Group C of the 2022 FIFA World Cup consists of Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Mexico. Their matches will be held on November 22, 26 and 30 in three different venues: Lusail, 974 and Al-Rayyan’s Education City.
Let’s look at these teams as they chase for the ultimate prize in sport.
FIFA RANK: 4
Key Players: Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria
How they qualify: CONMEBOL Runner-up (out of 10 teams)
Best World Cup performances: Champions – 1978, 1986
- Lionel Scaloni’s “Albiceleste” have booked their spot to Qatar after their goalless draw at home to Brazil in November 2021, with their reverse fixture in September are just a formality to cap off their qualifiers. It will be their 13th straight appearance in the final tournament, and 18th overall.
- Barring any injuries, this will be the fourth World Cup together for Di Maria and Messi, as they are both aged 35 when the matches will be played. Not only that, but it might also be the last chance for the PSG pair to snag the missing piece in their glorious trophy cabinet.
FIFA RANK: 9
Key Players: Raul Jimenez, Edson Alvarez
How they qualify: CONCACAF Third Round runner-up (out of 8 teams)
Best World Cup performances: Quarterfinal – 1970, 1986
- El Tri had gotten their name in to the World Cup on the final day of the Octagonal with a win over El Salvador in March 2022, giving them their eight straight appearance in the finals.
- For Tata Martino, Mexico needs to get the best of the Wolves forward and the Ajax midfielder even more, to go along with the Betis pair of Andres Guardado and the youthful Diego Lainez and captain-goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Just a bad game for just one of them and the dread of “quinto partido” (the quarterfinal curse) lives on.
FIFA RANK: 26
Key Player: Robert Lewandowski, Arkadiusz Milik, Wojciech Szczęsny
How they qualify: UEFA Second-round Path B winners (runner-up in Group I, first round)
Best World Cup performance: Third Place – 1974, 1982
- After ending up second behind England in their qualifying group, the Eagles got their trip to Qatar sorted on March 29 after defeating Sweden in their playoff final in Chorzow. It was their third time that they qualified consecutively, their first since their group stage exits in 2002 and 2006.
- Lewandowski needs more help to secure a passage into the knockout stage, in which they last made it in 1986 when they were shut out by Brazil in the Round of 16.
FIFA RANK: 49
Key Players: Saleh Al-Shehri, Salem Al-Dawsari
How they qualify: AFC Third Round Group B winners
Best World Cup performance: Round of 16, 1994
- An Asian powerhouse, the Green Falcons had been shown the door at the group stage in their last four World Cup appearances, ever since they debuted in style in the United States.
- Herve Renard might have survived the revolving door nature of being the Saudi Arabian manager, but he needed more than just the Al-Hilal pair of Al-Shehri and Al-Dawsari to come up with an upset with Argentina, Mexico and Poland which is a realistic long shot.
Group C will be decided in these matches.
- Mexico v Poland (November 22, Stadium 974)
- Argentina v Mexico (November 26, Lusail)
- Poland v Argentina (November 30, Stadium 974)
Who qualifies into the Knockout Phase?
Argentina will go safely into the knockout phase as Group winners. With a wide selection of players, Scaloni will get the job done, in contrast to the chaos that hounded Jorge Sampaoli four years ago in Russia where they needed a final day miracle to join Croatia in Group D, only to get bounced by eventual winners France in the last 16.
The real match in Group C is who finishes second, which is why whoever wins between Mexico and Poland on November 22 will be the key.
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