Argentina vs Saudi Arabia : Match Preview, Team News and Possible Lineups

Last Updated on 21/11/2022 by

Tuesday marks the beginning of Argentina’s most recent campaign for international success as the South American nation faces Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium to open Group C of the 2022 World Cup.

Argentina has two World Cup titles to their credit—1978 and 1986—while Saudi Arabia hopes to make waves in a challenging group and avoid finishing fourth as predicted.

pic credit @twitter

The plan for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to lead his country to the World Cup has already been laid out, and there are plenty of reasons to think that this year could be Argentina’s year. However, this World Cup could very well be Lionel Messi’s swan song.

The South American champions, whose star player Messi hadn’t even been born since they last made it all the way in the World Cup, made the trip to Qatar with Copa America already in hand. Their goal now is to end a 36-year sprint without World Cup glory.

Argentina has gone on an incredible 36-game unbeaten streak across all competitions since losing 2-0 to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America. During this time, they have qualified for the 2022 World Cup without dropping a contest and have won each of their last five matches overall.

Argentina’s recent five wins have been accompanied by five shutouts, a staggering 16 goals, and on Wednesday, they easily defeated the United Arab Emirates 5-0 in the final preseason friendly.

Four years after losing to Germany in the final in 2014, Argentina’s elimination from the last 16 with just one victory to their name was a bitter disappointment, but Argentina should have better luck in Qatar.

Saudi Arabians, who had the honour of facing the host nation Russia in the 2018 World Cup opener, suffered a forgettable 5-0 loss, and they’ll probably be afraid of repeating it on Tuesday against Argentina.

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pic credit @twitter

With Mexico and Poland joining them in a difficult Group C, Herve Renard’s team, who unsurprisingly exited at the group stage four years ago, faces an uphill battle to avoid experiencing the same fate this time.

The only time Saudi Arabia has advanced past the group stage of the World Cup was in 1994, and the country, which is currently ranked 51st in the world, is not in the greatest of form, having won just 2 of their last 10 games across all tournaments.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Renard’s team drew 1-1 with Panama and lost 1-0 to Croatia, and in their last 10 matches, just nine goals have been scored at either end of the field. However, the Arabian Falcons at least have the advantage of regularly competing in such oppressive heat.

Herve Renard’s team qualified for Qatar with 18 qualifying matches spread across two group stages, 13 wins, and just one loss, but the draw wasn’t on their side for the championship match.

Renard has a history of beating the odds. He led Zambia to the Africa Cup of Nations title in 2012 and then repeated the feat with the Ivory Coast, who were given more of a chance, to become the first person to win the competition with two different teams.

Renard, who previously captained Morocco in the 2018 World Cup, is dreaming of another incredible adventure with Saudi Arabia in this, his second World Cup experience.

Argentina and Saudi Arabia haven’t ever faced off in the World Cup finals, but in their four previous meetings, the Albiceleste have a record of two victories and two draws, most recently being held to a scoreless draw in a 2012 friendly.

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pic credit @twitter

Argentina Team news

When it was revealed that Messi was training alone on Saturday, worries about his well-being arose right away. However, he is not believed to be injured and may have simply been taking a much-needed break.

In addition to being limited to indoor work, Lisandro Martinez and Exequiel Palacios ought to be alright for Tuesday, while Joaquin Correa has indeed been forced to withdraw due to injury and has been replaced by Thiago Almada.

If healthy, Messi will hope to team up with Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria, and Nicolas Otamendi to form a menacing attacking trident. If Martinez is not hurt, Cristian Romero and Nicolas Otamendi may line up at the back.

Argentina possible starting lineup:

Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna; De Paul, Paredes, Mac Allister; Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria

Saudi Arabia Team news

Riyadh Sharahili, a midfielder for Saudi Arabia with five caps, is reportedly dealing with a muscular injury that casts doubt on his World Cup prospects, and Hassan Tambakti, a defender, missed training on Saturday due to discomfort.

However, neither player would have been expected to start against Argentina, and seasoned attacker Fahad Al-Muwallad, who has 17 goals in international competition, was left off the team after failing a drug test.

Salim Al-Dawsari, Saudi Arabia’s star player, is expected to play on the left flank, while Saleh Al-Shehri, who scored four goals in the third round of AFC qualifying, starts on the other side.

Saudi Arabia possible starting lineup:

Al-Owais; Al-Burayk, Al-Amri, Al-Bulahyi, Al-Shahrani; Kanno, Al-Malki; Saleh Al-Shehri, Al-Faraj, Salim Al-Daswari; Al-Buraikan

Players to Watch

Lionel Messi

In his second season with Psg, Messi has rediscovered something resembling his peak form. The superstar forward has been involved directly in 26 goals across all competitions, a total that only Erling Haaland and teammate Neymar can match between many players from clubs contending in Europe’s top 5 leagues.

pic credit @twitter

The 35-year-old has said that he intends this one to be his final World Cup, and after helping his country win the Copa America last year, he is now determined to help his nation win the world championship. In his past 4 World Cups, Messi went 756 minutes without scoring on the field without scoring a goal, but he has six goals in the group phase and will bet with himself to add to that total in this opening game.

Saleh Al-Shehri

Due to the winger having failed a drugs test earlier this year, Renard is without the 17-goal Fahad Al Muwallad, but there are multitude of other options to choose from in the final third. Al-Shehri is one of them and will be hoping to make an impression in Qatar after scoring on all 4 of his shots on goal in the AFC 3rd qualifying rounds to tie for the league’s top scorer. Although Saudi Arabia has scored 11 goals in the finals, more than any other team competing in Qatar, 4 of those goals have come from penalty spot.



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