Lionel Messi has revealed the threat that the Socceroos posed to Argentina at the World Cup, admitting his side were 'concerned' about the Aussie side heading into their round of 16 clash. Argentina ended the Socceroos campaign in Qatar on Saturday, breaking Aussie hearts in a 2-1 victory.
However it was a remarkable performance by an Aussie side widely written off by critics, with the Socceroos going within inches of equalising late in the game. Only some last-ditch heroics by the Argentina defence stopped the Socceroos from making it 2-2 and sending the game to extra time.
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“I’m very happy for taking another step forward, achieving another objective,” Messi said after the game. “It was a very strong and difficult match, we knew it was going to be this way.
"We had played very recently, we didn’t have much time to rest up. We were concerned as we knew it was going to be a very physical match and they were very strong.”
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said of the Socceroos: “They pressed us very intensively, they were fresher than us. We’re talking about a team that press very smartly and if you managed to come out from that pressure, you can manage to create a few chances. That’s what we did in the second half. We played calmly.
“It was a very tough opponent to be honest. Tonight’s match was very useful for everyone to understand how difficult it is, this competition.”
Meanwhile, a number of Socceroos have been trolled by fans online after asking Messi for selfies after the game. Craig Goodwin, Keanu Baccus, Joel King and Marco Tilio were among the players who posed for some happy snaps with the football superstar in the dressing rooms.
The players also posted the photos to social media. “To be a part of something so special and to have learnt so much. To then meeting my idol growing up and the best player in the world. I’m so grateful and feel blessed,” Tilio wrote.
However some fans took exception to the Aussie players' actions, saying it showed the complete divide in class between the two sides. “They should be suspended from the national team,” one person wrote. Another commented: “I think a lot of people would be upset still at leaving the World Cup to worry about a selfie with Messi."
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However others said they could completely understand the Socceroos wanting a photo with one of the greatest players of all time. Australia coach Graham Arnold made special mention of Messi in his post-game press conference.
“He’s one of the greatest ever,” Arnold said. “We really worked hard not to be in awe of him, because of the great player he is. But wow, he’s remarkable.
“I had the privilege of playing against Diego Maradona, and now coaching against Messi. They’re both wonderful players and Argentina should be so proud and happy to have players of that calibre.”
Baccas said: “It’s a great feeling, knowing you can play against the best in the world and do well. He was always in that pocket where I was and pretty close. I pinched it a few times which was good but he’s obviously a great player and he got one in the end but that’s a credit to his great quality.”
Jackson Irvine said it was 'surreal' to share the pitch with Messi. “You don’t get wrapped up in it though,” he said. “It’s not been part of my mentality as a player to be overawed, but you can’t help but glance over every now and then.
“For someone like myself who’s never played at the highest level domestically, it’s probably the only chance I’ll ever get to share the pitch with a player you’d have to say is arguably the greatest to ever do it. These are the moments you get to reflect on post-tournament.”
The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.
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