Argentina Favourites But Don’t Underestimate Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup Group C has Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland with the group phase being played from 20 November to 2 December

Argentina Analysis and Prediction

More than Lionel Messi wanting to win the World Cup for Argentina, it is more of Argentina wanting to win the World Cup for Lionel Messi.

And the fans have good reason to be optimistic for the FIFA World Cup 2022, given their 2021 Copa America win, secured on Brazilian soil at the Estadio Maracana. Prospects looked gloomy for La Albiceleste after their defeat to France in Russia in 2018 and the departure of a breed that had come so close to making football history in Brazil in 2014.

Qualification turned out to be the most straightforward of tasks for Lionel Scaloni’s side, who continue to surprise. In winning 11 matches and drawing six, they collected 39 points to finish second only to Brazil and 11 points clear of third. Impressive as those statistics are, it was the manner in which those points were won and the continental title claimed last year that has the Argentinians dreaming once more of World Cup glory.

Argentina are expected to top their group with a settled line-up, the eternal leadership of Messi, a new breed that can do justice to the jersey, and Scaloni’s tactical acumen, Argentina have their sights set on World Cup number three.

Argentina Squad

Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate) and Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal).

Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyonnais), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla).

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion).

Forwards: Paulo Dybala (AS Roma), Lionel Messi (Paris St Germain), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).

Saudi Arabia Analysis and Prediction

Saudi Arabia will travel to the FIFA World Cup intent on matching their best performance with a last-16 finish in the USA 28 years ago.

The Green Falcons have undergone a major transformation since appearing at Russia in 2018, with a new coaching team in place and several fresh faces having broken into the side. Despite beating AFC heavyweights Japan and Australia in the course of a relatively straightforward qualification campaign, Herve Renard’s side have come under the microscope for issues in front of goal of late.

The Saudis lost a pair of June friendlies, against Colombia and Venezuela, by the same 1-0 scoreline. Three months later, meetings with Ecuador and USA both finished goalless.

With other heavyweights in their group, qualification may be tricky but counting out the Saudis would be naive.

Saudi Arabia Squad

Goalkeepers: Mohamed Al-Owais (Al-Hilal), Nawaf Al-Aqidi (Al-Nassr), Mohamed Al-Yami (Al-Ahly).

Defenders: Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal), Ali Al-Bulaihi (Al-Hilal), Abdulelah Al-Amri (Al-Nassr), Abdullah Madu (Al-Nassr), Hassan Tambakti (Al-Shabab), Sultan Al-Ghanam (Al-Nassr), Mohammed Al-Breik (Al-Hilal), Saud Abdulhamid (Al-Hilal).

Midfielders: Salman Al-Faraj (Al-Hilal), Riyadh Sharahili (Abha), Ali Al-Hassan (Al-Nassr), Mohamed Kanno (Al-Hilal), Abdulelah Al-Malki (Al-Hilal), Sami Al-Najei (Al-Nassr), Abdullah Otayf (Al-Hilal), Nasser Al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), Abdulrahman Al-Aboud (Ittihad), Salem Al-Dawsari (Al-Hilal), Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab).

Forwards: Nawaf Al-Abed (Al-Shabab), Haitham Asiri (Al-Ahly), Saleh Al-Shehri (Al-Hilal) Firas Al-Buraikan (Al-Fateh)

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Mexico Analysis and Prediction

Mexico are headed for their eighth consecutive FIFA World Cup with hopes of finally progressing beyond the round of 16 after falling at that hurdle on every one of their previous seven appearances. History has repeated itself in Mexico’s World Cup campaigns, with good group-phase showings being followed by successive last-16 exits.

Mexico managed to finish second in the eight-team final qualifying round behind Canada. But El Tri won the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2019 and finished runners-up in the competition last year.

But this time clearing the group may not be so straightforward with tough clashes awaiting them in all three matches. If they do qualify, then would come the hard part, winning a knockout game.

Mexico Squad

Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (America), Alfredo Talavera (Juarez), Rodolfo Cota (Leon).

Defenders: Jorge Sanchez (Ajax Amsterdam), Kevin Alvarez (Pachuca), Nestor Araujo (America), Johan Vasquez (US Cremonese), Gerardo Arteaga (KRC Genk), Hector Moreno, Cesar Montes, Jesus Gallardo (all Monterrey).

Midfielders: Erick Gutierrez (PSV), Orbelin Pineda (AEK Athens), Hector Herrera (Houston Dynamo), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Roberto Alvarado (Guadalajara), Edson Alvarez (Ajax Amsterdam), Luis Chavez (Pachuca), Luis Romo (Monterrey), Carlos Rodriguez, Uriel Antuna (both Cruz Azul).

Forwards: Hirving Lozano (Napoli), Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey), Henry Martin (America), Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Alexis Vega (Guadalajara).

Poland Analysis and Prediction

Poland would want to forget their disappointing showing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, as they crashed out in the group stage. With the nation’s best player, Robert Lewandowski, leading them upfront, the Polish will be keen to give a better account of themselves in this edition.

With 20 points from ten games in UEFA qualification Group I, the Polish team looked very well drilled on the road to Qatar 2022. Yet, because group rivals England performed better to take the top spot by the end of the campaign, Poland were forced to take the scenic route via a play-off match against Sweden.

Having been drawn into such a strong group, Poland’s first aim will be to reach the round of 16 and consign the bitter memories of their early exit from Russia in 2018 to the history books.

Poland Squad

Goalkeepers: Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus),Lukasz Skorupski (Bologna), Kamil Grabara (FC Copenhagen).

Defenders: Jan Bednarek (Aston Villa), Kamil Glik (Benevento), Robert Gumny (FC Augsburg), Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw), Jakub Kiwior (Spezia), Mateusz Wieteska (Clermont), Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria), Matty Cash (Aston Villa), Nicola Zalewski (AS Roma).

Midfielders: Krystian Bielik (Birmingham City), Przemyslaw Frankowski (Lens), Kamil Grosicki (Pogon Szczecin), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Al-Shabab), Jakub Kaminski (VfL Wolfsburg), Michal Skoras (Lech Poznan), Damian Szymanski (AEK Athens), Sebastian Szymanski (Feyenoord), Piotr Zielinski (Napoli), Szymon Zurkowski (Fiorentina).

Forwards: Robert Lewandowski (Barcelona), Arkadiusz Milik (Juventus), Krzysztof Piatek (Salernitana), Karol Swiderski (Charlotte FC).

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Group C Fixtures

Argentina vs Saudi Arabia: 22 November, 15:30 IST, Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Mexico vs Poland: 22 November, 21:30 IST, Stadium 974, Doha

Poland vs Saudi Arabia: 26 November, 18:30 IST, Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan

Argentina vs Mexico: 27 November, 00:30 IST, Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

Poland vs Argentina: 1 December, 00:30 IST,  Stadium 974, Doha

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico: 1 December, 00:30 IST, Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail

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