Explainer: How did Saudi Arabia beat Argentina?

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The eyes of the world are fixed on the Saudi football team after their shock victory over Argentina in their first appearance at the 2022 FIFA World Cup on Tuesday.

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But jubilation from Saudi fans, who turned out in unprecedented numbers in neighboring Qatar to support the Green Falcons, has come with questions.

How did the Saudi team, ranked 53rd in the world, beat Argentina, ranked 4th and spearheaded by Lionel Messi, one of the game’s all-time greats?

While goal scorers Saleh al-Shehri and Salem al-Dawsari were undoubtedly the stars of the match, as well as the impregnable goalkeeper Mohammed al-Owais, who stopped five shots on goal, it was the Saudi defense that ultimately frustrated the Argentinians.

Focus has turned to the Falcons’ head coach, Herve Renard, who is said to have masterminded the Saudis’ high defensive line that caught Argentina in a series of offside traps, leading to three disallowed goals within 13 minutes.

The South American side ran out of steam and never recovered, arguably dejected by the offside goals captured with incredible precision by a new ‘semi-automated offside’ technology system making its first World Cup appearance this year.

The system uses 12 cameras around the stadium to track 29 points on each player’s body, and a sensor inside the ball to ensure a high level of accuracy, according to FIFA.

Messi netted the ball at 21 minutes, but was found to be have leaned across the defensive line as the ball was passed, and the goal was disallowed.

Lautaro Martinez scored twice, at 26 minutes and 34 minutes, and was found to be offside both times.

So effective was the trap that Argentina ended up being caught offside a further seven times throughout the whole match.

The Saudis effectively used Argentina’s main strength against them. The South American side is known for its aggressive offensive play, with players adept at piercing through the back line with quick passes.

By pushing up the pitch, Saudi Arabia was taking a risk, leaving themselves somewhat vulnerable. But the smart tactic ended up paying off, making the most of the new technology that worked against Argentina with punishing exactitude.

“All the stars in the sky were aligned for us, but don't forget Argentina are still a fantastic team,” Renard told a press conference after the match, as AFP reported.

“This is football, sometimes totally crazy things can happen.”

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Saudi’s Green Falcons begin preparations for second World Cup game against Poland

Saudi Arabia World Cup feat due to support at home which Iran lacked: Iranian pundit

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