ARG
Argentina
2
FT
0
MEX
Mexico
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Argentina vs. Mexico final score: Lionel Messi second-half goal saves Albiceleste again at FIFA World Cup 2022

Argentina needed a response against Mexico on Saturday in their second World Cup group stage match after losing to Saudi Arabia in their opener. It came late, but they got it. In a game that was 0-0 at the break, second-half goals from Lionel Messi and young star Enzo Fernandez carried Lionel Scaloni's team to a crucial 2-0 victory. 

The win puts Argentina in position to advance to the round of 16 with a win against Poland, though a draw could be enough if the Mexico vs. Saudi Arabia game plays out in their favor.

It was a slow match that lacked attacking creativity, but Argentina got their winner from Messi out of nowhere, drilling home a pass from Angel Di Maria in the 64th minute past Memo Ochoa. Fernandez, who has come alive this season at Benfica, scored a spectacular second with a curling goal three minutes from time. It was his first career goal with the national team in what was his fifth appearance. 

The result leaves Argentina on three points. Poland lead Group C with four, Saudi Arabia have three and Mexico have one. Argentina are in second place in the group thanks to goal differential. 

Here are three takeaways from the match:

The result is good, but Argentina weren't 

If you didn't see this game, yet you are looking at the score, you probably think this was a comprehensive win for Argentina. It was far from it. They had two shots on goal the entire game and five shots overall, and they lacked creativity for pretty much the entire game. 

They certainly relied on their big names and hoped they could pull them out of what would have been a poor draw, and it happened as Di Maria played a fine ball across the top of the box to Messi, where he did this:

But with just five shots overall and a good hour of nothing in attack, there are still reasons to be concerned. While Messi looked lively, others did not step up enough. Lautaro Martinez's performance was forgettable, Rodrigo de Paul and Guido Rodriguez were liabilities, and nobody commanded the attack and truly created. 

That is going to have to change moving forward. After winning the Copa America against Brazil, beating Italy, looking so sharp in World Cup qualifying, this team has been almost the opposite in this tournament. It doesn't all boil down to not having Gio Lo Celso, but Scaloni has some serious work to do in preparation for Poland.

Mexico played too cautiously

If Argentina have concerns, Mexico have bigger ones. Four total shots with their best opportunity coming on a free kick. They played with five at the back and no striker for about an hour. It was too cautious. It's as if Tata Martino just wanted a draw against his birth nation despite a victory clearly being there for the taking. The defense was prepared to weather the storm, but the forecast was off for about 60 minutes. Perhaps they deserved a point from this game, but when your attack generates pretty much nothing, they can't blame anybody else but themselves for their shortcomings. 

Now things shift to a huge match against Saudi Arabia where Mexico could win and still be eliminated. Martino might just be coaching his last game for El Tri if things don't go well. Lots of changes coming to their starting XI.

The changes for second game didn't work Scaloni

Scaloni panicked after the first match and made five changes to his starting XI, and they played worse, really. Argentina looked threatening in the first half against Saudi Arabia, evident by three goals being called off for offside. In this match, the flow of the attack was much too slow, the passing wasn't sharp and nobody had an idea of where to go with the ball.

Luckily for him, Messi stepped up and so did Fernandez, the latter certainly earning a start against Poland. His confidence level will be sky high, but I suspect we will see some of those players who were benched for this game reappear in the starting XI for Poland, especially Leandro Paredes for Rodriguez. 

But the emergence of Fernandez comes at a great time. He's been a stellar prospect who proved his chemistry with Messi on that corner kick leading to his goal. Out of all the midfielders, he has to be the one with the most confidence at the moment thanks to that cameo. A wrinkle is needed in the attacking third, and he may have proven to be that guy.

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About 10 mins to go

Argentina appear comfortable while Mexico are not threatening. It's got a slow pace to it that Argentina will be comfortable with ... as long as they don't make a big mistake. Mexico are trying to find a way back into the game but lack creativity and ideas against Argentina's high pressure. A moment of magic is needed, perhaps on a set piece with their good size.

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Confidence for Argentina now

Now Argentina are playing. There is a confidence now and a swag. They are quickly moving it around, using flair passes, and they are starting to feel it. But still plenty of time for Mexico here. Argentina need to kill this game off. Alvarado comes on for Lozano, and El Tri are going for that equalizer. Watch Argentina on the counter here ... a real chance with a speedy Alvarez now up top. 

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GOAL ARGENTINA! Messi!

Goal! Goal! Goal! It's Argentina 1, Mexico 0! Messi!!!! A rocket shot from the top of the box that finds its way into the bottom right corner!!! It's low, it's driven, and it's a huge moment! Di Maria feeds Messi atop of the box and he fires home into the bottom right corner. That's just a sensational hit that Ocha could do nothing on! 

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Argentina finally make a change

Enzo Fernandez from Benfica, a talented, 21-year-old central midfielder, has come on to try and generate something in attack. Off comes Guido Rodriguez, who has been horrendous with his passing looking way off in the opening 55 minutes. No defensive midfielder in this set up, it would appear. We might see De Paul slip into defensive mid just to try and distribute balls long and wide.

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A waste from Argentina

A really nice free kick opportunity for Argentina from about 25 yards, won by Messi after combining well with Mac Allister. He's brought down atop the box, and Messi takes the free kick. It goes high and dead center of the goal, not even coming close to making Meme Ochoa worry. Messi just seems off. Something isn't right with this picture, playing like he's down a gear. Somebody else is going to have to step up.

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What was that? 

Chucky Lozano gets through on a good pace and approaches the top of the box, and he's got a chance at a shot or the better idea of passing wide and moving towards goal. He goes for the shot, and it's blocked easily. A questionable decision that just wasn't worth trying his luck from there. Argentina recover the ball and look to remain patience in possession. 

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Second half is underway

Shockingly, no changes for Argentina despite clearly needing them. I think you've go to get Messi below the strikers, maybe add Julian Alvarez, and Enzo Fernandez is also worth a look. 45 minutes to potentially salvage their World Cup.

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The game that Mexico wants

Clearly a low-scoring, ugly affair is the kind of game Mexico is aiming for, and it makes sense. Drawing Argentina puts them in great shape to advance. And, to be fair to Mexico, Cesar Montes's 10th minute left-footed attempt in the box off of a set-piece delivery was probably the match's best opportunity. But still, it's absolutely brutal to watch.

That said, if your Argentina you're not a stranger to playing this type of match. You're ARGENTINA. Plenty of teams over the years have tried to kick you out of the match, and given the ease with which they qualified for the tournament this year it's obvious they've successfully overcome this strategy in the past. Frequently.

Like if Argentina are one of the best teams in the tournament, they're supposed to be able to overcome these tactics. They've got slick passing midfielders and possibly the best on-ball player in the history of the game. There isn't anything unfair about what Mexico is doing. It's brutal but a pretty basic strategy. The best way for Argentina to stop getting kicked is to go score a goal. It's slightly mystifying that they seem utterly unable to do so.

November 26, 2022, 8:00 PM
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First half is over!

The first 45 minutes ends with a good play from Argentina as Acuna wins a corner with a quality, low-driven ball across the face of goal. Messi does nothing with the corner kick though as Mexico clear and the ref blows the whistle. Not a good 45 minutes for Argentina, and I suspect we will see changes at half time. Mexico will be fine with this result at the break but know the three points are there for the taking.

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Good chance for Mexico!

A silly foul by Montiel about 25 yards out on Gutierrez results in a free kick for El Tri, and Vega takes it. He hits it well, gets it over the wall with pace, but Martinez snatches it out of the air with a great save. The first knock on the door from Mexico as we now have five added minutes in this opening half. Mexico the better team in this first 45. 

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Changes not doing much

Argentina's five changes don't appear to have worked so far. They are looking less threatening than in the opener against Saudi  Arabia. There have to be short leashes on some of these changes as the attack has created next to nothing. Julian Alvarez is an option off the bench at half time, no doubt about it. But who is going to create?

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Slow start

Welp, I expected a faster start, but it's been ugly so far. Lots of fouls, the passing not precise and both teams are playing somewhat cautiously. Argentina are leaving a ton of space between their two center backs, who are getting wide. That could be a problem if Mexico go on the counter. Guido Rodriguez drops back between the two center backs, but they better not turn the ball over in that spot. Mexico can make them pay.

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A few mins of added time already?

Gonzalo Montiel takes an elbow to the mouth from Vega, and he goes down. The ref calls the foul, stopping what looked like a promising counter for El Tri. Rodrigo De Paul was pleading for a red card. It was foul but nothing more and nothing malicious. Still, a potential chance there for Mexico. An unfortunate play.

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Underway!

Mexico in their traditional green, and Argentina are wearing their traditional white and blue stripes. Mexico applying pressure early as Guido looks to get involved as the man to dictate the pace in the middle with the ball for the Argentines.

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Anthem time

Argentina's up first with their iconic national anthem and dedicated fan base belting it out in Lusail. Mexico next. You can make a case that these are two of the most dedicated, passionate fan bases at the World Cup with anthems that are synonymous with the World Cup. 

This will be their third meeting in the last five World Cups, with Argentina having won the other two, both in the round of 16. Another stellar match to come for sure. Expect early fireworks in this one with Argentina looking to be on the front foot. 

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Storylines

Argentina: The midfield of Rodrigo de Paul, Leandro Paredes and Papu Gomez did not work at all. Expect some changes there. It could be a chance for Guido Rodriguez to start at defensive midfielder, and the team needs more creativity on the ball, so Alexis Mac Allister makes a ton of sense as well. Both Exequiel Palacios and Enzo Fernandez are candidates in the midfield too, should Lionel Scaloni look to switch things up. 

Mexico: Rogelio Funes Mori is expected to start in attack as El Tri look to get their first win of the tournament. Funes Mori also has the potential to make history, becoming the second player to score against his birth nation at a World Cup with his adopted nation. That had never happened up until this tournament when Breel Embolo did it for Switzerland against Cameroon.

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Argentina's official XI

Argentina XI: Martinez; Montiel, Otamendi, Lisandro, Acuna; De Paul, Guido Rodriguez, Alexis Mac Allister; Messi, Lautaro, Di Maria.

Five changes for this team, including three in defense. The big issue was getting on the ball in the second half and creating good chances, and I suspect having Mac Allister will do that. The Brighton man is talented with the ball at his feet and can create with well-placed low passes. I suspect he'll get centrally a good amount to try and feed the speedy attackers.

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Mexico XI

El Tri reportedly set to go with a 5-3-2 with Vega and Chucky Lozano at striker. That would mean a bit of a cautious lineup defensively looking to cover an Argentina team that must attack, attack, attack. There was some buzz about Rogelio Funes Mori playing against his birth nation, but he begins on the bench. 

Ochoa; Gallardo, Moreno, Montres, Araujo, Kevin; Guardado, Herrera, Chavez; Lozano, Vega.

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Scaloni on Messi

"He's feeling well but more than ever we need everyone," Scaloni told the media ahead of the game. "We have no questions over [Messi's] physical level, and emotionally he's feeling well so no problems there."

"Leo is doing well, as are his other teammates. We know tomorrow we have an important match and most young players know that everything will be left on the pitch. Everything depends on us -- that's why we need to give everything on the pitch."

So much pressure on Argentina, but they looked comfortable walking into the dressing room. They appeared calm and united ahead of a massive 90 minutes. A draw would feel like a loss. Argentina need three points.

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Argentina's reported XI

There will be five changes from the Saudi Arabia game according to Ole. Gonzalo Montiel and Marcos Acuna slide into the starting XI at full-back, Lisandro Martinez starts for Cuti Romero at center back, Guido Rodriguez over Leandro Paredes in midfield, and Alexis Mac Allister replaces Papu Gomez.

Argentina XI: Martinez; Montiel, Otamendi, Lisandro, Acuna; De Paul, Guido Rodriguez, Alexis Mac Allister; Messi, Lautaro, Di Maria.

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How to watch and odds

Here is everything you need to know about how to watch the game, where it is being played and more. Argentina are -180 to win according to Caesars Sportsbook, while Mexico are at +490 to win. This game will air on FS1 and Telemundo, and if you have fuboTV, you can watch the game live in 4K. For more on watching the cup in 4K, click here.

  • Date: Saturday, Nov. 26 | Time: 2 p.m. ET
  • Location: Lusail Iconic Stadium -- Lusail, Qatar
  • TV: FS1 and Telemundo | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
  • Odds: Argentina -180; Draw +300; Mexico +490 (via Caesars Sportsbook) 
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Welcome!

Welcome everybody to the CBS Sports live blog of the 2022 World Cup. Saturday's fine slate of games wraps up with Argentina against Mexico. That was always going to be a big game, but even more so now considering all that has taken place. Saudi Arabia beat Argentina on Tuesdsay, and then Poland beat the Saudis earlier today, and that means a win for Mexico would officially eliminate the South Americans. It's do-or-die time for the reigning Copa America champs, and plenty of changes are expected in the starting XI.

I'm Roger Gonzalez, and thanks so much for joining us. We'll have plenty throughout today's epic match with kickoff set for 2 p.m. ET. 

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