Argentina on December 3 will meet with the main sensation of the group stage of the World Cup in the face of Australia – will bet on the favorite justify itself?
Argentina was considered to be the main contender for first place, along with Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia. In the first round, Lionel Scaloni’s team defeated Saudi Arabia in the opening half, but failed to capitalize on many chances. But the Albiceleste failed in the second half, conceding twice to their embattled opponents.
A 1-2 defeat left Argentina no margin for error in the second round. The hardest match against relentless Mexico was pulled off by Lionel Messi, who scored a goal in a situation when the opponent did not allow even close to his goal. The 2-0 win did not guarantee the Argentines a playoff berth, they needed to beat Poland, which was done – two goals in the second half ensured Argentina first place in the group.
Australia was not considered a playoff contender. Graham Arnold’s team competed against France, Denmark and Tunisia, with the Europeans considered the favorites. The Australians confirmed their outsider status in the first round, where they lost 1-4 to France. The defeat did not break Australia, and in the game with Tunisia they got three points thanks to a single accurate shot by Mitchell Duke.
But that didn’t hurt their chances of qualifying for the playoffs as they faced Denmark in the last leg. Despite the Danish dominance, Australia held their own and used a quality attacking performance, Matthew Leckie’s goal was the only goal of the game to qualify for the playoffs.
Argentina turned the group stage into a drama, failing in the first round. However, they had enough strength and experience to reverse a very difficult situation – in the game against Mexico, the Albiceleste suffered more than played soccer, while the Poles were beaten cleanly. Argentina have been edging ahead in the tournament, and Australia’s chances are minimal in spite of their achievements; the South Americans are leading by every indicator.
We think the favorite will win easily.