Argentina have never approached a World Cup with such consistent form

Argentina have never approached a World Cup with such consistent form, solid plan and harmonious squad. La Albiceleste delivered a first senior international title since 1993 last summer by lifting the Copa America, also ending captain Lionel Messi’s own barren spell for his country. The fluid, tactical plan under coach Lionel Scaloni brings the best out of this team.

Nicknamed La Scaloneta after their coach, who went from caretaker to fundamental after getting the job in 2018, this team has a solid central midfield two in Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes to provide the ballast for Messi to create. With Angel Di Maria cutting in from the right and Lautaro Martinez a mobile centre-forward, the Flea finally has the freedom not to have to do it all himself. Over to you, Leo.

Saudi Arabia manager Herve Renard is the the only man to have coach two different teams to the Africa Cup of Nations glory and, as massive underdogs in a group that also contains Poland and Mexico, they’ll need every bit of experience that the Frenchman can muster, but the Green Falcons have been here before.

Memories of Saeed Al-Owairan’s mazy dribble through Belgium’s defence at USA 94 are still fresh in the Middle East, when the Saudis reached the last 16. Defensively solid – five of their seven wins in the final stage of qualifying were 1-0 – Renard’s side know each other well with Al Hilal club-mates Salem Al Dawsari (their best player), Mohamed Kanno and Salman Al Faraj heading up the midfield. Goals will be harder to come by. They scored just five in 13 games from November 2021 to this September but playing close to home could give them an advantage.

Argentina kick off their highly anticipated 2022 World Cup campaign against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, November 22. 

With captain and superstar Lionel Messi appearing at the tournament for a final time, Argentina are hoping to send their icon out with a piece of silverware that has so far eluded him. 

While a draw would suit Saudi Arabia just fine, only a win will do for Argentina in this match as they look to start their World Cup quest on the right foot. 

The Albiceleste have been hugely impressive under boss Lionel Scaloni who delivered a first Copa America since 1993 last year. And they’ll be expected to cruise past Saudi Arabia who have only made it past the group stages once in almost three decades.

The last meeting between these two sides was in a 2012 friendly. The match finished goalless despite Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero all starting for La Albiceleste.

You have to go back over 30 years for their other meeting. In a Confederations Cup clash, Argentina came away 3-1 winners. Diego Simeone was on the scoresheet that day.

In 1988 the pair played a two-legged Gold Cup tie over the space of 10 days. A 2-2 draw and 2-0 Argentina victory sent the South American side through.

In what is Lionel Messi’s final dance on the grandest stage, plenty are tipping Argentina to go all the way in Qatar.

Copa America champions once more, this is a settled side who have impressive tournament pedigree and one boasting obvious attacking talent. Indeed, they are offered a great chance to make an early statement too.

Exit mobile version