Lionel Scaloni warns Argentina of the danger of underestimating the Socceroos and insists his side are NOT the favorites ahead of the last 16: ‘If you think Australia will be easy, you’re wrong’
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has looked to pile the pressure on Australia, insisting his team will not go into the last 16 as favourites.
Mathew Leckie scored the only goal of the game as the Socceroos beat Denmark 1-0 on Thursday morning (AEDT) to reach the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time in 16 years and only the second time in history.
Their reward is a meeting with Lionel Messi and the reigning South American champions, who are ranked 35 places above Australia in the FIFA world rankings.
Lionel Scaloni has warned his team not to be favorites against Australia
Argentina suffered a shock loss to Saudi Arabia in their opening match and Scaloni dismissed the suggestion that the two-time world champions faced an easy task against Australia.
“They are all difficult, we saw that with Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters shortly after his side beat Poland 2-0 to finish top of Group C on Thursday morning.
“If you think Australia will be easy, you’d be wrong because they’ve shown they can come through against tough teams in this World Cup.”
Graham Arnold’s men were hammered 4-1 by France in their opening match in Qatar, before back-to-back wins against Tunisia and Denmark secured a place in the knockout stages.
Mathew Leckie (left) scored the only goal of the game as Australia beat Denmark 1-0
Graham Arnold took the Socceroos to the last 16 for the first time since 2006
Australia have not conceded a goal in over 180 minutes of football and Scaloni admits Argentina would underestimate the Socceroos at their peril.
“All the games are difficult,” he said.
“Anyone who thinks the game against Australia will be easy is wrong. We are not favourites
“If you think that just because we won today we’re going to be World Cup winners, you’re wrong.”
Argentina topped Group C after beating Poland 2-0 on Thursday morning (AEDT)
The Argentina coach also hit out at FIFA for scheduling the round of 16 clash just three days after his team and Australia played their final group game.
“I think it’s crazy that we’re playing in just over two days despite winning this group,” he said.
“I can’t understand it. We have two days [to recover] and then we have to play it [the Round of 16 game].’
The stance was echoed by Socceroos defender Milos Degenek and assistant coach Rene Meulensteen.
Lionel Messi remains hopeful of winning the World Cup in his final appearance at the tournament
“It is something FIFA has to consider, that we are not robots, that we are human and that we need to recover,” Degenek said.
“And that we can’t just play, day after day. We need a break too.
“I think especially the boys who played three [games] in a row and they have a short turnaround now again.’
Meulensteen added: “The four-day turnovers were already short, you go through the group stage and then you make it even shorter? We hardly have time to let it [the win over Denmark] everything sinks in. […] Actually, it will be about getting theirs [the players’] brain ready, mentally ready for that fight.’