Lionel Messi, Argentina vs. Australia: Top World Cup Storylines, Odds and Live Stream
Argentina is one of the biggest favorites you will ever see in the FIFA World Cup knockout round.
The Albiceleste are expected to roll past Australia in their round-of-16 clash in Qatar on Saturday.
Argentina started the 2022 World Cup with a shocking loss against Saudi Arabia, but since then, the Copa América champions have regained their focus.
Lionel Messi and Co. produced consecutive 2-0 victories to get out of Group C in first place. Another well-rounded performance is expected to help them cruise into the quarterfinals.
Australia enters Saturday as the ultimate World Cup underdog. The Socceroos were happy with getting through as the second-place team in Group D and now they face the monumental task of slowing down Argentina.
Australia got into the round of 16 through a pair of 1-0 wins over Tunisia and Denmark, but its 4-1 loss to France lingers over them as the round of 16 inches closer.
The Aussies might hang with the Argentinians for a half, but no one is expecting them to be leading at any point of the contest.
Odds and Match Info
90-Minute Money Line
Argentina (-500; bet $500 to win $100)
Draw (+600)Australia (+1300)
To Advance to Next Round
Date: Saturday, December 3
Start Time: 2 p.m. ET
Live Stream: FoxSports.com and Fox Sports app
Argentina Enters in Superb Form
Argentina recovered as well as it could from the opening defeat to Saudi Arabia.
The Albiceleste controlled their next two Group C games against Mexico and Poland. They outscored those two teams by a combined 4-0 scoreline and ended up in first place with six points.
Argentina's attack looked fantastic in the 2-0 win over Poland, as it forced Wojciech Szczesny into eight first-half saves. The same level of pressure is expected on Matt Ryan in the Australia net on Saturday.
Messi, Angel Di Maria and Co. have found a level of comfort in each other in Qatar and it resulted in 25 shots and 13 attempts on goal against Poland.
Argentina is expected to apply a similar amount of shots over 90 minutes against the Aussies, and that may result in the team's earliest open-play goal of the tournament.
The Albiceleste have not scored a first-half goal from open play. Messi converted a penalty in the Group C opener against Saudi Arabia.
An early strike would be beneficial to the Argentinian cause so that Australia does not gain confidence and work its way into the game.
Argentina wants to make Saturday's game as easy as possible so it can focus on the larger goal of winning the World Cup.
The Netherlands-USA winner will meet Argentina. If they progress past Australia and then their opponents in the quarterfinals, Brazil could be waiting in the semifinals, if the Seleçao lock up Group G on Friday.
Aussies Looking for Historic Upset
Getting out of the group stage is usually the goal for the Socceroos at the World Cup.
They aced that expectation by winning two games after suffering a 4-1 loss to France.
Australia has never advanced past the round of 16 at the men's World Cup. It last advanced to the round of 16 in 2006.
The wins over Tunisia and Denmark should provide Australia with ample confidence to take on Argentina, but Saturday's game will be a monumental task.
Australia can draw on its group opener against France as to how not to deal with a world soccer superpower.
The Aussies scored an early goal and that woke up Kylian Mbappé and Co., who proceeded to answer with four goals.
Argentina could produce a similar attacking output as France against the Australian defense because of the movement and chemistry between its top attacking players.
The Australian players will defend for their lives against the South American power, but this will not be like defending Denmark's out-of-form forwards or Tunisia. This is Lionel Messi, Julián Álvarez and other top playmakers Aregantina have at their disposal.
If Australia were somehow to get to halftime tied, it would be viewed as a massive accomplishment, and even pushing Argentina to extra time would be a major shock. The best thing Australia can do is put in a respectable performance and hope it has a small chance to shock Argentina at some point on the counter attack.
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