The 22nd World Cup series is about to begin. From November 20, 32 nations will compete in Qatar for the coveted title. Players from the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Brazil are familiar to the general public, but what about countries like Australia, South Korea and Serbia? In this section, Voetbalzone looks forward to the World Cup for one group and in the third edition it is the turn of Group C, which includes the top-ranked Argentina. Other countries in this group are Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
By: Bart D’Hanis
Argentina will join Brazil to win this World Cup. The South American country may have superstar Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain) play in the finals in Qatar for the last time. Apart from Messi, coach Lionel Scaloni also has high flyers like Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan) and Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United) in his selection. Christian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur) and Angel Di Maria (Juventus) are currently injured but are expected to be fit in time for the World Cup. Another Argentine icon is Julian Alvarez (Manchester City). The young attacker has had to put up with Erling Haaland this season but is making a strong impact when he does play. He has two goals and two assists in over 400 minutes in the Champions League this season. The loss for Argentina was an injury to Paulo Dybala (AS Roma). The attacking midfielder picked up a calf injury at the end of October and has been ruled out of the World Cup, although it is still unclear.
Argentina’s eighteenth appearance at the World Cup. Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986. In 2022, the atmosphere in Argentina will be good. The South Americans have not lost in 35 (!) matches in a row. If La Selle They finished their three group matches in Qatar unbeaten, breaking the record of 37, which is still held by Italy. During that spectacular performance, Scaloni’s team had already won two prizes. The Copa America was won in 2021, thanks in part to a fine marker from Di Maria in the final against Brazil. Also, in the first Finalissima, between the winner of the European Championship and the winner of the Copa America, Messi’s superb performance saw Italy win 3-0. Argentina have performed well in their last three exhibition matches. Argentina won 5-0, 3-0 and 3-0 against Estonia, Honduras and Jamaica respectively. At the World Cup, Saudi Arabia will be the first to try to end the South Americans’ losing streak on November 22. On November 26, Mexico will be the opponent, and on November 30, Argentina will close the group against Poland.
What is remarkable about Saudi Arabia is that the entire selection is played in its own domestic competition. That’s why there aren’t any names that immediately stand out, apart from coach Herve Renard. The 54-year-old Frenchman previously coached Morocco’s national team, where he briefly clashed with Hakim Ziech. The absence of well-known names in Saudi Arabia’s selection does not mean that the selection is poor. Hassanane Balal, a Middle East sports journalist and football pundit, said that Saudi Arabia is indeed the best team, perhaps the best team in Asia. “It’s an organized and experienced team, Saudi Arabia’s domestic competition is at a higher level than people think.”
That Renard’s team can play good football was proven in the recent World Cup qualifiers in Qatar. Saudi Arabia closed out the qualifiers against Japan and Australia as winners. They lost just once in ten qualifying rounds, thus easily booking their ticket to the World Cup. In fact, since Renard’s appointment in 2019, the Saudis have lost just four times in nearly 30 games. Saudi Arabia has also impressed in recent practice matches, including in the 2018 World Cup. The United States and Ecuador, the Orange team, were held to a goalless draw. Saudi Arabia’s ‘goodbye match’ saw them beat North Macedonia 1-0. Saudi Arabia will face Poland on November 22 in Qatar. They play against Argentina on November 26 and finish the group stage with a game against Mexico on November 30.
Mexico is participating in the World Cup in Qatar for the sixteenth time. National coach Gerardo Martino will have several players active in the Eredivisie next month. Edson Alvarez, Jorge Sanchez (both Ajax), Santiago Jimenez (Feyenoord) and Erik Gutierrez (PSV) will most likely be part of the selection. Former PSV players Lozano (Napoli) and Andres Cuartado (Real Betis) are also expected to be in Qatar. However, the ongoing groin injury of striker Raul Jimenez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) was a major setback for Martino. The 31-year-old striker scored 29 times in 96 internationals for Mexico. It remains to be seen if Jimenez recovers in time to travel to Qatar with the Mexico team. Another loss for the Mexicans was an ankle injury to a striker. The 71-time international must go through the World Cup.
L. tricolor It qualified for this World Cup by finishing second behind Canada in the CONCACAF qualifiers. The Mexican players scored 28 points in 14 games. In these fourteen games, 2014 World Cup star goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (Club America) managed to keep a clean sheet no fewer than eight times. In the CONCACAF Nations League, Mexico is tied for second place with Suriname and Jamaica. Leaders Jamaica are one point ahead of Mexico but have a game in hand. However, in the last warm-up games before the World Cup, Mexico did not make much of an impact. Lost 3-2 to Colombia and 1-0 to Paraguay. Mexico beat Peru 1-0. The good news for Mexico supporters is that since 1994, Mexico has won the group stages of every World Cup. To survive the group stage, Mexico will need to hold their own against Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia, who will face each other on November 22, 26 and 30 respectively.
Poland is the only European country in this group. Coach Czeslaw Michniewicz’s squad consists of many big names from contemporary football. Robert Lewandowski (FC Barcelona), goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (Juventus) and Piotr Zielinski (Napoli) will most likely be seen at the upcoming World Cup in Qatar. Michniewicz prefers to play in a 3-5-2 formation. In addition to Lewandowski, there is room for another striker in this formation. It’s not Arkadiusz Milik (Juventus) or Krzysztof Piatek (Salernitana), but 25-year-old Karol Swiderski (Charlotte FC). The striker, who plays his matches in MLS, has scored eight times and provided one assist in seventeen international appearances for Poland. Also, the Poles have a strong fullback in right-back Matty Cash (Aston Villa). He has made 11 appearances for the Birmingham club this season.
The Polish team is participating in the World Cup in Qatar for the ninth time. The European country also participated in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. As in previous participations in 2002 and 2006, Poland had to withdraw from the tournament after the group stage. This year, Poland have a better chance of reaching the next round than ever before. Biało-Cervoni Finished second in the qualifying group ahead of Albania and Hungary, and managed to secure several good results in the Nations League. For example, Poland managed to hold the Dutch national team to a 2-2 draw, and they won twice against Wales. Thanks to seven points played together, Poland will play in League A of the Nations League next year. Sweden won 2-0 in March this year as well. Poland begin their World Cup campaign on November 22 against Saudi Arabia. On November 26, Lewandowski and co will face Mexico, after which a meeting with Argentina is scheduled for November 30.
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