Lionel Scaloni will not alter his principles, insisting that is "non-negotiable", as he tries to plot a route past Mexico and keep Argentina's World Cup hopes alive.

The South American champions were stunned 2-1 by Saudi Arabia in their opening game, plunging their qualification for the knockout phase from Group C into unexpected doubt.

Another defeat at the hands of Mexico, coached by Argentinian Tata Martino, could prove fatal but Scaloni dismissed any notion of a change in playing style from his team.

He said: "We watched the game back [against Saudi Arabia] but now we are thinking about Mexico which will be entirely different.

"But the way we will play will be similar, we won't change our style due to what happened on Tuesday, that's clear. Mexico are an excellent team, an offensive team with a great coach. But we have a style that is non-negotiable.

"We might have taken a blow in the opening match but we need to stick to our guns and approach it in the same way.

"When you have a blow you have to bounce back and the squad is ready to do that. We know there is a full country behind us and the fans can take confidence that the team will break their backs until the very last seconds they are on the pitch so we can reverse this difficult situation."

Scaloni confirmed captain Lionel Messi has no issues ahead of the encounter at Lusail Stadium.

"He trained well and he's feeling well," he added. "More than ever we need everyone, and I am sure everything will play out. We have no issues with his physical level."

Inter striker Lautaro Martinez acknowledged Saturday's game is "like a final", but is confident the team can cope with the levels of expectation.

He said: "Tomorrow is a big match for us. It's like a final because we need to win. It will be a very important match for our future but we've proved that we have the players and the quality and for a game like this that will be key.

"There is no pressure because we rely on our work. We are confident, have trust in our technical staff and every player. We are keeping calm and confident and will do everything for our fans."

Martino, who also coached Argentina from August 2014 to July 2016, was asked how he feels about potentially robbing Messi of a final chance to win the World Cup, replying: "What would you do if you were in my place? I hope Mexico win, there's no other answer. I will do my utmost for a Mexico win."

Mexico played out a drab goalless draw with Poland in their opener and Martino was eager to stress there was plenty at stake for his team too.

"I don't think the needs [for the teams] are that different," he added. "The game is key for us as well, we only have one point. We will try to play with our own ideas but we are playing a powerful team. When we saw Argentina in our group, we did not see a situation like we have.

"After Argentina's defeat, this has become a key match, especially as we also didn't have a positive result. If we get a positive result here, we might be in a position to qualify for the next round."

Diego Maradona should have a day of celebration dedicated to him at every World Cup, according to FIFA president Gianni Infantino.

The legendary Argentine died at the age of 60 in November 2020 after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Paying tribute during the Qatar World Cup at an event to mark the second anniversary of Maradona's death, Infantino said the mercurial figure should be remembered at each subsequent tournament for his significant impact on football.

"Diego is immortal, he is with us," Infantino said. "We not only need to pay tribute but to celebrate also Diego. I would like that from now on, at every World Cup we would take one day to celebrate Diego Armando Maradona, because he made so many people fall in love with our sport, football.

"I am Italian and an Inter supporter. I am not Argentinian nor a Napoli supporter, and of course Diego made Inter and Italy cry many times, but we love him.

"I am proud because after our arrival to football, mine and Alejandro [Dominguez, CONMEBOL president], Diego came back to be with us at the World Cup in Russia, and personally I had the chance to speak to him many times and start a friendship, and it was then when I realised his depth.

"Diego was a great leader in Argentina, South America and in all the world. We need to keep celebrating him. I feel great emotion, we would have liked him to be here at this World Cup, but he is in all our hearts."

At Argentina's press conference ahead of their crucial Group C encounter with Mexico, head coach Lionel Scaloni also acknowledged the anniversary of Maradona's death, saying: "It's a very sad day for everyone, tomorrow we will hope to bring some joy for Diego if he is looking down on us.

"Every time we see an image of him, it's unbelievable that he's not here with us. Tomorrow hopefully will be a happy day for all of us."

The Albiceleste were surprisingly beaten 2-1 in their opening World Cup clash against Saudi Arabia, and striker Lautaro Martinez reiterated Scaloni's comment that he and his team-mates will look to honour Maradona by securing a better result against Mexico.

"This is a very special day" the Inter forward said. "We have him in our minds as Argentinians but he was a very important player for everyone in global football, not just us.

"We hope tomorrow we can bring some joy."

Lautaro Martinez put Argentina's stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup Group C opener on Tuesday down to their own "mistakes".

Lionel Messi put La Albiceleste ahead early on from the penalty spot at Lusail Stadium, but two goals in the space of five second-half minutes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completed one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

Martinez, who had two efforts ruled out for offside with the score at 1-0, lamented his side's sloppiness and says their focus needs to turn immediately to their two remaining Group C games against Mexico and Poland.

"We lost the game due to our mistakes more than anything in the second half," he said. "In the first half we had to score more than one goal, but this is the World Cup.

"Now to rest and think about what is coming. It's two big games now. Mexico and Poland are going to make difficult rivals, as it was today too. 

"In the second half we made mistakes; we have to correct that for what is to come.

"The defeat hurts a lot. We wanted to start by winning, but it's over. We need to think about the games that are coming."

The defeat was Argentina's first since July 2019, when they lost 2-0 to Brazil, ending a run of 36 matches unbeaten.

The result saw Lionel Scaloni's men lose a World Cup match after scoring the first goal for the first time since 1958 against Germany, while it was the first time they lost after leading at half-time since the 1930 final against Uruguay.

Inter responded to Sunday's Derby d'Italia defeat to Juventus by crushing Bologna 6-1 at San Siro, with Federico Dimarco's double helping the Nerazzurri climb into Serie A's top four.

Inter were up against it when Charalampos Lykogiannis benefited from a fortunate deflection to hand Bologna the lead on Wednesday, but Edin Dzeko swiftly equalised with a well-taken volley.

Wing-back Dimarco then produced two excellent finishes either side of Lautaro Martinez's flicked effort as Inter put Thiago Motta's sorry visitors to the sword.

Simone Inzaghi's men – who moved within three points of second-placed Milan with the victory – were not done there, with Hakan Calhanoglu and Robin Gosens adding further gloss to the scoreline.

Bologna went close through Musa Barrow and Marko Arnautovic early on and led when Riccardo Orsolini's 22nd-minute shot deflected off Lykogiannis and into the bottom-right corner.

Inter responded brilliantly to that setback, however, finding the net three times in the next 20 minutes.

Dzeko instigated the turnaround with an outstanding right-footed volley from near the edge of the area, before Dimarco left Lukasz Skorupski with no chance when he drilled a free-kick into the bottom-left corner.

The Nerazzurri then extended their lead as half-time approached, with Martinez flicking Calhanoglu's corner home at the near post to take the game away from Bologna.

Dzeko nodded against the crossbar as Inter chased a fourth after the restart, but Dimarco was not to be denied a minute later when he cut in from the right before producing a cool finish. 

Joaquin Sosa's handball then allowed Hakan Calhanoglu to slot in a 59th-minute penalty, before Gosens completed the rout by converting Dzeko's cut-back with 14 minutes remaining.

Chelsea are reportedly the latest Premier League club to signal their interest in 25-year-old Inter striker Lautaro Martinez.

Martinez, who has also scored 21 senior goals for Argentina in 40 international appearances, is coming off a career-best season in the Serie A.

He set a new personal-best with 21 league goals in 35 games in 2021-22, and has started this season in similar fashion, netting six times in 11 Serie A fixtures.

Martinez also showed his quality with a goal and an assist in the dramatic 3-3 Champions League draw against Barcelona.


TOP STORY – CHELSEA LOOK TO INTER FOR STRIKER SOLUTION

According to InterLive, what separates Chelsea's chances from Martinez's other Premier League suitors is their potential to include current loanee Romelu Lukaku in their bid.

The report states Inter's starting point for an acceptable price tag will be €90million, which is what Tottenham are said to have offered before the beginning of last season.

Tottenham are one of the other Premier League teams named in the report, while Manchester United and Newcastle United have previously been connected with a pursuit of Martinez.

Inter will have all the leverage in any negotiations, with Martinez's contract tying him to the club until 2026.


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– De Telegraaf claims PSV are in such a dire financial situation that they will be forced to accept a €30m bid for 23-year-old breakout star Cody Gakpo

– According to Calciomercato, Arsenal, Newcastle and West Ham are all circling 21-year-old Midtjylland winger Gustav Isaksen.

– Diario Sport is reporting Paris Saint-Germain are the favourites to land prized 16-year-old Palmeiras prospect Endrick, while Real Madrid are also said to be all-in, and Barcelona may turn their attention to more pressing matters.

– Spezia are looking for €30m to part ways with 22-year-old centre-back Jakub Kiwior, with Milan, Juventus and West Ham said to have strong interest, per Tuttomercatoweb.

– The Chronicle is reporting Newcastle are weighing up a move for 18-year-old winger Eguinaldo, who plays for Vasco Da Gama in the Brazilian second division and has a £26m release clause in his contract.

Lautaro Martinez dismissed speculation over a move to Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain, stating he hopes to "become a legend" at Inter.

Chelsea, Bayern and PSG are among a host of Europe's elite clubs that have repeatedly been linked to the forward, who will aim for World Cup glory with Argentina in November.

Julian Nagelsmann's side remain on the hunt for a like-for-like replacement for Robert Lewandowski, while Martinez's Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi could draw the Inter star to the French capital.

However, Martinez refuted reports of a move away from San Siro as he outlined his long-term ambitions with Inter.

"I'm fine, I'm happy here," Martinez told Rai Sport. "I hope I can become a legend, I have a contract here and I only think about Inter. 

"There are many goals from now on and we hope to continue like this."

Martinez scored 21 goals in 35 Serie A appearances as Inter finished second to rivals Milan last season, though he endured a lean spell in front of goal at the start of this campaign.

The 25-year-old failed to find the net in five straight league games but ended that poor form with a strike against Sassuolo on Wednesday, before a brace and an assist against Fiorentina on Saturday.

A dramatic 4-3 victory over Fiorentina – courtesy of Henrikh Mkhitaryan's fortuitous winner – lifted Inter to seventh in Serie A, but the Nerazzurri still sit five points behind leaders Napoli, who have a game in hand.

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi has declared he was "never worried" about Lautaro Martinez, after his return to goalscoring form.

The Argentina striker endured a five-match scoreless streak in Serie A before he was on target against Salernitana in midweek, having also found the back of the net in a 3-3 Champions League draw with Barcelona.

He claimed a double to make it four goals in three games and contributed an assist in Inter's dramatic 4-3 victory at Fiorentina on Saturday.

Martinez was the catalyst for Nicolo Barella's opening goal, then weaved his way through the defence to double his side's lead and showing composure from the spot to put Inter 3-2 up in the second half after the Viola had got back on level terms.

Luka Jovic's late strike then looked to have earned the Fiorentina a point, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan's fortune goal five minutes into time added on settled a classic contest.

Martinez's brace took his tally in Serie A this season to six, putting him joint-top in the scoring charts, and Inzaghi said he never had any concerns about the 25-year-old's lack of goals.

"I was not worried about Toro even when he was not scoring, because he always does what he has to do in training and in the game, beyond the goals," he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Inter boss also backed Joaquin Correa, who saw his struggles continue with his display in Florence, adding: "Correa was well placed tonight at the service of the team and well positioned with Lautaro.

"He was used to always playing, he must be good at carving out the right moments. He can only grow and will improve a lot."

Inter are also set to be boosted by the return of key players from injury, with Romelu Lukaku, Marcelo Brozovic and Roberto Gagliardini set to be back in contention.

"We can't wait. I have never had them in these games. Lukaku, Brozovic and Gagliardini will return. We need it," Inzaghi said after seeing his side move back above Juventus into seventh place.

Lautaro Martinez believes Sunday's 2-0 win over Salernitana proved Inter have matured as a result of honest conversations that occurred in the changing room during their difficult run.

Their win at San Siro made it four games unbeaten across all competitions for the Nerazzurri, though that run followed a sequence of five defeats in 10 at the start of the season.

Before Sunday's game, Inter defender Alessandro Bastoni told Sky Italia their recent improvement came after purposeful talks among the players behind the scenes.

Bastoni indicated Inter came to understand there were too many players complaining about others, with this realisation helping force a change in attitude.

While Martinez – scorer of the first goal on Sunday – did not want to elaborate on specifics, he feels Inter are past their issues.

"What we say in the locker room stays there," he said to Sky Italia. "We talked a lot after the defeats, we started working and it shows on the pitch.

"This victory means that we have grown and matured after the match against Barcelona at home.

"We are fine, we have to continue like this."

Asked if Inter are "back", he added: "We are on the right path, we have moved on."

Inter's early season struggles led to head coach Simone Inzaghi coming under pressure, though he insists he was never particularly concerned, well aware such scrutiny is to be expected in his job.

He said: "It is normal that things weren't working out, we looked at 84 points last year as a defeat, behind Milan.

"We come from three wins and a draw – what I look at now is on the field. There are pressures and there always will be – I know what job I'm doing.

"We had control of this match from the start to the end. We have to continue like this, things are going well and they have to get better."

Frenkie de Jong's future at Barcelona remains up in the air after a drawn-out saga ahead of the season.

The Dutch midfielder had interest from Barcelona but wanted to stay at Camp Nou.

However, De Jong's opportunities have been limited this season, perhaps encouraging further bids.

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL MOVE IN FOR BARCELONA'S DE JONG

Liverpool have entered the race to sign the unsettled De Jong from Barcelona, claims SPORT.

De Jong resisted interest in from United with a strong desire to play Champions League football, which Jurgen Klopp's side can offer.

Liverpool midfielders Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner are all out of contract at the end of this season, when Arthur's loan will also expire, so the club are assessing their options.

The domestic struggles of the Reds could precipitate January transfer activity, given their need for midfield reinforcements.

ROUND-UP

Liverpool may try to hijack Chelsea 's move for RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku, claims The Sun. The Reds sent scouts to watch the French forward against Celtic in the Champions League in midweek but fear Chelsea are well down the line with Nkunku, and they have missed the boat.

– Talks between Everton and Chelsea target Anthony Gordon on a contract extension have stalled, according to The Sun. Gordon reportedly wants approximately £100,000 per week.

Manchester United have reached out to Lautaro Martinez's agent about the Inter forward's availability, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. Martinez is contracted until 2026, while Barcelona are also interested.

United have joined Chelsea and Manchester City in having an active interest in Milan's Portuguese attacker Rafael Leao, claims The Mirror. United sent scouts to watch him against Chelsea in the Champions League.

Chelsea are interested in Napoli's Slovakia international Stanislav Lobotka, reports Calciomercato. Napoli and the midfielder are close to sealing a new deal.

– Newcastle United have commenced discussions with the agent of Vasco da Gama midfielder Andrey Santos, reports Torcedores. Barcelona are also interested in the Brazilian, who has a release clause of £34.6million (€40m).

Robert Lewandowski twice equalised late on but Barcelona's hopes of progressing to the Champions League knockout stage look slim after a 3-3 draw with Inter.

Lewandowski's late show keeps Barca's chances alive, though the Blaugrana are now relying on Inter not to win either of their final two Group C matches.

Ousmane Dembele's first-half strike put them ahead, though elimination was back on the cards as Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez struck in a chaotic second half.

Robin Gosens thought he had sent Inter into the last 16 in the 89th minute, only for Lewandowski to score his second goal in the space of 10 minutes to snatch a point for Barca.

Lautaro Martinez insists he has no regrets over his past failure to join Barcelona, saying he is proud to be considered a key player at Inter ahead of Wednesday's trip to Camp Nou.

Martinez has scored 61 goals in 144 Serie A appearances since joining the Nerazzurri from Racing in 2018, form which has seen him linked with Barcelona on several occasions.

However, the Argentina international signed a new contract with Inter in October 2021 and went on to score a career-high 21 Serie A goals for Simone Inzaghi's men last term.

Speaking ahead of Inter's crucial Champions League trip to Barcelona, Martinez was asked about past speculation and replied: "It's water under the bridge now.

"Today I'm an Inter player. That's what I wanted. I'll give my best for Inter.

"We know that Barca have played with quality, that they will try to go one-on-one, and they will need intensity.

"We had an excellent first half in the first leg, and I think we have to repeat that portion of the game tomorrow. I hope to play well, with a lot of personality, to do what we have prepared."

Inter's legendary former defender and current vice president Javier Zanetti recently said Martinez could be a mainstay at San Siro for many years to come, and the 25-year-old was delighted to receive the backing of a Nerazzurri great.

"For me, it is a pride, he is a symbol of the club," Martinez added. "As I always say, I work to give my best to Inter, to lend a hand to my team-mates, to grow every day. I thank the vice president so much."

Since scoring in four consecutive Champions League games between October and November 2018, Martinez has only found the net twice in his last 18 appearances in the competition.

However, six of Martinez's seven Champions League goals have been scored away from home, and he will likely play a key role as Inter look to avoid defeat at Barcelona for the first time in the competition, losing on all of their five previous visits while scoring just once.

Lautaro Martinez's agent Alejandro Camano is not surprised by reports linking the Inter forward with Bayern Munich, insisting the Argentine is one of the world's top 10 players.

Martinez scored 21 goals in 35 league outings as Inter finished as Serie A runners-up last season, and has begun the new campaign with three strikes in eight top-flight appearances.

With Bayern struggling in the Bundesliga after opting against signing a direct replacement for Robert Lewandowski in the recent transfer window, the Bavarian giants have been touted as potential suitors for Martinez.

Camano told TyC Sports such interest does not come as a surprise and revealed the 25-year-old rejected transfer offers in the latest window in order to focus on Inter.

"I wouldn't be surprised because there are always requests, but Lautaro has very clear ideas," he said about the Bayern reports.

"Today he thinks about Inter and the World Cup.

"In the last market there were possibilities to leave for impressive figures, but he has understood that it was better not to change.

"Lautaro is among the top 10 players in the world, and although I have many calls, he has two priorities by the end of the year: Inter and the national team. 

"He is mature, with a nice family to accompany him, with an atmosphere of tranquillity, which is always important. He feels loved by Italians and Argentines.

"He started the year with a beautiful project, with an Inter that was built in a powerful way. The truth is that winning the World Cup would be the icing on the cake for him."

Alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, Martinez has impressed in a fluid Argentina attack recently, with Lionel Scaloni leading his side to a 35-match unbeaten run.

Argentina are just two games short of matching Italy's record 37-match unbeaten run in international football, and Camano believes they will be serious contenders at the World Cup.

"Not only are Argentina a candidate, but those of us who know Lionel Scaloni know that he has the same leadership mentality he had when he played," he added. 

"Lautaro's hope is the same as the others - they want to make people happy.

"Winning a World Cup is not easy, but the team is ready to reach this goal."

Under pressure Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi is optimistic that Tuesday's 1-0 Champions League win over Barcelona "marks the beginning of something".

The Nerazzurri boss has come under fire following his side's inconsistent start to the season, with Sunday's 2-1 loss to Roma leaving them with 12 points from eight Serie A games. Inter have conceded 13 goals in those eight games too.

Defeat on Tuesday would have left Inter perilously placed in third in their Champions League group, having lost to Bayern Munich 2-0 at home on the opening matchday.

Instead Inzaghi, amid a school of thought he may lose his job if Inter lost to the Blaugrana on Tuesday, is looking for a new beginning for the Nerazzurri.

"We'd been waiting a long time for this, I am happy for the fans and the club, but we’ve achieved nothing yet, it needs to be a wonderful night that marks the beginning of something," Inzaghi told Sky Sport Italia.

"I wouldn't say it was unexpected. I said yesterday it was a great opportunity against one of the best teams in the world. We played with aggression, determination, as it’s the only way to beat these opponents."

Inzaghi, who took over after Antonio Conte's split with the club following their 2020-21 Serie A title, lifted two trophies last season, the Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, but ultimately fell short in the race for the Scudetto to Milan.

"I continue my work, there are moments that happen and I keep my head held high, because my staff, players and the club have done some great things over the last 15 months," he said.

"I saw a squad that is solid and fights together, otherwise you don’t get a result like this. I am happy, but these lads are the same ones who gave me two trophies just a few months ago and they know more than anyone we now have ground to make up."

Inter forward Lautaro Martinez promised Tuesday's result would usher in charge.

"Tonight is a special evening because it was a victory we needed," the Argentine told Inter TV. "Because of the way it arrived we enjoy it even more.

"We were in a period when the results were not coming, today we needed a win and it has arrived. From here on, things will change."

Goal scorer Hakan Calhanoglu, who netted his first Champions League goal since September 2016, added: "This game can really shake us up and change our season, because we want to build on it.

"As for qualification, we’ve got to stay calm and take it one game at a time."

Inter head coach Simone Inzaghi believes his team need to play with "aggression and determination" against Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Inzaghi is under fire after a run that has seen Inter lose four of their last six in all competitions, with a 2-1 home defeat to Roma at the weekend leaving the Nerazzurri ninth in Serie A, already eight points behind joint-leaders Napoli and Atalanta.

And Tuesday's match will see them host a Barcelona side in red-hot form, top of LaLiga and yet to lose a league match this season under the leadership of former midfielder Xavi.

In his pre-match press conference, Inzaghi outlined just how tough a task the game was going to be, while explaining how his team need to play at the San Siro if they are to get a result.

"Tomorrow is a great opportunity, knowing that we meet a very strong team, probably one of the best in Europe," Inzaghi told reporters.

"It is a complete, strong team with a lot of quality. They know how to do everything, they have pressing and ball recovery. It is a team that knows how to do everything in possession and non-possession.

"Barcelona are a very strong team, complete in all departments. They have a lot of quality, plus they have [Robert] Lewandowski.

"We will have to play a game of aggression and determination."

Inzaghi also had positive news about striker Lautaro Martinez's availability for the fixture, adding: "This morning Lautaro made an exam where no injury was evident.

"He finished the game [against Roma] fatigued, today he will do a partial training and we will see what his condition will be."

Argentina were never in any danger during their 3-0 friendly win against Jamaica on Tuesday, played at a neutral site in the United States' Red Bull Arena.

Alvarez opened the scoring in the 13th minute thanks to some terrific work from Lautaro Martinez, who was able to snake his way into the box, beating multiple defenders to get to the touchline and drag one back along the edge of the six-yard box for a simple tap-in.

Argentina continued to create half-chances throughout the remainder of the first half, and it was more of the same to begin the second 45, with Martinez going close after a slick one-touch pass from Alexis Mac Allister gave him some space inside the box, but he pushed his shot wide of the far-post.

Lionel Messi was subbed on in the 56th minute, and just 10 minutes later he had his first chance after a one-two on the edge of the area allowed him to break into the left-hand side of the box, but his shot from a sharp angle was easily thwarted at the near post.

But fans in attendance would get what they came for in the 87th minute, when Messi picked up a deflected pass just outside the penalty area and fired his left-foot shot hard and low across his body into the bottom-right corner.

Just two minutes later Argentina were awarded a free kick in the same spot, and Messi again converted, this time around the wall into the bottom-left corner.

What does it mean? Argentina now two games away from history

With this result, Argentina are now unbeaten in their past 35 games dating back to their loss in the 2019 Copa America semi-final against Brazil. 

Italy holds the record at 37 games without a loss – which they set just last year. Argentina's next two games will be in the World Cup against Saudi Arabia and Mexico, and if they make it through unscathed, they will play Poland for the new record.

Messi the super sub

Despite only playing 35 minutes, Messi led all players with five shots, four shots on target and three successful dribbles. Only Alvarez (three) created more chances than Messi's two, and he scored two goals for his second consecutive international fixture after also netting a double against Honduras this past weekend.

Reid struggles with Argentinian physicality

Bobby Reid had a difficult outing down the left-hand side, being credited with only two duels won from 11 tries – the lowest percentage on the pitch. He also had a passing accuracy of 77 per cent, which was one of the lowest marks from either side, while attempting no shots and creating no chances.

What's next? 

Argentina will take their unbeaten streak into the World Cup, where they will play Saudi Arabia first up. Jamaica do not have any fixtures scheduled until March's CONCACAF Nations League.

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