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Argentina vs Australia predictions: La Albiceleste to bounce Socceroos out
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Simon Barlow
Lionel Scaloni's Argentina have picked up after their early loss to Saudi Arabia
Lionel Scaloni's Argentina have picked up after their early loss to Saudi Arabia

- Argentina have won their last two games with clean sheets
- Australia have failed to win all three previous World Cup games against South American opposition, failing to score in two
- Recommended bet: Argentina Win to Zero

Australia make their second-ever World Cup round of 16 appearance on Saturday against a resurgent Argentina, who now look to be living up to their tag as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Lionel Scaloni's side recovered from the early setback of losing to Saudi Arabia, by winning their next two games against Mexico and Poland without conceding to top Group C.

They will take on the Socceroos at Doha's Ahmed bin Ali Stadium — the venue where Andrew Redmayne's penalty shootout heroics took Graham Arnold's side past Peru in June's do-or-die play-off.

Arnold says his players will "get in the faces" of the star-studded Argentina team, but has urged them not to obsess about shutting down Lionel Messi.

Team news

Lionel Messi remains on course for his first World Cup triumph
Lionel Messi remains on course for his first World Cup triumph

The quick turnaround between Wednesday's group stage encounter against Poland and this knockout clash is likely to mean a few changes in both line-ups.

Lisandro Martinez is pushing to return in central defence for La Albiceleste and Nicolas Tagliafico could get the nod to replace Marcos Acuna at left-back.

Enzo Fernandez remains relatively fresh and could keep Leandro Paredes out in midfield, while Julian Alvarez's strike in the 2-0 win over Poland may give him the edge over Lautaro Martinez up top.

Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi, who overtook late Argentina legend Diego Maradona as his country's most-capped player in World Cup finals on Wednesday, are untouchable in the starting XI.

Australia boss Arnold is yet to make more than one change at a time for any game at this World Cup, but he has hinted at the need to freshen things up.

He identified defender Milos Degenek — who came in at right-back against Denmark — as the Socceroos' player most capable of playing back-to-back matches.

Arnold also suggested he could hand a start to a player that has yet to be used in Australia's campaign so far.

Marco Tilio will be hoping that his goal as a substitute against an Argentina Under-23 side featuring Alexis Mac Allister at last summer's Olympic Games works in his favour when it comes to the coach's selection.

The stats

The Socceroos are winless in their three previous World Cup finals clashes with South American opponents, drawing one and losing two.

Argentina have faced only three opposition shots across their three games in Qatar — no team has allowed fewer in the tournament so far.

Against Poland, Messi added five more to his tally of 63 chances created at World Cups, putting him second only to his compatriot Maradona (67) in that category.

The seven shots he amassed against Poland is his most without scoring in a match for Argentina since a 1-1 draw with Iceland at the 2018 World Cup (11).

The one and only time that Mat Ryan previously faced Messi on the pitch, the Argentina skipper bagged a hat-trick in Barcelona's 7-0 Copa del Rey semi-final demolition of the Australia goalkeeper's then-club Valencia in 2016.


Back-to-back wins with clean sheets have settled Argentina down again and the shell-shocked expressions on Scaloni and his players' faces after Saudi Arabia's comeback have been forgotten.

La Albiceleste should come through this test against an Australia side that will work hard to keep them in check, but lack enough spark up front to seriously threaten a goal.

The Socceroos' last two tournament strikes have been a little freakish — the first being an incredible header against Tunisia and the second a breakaway goal only possible because Denmark were risking all to get one themselves.

The likelihood here is that Scaloni's rock-solid defence lays the foundations for a victory inside the 90 minutes.

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