2022 FIFA World Cup Preview and Predictions: Group C

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching and we are bringing you a preview of every group ahead of the tournament, offering an insight into each team, as well as predictions as to who will progress to the knockout rounds. Below, we preview Group C that contains 2014 runners-up Argentina, Robert Lewandowski’s Poland, two-time hosts Mexico and Saudi Arabia, playing at their second consecutive World Cup.

The Teams:




Saudi Arabia

Group C Preview

Argentina’s current unbeaten run of 35 international matches means that they head into the competition as strong favorites. It seems like an almost certainty at this stage that La Albiceleste will qualify for the knockout rounds, which would be for a fifth consecutive time at the World Cup. Ending a 28-year drought for a major tournament win, last year Lionel Scaloni finally helped deliver Argentina’s first Copa America title since 1993. Everything is set up for Lionel Messi to go out with a bang.

However, Mexico are no strangers to featuring on the biggest stage in football and their consistency is impressive; they’ve reached the round of 16 in seven consecutive World Cup campaigns. Despite not being able to get past that stage, history would suggest that they’re pretty likely to qualify from the group. The last time they failed to get past the group stage was back in 1978 when Argentina were the host nation.

Poland will always pose a threat too due to Robert Lewandowski. No matter where he goes, he doesn’t stop scoring. His move from Bayern Munich to Barcelona has done very little to derail his goal-scoring ability, bagging 13 goals in just 14 appearances in La Liga so far this term.

Now aged 34, Lewandowski will feel that this may be his last chance to make something happen on the international stage, especially at a World Cup. He’s still also on the hunt for his first World Cup goal. Since earning his first international cap in 2008, Poland have qualified for just one World Cup (2018) and they were unable to make it out of the groups.

Messi’s Last Dance

In previous installments, Argentina have fell short. They did so at the final hurdle in 2014 when they lost against Germany after substitute Mario Götze scored an extra time winner. 2021 Copa America success signifies that Lionel Scaloni’s side have the capability to win the tournament in Qatar and it may be Messi’s last chance of winning the competition, now at the age of 35.

It was heartbreak in 2014 and that was followed by an underwhelming 2018 campaign in Russia where they were eliminated in the round of 16. In fact, they were lucky to even make it to that stage, scraping through to the knockouts with a measly four points in the groups – Messi and Marcos Rojo were the saviors in their 2-1 win against Nigeria in what was their only victory in Russia.

Talent does not usually evade Argentina, albeit may be uneven in its distribution and usually top-heavy, but the squad heading to Qatar is perhaps not filled with the most talent-rich individuals as the past. Nonetheless, there seems to be a form of cohesion and spirit about Scaloni’s side which has been missing before, as well as obvious stars too.

Poland Need to Up Their Game

The 2016 Euros gave Poland something to shout about as they managed to reach the quarter-finals but ultimately, their performances at major tournaments has not been good enough. The last time they made it out of the groups at a World Cup was in Mexico ’86 and they have only reached the knockout rounds at the Euros once in their last three appearances.

However, they did manage to defeat Sweden in the play-offs to qualify for the 2022 World Cup which was no mean feat, considering the Scandinavian team have performed admirably in major tournaments of late. It may well be Lewandowski’s final World Cup too so pressure is on to succeed.

Could the Green Falcons Soar?

Saudi Arabia finish off Group C as the side with the least expectations. They have only made it past the group stage once out of their five total World Cup appearances but their achievement in 1994, when they reached the round of 16, will be remembered fondly by the Green Falcons. Following a 12 year absence from the tournament, Saudi Arabia managed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and they did manage to pick up a victory against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt. However, they were not able to get past the group stage.

Head coach Herve Renard will take confidence in the fact that they are unbeaten in their last seven consecutive international fixtures, picking up notable draws against the likes of Ecuador and the USA, as well as defeating North Macedonia and Iceland. Back in March, the Saudis also defeated Australia 1-0 as they finished top of Group B in the third qualifying phase for Asia, finishing ahead of respected footballing nations Japan, and Australia themselves, to gain automatic qualification. Their qualifying campaign was impressive overall, with the team losing just one match out of ten.

Key Fixture

Matchday two’s matchup between Argentina and Mexico on November 26 at the Lusail Iconic Stadium should be a great affair. Mexico face Poland on matchday one so either way a positive result against Argentina for Gerardo Martino’s side will be crucial towards their tournament success. Argentina play Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener and providing there are no upsets, matchday two could be a chance for them to wrap up qualification into the knockouts.

Ones to Watch

Napoli’s Hirving Lozano will be looking to carry on the feel good factor from his club’s form onto the international stage with Mexico. The 27-year-old winger has contributed three goals and three assists to the Partenopei’s incredible campaign and he could be one to shine in Qatar.

Forward Saleh Al Shehri was the joint-top goalscorer in Asian third round qualification, leveling Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min with a total of four goals. It seems as though a big performance is needed if Saudi Arabia can make it out of the groups here.

Group C Final Prediction

Argentina’s run of form heading into the tournament and the attacking quality they have in the form of Messi, Roma’s Paulo Dybala and Inter’s Lautaro Martinez makes them heavy favorites to win the group and it would be a real surprise if they didn’t do so. Expect to see a deep run in the tournament – could they finally do it for Messi in a swashbuckling finale?

Barcelona’s new favorite man Lewandowski will also be keen for a huge World Cup, perhaps to show the rest of the world for once and for all he should have a Ballon d’Or to his name. We’re expecting him to do so this time around and push Poland ahead of an uninspiring Mexico side.

1. Argentina

2. Poland

3. Mexico

4. Saudi Arabia