What’s in store for Argentina vs Saudi Arabia, Denmark vs Tunisia, Mexico vs Poland, and France vs Australia in Qatar.
Four games are scheduled on day three – Tuesday, November 22 – of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (Group C): 1pm (10:00 GMT), Lusail Iconic Stadium
Denmark vs Tunisia (Group D): 4pm (13:00 GMT), Education City Stadium
Mexico vs Poland (Group C): 7pm (16:00 GMT), Stadium 974
France vs Australia (Group d): 10pm (19:00 GMT), Al Janoub Stadium
What to expect:
- Argentina, ranked 3rd overall and powered by their captain Lionel Messi – who is playing in his fifth World Cup – are heavily favoured over the young Saudi Arabian squad, who are ranked 51st.
Players to watch:
- All eyes are on Messi, who triggered alarm this week after skipping a scheduled team training due to “muscle overload”. The 35-year-old, who has made it known that this World Cup will be his last, reassured fans on Monday that was feeling “very good physically” and was looking forward to the match against Saudi Arabia.
- “I think I’m in a great moment, both personally and physically and I don’t have any problems,” Messi said at a press briefing.
- Messi appeared to be revelling in the frenzied World Cup atmosphere in Qatar, which is home to thousands of Argentina fans.
- Messi is the third-highest international goal-scorer in football history – behind Ali Daei and Cristiano Ronaldo – and has racked up an astounding 91 international goals in his career.
— Leo Messi 🔟 (@WeAreMessi) November 22, 2022
- Saudi Arabia’s 19-year-old Firas Al-Buraikan, playing in his first World Cup, enters the 2022 World Cup with 11 goals.
- Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard said his team is eager to start the tournament after fighting for the last two years to reach the finals.
- “We enjoyed a good preparation period and all the players Benefitted from it. We look forward to presenting an honourable performance for Saudi Arabia,” he said on Monday.
- Saudi midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki said: “We are not coming to the World Cup to just be in it. We are here to produce our best and make Saudi proud.”
- Saudi Arabia have never won their first game in a World Cup since they took part for the first time in 1994. Their best result was a 2-2 draw to Tunisia in 2006.
- Denmark, buoyed by solid outings at Euro 2020 and the Nations League, scored an impressive 30 goals, winning nine games in their World Cup qualifying campaign on the road to Qatar.
- Tunisia, who were nearly removed from the 2022 World Cup over alleged government interference, are hoping to advance from the group stage for the first time, and, in their fifth World Cup.
- The two teams have not competed against one another at the World Cup. The Scandinavians did, however, topple Tunisia – known to their fans as the Carthage Eagles – 2-1 during an exhibition match in 2002.
Players to watch:
- Manchester United midfield superstar Christian Eriksen, who will be marking his fourth World Cup appearance despite suffering a cardiac arrest last June during a Euro 2020 match
- Tunisia will rely upon the effective – and experienced – attacking line trio of Wahbi Khazri, Naim Sliti and Youssef Msakni to boost the North African squad’s dismal 2-9 World Cup record.
- Mexico’s road to the World Cup has been turbulent. The scrappy team, playing in their 16th World Cup, finished second in the eight-team qualifiers behind Canada on goal difference. The Mexican team have never advanced past the quarter-finals.
- Poland, meanwhile, has not escaped their group stage since 1982. The team is now looking to redeem itself after disappointing opening consecutive losses at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
- This match, marking the third time the Mexican and Polish teams have met, will be crucial in determining who makes it out of Group C.
Players to watch:
- Poland’s offence is spearheaded by Bayern Munich striker and FIFA’s men’s player of the year Robert Lewandowski.
- Look out for an incredible save or two from Mexican goalkeeper and World Cup cult hero Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, who is set to play in his third World Cup.
- France, looking to defend its second World Cup title, after coasting past Croatia in Russia in 2018, heads to Qatar as a fan favourite expected to make the semi-finals, if not the final. The heavy-hitting French squad is projected to glide through Group D with ease.
- The young and hungry Australian team, playing in their fifth consecutive World Cup, face an uphill battle as they look to advance from the group stage for the first time under the guidance of manager Graham Arnold.
Players to watch:
- The pressure is now on the ever-lethal Frenchman Kylian Mbappe, who guided France to a Nation’s League title last year after Les Bleus suffered a string of problematic injuries.
- Notably, France was dealt a major blow on Saturday when Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema tore a muscle in his left thigh while training. Starters N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are also noticeably absent from the team’s 2022 lineup due to injuries.
- But Benzema’s last-minute withdrawal could actually be a blessing in disguise as Mbappe is now expected to be paired with his favoured attacking partner, Olivier Giroud.
- Mbappe and Benzema have brilliantly combined at times but Mbappe has said that Giroud’s style of play probably suited him better. Look out for Ajdin Hrustic, who seems to have overcome an earlier injury, and may add a spark to Australia’s offence.