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Saturday at the World Cup: Will Argentina avoid elimination?

The second round of World Cup group games continues today; in the final game of the day, Argentina take on Mexico (7pm) in Group C; Australia beat Tunisia and Poland saw off Saudi Arabia on Saturday

Today at the World Cup

Argentina are tasked with atoning for their shock Saudi Arabia loss, while defeat against Mexico would see them crash out of the 2022 World Cup.

The two Latin American teams will face each other in the final game of day seven. After Poland's win against Saudi Arabia earlier on Saturday, if Argentina lose to Mexico, they will be knocked out of the tournament.

World Cup fixtures - November 26

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Sky Sports' Peter Smith and Nick Wright analyse some of their favourite stars to keep an eye out for during the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. Their one to watch for day seven is PSG and Argentina maestro Lionel Messi
  • Argentina vs Mexico - Group C, kick-off 7pm

Argentina hope to pay tribute to Maradona with a vital victory

Diego Maradona pictured with the World Cup trophy in 1986
Image: Diego Maradona pictured with the World Cup trophy in 1986

Argentina will hunt for a crucial win against Mexico with extra motivation as they look to pay tribute to their footballing legend Diego Maradona on the second anniversary of his death.

Former team-mates of Maradona gathered at the World Cup in Qatar on Friday to pay tribute to the icon, reminiscing about brighter days as Argentina recover from their stinging upset by Saudi Arabia.

Considered one of the greatest football players in history, Maradona died aged 60 on November 25, 2020, after battling drug and alcohol abuse for years.

Despite his passing, Maradona remains very much present in the minds of Argentina fans and players. Many continue to wear his jersey, sing about his "Hand of God" goal against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup and furiously debate whether comparisons to Lionel Messi are even appropriate.

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Messi, possibly in his final World Cup at 35, converted a penalty kick in the Saudi Arabia defeat. The Argentina captain described it as a huge blow and pledged that they would regroup for their Group C match against Mexico.

Messi had told FIFA ahead of the Qatar tournament that it was "strange, different" not to see Maradona in the tribunes or the "people going crazy when he appears." He said he felt Maradona would always "be present somewhere."

Maradona played in four World Cups from 1982 to 1994 and was the coach of the national team in 2010. Some of his best - and worst - moments came at the World Cup, from the "Hand of God" goal against England in 1986 to his failed doping test that got him expelled from the tournament in 1994.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said the date of Maradona's death was "a very sad day for everyone."

"Tomorrow we will hope to bring some joy to Maradona if he is looking down at us from the sky. That's the most important thing for us. Every time we see images of him, it's unbelievable he is not here with us."

It's already a strange World Cup for Argentina even without Maradona.

Team news

Argentina boss Scaloni has confirmed Messi will be fit for the Mexico clash.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward allegedly opted to train away from the rest of the first-team squad on Thursday at their training base at the Qatar University campus in Doha.

However, Scaloni has confirmed that Messi is well both "physically and morally" for the must-win match.

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Argentina vs Mexico

  • Argentina are unbeaten in their last 10 meetings with Mexico in all competitions (W7 D3) since a 1-0 loss in the 2004 Copa América.
  • Argentina have lost four of their last six World Cup matches (W1 D1), as many as they had in their previous 25 in the competition (W16 D5). They've lost their last two games at the tournament, only losing three in a row once before (between 1930 and 1958).
  • After drawing their opener at the 2022 World Cup 0-0 against Poland, Mexico could fail to win both of their opening two matches of an edition of the tournament for the first time since 1978, when they lost all three of their group games.
  • Lionel Messi has scored in each of his last five appearances for Argentina in all competitions - only once has he scored in six in a row, doing so between November 2011 and September 2012. His next goal will be his eighth at the World Cup (level with Diego Maradona and Guillermo Stabile), behind only Gabriel Batistuta (10) for Argentina in the competition.
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