Mexico vs Messi, Argentina, USA vs England

As part of the World Cup on Friday, the teams started their second games of the group stage. LLoads to unpack from the England-USA and Qatar draw become the fastest host country eliminated from the tournament.

A surprise side looking to avoid the same fate is Argentina, who face Mexico on Saturday in a situation basically a must for Lionel Messi and his side.

Be sure to check back on ESPN during the tournament as we bring you the latest from Qatar. Here’s what you might have missed from Friday’s World Cup events.

– World Cup news, features, previews and more
– Stream FC Daily and Futbol Americas on ESPN+

After a draw with England, the USA turn to Iran

There was so much banter and hype surrounding Friday’s World Cup match between the United States and England that it could have been mistaken for the final itself. Ultimately, there were few big moments from the goalless draw, but there was still plenty to see.

The Americans played credibly as their defense was solid and enough to crush England’s midfield. Star striker Christian Pulisic had a rocket roaring off the woodwork and goalkeeper Matt Turner made a couple of key saves. The youngest team in the tournament held their own against a roster that at times had the likes of greats Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Harry Maguire hot on their heels.

On the plus side for US coach Gregg Berhalter, the game circled in red on the calendar is over and they are doing better. Now all eyes are on the upcoming match against Iran. There is a history between these two countries (both sportingly and politically, of course) but USA know they are in charge of their own destiny and a win next Tuesday will see them through to the next round. Put simply, the US is where it wants to be.

By the way, England haven’t beaten the USA at the World Cup yet. The great “football vs. football” debate continues.



Mark Ogden says Phil Foden will have to start against Wales after having zero playing time against the USMNT.

Mexico aim for ‘Memo’ win over Argentina, Messi?

We all know the old adage that you shouldn’t let a game beat you twice. It’s what Lionel Messi and Argentina – losers to an unheralded Saudi side earlier this week – are hoping to avoid in Saturday’s crucial game against Mexico.

Argentina is in a difficult situation. Lose and the team is eliminated. No World Cup redemption story for Messi and one of the tournament favorites will pack early. But old-school Argentinian fans have seen this before. At the 1990 World Cup in Italy, it was Diego Maradona’s side that lost the opener of the group stage to Cameroon before correcting ship and progressing to the final.

Mexico is also in a precarious situation. El Tri played a goalless draw against Poland and is still trying to find a reliable way to score some goals. With the point against Poland, Saturday’s game isn’t everything for Mexico, but they will find themselves on very thin ice if Argentina have anything to prove.

Something speaks for Mexico. First of all the El Tri Fans have arrived in Qatar in force. Expect a final-style gritty atmosphere at Lusail Stadium that could transform the tournament’s largest stadium into a representative Estadio Azteca. Second, Mexico can count on goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, who will try to make more incredible saves against Argentina’s playmaker.

Today’s top readings

Would you sleep in a shipping container to watch football? In Qatar, that doesn’t bother the fans.
The scenes of unfinished fan camps in Qatar and shipping containers for bedrooms looked shocking, but so far the people staying there are having fun.

World Cup Goal Music: Each team’s song choices, with Gala’s #1 ‘Freed From Desire’
England fans aren’t the only ones who will be dancing to the ’90s classic ‘Freed From Desire’ if their national team scores at the World Cup.

Adrien Rabiot speaks to ESPN about France’s role, World Cup focus and his club future
The Juventus man is a man of form and anchor Les Bleus‘ Midfield in Qatar. What’s next for him?

Your Best Bets (Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)

If you’re looking to bet on the World Cup, ESPN contributors Paul Carr, Dan Thomas and Dalen Cuff are here to give you essential tips on odds, options and futures.

Here’s what we have for Saturday’s games.

Tunisia vs. Australia (Tunisia +115, draw +210, Australia +265)

Paul Carr: I dislike Tunisia in this game just because they looked better than Australia in the opening game, even considering the difference in opposition. Both teams lost in the second half as Australia had no shot in the second half and Tunisia had no shot after the 53rd minute. But with France in the final, it’s a practical must-win for Tunisia.

Poland vs. Saudi Arabia (Poland -130, tie +255, Saudi Arabia +375)

Automobile: I like a tie here at +255. Under 2.5 goals is -135 so the game is likely to be low in goals and a 0-0 or 1-1 seems very likely. The Saudis did well to limit Argentina’s scoring chances, keeping them to 1.5 apt on 14 shots (excluding penalties), and half of that xG went to Nicolas Tagliafico’s close-range deflection. Poland were terrible in attack against Mexico, with five shots without a penalty worth 0.15 expected goals, meaning their average shot was 50 percent worse than a typical shot. Given Poland’s problems in major tournaments, I don’t trust them until proven otherwise, so I play the draw. It’s also good to play it at under 2.5 if possible.

France vs. Denmark (France -125, draw +240, Denmark +375)

Automobile: France looked like a good France against Australia, at least after the first 20 minutes, and Denmark had many chances against Tunisia despite the goalless draw. Denmark have already beaten France twice this year in the Nations League and each side has had at least 1.6 expected goals in each game. Denmark want at least a draw to best position themselves for the group finals against Australia and a draw isn’t the worst thing for France with Tunisia waiting in the next game so I expect both teams will be pushing for at least a goal . I take equal money for both teams to score (+100).

Argentina vs. Mexico (Argentina -170, tie +280, Mexico +490)

Automobile: Despite the result, Argentina weren’t bad against Saudi Arabia. Everything went right for the Saudis and nothing went right for Argentina. This feels like a real game for Argentina against a Mexican side that still haven’t solved their striker problem. Henry Martin started as a center forward but had six touches in the offensive third, earning him seventh place on the team. Raul Jimenez doesn’t look ready for a longer run just yet either. But I still think Mexico will either score or give a bucketful to Argentina who may need to increase the goal difference. Give me plus money over 2.5 goals (+105).

Messages and Notes

  • Brazil’s Neymar limped off the pitch after yesterday’s 2-0 win over Serbia. On Friday, the Brazilian Football Federation confirmed that both Neymar and right-back Danilo will miss Monday’s next game against Switzerland with ankle injuries. Sources have also told ESPN that both could miss Friday’s final group game against Cameroon. Neymar has scored 75 goals in 122 games for Brazil and is now just two goals away from breaking Pele’s goal record for the men’s national team.

  • According to coach Lionel Scaloni, Lionel Messi is ready to face Mexico in Group C’s most important World Cup match on Saturday. “He’s feeling good but more than ever we need everyone,” said Scaloni. “We have no questions [Messi’s] physically and emotionally he’s fine so no problems.” Argentina lost in a surprise 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and need a win against Mexico to keep their World Cup hopes alive. Scaloni told Messi, 35 years old, trained with the rest of the team on Thursday and is ready for Saturday’s challenge.

  • On the second anniversary of Diego Maradona’s death, former team-mates gathered at the World Cup in Qatar on Friday to pay tribute to the legendary player and commemorate better days as Argentina recovered from their defeat by Saudi Arabia. Considered one of the greatest players in history, Maradona died on November 25, 2020 at the age of 60 after years of battling drug and alcohol abuse.

Games on tap for Saturday

– Group D: Tunisia vs. Australia (Al Janoub Stadium; 5:00 p.m. ET)
The Socceroos lost 4-1 to France in their opening game of the World Cup, while Tunisia played a goalless draw against Denmark in the first game. This will be a close match as the two teams chasing their first tournament victories will be hard to separate.

– Group C: Poland vs. Saudi Arabia (Education City Stadion; 8 p.m. ET)
Saudi Arabia shocked the whole world by beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina. The next question is if this team is real and if they can beat Robert Lewandowski and Poland who struggled in attack against Mexico and saved a penalty.

Group D: France vs Denmark (Stadion 974; 11:00am ET)
France dominated Australia 4-1 on Tuesday and will try to do the same against Christian Eriksen & Co. Kylian Mbappe scored against the Socceroos and will be eyeing the Golden Boot. Meanwhile, Denmark are hoping to recover from their poor draw against Tunisia. The Danes just didn’t do enough against the Tunisians and face a big challenge against the French.

– Group C: Argentina vs. Mexico (Lusail Stadium; 2 p.m. ET)
This is a mandatory game for Messi’s Argentina. If they lose, they’re out of the competition. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa showed heroism against Poland after saving Lewandowski’s penalty to take a point. If Mexico wins they will be in a good position to reach the last 16 before taking on Saudi Arabia.

What else we noticed

Brazilian striker Richarlison scored twice against Serbia on Thursday and his scissor kicks gave us the early contender for the goal of the tournament. With a little help from a hard-working group of legomes, take another look.



Richarlison’s opener and acrobatic goal for Brazil against Serbia at the World Cup recreated in Lego.

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