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HomeLatestWorld Cup Group C preview: Messi's final shot at glory

World Cup Group C preview: Messi's final shot at glory

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BEIJING, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — In a gaggle the place Argentina are the one group within the high 10 in FIFA’s final rankings earlier than the FIFA World Cup kicks off in November, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia can even be vying for a ticket to the spherical of 16.

Here is a breakdown of the 4 groups in Group C.

ARGENTINA

It has been 36 years since Argentina final gained the World Cup. If 35-year-old Lionel Messi desires to recreate the group’s golden age after Mario Kempes in 1978 and Diego Maradona in 1986, this may nicely be his final shot at glory.

Although no one on the group made this 12 months’s Ballon d’Or 30-man record, the Albiceleste are feeling their oats after beating rivals Brazil to win the Copa America final 12 months, and the group is now extra artistic, balanced and united since head coach Lionel Scaloni took cost in 2019.

But midfielder Giovani Lo Celso injured his proper hamstring in final weekend’s La Liga recreation and can miss the World Cup. Despite not enjoying a single minute in Russia 4 years in the past, Lo Celso has change into a daily starter and Messi’s greatest companion. His capability to regulate the ball and create possibilities in a number of positions, particularly on the left aspect, may have launched Messi nearer to the objective space.

How to slot in a alternative in an already polished and well-shaped squad is one thing Scaloni must work on within the subsequent few days.

Star participant: Lionel Messi

Messi will little doubt be one of many headliners in Qatar as he chases the World Cup one final time. Having scooped the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2005, an Olympic gold medal in 2008 and the Copa America title in 2021, together with each doable titles at membership stage, Messi’s trophy room has all the things besides the World Cup.

There’s nothing rather more to say about how and why Messi is the perfect participant on the planet; maybe all he wants is a little bit of luck and endurance.

One to observe: Julian Alvarez

Argentina by no means lack attacking skills, and Julian Alvarez may very well be the newest. The Manchester City striker scored twice on his first league begin and as soon as on his first begin within the Champions League, and has 5 objectives and two assists up to now this season.

With his capability on and off the ball, in addition to his tireless working and aggressive protection, 22-year-old Alvarez is anticipated to get constant minutes off the bench.

MEXICO

Mexico have superior to the spherical of 16 in seven consecutive World Cups courting again to U.S. 1994, an achievement that powerhouses like France, Germany and Argentina have by no means managed.

But Mexico have been struggling to emerge as a top-tier group on the World Cup stage with an absence of world-class stars, as they haven’t gained any of their knockout video games within the final seven tournaments. But this time, whether or not “El Tri” may survive the group stays doubtful.

As key gamers like Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Giovanni Dos Santos withdrew from the nationwide group lately and younger gamers did not make their mark, Mexico have misplaced their stable dominance within the North American area, regardless of nonetheless qualifying from CONCACAF in second place.

Star participant: Raul Jimenez

Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead Raul Jimenez is absolutely the playmaker in Mexico’s offense, however the 31-year-old suffered a groin harm in September and a knee harm in preseason, and has made simply three league appearances up to now this season.

It continues to be unsure if Jimenez will make it to Qatar, however his absence or lack of health would have a big impact on head coach Gerardo Martino’s recreation plan.

One to observe: Edson Alvarez

25-year-old Alvarez performs for Ajax as a midfielder. Standing 187cm tall, Alvarez is a supreme athlete, and his versatile enjoying fashion permits him to cowl the midfield from field to field.

Starting 17 of 18 video games this season, Alvarez has supplied one objective and two assists, attracting the eye of a few of Europe’s greatest golf equipment, together with Chelsea.

POLAND

Poland have solely certified for the World Cup 3 times since 1990, every time being knocked out within the group stage. But again in 1974 and 1982, Poland had their greatest World Cup reminiscence as they completed third twice.

With the rise of Robert Lewandowski and gamers like Wojciech Szczesny and Arkadiusz Milik, Poland had been thought of one of many stronger groups on the 2018 World Cup, however suffered an early group exit with two losses and a comfort win in opposition to Japan within the final group recreation.

Poland now rank twenty sixth, behind third-placed Argentina and Thirteenth-placed Mexico, so their opening recreation in opposition to Mexico on November 22 will doubtless resolve their fortune.

Star participant: Robert Lewandowski

2022 has been a outstanding 12 months for Lewandowski, as he left Bayern Munich after eight years to affix La Liga giants Barcelona. The Pole now leads the league’s scoring chart with 13 objectives, displaying that he’s nonetheless within the prime of his profession at 34.

But at worldwide stage, Lewandowski failed to attain in any of Poland’s three group video games in Russia, leaving his solely look on soccer’s greatest stage with no objectives or assists.

One to observe: Matty Cash

In Poland’s getting older squad, right-back Matty Cash is among the few younger gamers that might occupy a beginning place. The 25-year-old joined Premier League aspect Aston Villa from Nottingham Forest in 2020 and has been a daily fixture, being named Supporters’ Player of the Season final 12 months.

Cash made his nationwide group debut in Poland’s 4-1 victory over Andorra within the World Cup qualifiers final 12 months and has made seven appearances up to now.

SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia are making their sixth World Cup look. Their solely sensible anticipation in Qatar can be to keep away from one other humiliation after their embarrassing string of outcomes from the previous editions, together with an 8-0 loss to Germany in 2002, a 4-0 loss to Ukraine in 2006 and a 5-0 defeat to hosts Russia in 2018.

But soccer is commonly the place miracles occur. Nobody would have anticipated Saudi Arabia to complete their World Cup Asian qualifiers marketing campaign forward of Japan and Australia at high of Group B with seven wins, two attracts and one loss, with wonderful bodily health, delicate footwork and excellent passing expertise on show.

Unlike the opposite three group opponents, all of the Saudi gamers compete of their home league, largely for Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr. The particular group chemistry and familiarity of the gamers can be one thing Saudi Arabia can depend on.

Star participant: Salem Al-Dawsari

Salem Al-Dawsari performs as a winger for Al-Hilal following a brief mortgage at Spanish membership Villarreal. The 31-year-old was one of many key gamers in Saudi Arabia’s journey to Qatar as he scored seven objectives in 13 video games.

Al-Dawsari was awarded Best Player as Al-Hilal gained the Asian Champions League in 2021. His capability to dribble previous a number of opponents and create possibilities for his teammates can be decisive for the group’s offense.

One to observe: Firas Al-Buraikan

Born in 2000, Firas Al-Buraikan made his nationwide group debut on the age of 19.

Returning from the senior nationwide group after the group stage, Al-Buraikan scored one objective and laid on two assists within the quarterfinals and semifinals, and scored the second objective of their 2-0 victory over hosts Uzbekistan to assist Saudi Arabia win the U23 Asian Cup for the primary time in June this 12 months.

Unlike a conventional heart ahead, Al-Buraikan has nice dribbling expertise and touches in entrance of objective as he tends to maneuver near the left and minimize inside.

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