Matthew Leckie scores the golden goal for Australia against DenmarkImage: Keystone
There are 35 places between Argentina (3rd) and Australia (38th) in the FIFA World Rankings. The South Americans are the clear favorites going into the round of 16 duel.
03.12.2022, 10:0303.12.2022, 12:07
There have been some surprises at the World Cup in Qatar. Australia reaching the knockout stage was undoubtedly the biggest. “Soccerous” barely made their way through the qualification (circling through the playoffs) and started the World Cup with a clear 1:4 defeat against France. Afterwards, however, the team celebrated two 1–0 victories, impressed by discipline and team spirit.
This is the second round of 16 qualification after 2006. At the time, Australia were able to challenge eventual world champions Italy despite being outnumbered and were only knocked out after a controversial penalty in the 95th minute. The heroic performance in this tournament was long admired in Australia. “Maybe we are talking about a new golden generation now,” coach Graham Arnold said after reaching the round of 16 again.
However, the continuation of the fairy tale stands in the way of Argentina, one of the favorites for the World Cup title. The team, led by captain Lionel Messi, has made steady improvement after their 2-1 surprise defeat against Saudi Arabia and looks to have taken the tournament by storm. Ahead of the duel with Australia, the South Americans radiate confidence. They only worry about the use of Angel Di Maria, who is struggling with overload of the thigh muscles. However, with their top-class squad, Argentina could easily cope with the absence. (Mother / SDA)
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