Lionel Scaloni warns against underestimating ‘very good’ Mexico

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni warned his side against underestimating Mexico ahead of their Group C clash on Saturday, labeling the Concacaf side a ‘very good team, with a clear line of play’.

The Albiceleste are desperate for a victory, after falling 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their inaugural 2022 World Cup match. Argentina now sit in last place of the Group C standings, and risk being eliminated from Round of 16 contention without a positive result against El Tri. 

But the head coach insists Mexico will not make the path to three points easy. 

“We are thinking about the match against Mexico, which will be totally different and the team’s way of playing will be similar. We are not going to change our way of playing because of what happened on Tuesday. You have to turn the page. We have to play in the same way,” assured Scaloni. 

“Mexico is a very good team, with a very clear line of play. Offensive team, with a great coach, but we have a way of playing and we don’t have to negotiate it beyond the fact that we can receive a blow like the one the other day.”

Mexico enters the game with one point, after managing a 0-0 draw against Poland that saw Guillermo Ochoa stop Rober Lewandowski’s penalty to keep the team’s Round of 16 hopes alive. But the scoreline can be deceiving, as El Tri managed 11 overall shots, and four on goal. 

Scaloni admitted he doesn’t believe Mexico will change their style of playing against Argentina, allowing the team to prepare accordingly. 

“I don’t think it will change [Mexico’s way of playing]. I’m not in the head of ‘Tata’ [Gerardo Martino], but I don’t think it will change beyond the results. You have to add points and it will take at least four or six to pass.” Scaloni mentioned, before delving into the importance of the game. 

“What do we have at stake? A football match with all the responsibility that there is a country behind us hoping that we do well, but with the absolute peace of mind that whoever goes out on the field will give up every last drop of sweat. This team will leave everything until the last minute that we are on the pitch to turn this situation around.

“Emotionally, beyond the shock of the first day, the reaction is immediate. When you receive a hit, what you have to do is get up and this group is trained for that. There’s no doubt. We evaluate looking for alternatives to our game but not in our own way. It is possible that we make some variations.

“There are times when you win and you lose. Unfortunately it happened in the World Cup, but fortunately it was in the first game. What counts is facing the game as if it were the last. You can lose, the issue is how you get up.”

Argentina last failed to qualify for the Round of 16 in 2002, losing to England and drawing against Sweden to conclude in third. Now, the pressure is on for the tournament favorites to go beyond.