Argentina's brutal assessment of Socceroos ahead of World Cup clash

Lionel Messi, pictured here before Argentina's clash with tthe Socceroos in the last 16 at the World Cup.
Lionel Messi's Argentina will take on the Socceroos in the last 16 at the World Cup. Image: Getty

The Socceroos are scarce on talent, rely more on brawn than brain and gamble on pinching games off the back of one or two key plays before forming a near impenetrable defensive wall. That's what Argentinian fans are being told as the Lionel Messi-led La Albiceleste prepare to end Australia's World Cup fairy-tale in Qatar on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Respected football columnist Alejandro Casar Gonzalez from the mass circulation La Nacion newspaper described Australia as a team lacking genuine stars but possessing plenty of heart and a basic game plan. He wrote: "Australia, Argentina's next opponent, cares neither about the ball nor the context.

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"It has a game plan engraved in its memory and respects it to the letter: it is a team that bets on one or two plays per game - a counterattack, a free kick or a corner.

"And their central defenders are responsible for taking out everything that the rival throws through the air. The Socceroos have much more muscle than neurons."

Gonzalez pointed out the majority of the Australian team don’t play in major overseas leagues, naming Matt Leckie, who scored the goal against Denmark to set-up a last 16 meeting with Argentina, and goalkeeper Mat Ryan as its highest profile players.

"Talent? Scarce. Four of (the) starting eleven against Denmark play in (lower league) teams," Gonzalez continued.

"They are not even part of the elites in the countries where they make a living as professional footballers. However, they run, they put in, they (work for their playing) partners and they are a supportive team."

Graham Arnold, pictured here speaking to Socceroos players during their win over Denmark at the FIFA World Cup.
Graham Arnold speaks to Socceroos players during their win over Denmark at the FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Argentina on high alert ahead of Socceroos clash

Argentina topped Group C after beating Poland 2-0 just hours after the Socceroos booked their spot in the last 16. The two-time champions are expected to over-run the Socceroos and continue Messi's quest for a winners' medal in what looms as his World Cup farewell.

But Gonzalez warned: "Australia makes up for the lack of individual (stars) with team spirit. They don't give up.

"Proof of this is that they had the longest road to Qatar 2022: they had finished third in their group within the Asian qualifiers, behind Saudi Arabia and Japan.

"They had to win the repechage of their confederation and, later two (World Cup) matches with the noose around their necks. 'Sacrifice' and 'effort' are two words that define Australian footballers."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.

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