As Argentina head into their knockout round match with Mexico on Sunday in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Dario Sala is feeling a bit outnumbered. That’s because the FC Dallas goalkeeper, a native of Argentina, keeps hearing from his teammates about how El Tri will take care of his Albiceleste on Sunday.
Besides midfielder Bryan Leyva, who is from Mexico, Sala has also been hearing it from Eric Avila, whose parents were born in Mexico and even from captain Daniel Hernandez, who spent several years playing in the top division south of the border.
“I’m afraid of Mexico,” Sala admitted to MLSsoccer.com. “They can beat Argentina. I think it can happen. Mexico have showed a lot of strength, and on defense, Argentina have showed a lot of weakness. We’ll see what happens.”
If Mexico do wind up winning, Sala expects to hear about it from his many Mexican friends.
“We’re going to watch the game on the plane (as we come back from LA),” he said. “After we land here, I bet if Argentina (lose), then all my Mexican friends are going to be in the airport with all their Mexican shirts.”
For Leyva, who has made one appearance with FCD this year, the game will boil down to one thing.
“I think Mexico played very well against France and South Africa,” he said. “What’s been the question is if they can finish or not? They’re playing very well and creating chances, which is very important. I think they just need to put them away. Now they have Argentina coming up and they have to have their ‘A game’ if they have a chance of winning.”
Sala has seen a number of positives from Argentina during the group stage. However, he also sees several issues that concern him heading into Sunday’s game.
“They have shown they can manage the pressure. They showed that in the first game against Nigeria,” he said. “I think they showed that they can score goals but they also showed they can give them up and that’s a little worrying.”
Leyva clearly expects El Tri to be in top form come Sunday.
“When they play teams like Argentina is when they play their best games,” he said. “I’m really hoping they can come out with a victory. I think it’s possible. It’s not like back then when Argentina and Brazil beat everybody. I think it’s evened up.”
One of the younger members of the FCD roster, Leyva has proposed that the loser must wear the winning country’s jersey all day on Monday.
But, he admits, he’d one day like to wear Mexico’s jersey when it really counts. Leyva has played for his country in the Under-17 World Cup.
“Yeah, it’s really motivating because they have three or four players from the U-17 World Cup and now they’re on the team,” he said. “Everyone that’s on the U-17 Mexican national team, we all hope that we can be there. It comes with hard work of course and dedication. We have to think that we can be there. Anything’s possible if we work hard.”