World Cup: Daily update from day 2 in Qatar
Argentina and Saudi Arabia meet in Group C of the World Cup 2022 in Qatar today. Argentina are one of the favourites to lift the trophy this winter, and they begin their bid with a favourable tie against Saudi Arabia, one of the minnows of the competition.
While seemingly sterner tests await Lionel Messi and his teammates when they take on Mexico and Poland – who meet later in the day – this opening game represents a great chance for the two-time champions to pick up three points and early momentum.
Argentina have not won the World Cup since 1986, when Maradona starred for them in Mexico, and the nation is desperate not only to reclaim the crown but also to see Messi add this elusive title to his already frighteningly long list of accolades.
Messi missed some training sessions in the week leading up to this game with Saudi Arabia, but the captain stressed: “I’m feeling very well, I’m very well physically, good condition.” That is good news for Argentina but bad news for Saudi Arabia, as they look to spring one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.
Follow all the action with our live blog below.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia: TEAM NEWS
Emeliano Martinez, Cristian Romero, Nicolas Tagliafico, Nicolas Otamendi, Nahuel Molina, Alejandro Gomez, Rodrigo De Paul, Leandro Paredes, Lionel Messi (c), Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria.
Mohamed Al-Owais, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Yasser Al-Shahrani, Mohamed Kanno, Saud Abdulhamid, Abdulelah Al-Malki, Saleh Al-Shehri, Hassan Al-Tambakti, Salman Al-Faraj(c), Salem Al-Dawsari, Firas Al-Buraikan.
Kieran Jackson22 November 2022 09:00
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia: The Independent’s prediction…
Lionel Messi is facing his last chance to win a World Cup at the age of 35 and his team comes into the tournament as one of the favourites after Argentina won the Copa America last summer.
Following on from a car crash of a campaign in 2018, Argentina have far better balance and cohesion now under Lionel Scaloni than in perhaps any other World Cup Messi has played in.
Kieran Jackson22 November 2022 08:41
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia: Lionel Messi’s last World Cup comes in a tangled web of sportswashing
It’s the 93rd minute on a sweltering November evening in Qatar. Lionel Messi flicks a pass forward and receives the return while gliding towards the Brazil defence. There is a nibble at his shins and although Messi stumbles, he carries on, now drifting away from goal. The reverse shot across his body sends him off balance, tumbling into a backwards roll. The ball, though, nestles perfectly into the far corner and as Messi takes off, Argentina can celebrate their first win over Brazil in five years.
The year was 2010, the match two weeks before Fifa met to vote on the hosts of the 2022 World Cup. The staging of a friendly between not only international football’s greatest rivals, as well as its best player, was undoubtedly a significant moment for Qatar’s relationship with the sport, but came as Fifa’s own technical report delivered a damning verdict that the country’s bid to host the World Cup carried “high risk”. In the end, it made no difference. Two weeks later, Sepp Blatter announced the decision that would shape football for the next 12 years.
Argentina’s win against Brazil and Messi’s stoppage time winner was the start of two journeys, culminating over the next four weeks at a World Cup that will bind ambition and opportunity, of which for the hosts its legacy will be the image it leaves behind.
In terms of trial runs, though, it was not the first. England had played in the first international fixture to be staged at the Khalifa Stadium in Doha, also against Brazil, one year earlier. But what at the time could have been seen as a moment of individual brilliance from Messi, a blend of balance, skill and speed that would define his career, can also now be viewed through the lens of Qatar’s early forages into hosting the big names, the big teams, and their attempts to gain power through football.
On the pitch, Messi’s last shot at the World Cup is the most compelling story of the tournament. At the time of the Qatar friendly in 2010, and in the aftermath of Argentina’s disastrous World Cup campaign under Diego Maradona in South Africa, Messi was emerging, truly, as the captain and figure who would be expected to carry his nation for the next 12 years.
Kieran Jackson22 November 2022 08:23
What TV channel is Argentina vs Saudi Arabia on? Kick-off time and where to watch World Cup fixture
It’s been 36 years since Argentina last won the World Cup while the prize is the one that has evaded Messi throughout his career.
Now playing in his final World Cup at the age of 35, Messi appears to be back to his best following a difficult first season at PSG, while Argentina seem to be in good shape too.
Lionel Scaloni’s side are among the favourites following their victory in the Copa America last summer, which ended Messi’s long wait for a first international title with his country.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Luke Baker22 November 2022 08:15
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia
Welcome to The Independent’s coverage of Argentina vs Saudi Arabia from the Qatar World Cup.
Lionel Messi faces one last chance to win the World Cup with Argentina as he opens his final tournament against unfancied Saudi Arabia. The World Cup has evaded Messi throughout his career and the closest he came was in the final defeat to Germany in 2014.
Argentina suffered poor campaigns in 2010 and 2018, but they come into Qatar as one of the favourites following their Copa America triumph last summer.
It was a victory that gave Messi a long-awaited first international title with Argentina and Lionel Scaloni’s side will be confident of going far in Qatar.
Follow all the action with our live blog.
Luke Baker22 November 2022 08:05