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World Cup Round of 16: Lionel Messi and Argentina take on Australia in next step to World Cup glory




CNN

The World Cup hasn’t been easy for Lionel Messi and Argentina so far, but they are heavy favorites ahead of their Round of 16 tie against Australia.

The Socceroos were a surprise in the group stages, advancing to the round of 16 in Qatar with 1-0 wins over Tunisia and Denmark.

Argentina, meanwhile, bounced back from a surprise loss to Saudi Arabia with 2-0 wins over Mexico and Poland.

Despite a penalty saved against Poland, Messi played a crucial role in the Argentine tournament, scoring twice – including a superb strike against Mexico – and providing an assist.

Beat Australia – something Argentina have done in all but two of the teams’ previous encounters – and either the Netherlands or the United States await in the quarter-finals.

But this World Cup has already caused several surprises, as demonstrated by Saudi Arabia in their opening match against Argentina. As a result, manager Lionel Scaloni takes nothing for granted.

“Australia are a good team,” he told reporters on Friday. “It’s football, you have to put theoretical favoritism aside and play.

“You have to adapt, defensively sometimes you change. Australia have their habits in attack and they won’t change them.

“We will leave our last drop of sweat on the pitch in this World Cup, we will compete.”

As for Australia, the challenge of trying to keep a third straight clean sheet at the tournament will be a tall order with Messi on the pitch.

“It’s going to be a tough game, obviously, playing against probably the best footballer ever,” defender Milos Degenek said on Friday. “Other than that, it’s 11 against 11. There are not 11 Messis, there is one. We know their team is full of stars.

A packed schedule meant teams had just two days to prepare for Saturday’s game at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan – something Degenek hinted at in his press conference.

“It’s something that FIFA has to take into account, that we are not robots, that we are human, that we have to recover and that we cannot just play day after day,” he said. declared. “We also need a break.”

FIFA did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment regarding the tournament schedule for Australia and Argentina.

In Saturday’s other match, the Netherlands and the United States face off at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Netherlands vs. United States: 10:00 a.m. EST

Argentina vs Australia: 2 p.m. ET

United States: Fox Sports

UK: BBC or ITV

Australia: SBS

Brazil: SportTV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

South Africa: SABC

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