WORLD CUP PREVIEW

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

WORLD CUP PREVIEW Tues: Argentina v Saudi Arabia

Hopes are extremely high about Argentina’s chances at this World Cup, and they will expect to make a winning start against Group C outsiders Saudi Arabia.

The Albiceste are one of the tournament’s most in form teams, coming here on a 35-match unbeaten streak which includes not only the entirety of their World Cup qualifying but also their victory in the 2021 Copa America, when they beat none other than Brazil in the final.

Previous Argentina sides have been carried by the legendary Lionel Messi, but manager Lionel Scaloni has built an all-round unit that has a far better balance between attack and defence than at past World Cups. Aston Villa shot stopper Emiliano Martinez is one of the best in the tournament and there’s plenty of experience in a backline which contains Nicolas Otamendi, Nahuel Molina, and Nicolas Tagliafico. The potential absence of Cristiano Romero in defence is a concern, but overall, Argentina have defended well, and they will be confident of overcoming his absence.

Leandro Paredes, Papu Gómez and Rodrigo De Paul complement each other well in midfield, allowing a forward line of Messi, Lautauro Martinez and Angel Di Maria to do their thing – a format that’s been very successful over the last two weeks.

Argentina v Saudi Arabia
World Cup 2022 Group C
10:00 ITV1 / STV / ITV Hub / STV Player

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD-TO-HEAD
NOV 2012 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Saudi Arabia 0-0 Argentina

ARGENTINA
JUN 2022 FINALISSIMA Italy 0-3 Argentina
JUN 2022 FRIENDLY Argentina 5-0 Estonia
SEP 2022 FRIENDLY Argentina 3-0 Honduras
SEP 2022 FRIENDLY Argentina 3-0 Jamaica
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY UAE 5-0 Argentina

SAUDI ARABIA
OCT 2022 FRIENDLY Saudi Arabia 1-1 Albania
OCT 2022 FRIENDLY Saudi Arabia 0-0 Honduras
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY Saudi Arabia 1-0 Iceland
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY Panama 1-1 Saudi Arabia
NOV 2022 FRIENDLY Saudi Arabia 0-1 Croatia

Saudi Arabia – making their sixth appearance at the World Cup – have improved under new manager Hervé Renard (a dual AFCON winner) topping a qualifying group that contained Australia and Japan to reach the finals.

The bedrock of their progress was a strong defensive effort, with centre-backs Abdulelah Al-Amri and Ali Al-Bulaihi marshalling a defence that conceded just six goals in qualifying but going forward they’ve been less effective which may not bode so well for a tough group.

Al-Hilai’s Salem Al-Dawsari – who scored nine goals and assisted five in the latest Saudi League campaign – provides attacking quality in midfield and Saleh Al Sheri and Firas Al-Buraikan scored seven goals in the third stage of qualifying between them, but only one of those came against Japan or Australia and goals have dried up since then.

The Saudis have scored only five goals in their last 13 games, and whilst there’s no denying they’ve improved over the last year under Herve Renard’s guidance, this World Cup group is a serious step up and Argentina should be too good in this clash.

Both Argentina and Saudi Arabia have defended extremely well over the last 18 months, and this could be a relatively low scoring encounter – especially if the Saudis employ a low block here in a 4-5-1 formation.

With the Saudis low scoring count and Argentina’s excellent form, backing the favourites to win 2-0 and 3-0 could provide some of the best value with starsports.bet. Argentina kept 10 clean sheets in 17 South American qualifiers (winning eight of those games to nil) whilst Saudi Arabia have only scored in three of their games this year.

WILLIAM KEDJANYI


RECOMMENDED BETS

BACK Argentina 2-0 Saudi Arabia 1 pt at 17/4 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Argentina 3-0 Saudi Arabia 1 pt at 5/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (WORLD CUP 2022): PROFIT 7.54 points (after matches on Mon 21 Nov)
(Will include returns from both the OUTRIGHT and SPECIALS previews too)


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