World Cup contender Argentina open up their participation in the tournament when they face Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Group C play. This is the first game of the tournament that will take place in the early timeslot of 5 a.m. ET. The reigning Copa America winners headline a group that also includes Mexico and Poland as Lionel Scaloni looks to keep his team’s incredible form going. Argentina haven’t lost since 2019. On the other side, the Saudi’s enter with the hopes of being competitive in a group where three losses may be expected from those on the outside.
Lionel Messi begins his final World Cup with high hopes for Argentina and a tricky test from Saudi Arabia in Lusail on Tuesday.
Messi’s nation is one of the favorites to go far in Qatar and the one-time finalist would love to add a World Cup to his glittering resume.
Saudi Arabia’s close to home and a tough nut to crack, scrappy and capable of hanging in any game.
Saudi coach Herve Renard is well-experienced on the stage and may have a surprise in store for Group C, where his completely Saudi-based squad has been training together for some time.
Argentina’s 2022 World Cup campaign gets underway against Saudi Arabia at the in Doha.
Lionel Messi will be hoping to help his nation to their first World Cup triumph since Diego Maradona led Argentina to glory in 1986.
Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala will add further firepower to Argentina as they take on a Saudi Arabia side that are 51st in FIFA’s world rankings.
Argentina and Saudia Arabia are in Group C alongside Poland and Mexico.
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How to watch and odds
- Date: Tuesday, Nov. 22 | Time: 5 a.m. ET
- Location: Lusail Iconic Stadium — Lusail, Qatar
- TV: FS1 and Telemundo | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
- Odds: Argentina -675; Draw +600; Saudi Arabia +2000 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Key storylines, players to watch closely
Can Saudi Arabia slow Messi, let alone Lautaro Martinez, Paulo Dybala, et cetera, et cetera?
Will this be the blast-off for the international careers of Alexis Mac Allister or Julian Alvarez?
And can a Saudi player catch the eye of the international community and even draw the player away from the nation’s domestic league?
Argentina quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez
Saudi Arabia quick facts
Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais
Argentina: Lionel Messi and company enter this game with the expectation of winning by multiple goals, and anything but a win will sound the alarms. But based on recent form, there is no reason to think they won’t win comfortably. The big question mark is how the team replaces Gio Lo Celso in the middle with the Villarreal midfielder missing the tournament due to injury. The momentum appears to be growing for Enzo Fernandez of Benfica to start after his impressive Champions League performances.
Saudi Arabia: They have only one World Cup win since 1994, but let’s remember that they were kind of competitive at the 2018 World Cup after the opening 5-0 loss to Russia. A narrow 1-0 loss to Uruguay was followed up by a 2-1 win over Mohamed Salah and Egypt. They won’t impress you with the ball, they don’t have a lot of recognizable names, but if a call or two goes their way, they can make a game of it.
Messi scores twice and Argentina cruise to three easy points. Pick: Argentina 4, Saudi Arabia 0
Prior to Argentina’s tournament opener against Saudi Arabia, Messi has responded to the frequently asked question concerning his rumoured injury. Speaking to the media during the customary pre-game press conference, Messi reacted to claims that his fitness was in doubt after he had apparently skipped training in Qatar. Messi denied such claims that he had an ankle injury and said he would be ready to lead Lionel Scaloni’s team against Saudi Arabia.