2022 Qatar World Cup - Group C Preview

Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia football badges with red background

Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia football badges with red background

The opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will get underway on Sunday afternoon when host nation Qatar take on Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium.

RealSport101's Harry Smith is on hand to preview the chances, tactics and key men for all four teams competing in Group C of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Team Preview - Argentina

Argentina made history with their qualification campaign, going unbeaten throughout the entire South American qualification stage for the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar 2022 will represent the last dance for a golden generation that is already fading, but Lionel Messi remains the spearhead of this Argentine side heading into his final shot at World Cup glory.

With injuries weakening France, squad shortfalls tempering expectations for Germany and Spain and discontent rife in the England camp, 2022 could be the year that a South American side reclaims the Jules Rimet trophy.

One to Watch - Julian Alvarez

Most of the noise regarding Manchester City's summer business has naturally gravitated towards the phenomenal Erling Haaland this season, but Julian Alvarez's signing might prove to be an even bigger scalp.

The 22-year-old has already impressed Pep Guardiola during his time in Manchester and scored six goals in an 8-1 win for River Plate in the Copa Libertadores back in May.

While Lautaro Martinez, Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria will likely be nailed-on starters for Argentina this winter, Alvarez could make his mark on the international stage if given the chance.

Team Preview - Mexico

Mexico tied with Canada at the top of the CONCACAF qualification stage, but public attitudes heading into this winter's World Cup remain overwhelmingly cautious.

Gerardo Daniel Martino will be looking to break a record-breaking run of seven consecutive round of 16 finishes in Qatar, but given the limitations in the squad that seems unlikely to happen in 2022.

Most concerning has been the form of talisman Raul Jimenez, who is yet to discover the form he displayed for club and country prior to his horrific head injury suffered while playing for Wolves in 2020.

One to Watch - Edson Alvarez

Ajax's midfield destroyer is on the radar of Europe's biggest clubs this season, but the 2022 Qatar World Cup will likely be where the Mexican becomes a household name.

The 25-year-old plays at the heart of Mexico's midfield three and can also be deployed as a centre-back, but Alvarez will be the beating heart of Martino's side if they're to progress beyond the group stage.

Team Preview - Poland

Poland's golden generation will enjoy one last dance this winter as star man and world-class striker Robert Lewandowski prepares for his final major international tournament.

The Poles impressive in qualifying for the World Cup, beating 2018 finalists Sweden 2-0 in their European qualification play-off final following a walkover victory against Russia.

This is a team stacked with top-level talent, but one that has played the role of perennial underachievers in recent tournaments, including at the latest European Championships in 2021.

One to Watch - Piotr Zielinski

Piotr Zielinski has been a fixture of the Polish national team since his debut back in 2013, amassing over 70 caps in that time, but this will be the first in which he is considered an elite-level midfielder.

The 28-year-old has played a starring role for Napoli this season, handed a more advanced role by Luciano Spalletti and protected by a midfield pivot of Andre-Frank Zambo-Anguissa and Stanislav Lobotka.

Capable of playing out wide and as a creative No.8, Zielinski has found his form in a Poland midfield that also contains the talent of Brighton midfielder Jakub Moder and Feyenoord prospect Sebastian Szymański.

Team Preview - Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia head into this winter's World Cup with arguably the weakest squad in the competition and a tough ask to go one better than 2018's third-place group-stage finish.

With the entire 26-man squad now playing their football in the Saudi Professional League, Herve Renard's side will be something of an unknown quantity heading into the World Cup.

That said, the Group C fourth-seed finished runners-up in their 2019 Asian Cup group, behind hosts Qatar. Worse still, Saudi Arabia would go on to lose to Japan in the round of 16 with Qatar going on to win the tournament.

One to Watch - Firas Al-Buraikan

Goals have been very hard to come by for Saudi Arabia with no player netting more than two in the 2019 Asian Cup. That could be about to change with the emergence of Firas Al-Buraikan.

The 22-year-old striker already has six international goals to his name and has been the focal point of the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 systems utilised by Herve Renard in the build-up to the World Cup.

If Saudi Arabia are to cause an upset this winter, it will have to be through the goals of Al-Buraikan.

Group C Prediction

  1. Argentina
  2. Poland
  3. Mexico
  4. Saudi Arabia

Group C Fixtures

  • Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (Tue 22, 10 a.m.)
  • Mexico vs Poland (Tue 22, 4 p.m.)
  • Poland vs Saudi Arabia (Sun 26, 1 p.m.)
  • Argentina vs Mexico (Sun 26, 7 p.m.)
  • Poland vs Argentina (Wed 30, 7 p.m.)
  • Saudi Arabia vs Mexico (Wed 30, 7 p.m.)
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