Football Tips: Messi the man in this 20/1 Argentina vs Mexico punt

Our tipster Shane O'Brien thinks this could be a feisty affair.

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Argentina vs Mexico Bet Builder tips

Argentina to win
Lionel Messi to have three or more shots on target
Over 4.5 cards
Leandro Paredes to attempt 90 or more passes

*A Bet Builder with these bets pays at approximately 20/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.

Saturday, November 26: 7pm, Spain vs Germany 
TV: ITV

Argentina to win

Argentina’s shock loss to Saudi Arabia has piled an enormous amount of pressure on Saturday evening’s game against Mexico, who also got off to a lacklustre start in the tournament following their goalless draw against Poland on Tuesday. Argentina will be out if they lose, while Mexico will be as good as gone if they suffer defeat. Recent history suggests that Argentina hold the upper hand over Saturday’s opponents. 

The two sides have met 10 times since 2005, with Mexico failing to win a single game. They have also met twice in the World Cup during that period, with Argentina dumping Mexico out in the round-of-16 on both occasions. 

Argentina were well below-par during their second-half collapse against Saudi Arabia and will either use that defeat as a wake-up call just as Spain did in 2010 after losing their opener to Switzerland or wallow in self-pity like France did after losing their opener to Senegal in 2002. 

The former remains the more likely option given the team unity that Argentina have displayed over the past three years. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them get their World Cup campaign back on track on Saturday. 

Lionel Messi to have three or more shots on target

Lionel Messi did not have his best game by any stretch in Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia, but he still did manage to find the back of the net and register three shots on target. 

It is clear that Messi desperately wants to lead his country to the World Cup this winter and will do everything in his power to do so. 

He will be the one taking the fight to Mexico on Saturday and is likely to pepper Guillermo Ochoa’s goal with shots. 

Messi registered 29 shots on target in 14 league games for PSG this season at a rate of just over two per game, but he seems to be responsible for a lot more shots with his national team, which is understandable given that chances are shared with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at club level. 

Whether Argentina win, lose, or draw on Saturday, Messi will likely register several shots on goal. 

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Over 4.5 cards

Argentina’s opponents have a tendency to pick up bookings. Saudi Arabia received six yellow cards during Tuesday’s shock win, not entirely surprising given that they were trying to frustrate Argentinian comeback efforts. 

In total, their opponents have picked up 26 yellow cards in the last six competitive games they have played at a rate of just under 4.5 per game. It is hardly surprising. Argentina boast a combination of fleet-footed attackers capable of drawing fouls and street-wise footballers like Leandro Parades who are more than capable of winding up their opponents or conning the referee into dishing out a card. 

With so much riding on Saturday’s game, tempers will be wearing thin from the start and there could be a good deal of cynical fouling from whoever wins and tackles made out of frustration from whoever loses. 

Italian referee Daniel Orsato, who dishes out six yellow cards during the World Cup opener between Ecuador and Qatar, will be officiating on Saturday. Orsato has issued 109 cards in his last 30 games at a rate of just over 3.5 per game and it wouldn’t be surprising if he went above that average.

Leandro Paredes to attempt 90 or more passes

Argentina dominated the ball against Saudi Arabia and are likely to do the same again on Saturday. The Argentines finished with 70% possession after Tuesday’s defeat, with Leandro Paredes helping to control the tempo in midfield. 

Paredes was hooked after 59 minutes following Saudi Arabia’s quickfire double, but he had already attempted more than 60 passes by that stage. He will surely remain on the pitch for 90 minutes if Argentina are winning and in need of a combative defensive midfielder to help secure a result. 

Parades averaged 97 pass attempts per 90 minutes for PSG in the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season, while he averaged 95 pass attempts per 90 minutes for the French club last season. He consistently averages a pass completion rate in the high 90s and will make Argentina tick against Mexico in a game they are likely to dominate possession in. 

Argentina have failed to record more than 50% possession in just one of their last 17 games and this game is unlikely to be any different. 

Argentina vs Mexico betting tips

Argentina to win
Lionel Messi to have three or more shots on target
Over 4.5 cards
Leandro Paredes to attempt 90 or more passes

*A Bet Builder with these bets pays at approximately 20/1 with Paddy Power. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.

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