Argentina is among the best teams in the world and is among the favorites to win it. In the 2014 World Cup, they finished 2nd. In 2018, they lost in the round of 16 to eventual winners France. They are in EXCELLENT form. The last loss for this team came in the 2019 Copa America, where they lost in the semi-final to the eventual winners’ Brazil(1st). Brazil and Argentina have met three other times since, with Argentina winning two of them and a 0-0 draw. Argentina has had numerous trophies, winning the 2021 Copa America over Brazil and the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions, where the best European team faces off against the best South American team. Argentina dominated Italy, winning 3-0.
Argentina’s Strength is the pure talent of the players. Lionel Messi is one of the best to ever play the game. Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria, and Paulo Dybala can find a spot on nearly every top-level team in the world.
Argentina’s Weakness is its goalkeepers. Argentina lacks a true number one between the sticks. Emiliano Martinez has shown his quality, winning the Golden Glove(Best Goalkeeper) during the 2021 Copa America. However, Martinez has been in poor form at the club level allowing 17 goals through 14 appearances.
Player to Watch: Lionel Messi
The 35-year-old and somehow still among the best players in the world. 164 caps for Argentina with 90 goals. He is in form at Paris-Saint-Germain with 11 goals and 12 assists through 16 games. This is likely Messi’s last tournament because of his age, wanting to cement a legacy that rivals Diego Maradona. A World Cup victory would provide a big boost as Diego Maradona won. Why can’t Messi win it?
Saudi Arabia (51st)
Saudi Arabia is not the most promising Middle Eastern team in the tournament. They do not have an excellent record in the World Cup. The Saudis have only advanced past the group stage once in 1994 before losing in the first round. The national team has not done well in other smaller competitions lately. They lost in the first round of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. The Saudis lost in the group stage of the FIFA Arab Cup, not winning a single game. They failed to make it out of the group stage of the 2019 West Asian Football Federation Championship, scoring only one goal throughout the group stage. They did finish 2nd in the 2019 Arabian Gulf Cup, where they lost to Bahrain (101st). Saudi Arabia did well in the qualifiers for the event. They won the second-round group against other Middle Eastern &Asian countries. They won the third-round group, noticeably, finishing above Japan(24th). Saudi Arabia’s form has been mediocre since qualifying. A loss from Colombia(17th) and one from Venezuela(25th). Four draws from Ecuador(44th), the United States(16th), Albania(66th), and Honduras(80th). They have followed this up with a victory over North Macedonia(65th) and Iceland(62nd).
Saudi Arabia’s Strength is its system of play. They play defensively and hit back on the counter. The United States and the Ecuador game ended in a 0-0 draw. Their system has resulted in only 1 multigoal game. That being their lost their 2-0 loss to Japan.
Saudi Arabia’s Weakness is the goalkeeper position. Their keeper Mohammed Al-Rubaie is in poor form for his club, with 36 games played while allowing 52 goals. Not being able to stop the top Saudi Arabian players, then expecting to face some of the best forwards in the world, does not spell good for the Saudi team.
Player to Watch: Firas Al-Buraikan
The 22-year-old is in fine form for his club, involved in 5 goals through 8 games. His sense for the net is his strength. Only playing in half the amount of game minutes as his team he has been involved in 42% of its goals. He will look to lock his spot in the national team this tournament.
Mexico is looking to break a curse. Since 1994, Mexico has never been past the round of 16. Some speculate the curse was placed on them because of the 1989 scandal called “Cachirules” which saw the Under 20-year-old or U-20 national team knowingly use 4 over-20 players. They were punished by being banned from all competitions, including the 1990 World Cup. Mexico has seen success recently, winning the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. They finished 2nd in the 2021 competition. Mexico finished 2nd in the CONCACAF Nations League. Mexico’s form as of late has been mediocre. A trio of losses to Paraguay(40th), Colombia(17th), and Uruguay(14th). Victories over Peru(23rd), Nigeria(32nd), and El Salvador(74th), as well as draws with Jamaica(64th) and Ecuador(44th).
Mexico’s Strength is its experience. Mexico has numerous players who know what it takes to win. Numerous group stages in the World Cup. Multiple wins together as a squad. They know how to lead their squad.
Mexico’s Weakness is its age. As players age, they start to physically decline. There is a fine line that national teams need to walk. They need experienced players and young players. Mexico is lacking in young players. They have struggled with intertwining young players and older players. Older players who may be out of form or injured do not have quality replacements.
Players to Watch: Edson Álvarez
The 25-year-old is one of the few young players Mexico has been able to introduce into the squad. The defensive midfielder is looking for a good showing to help him move to a top team in Europe, with Barcelona and Chelsea being the front-runners for his services. His strength comes from his defensive abilities. He is one of the best midfield defenders in the Eredivisie (Dutch) League. Alvarez in the starting XI, Mexico’s defense in midfield is going to prevent development through the center of the pitch.
Poland is in a resurgence currently. After missing out on all three of the 1990s World Cups. They missed out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Finally, qualifying in 2018. However, they did not make it far and were eliminated in the group stage. Poland has been more successful in the European Championship, qualifying for each tournament since 2008 and reaching 5th place in 2016. Poland’s recent form is lacking. They defeated Wales(19th) twice and Sweden(25th) once, with losses to the Netherlands (8th) and two losses to Belgium(2nd), with one being a massive loss of 6-1.
Poland’s strength is Robert Lewandowski. One of the best strikers in the world currently. He can score goals regardless of who is around him.
Poland’s Weakness is that they are a one-player team. The Polish side contains the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Jan Bednarek, and Wojciech Szczesny. This Polish team would not make the World Cup without Robert Lewandowski. This is an area that the Polish National team has to improve upon because this is likely Lewandowski’s last World Cup.
Player to Watch: Robert Lewandowski
The 34-year-old is one of the best strikers in the world. The last season Robert Lewandowski did not average a goal a game was in the 2018-2019 season. He still scored 40 goals in 47 games, a down year for Lewandowski, and a legendary year for others. He has 147 matches played since the “down” year. Scoring 168 times and assisting 28 goals. Lewandowski is in form with his club FC Barcelona, with 17 goals and 4 assists through 16 games. Lewandowski’s international form is superb. The World Cup Qualifiers saw 9 goals and 4 assists through 9 games and sent Poland to the World Cup.
- Argentina 1st
- Poland 2nd
- Mexico 3rd
- Saudi Arabia 4th
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