quick. He’s that good."
Messi's record in World Cup finals
Yes, we know this isn't the final itself, but Messi's record and overall form on the biggest stage of them all needs to be examined.
In 2006, be didn't even feature in Argentina's quarter-final defeat to Germany.
Four years later in 2010, he teamed up with Diego Maradona, only to get thrashed 4-0 by the Germans in the quarters once again
In 2014, Messi got the closest he's ever been to lifting the trophy.
Making it all the way to the final, the Germans came back to haunt the Argentines once again, Mario Gotze's extra time effort condemning Messi to another demoralising defeat.
And in 2018, the team was beaten 4-3 in the Round of 16 by eventual-winners France.
There's not much that Messi hasn't achieved in football, but that coveted World Cup still clearly alludes him.
It could prove to be the monkey he can't shake from his back.
Or on the flip side, it could be the force that drives him on to success.
As Aussies, let's hope it's not the latter.
Featured Image Credit: Twitter/SBS/Alamy
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