Tuesday marks the beginning of Argentina’s most recent bid for international success as the South American nation faces Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium to open Group C of the 2022 World Cup.
La Albiceleste has two World Cup titles to their credit—1978 and 1986—while Saudi Arabia hopes to make waves in a challenging group and avoid finishing fourth as predicted.
The plan for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to lead his country to the World Cup has already been laid out, and there are plenty of reasons to think that this year could be Argentina’s year. However, this World Cup could very well be Lionel Messi’s swansong.
The South American champions, whose star player Messi had not yet been born when they last made it all the way in the World Cup, made the trip to Qatar with the Copa America already in hand. Their goal now is to end a 36-year slide without a World Cup triumph.
Argentina has gone on an incredible 36-game unbeaten streak across all competitions since losing 2-0 to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America. During this time, they have qualified for the 2022 World Cup without dropping a contest and have won each of their last five matches overall.
The latest five wins for La Albiceleste have been followed by five shutouts and a staggering 16 goals, including a convincing 5-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates.
Saudi Arabia had the honor of hosting the 2018 World Cup and lost to Russia 5-0 in that tournament opener. The Arabians will undoubtedly be worried about a repeat performance against an outclassed Argentina on Tuesday.
Herve Renard’s team was unsurprisingly eliminated from the group stage four years ago, and they are currently fighting an uphill battle to avoid experiencing the same fate this time around with Mexico and Poland joining them in a challenging Group C.
Saudi Arabia has only advanced past the group stage of the World Cup once, in 1994, and the country, which is now rated 51st in the world, is not in the best of form, having won just two of their last 10 games.