Argentina will begin their quest to win the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986 when they face Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail.
Venue: Lusail Iconic Stadium (Lusail)
Argentina are unbeaten in their last 36 games.
They enjoyed an unbeaten World Cup qualification campaign (W11, D6).
Argentina have failed to win just once across their last seven World Cup finals openers (W6, D1).
Saudi Arabia have lost just one of their last eight games (W2, D4).
They have failed to score more than once in their last 19 matches.
Saudi Arabia have conceded more than one goal just once in their last 19 games.
Head to head
Argentina have one win and one draw in two unofficial meetings with Saudi Arabia.
Latest performances in all competitions
Saudi Arabia: L-D-W-D-D
Lionel Messi’s last sojourn in the FIFA World Cup will begin on Tuesday when he and his Argentina teammates face Saudi Arabia in their opening game of the World Cup.
The PSG talisman is looking to lay his hands on the World Cup, having narrowly missed out in the last two editions. The responsibility of meeting their lofty ambitions rests on a strike force that also boasts Lautaro Martínez, Ángel Di María, and the exciting Julian Alvarez.
Despite manager Lionel Scaloni being forced to take players from the reserves after Nicolás González and Joaquín Correa were ruled out of the tournament, the mood is likely to remain upbeat as Argentina come into this tournament in good shape.
They won both the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 Finalissma titles and also had an unbeaten World Cup qualification campaign (W11, D6).
Their preparations for this game were also completed with a 5-0 demolition of the United Arab Emirates in a friendly on Wednesday, making it 36 unbeaten matches under Scaloni – a run that also saw them end a 28-year trophy drought.
That run of form and the personal form of Messi, who has already registered 26 goal contributions in all competitions this season, has made Argentina the bookies’ favourites to lift the World Cup.
Possible Argentina starting line-up
Emiliano Martinez; Nahuel Molina Lucero, Nicolas Otamendi, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Tagliafico; Alexis Mac Allister, Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul; Lionel Messi, Lautaro Javier Martinez, Angel Di Maria.
After enjoying a solid qualification campaign in which they topped their third-round World Cup qualifying group, finishing above better-ranked Japan and Australia, Saudi Arabia will look to begin the finals on a positive note when they face Argentina.
The Middle East team may be considered the group minnows, but the lack of expectations could work in their favour. Hervé Renard’s men aim to better their group stage exit from the previous World Cup, having made it out of that group phase just once across their previous five World Cup appearances, on their debut in 1994.
However, the remaining Group C teams, Poland and Mexico, are ranked at least 20 places better by FIFA than Saudi Arabia. A more realistic aim is to avoid the dreaded fourth place and qualify as the best third-place team.
They can draw inspiration from their recent games, where they have been only beaten once in their last eight games (W2, D4). While scoring goals may not be their forte, having failed to net more than once in each of their last 19 matches, Saudi Arabia may keep things tight at the back after conceding more than one goal just once during that sequence.
Possible Saudi Arabia starting line-up
Mohammed Al-Owais; Saud Abdulhamid, Abdulelah Al-Amri, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Yasir Al Shahrani; Firas Al-Buraikan, Mohamed Kanno, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Nasser Al-Dawsari; Salman Al-Faraj, Saleh Al-Shehri.
|Argentina to win||Draw||Saudi Arabia to win|
Argentina 2-0 Saudi Arabia