Argentina’s World Cup Draw
by Cody Masters
Argentina got drawn into Group C for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They will be joined by Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland. Argentina qualified for this edition of the World Cup by finishing second in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying, six points behind Brazil and eleven points ahead of Uruguay. Saudi Arabia qualified for the 2022 World Cup by finishing at the top of the AFC Group B qualifiers, just edging out Japan for the top spot with Australia finishing third in the group. Mexico qualified by finishing second in CONCACAF qualifiers, tied on points with Canada for top of the table. Poland reached the 2022 World Cup by finishing second in Group I of UEFA’s qualifiers, beating teams like Hungary and Albania for the qualifying spot and finishing second behind England.
Argentina come into this after an undefeated qualifying campaign, and look like an incredibly strong and motivated team right now. The rallying cry of the team will be to give Lionel Messi a World Cup title in what could be his final attempt. Lautaro Martinez, Giovani Lo Celso, and Rodrigo de Paul all had very strong qualifying campaigns, alongside another strong campaign from one Lio Messi. I also believe that the emergence of Julian Alvarez in this campaign will only strengthen the squad and give the rest of the teams in this group another weapon to worry about.
Saudi Arabia is a solid representative from the AFC. They finished top of their group in qualifying and are keenly prepared for the tough road ahead for them in this group. In their last nine qualifiers, only one game was decided by more than one goal, and five of those were 1-0 results for Saudi Arabia. They understand how to win close and win ugly. I think that experience will serve them incredibly well in a group that could be a defensive slugfest with the teams not named Argentina. Saudi Arabia is a team that I think can steal some points against these other teams and could be a sneaky pick to cause some trouble.
Now for Mexico. Mexico had a frankly rough qualifying campaign, with many across the country, both fans and pundits, calling for Tata’s job. The team never looked like the “Kings of Concacaf” that they have in the past and some of their matches late in the campaign felt like slogs. Mexico got to be second in the qualifiers after the US gave an uninspiring performance in a meaningless last game against Costa Rica, in Costa Rica. This Mexico team does not feel like the kind of team that has the mental fortitude or the talent to get out of a World Cup group stage.
Poland is a wild card for this group. Poland is the kind of team that can pull a Robert Lewandowski miracle out of nowhere. This Poland team feels like a one man team and a one trick pony, but I would never count out a team led by Lewa. Polish goalkeeper, Wojciech Szczęsny, is also a player that can pull at least a couple games where he will stand on his head and deny opposition just enough to keep his team in a game. Two positions that you want both talent and experience, especially at the national team level, are goalkeeper and striker. Poland have their best players at those two positions and there is no lack of “big moment” experience between the two of them.
It is never easy to put a prediction out there like this, especially so far out from the tournament, so I’m sure this won’t blow up in my face at all. At this moment, as of April 1, 2022, here is how I see the group shaking out. I think Argentina wins the group, they may stub their toe on Poland or Saudi Arabia, but I think they will ultimately pull it out and look fantastic doing so. In second, I think it will be Poland. Poland are a team completely capable of bearing down and getting results when they need them and have the talent to go get them. This team will be nothing to sneeze at. In third, I think this will be Mexico. I think this will be a very disappointing and arduous group stage for El Tri and Tata. If I had to guess, I’d say that Mexico decides to part ways with Tata after this tournament. Last but not least, I think this is where Saudi Arabia will fall. This may be the strongest fourth place team in the tournament and I think they will finish either even on points or very close to getting third in the group. This is not going to be a group where one team goes undefeated and runs off with it. This group is going to a 12 round boxing match and these four teams are going to absolutely wale on each other. The test will be who will have the depth and the mental strength to carry on and pull a result out of nowhere. We will not want to take our eyes off a single second of this group.
Share your thoughts with Cody on Twitter at @codymasters_ Photo credit @Argentina