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FIFA World Cup 2022: Arg Vs Saudi Arabia: Not really a warm-up match!

Argentina aims to keep Saudi swords in their sheath as they go all in to secure a solid foundation in the World Cup opening game with a win



Messi’s Argentina will face Salman Al-Faraj’s Saudi Arabia team this afternoon!

Argentina has always entered the World Cup with immense pressure on their shoulders. In most editions of the tournament, the Albiceleste have relied heavily on one talisman whose magic not only carries them to the final but also overshadows other problems within the squad. It is not that Argentina has never been a team, just that they have seldom been able to harness the individual brilliance of their stars.

But with the 2022 Winter World Cup itself being an exception, the Argentina squad is no less.  The present manager Lionel Scaloni and assistant coach Pablo Aimar (both former stars and teammates of a young Messi at the 2006 World Cup) have been able to galvanize the Argentina squad into a solid group.

It is not just fan emotions, the numbers speak for themselves. The last time Argentina lost a game was in the 2019 Copa America semi-finals. Since then they are at a world record of 36 unbeaten games.

Gone are the days, when after a heavy defeat to Bolivia, a single star’s magic would somehow seal them a qualification spot.  The ‘La Scaloneta’ as the fans call it is a real threat to any team in this world cup. This is a solid group which poises a togetherness of both experience and youth, the best example would be De Paul guarding and combining with Messi, helping the ‘GOAT’ do what he does best: Score goals and create chances that no one else can see on the pitch. 

The main man on whom the eyeballs of the entire world will rest for 90 minutes this afternoon is himself in a swansong form at present. Having found his footing back in Paris, he has scored 12 goals in 17 games this season.  Yes, Villareal player Giovanni Lo Celso’s injury might be a scratch to the team, but it is not enough to derail the momentum of the Copa America champions.

 Saudi Arabia are also no strangers to the big tournament having played in five editions before. Their former star striker, Sami Al-Jaber is a popular name who achieved the rare feat of scoring in World Cups twelve years apart (1994 and 2006).

The Arabian Knights aim to go beyond the round of 16 this time, a feat they haven’t achieved yet. And to make things worse, they have one of the tournament’s favourites as their opponents in their opening game this time. Still for Saudi Arabia, a ray of hope persists, for they have nothing to lose in this tie and can go all in on Argentina like Iceland did in the 2018 World Cup group stage, frustrating the blue and white to a draw.

Key Players:

Argentina: Nicolas Otamendi, Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, Lionel Messi

Saudi Arabia: Yasser Al-Shahrani, Salem Al-Dawsari, Firas Al-Buraikan, Saleh Al-Shehri


Lionel Messi has scored 91 goals in his international career. At his last World Cup, he looks forward  to net his 100th goal.

Arijit Roy is a young correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. He has done his masters in English literature from Delhi University and has a book of poems published by Writers Workshop India. He can be reached at [email protected]

Poetic गुफ्तगू – With हुमेरा खान @poetsofDelhi