Nov 22, 2022 - World

South American teams vie to win their first World Cup in 20 years

Illustration of South America with abstract shapes.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Argentina's stunning loss to Saudi Arabia put a damper — but didn't end — fans' hopes this could be the year South America reigns at the World Cup again.

The big picture: The World Cup started this weekend in Qatar. South American teams have won it nine times since the tournament began in 1930. But no South American team has won it since 2002, when Brazil triumphed over Germany.

State of play: When Ecuador beat controversial host Qatar on Sunday, it marked the first time that a host team lost the opening game of the World Cup.

  • Tuesday's shocking loss against Saudi Arabia ended Argentina's 36-game unbeaten streak. Three of Argentina's goals were disallowed due to offside calls.
  • The defeat puts more pressure on Argentina in its upcoming matches against Mexico (on Saturday) and Poland (next week) as it looks to make it to the knockout stage.

Brazil is likely to take the whole thing, Horacio Elizondo, an analyst with Telemundo Deportes and former World Cup referee, tells Axios Latino. Other analyses back that prediction up.

  • Still, fans in Argentina are looking to Lionel Messi to bring home the Cup. He has said will be his last World Cup.
  • "This is Messi's World Cup, no matter how much he ends up playing or how far they get," an Argentina fan told Telemundo Deportes.
  • Elizondo, who is in Qatar, said Argentina had a bad day today but will come back stronger for the next match.

What's next: Costa Rica plays Spain on Wednesday. Uruguay, a two-time World Cup winner, faces South Korea on Thursday.

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