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Argentina vs Saudi Arabia Match Preview

20 Nov 2022 15:37    

The match

Argentina begin their bid to win the World Cup for the first time since 1986. They take on Saudi Arabia in the opening game in Group C. Later in the day it's the other group match as Poland take on Mexico. The Argentinians are the favorites to win this group and it's important they do that. The runners-up in this group will meet the winners of Group D and that could be France who knocked Argentina out of the 2018 World Cup. The Argentinians come into this World Cup unbeaten in 36 matches, last losing to Brazil in July 2019. Their last five matches have all been won to nil with 19 goals scored. Lionel Messi has scored in each of the last four games, including all five in the 5-0 win over Estonia in June. This will be his last World Cup and this is probably one of the best chances he's had to finally win a World Cup.

Saudi Arabia didn't reach their first World Cup finals until 1994. They reached the last 16 on that occasion but four subsequent appearances have seen then eliminated in the group stages with one win in 12 matches. Saudi Arabia would have been better hosts for this tournament. Like Qatar, they are keen to be seen hosting important sporting events, so may be possible future hosts. They won their World Cup qualifying group by a point from Japan. All five of their home games were won and they finished eight points clear of third placed Australia. They have not enjoyed a good build-up to this tournament with only two wins in their last eight internationals. There haven't been many goals scored in their games. The last 19 Saudi Arabia internationals have all had under 2.5 goals scored in them. Not since October 2021 have they managed to score twice in a game. 12 games have been played since they last conceded more than once (losing 2-0 in Japan) but that record is in danger here. Go for Argentina to win this and be ahead at both half and full time. A side bet on an Argentinian win to nil also looks a likely winner.

Key Statistics

Argentina are unbeaten in their last 36 internationals.

Saudi Arabia have only won two of their last eight matches.

Argentina have won their last five games by an aggregate score of 19-0.

Saudi Arabia have only won one of their last 12 games in World Cup finals.

Argentina have never lost to Saudi Arabia in four previous meetings.

The bet of our experts

Argentina seems to have forgotten what it's like to lose. They come into this World Cup tournament unbeaten in 36 games and won the Copa America title last year. While they are scoring lots of goals, it's probably more important that their defending is top notch too. Saudi Arabia haven't reached the last 16 since 1994. They won their qualifying group but are nowhere near as strong on the road as they are on home soil. Their form is nowhere near as good as that of their opponents. Back Argentina to win this with a lead at both half and full time. A win to nil looks likely as is Messi getting on the scoresheet. Tougher tasks lie ahead for them though.

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