Updated: Nov 7
Group C is shaping up to be one of the most exciting groups of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Argentine star Lionel Messi meets Poland forward and current FIFA Men's player of the Year, Robert Lewandowski as two of the best strikers on the planet go head-to-head.
Argentina is one of the World Cup’s traditional powerhouses, and its most individually successful player, and the world arguably, Messi competes for the last time in the national team.
Will Mexico reach the final eight and finally perform better than the 1986 team, or will Saudi Arabia break out of the group stage for the first time?
Argentina: Last Chance for Messi
The Albiceleste are one of the big favorites for this World Cup and arrive on the back of an incredible 35-game unbeaten streak. Lionel Messi has declared this is his last World Cup so he and his team will be more determined than ever to send the legendary number 10 off with the World Cup in hand.
But at 35 years old, this could very well be his last chance to take home the World Cup. While his season has been rather lackluster so far for Paris Saint-Germain, it would be unwise to dismiss a player widely regarded as the one of the best to ever play the game.
Argentina's opening game against Saudi Arabia will be Messi's 20th match during a World Cup. Still, for a man rated by many as the best player of the 21st century, his six goals tally is relatively paltry for a man of his undoubted talents.
Poland: Can Lewandowski fire the Team Past the Group Phase?
The much-anticipated match between Argentina and Poland in the final game of Group C will take place on November 30th. Poland will be hoping to take all three points, which could take them to the Round of 16 for the first time this century.
Poland will be determined to make up for a poor showing at Euro 2020 and fight their way out of a tough group. Talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski will be central to Polish hopes with the prolific front man in great touch for new club Barcelona.
Despite boasting a strong squad, Poland have had poor form in major tournaments as they were eliminated at the group stage at Euro 2020 and the 2018 World Cup. Can new coach Czeslaw Michniewicz guide the Poles into the knockout round in what is set to be Lewandowski’s final World Cup?
Mexico: Can the El-Tri Better their Record?
There is a measure of value in backing Mexico to advance to the round of 16, but they might not get much further. Mexico have a frustrating history of coasting through the group stage, only to fall apart during the knockout rounds.
Manager Gerardo Martino was in charge of Argentina between 2014 and 2016, and will be extremely familiar with Argentina’s players and strategies.
Mexico have had a few injury setbacks but key striker Raúl Jiménez may be fit before kickoff. The side isn’t without options though; Henry Martín is in blistering form for Liga MX team América this season and Santiago Giménez has been scoring goals in both the Europa League and the Eredivisie.
Saudi Arabia: Little to No Chance
Saudi Arabia face an almighty task with one of the toughest groups at this year’s tournament. Saudi were strong in AFC qualifying, having lost only one game in a group that included Japan and Australia.
However, making it to the tourney will mean nothing for the second-lowest ranked side in Qatar as they look to stop the attacking might of Lionel Messi, Hirving Lozano and Robert Lewandowski in consecutive games.
The team have proven they can beat premium sides – such as their 2-1 win over Egypt in the 2018 World Cup – but there will be almost no room for error in this group.
Saudi Arabia will be heavily reliant on both Salem Al-Dawsari and Saleh Al-Shehri – both of whom scored seven goals during the World Cup qualifiers.
Argentina cruises to the top of the group in style. The Mexico-Poland opener determines who follows in second. If it ends in a draw, the group becomes a two-part contest: Who can keep Argentina at bay, and who can ruthlessly pound Saudi Arabia to inflate their goal differential?
More-likely-than-you-think outcome?: There really isn’t one. Poland is dull. Mexico is weakened, and hasn’t climbed back to its 2019 peak under Gerardo "Tata" Martino. El Tri has more upside than the Poles, but don’t bet on either troubling Argentina.