We continue our countdown to the forthcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup which is going to be held in Qatar starting the 20th November.

In this, the third part of our series of articles for the tournament, were are going to primarily focus on what is in store for the teams battling it out for the qualification spots in Group C.

This group boasts two of the most exciting players in World Football at the moment in the shape of Argentinean superstar Lionel Messi and Poland’s prolific number 9, Robert Lewandowski.

That said, Mexico and Saudi Arabia are not just there to make up the numbers in what promises to be an intriguing group.

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Let’s now continue our preview of the tournament by taking a closer look at the teams and what we would expect to happen in Group C.

Group C

  • Argentina
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Mexico
  • Poland

Argentina will be the clear favourites to win this group, as well as being one of the teams many fancy to win the tournament and in truth, they should not have too many problems coming through against the three opponents.

I think Saudi Arabia will struggle in this company and for the second qualification spot, the game between Mexico and Poland on the 22nd November could well be crucial with the winner of that game putting themselves in with a fantastic chance of progressing into the knockout phase.

With Lionel Messi in great form, many are hoping the Argentinean legend can inspire his team to World Cup success like Diego Maradona did in Mexico in 1986.

Group C Fixtures

  • 22nd Nov – Argentina v Saudi Arabia – Lusail Iconic Stadium (10am)
  • 22nd Nov – Mexico v Poland – Stadium 974 (4pm)
  • 26th Nov – Poland v Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium (1pm)
  • 26th Nov – Argentina v Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium (7pm)
  • 30th Nov – Poland v Argentina – Stadium 974 (7pm)
  • 30th Nov – Saudi Arabia v Mexico – Lusail Iconic Stadium (7pm)

Group C Team Previews

Argentina

  • Manager – Leonel Scaloni
  • Captain – Lionel Messi
  • Best World Cup Performance – 2 x Winners (1978, 1986)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Round of 16
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 3
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – DWWWW (Argentina are unbeaten in 35 matches)

Argentina’s Probable Best XI – (4-3-3) – Martinez.E (GK), Molina (DR), Tagliafico (DL), Martinez.L (DC), Romero (DC), De Paul (MC), Paredes.L (MC), Lo Celso (MC), Martinez.Lis (AC), Messi (AMRC), A.Di Maria (AMLC)

Argentina come into this tournament with the best record of any team in terms of unbeaten games, with 35 matches having passed since they were defeated. That kind of confidence should have them set up for a real attempt at winning this trophy once again.

Of course, Lionel Messi remains the main man for the Argentinean side and the good news for his team is that he is in fine form this season and looking likely to make a significant impact at these World Cup Finals.

The down side is that this is a team that is lacking experience, especially in defence and a lack of pace in the back line is also a concern, especially against some of the stronger teams they will encounter later in the tournament.

That said, with Messi in form, Argentina will be well capable of winning any game in this tournament and they should cruise through this group as winners.

Saudi Arabia

  • Manager – Herve Renard
  • Captain – Salman Al-Faraj
  • Best World Cup Performance – Round of 16 (1994)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Group Stage
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 51st
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – ddWDd

Saudi Arabia’s Probable Best XI – (4-2-3-1)- Al Owais (GK), Al-Berik (DR), Al-Shahrani (DL), H.Tambakti (DC), A.Madu (DC), M.Kanno (DMC), A.Al Najei (DMC), H.Bahbri (MLC), S.Al-Dawsari (MRC), S. Al-Faraj (AMC), F.Al Buraikan (AC)

Herve Renard has plenty of experience in managing international teams, but the Frenchman faces one of his biggest tasks in getting this Saudi Arabian side through the group stages of the tournament for the first time since 1994.

The team are well organised and have the advantage (or disadvantage depending on your point of view) of having all their stars based in their domestic league, meaning that preparations have been relatively problem-free in the build up to the tournament.

However, there’s no disguising that this Saudi Arabian side will lack the quality in depth of the other teams in the group and for that reason alone, they could struggle in such illustrious company in the tournament.

Mexico

  • Manager – Gerardo Martino
  • Captain – Andres Guardardo
  • Best World Cup Performance – Quarter Finals (1970, 1986)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Round of 16
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 13th
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – WDLWL

Mexico’s Probable Best XI – (4-3-3)- Ochoa (GK), Alvarez (DR), Arteaga (DL), Moreno (DC), Araujo (DC), Gutierrez (MC), Guardardo (MC), Rodriguez (MC), Lozano (AML), A.Vega (AMR), Jimenez (AC)

It is worth remembering that Mexico defeated Germany in the 2018 World Cup Finals, knocking the then Champions out of the tournament in the Group Stages, and many members of that team are still around today.

However, there is no doubt that this is one of the oldest squads in the tournament and I do feel that the fact they face three games in the space of eight or nine days, is going to be hugely sapping for the team, with temperatures set to still be very warm, even in the winter.

Add that to a lack of form for key men like Hirving Lozano and Raul Jimenez and I think the Mexicans will face a huge battle with Poland for second spot in this group.

Poland

  • Manager – Czeslaw Michniewicz
  • Captain – Robert Lewandowski
  • Best World Cup Performance – 3rd Place (1974, 1982)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Group Stage
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 26th
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – LDLLW

Poland’s Probable Best XI – (4-1-4-1) – Szczesny (GK), Cash (DR), Bereszynski (DL), Bednarek (DC), Glik (DC), Bielik (DMC), Zielinski (AML), J.Moder (AMC), Szymanski.S (AMR), Goralski (MC), Lewandowski (AC)

The Poles will be hoping to get past the group stages of the tournament this year and in Robert Lewandowski, they have one of the best strikers in the world leading their line. The question will be whether they can give the striker the ammunition to fire them through.

Well organised and disciplined, the Poles will be a stern test for any team in this group but I think they are not good enough to get anything against Argentina, which makes their opening game against Mexico absolutely vital and one they will feel they must win to progress from this group.

I think Mexico will run them close but I’m backing Lewandowski to fire enough goals to propel his team into the knockout phase.

Group C Prediction & Tips

  1. Argentina – (2/5 to win the group)
  2. Poland – (To Qualify – 10/11)
  3. Mexico
  4. Saudi Arabia