Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is unimpressed by the quick turnaround between Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Poland and their World Cup last-16 date with Australia.
La Albiceleste won 2-0 at Stadium 974 to top Group E and secure progression to the next round, an outcome that appeared in real doubt after their defeat to Saudi Arabia on matchday one.
Lionel Messi saw a penalty saved by Wojciech Szczesny in the first half, but goals from Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez after the break deservedly put Argentina into the last 16.
Awaiting them are Australia, who earlier in the day beat Denmark to somewhat surprisingly reach the knockout stages.
Argentina will be firm favourites, but Scaloni is annoyed by what he feels is a quick turnaround until the game, which is scheduled for Saturday’s late kick-off slot.
“Today we are happy but not euphoric, because I think it’s crazy we are playing in just over two days,” he told reporters after the game.
“I can’t really understand this. It’s almost 1am, tomorrow is Thursday. We could have had more rest.
“I want to make it clear that it doesn’t seem right to me that we have just two and a half days of rest after being first in the group. These conditions aren’t great.”
2 (Alexis Mac Allister y Julián Álvarez) 0
¡Final del partido!
El elenco comandado por Lionel Scaloni jugará el próximo sábado ante
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina)
Nevertheless, many associated with Argentina will just be happy they made it as far as the second round after that shock loss to Saudi Arabia.
Argentina needed to beat Poland to take matters into their own hands, and Scaloni was pleased with how his team managed the expectation.
“We are satisfied with the game we played, it was not easy and neither was the context around the game,” he added.
“We had to play and win against a team that had two results in mind. I think we interpreted it correctly, the players played a very good game and we are happy.”
Similarly, most will expect Argentina to cruise past the Socceroos at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, but Scaloni is keen to avoid that kind of arrogance.
“We played a good game and we have to continue. We are not candidates or favourites, we are still the same,” he continued.
“We are a difficult team and we are going to fight. It is totally wrong to think that we are going to be champions by winning today.
“You can play well and lose, that’s the feeling I had after Saudi Arabia. Maybe we didn’t play well but we deserved to win.
“All matches are tough and now, if you think the Australia match will be easy, you are wrong. They have shown they are tough. When you play in a World Cup and represent your country, you grow.”