A deficit of talent, history and World Cup success as wide as Sydney Harbour; a GOAT and a Roo; and it all ended in a 2-1 loss and a lump in the throat as big as Uluru.
The Socceroos World Cup is over after suffering a valiant loss to Argentina in the Round of 16.
Here’s how the internet reacted.
In the three days between Australia beating Denmark and their knockout clash with Argentina, there was a mobilization of excitement across the country like we’ve never seen.
Observation sites in major cities were hastily organized and opened, for the great green and golden wave to roll in at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning.
And two in Melbourne, with Federation Square in turmoil and more than 20,000 people spilling into Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
And in the Qatar stadium, the Australian contingent was dwarfed by the Argentinian horde, a sea of blue and white speckled with green and gold.
The Socceroos were now playing with house money – and by all accounts the hosts of this World Cup have plenty – having massively overshot having reached the knockout stages.
In the meantime, this may be Lionel Messi’s last chance to win a World Cup with Argentina; yes, the Socceroos were hanging around the outskirts, but the eyes of the world were still on us.
And, as is often the case in the hard-fought stage of the World Cup, the match started softly, no early fireworks, no flurry of punches or big charge to start.
Argentina took control of the ball and started to push the Australian defensive block, which was firmly entrenched.
There was no dedicated scorer-man for Messi, but the Socceroos’ ill intentions towards the superstar were made clear early on, when Keanu Baccus, making his first start in the tournament, ran into the forward. Paris Saint Germain.
In a 20-minute opener that somehow passed without major angina-inducing incident for Aussie fans, the Socceroos faithful had a chance to soak up the moment and to marvel at the very idea that this team, with this manager, was actually there. , doing so.
But then, as he has done with otherworldly consistency throughout his career, Lionel Messi’d Lionel Messi.
A free-kick from Messi on the right was partially cleared by the Socceroos, but possession was recycled to this footballing alien, and a rat-a-tat exchange of passes suddenly put him in shape to shoot with his left foot , on the right side of the box.
When Messi creates a situation like this for himself, for the other team, it feels like that moment when you lean back in a chair and pass that horrible tipping point; there’s nothing more you can do, no matter how much you thrash and grumble, with only that inevitable pain to follow.
For Messi, scoring goals like this is as natural as breathing.
And so, 1-0 to Argentina at half-time, Australian fans were forced to heed their wildly swinging expectations; just one less goal? Not bad is not it ? But we had hardly conceded a chance, apart from that of Messi? Again, we are happy to be here! Do I smell burnt toast?
And most importantly, we had the Expected Goals stat on our side, which in case you didn’t know, is a totally useless stat if it doesn’t favor your team, but is one of the most insightful metrics available if it doesn’t favor your team. is the case.
The second half began and the whispers of all-around substitute Garang Kuol were heard.
More talk about attacking substitutions, and were Argentina making their own defensive substitute? “They’re scared, they’re closing up shop!” we said, with rounded chests.
And then a bayonet was rammed into those chests by one of ours; Mat Ryan, who has been largely flawless this campaign, made a horrific mistake, a heavy touch on the ball saw him attempt to run into opposing attackers in his own area, before giving it away for a second Argentinian goal.
The attacking subs, including Kuol – who became the youngest player to feature in the World Cup knockout game since Pele – arrived, but hope was gone, wheezing from that injury to the breast that we were treating.
Argentina were now supported by the comfort of the scoring cushion, and Messi duly roamed the entire Socceroos midfield in his bizarre, ghost-like way of past players, pulling his body around them without ever losing absolute control of the ball. , velcro feet, human mercury, and a total nightmare.
In the midst of thoughts, it might blow embarrassingly, something amazing happened.
Aziz Behich scooted down the right flank and crossed, the ball bouncing to replace Craig Goodwin, who spanked a first shot straight into the hand of an Argentina defender, who deflected it straight into the bottom corner.
A thunderbolt, a stroke of luck and a return to the game.
Our very first goal in the Round of 16 of a World Cup – although it’s likely to be attributed on the scoresheet to that wonderful multi-national striker, Mr Ow’n Goal – and we weren’t dead at all, but thrillingly alive in the contest.
Behich, who moments earlier must have sucked Messi’s spirit like a Dementor, overtook the entire opposition defense and almost scored the goal of his life and our whole life.
We were taking him to the double winners, bruised and cut but not yet knocked out, and hearts leapt when the Socceroos sent the great Harry Souttar up front to play as an auxiliary striker in the final minutes.
Seconds passed, we dodged bullets on the other end, but that risk was factored into the reward we needed.
In the final minute of injury time, Kuol had a chance to equalize but couldn’t take it.
And that was it.
A juggernaut had won, a minnow had lost, but the Socceroos hadn’t run away with a soft groan, stripped of their dignity, no, they had fought the impossible and almost won.
And the nation reached out from our corner of the globe and hugged them.
“We gave it our all, as we have every minute of this competition,” Jackson Irvine said after the game, his voice cracking with emotion and tears in his eyes.
“I hope we made everyone proud.”
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