Updated: Nov 27, 2022
In what came as a stunning shock to all in the soccer and sports world on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia defeated Argentina 2-1 in the opener for Group C, a horrific way to start off the 2022 World Cup for Argentina and their superstar Lionel Messi. Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history by defeating an Argentinian men's team with an unblemished record over the last three years, winning 36 games dating as far back as July 2019.
Argentina was the favorite to win the tournament, especially against a Saudi Arabian team ranked 48 spots lower than them and with no player near the caliber of Messi on the opposing team. Argentina took an early lead just 10 minutes into the game, with Messi converting on a penalty kick to give them a 1-0 lead.
The Argentinians would have had several more goals if not for offside calls, including a second one from Messi at the 21:45 mark that could have given Argentina a 2-0 lead. However, the offside calls by Argentina swung the momentum of the game and gave the Arabians a chance to steal it.
That’s exactly what they did; after that initial goal by the soccer icon that is Messi, the Arabians didn’t allow it to rattle them, eventually taking a 2-1 lead early into the second half, with goals from striker Salah Al-Shehri and winger Salem Al-Dawsari, who might have had the goal of the tournament that helped pull off the upset over Argentina.
According to sports data group Gracenote, which is a Nielsen company, Tuesday’s result was the biggest upset in the history of the competition.
“The most surprising World Cup win ever according to Gracenote was USA’s victory over England in 1950 with a 9.5% chance of victory for the US team but Saudi Arabia’s chance of victory today was estimated at 8.7% so takes over at number one,” it said in a statement.
This is a World Cup victory that will go down in history as arguably the greatest upset in the history of the event and an iconic moment for Saudi Arabian sports. On the other end of the spectrum, this is one of the most devastating losses for Argentina, who succumbed to Saudi Arabia in disbelief and exhaustion after the upset in what could be Messi’s last World Cup.
Argentina will look to redeem themselves against Mexico on Saturday while Saudi Arabia will look to carry the momentum of an impressive upset against Poland on Saturday.