Argentina’s World Cup campaign assumed an extremely unfortunate turn on Tuesday when it lost 1-2 to Saudi Arabia, courtesy of two goals from Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari. This is the sixth time Argentina has started its World Cup campaign with a loss.
It is also one of the four sides to have made it to the final of a World Cup after losing the opening game, with West Germany (1982), Italy (1994), and Spain (2010) being the others. We look at five other times Argentina started their World Cup campaign with a loss.
1990 World Cup
In the 1990 World Cup, Argentina was the reigning champion and was considered a favorite to win it all. But the team suffered a shocking 2-1 loss to Cameroon in its first game.
Francois Omam-Biyik scored a stunning goal for the African side in the 67th minute, which turned out to be the winner.
Argentina bounced back from the defeat and made it to its second consecutive final against Germany but lost 0-1.
1982 World Cup
Argentina entered the 1982 World Cup as the defending champion. The Albiceleste were favorites to win the tournament, but a disappointing start saw them stumble at the first hurdle.
The opening match was against Belgium, which was an absolute disaster for Argentina. They conceded early, with Erwin Vandenbergh scoring for the Europeans in a 1-0 shock defeat.
Argentina, though made it out of the group stage and faced Italy in the second round but lost to Roberto Bettega’s countrymen 2-1 after extra time. They then fell to Brazil 2-1 in their final group game and exited the tournament with only one victory from three games.
1974 World Cup
In 1974, Argentina’s World Cup campaign began with a shocking 2-1 loss to Poland. Argentina had failed to qualify for the 1970 edition, but they were eager to make up for a lost time in 1974.
However, after a promising start, the South American side was dealt a huge blow when they fell 3-2 to Poland—a team that will take on Argentina later in the tournament.
Argentina made it out of their group but crashed in the second stage after being thrashed by Netherlands and Brazil.
1958 World Cup
Argentina made its first appearance in the World Cup since 1934 in 1958, but it failed to live up to the hype. They were outclassed by West Germany and Helmut Rahn, who scored both goals in a 2-1 loss for the Argentines.
The Albiceleste lost 6-1 to Czechoslovakia, who would go on to win their second World Cup title. Argentina exited this tournament for the third time in four appearances.
1934 World Cup
In 1934, the inaugural World Cup took place in Italy. It was a time when Argentina had just started to play well as a footballing nation.
The Argentinians reached the tournament’s final, where they were beaten 3-2 by Sweden. The knockout format meant that Argentina finished in third place and did not win the World Cup.