Saudi Arabia’s capitol city, Riyadh, hosted a new edition of one of international football’s biggest rivalries, as Argentina met Brazil for a friendly match ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers that will start next year. But the contest ended being far more intense than what one would expect from a friendly.
Just like it has happened in the previous meetings between these two sides, things were tight, and the goals were scarce. The lone goal came in the 13th minute thanks to Lionel Messi. That was enough to give La Albiceleste the win, while extending Brazil’s winless streak to five games.
Two early penalties put Argentina on top
Both sides started the match with a positive approach although Brazil had the best chance to open things up in the ninth minute. Leandro Paredes brought Gabriel Jesus down inside the box, and Matthew Conger called the penalty. The Manchester City stepped in front of the ball, but he sent his effort wide when the keeper was absolutely beaten.
Argentina had the exact same chance a few minutes later, and they wouldn’t waste it … or at least, they would find the back of the net. Alex Sandro fouled Messi inside the box and although Alisson stopped the penalty, the Barcelona star converted the rebound to put Argentina up 1-0.
The rest of the first half didn’t have many clear chances, as both sides didn’t give an inch to the other. The clearer scoring opportunity before the break came in the 37th when Danilo tested Esteban Andrada from long range. The Boca Juniors goalkeeper, however, made an excellent save to deny the full-back from scoring what would have been his first international goal with La Selecao. The first half ended with a 1-0 lead for Lionel Scaloni’s men.
Brazil’s lack of ideas prevented a comeback
Brazil tried to shake things off at the break, and Tite sent Philippe Coutinho to replace a struggling Lucas Paquetá. Brazil began to have slightly more possession, but couldn’t create much in the final meters.
Due to a high number of substitutions and stoppages, the flow of the game was constantly disrupted after the break and while Brazil made several substitutions, these didn’t have an impact on the game. Richarlison and Rodrygo Goes struggled once they came off the bench.
Argentina had the best chances late in the second half, mostly through Messi and Lautaro Martinez. Messi tested Alisson twice from outside the box, but the Liverpool goalkeeper was excellent on both instances. Martinez could’ve scored with a header following a corner kick in the 82nd minute, but his effort went over the bar.
In the end, Argentina held on. Brazil didn’t find a way to turn things around, and Argentina settled for a win that could act as revenge for the semifinal defeat in the 2019 Copa America earlier this year.
Brazil: Alisson; Danilo, Eder Militao, Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro (Renan Lodi, 64’); Arthur (Fabinho, 55’), Casemiro, Lucas Paquetá (Philippe Coutinho, 46’); Gabriel Jesus (Richarlison, 73’), Roberto Firmino, Willian (Rodrygo Goes, 73’)
Argentina: Esteban Andrada; Juan Foyth, German Pezzella, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico; Lucas Ocampos (Nicolas Gonzalez, 74’), Rodrigo De Paul (Nicolas Dominguez, 90’), Leandro Paredes (Guido Rodriguez, 83’), Giovani Lo Celso (Marcos Acuna, 59’); Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez (Lucas Alario, 88’)
Goals: Messi (0-1, 13’)
Referee: Matthew Conger (NZL)
Yellow Cards: Casemiro, Danilo, Eder Militao (BRA); De Paul, Tagliafico, Paredes (ARG)
Red Cards: None
Stadium: King Saud University Stadium (Riyadh)
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