Qatar 2022, Day 3: Messi’s Argentina begin hunt for glory, France begin title defence

FIFA World Cup 2022: There is plenty of action in store on Day 3 of the tournament in Qatar. The spotlight will be on Lionel Messi as he begins his 5th World Cup campaign with Argentina taking on Saudi Arabia. Holders France, Poland and Denmark will also be in action on Tuesday.

By India Today Web Desk: As many as 4 matches will be played on Day 3 of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar but the spotlight clearly will be on Lionel Messi, who will launch what will be probably his last bid to win the elusive World Cup crown. Messi-led Argentina will open their campaign against Saudi Arabia in a Group C match at the Lusail Stadium.

Later in the day, Denmark, who had an inspired run to the semi-finals at Euro 2022, will be look to make a mark in Qatar. With a fit Christian Eriksen back with the squad, the Danes open their campaign in Group D against Tunisia.

Following Denmark’s opener, Mexico and Poland will clash in a Group C match that could potentially determine who goes through to the knockout stage. Robert Lewandowski will be the center of attention as the Barcelona star will look to make waves in Qatar.

Defending champions France will then look to make a statement when they begin their World Cup campaign in Group D against Australia. Didier Deschamps’s side haven’t been in the best of forms in the lead-up to the World Cup but the holders will look to shut out noise, manage egos and lay down an early marker.

ARGENTINA vs SAUDI ARABIA

START TIME: 3:30 pm IST, Lusail Stadium

Argentina are one of the favourites to lift the World Cup in Qatar with more optimism surrounding the La Albiceleste than ever. Argentina are heading into the World Cup Finals on the back of a 35-match stunning unbeaten run. Lionel Scaloni has assembled a power-packed squad that will look to bring home the World Cup trophy for the first time since 1986 and give a fitting tribute to their captain, who is featuring in his 5th World Cup campaign.

Messi, who dismissed injury concerns on the eve of their opener, said the current Argentina squad reminds him of the 2014 unit that reached the final only to lose to Germany.

“This squad really reminds me of 2014. We’re very united and clear on how we wanted to play. It’s great to be here in such good form, because it gives you such confidence.”

Midfielder Giovani Lo Celso and forwards Nicolas Gonzalez and Joaquin Correa are big misses for Argentina and there are some doubts over the fitness of the likes of Paulo Dybala and Angel di Maria but Scaloni’s side has enough firepower to top the group.

The Copa America win in 2021 has given Argentina a boost in confidence and Scaloni’s side could not have asked for an easier test to warm-up into the campaign. Ahead of what could be tricky matches against Poland and Mexico, Argentina would want to seal a big win against Saudi Arabia, the 2nd lowest-ranked side at the World Cup. They wouldn’t want a repeat of 2018 when they were held by Iceland in the opener after a missed penalty from Messi.

The Saudis were impressive in the Asian qualifying campaign but they have struggled at the biggest stage, reaching the last 16 only once in 5 appearances.

DENMARK vs TUNISIA

START TIME: 6:30 pm IST, Education City Stadium

Denmark came up with a charged-up run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020. It was a stunning tribute to Christian Eriksen who had suffered a heart attack during their opener. But Eriksen is back, fully fit and ready to fire for the Kasper Hjulmand side.

Denmark will be looking for another deep run, this time at the FIFA World Cup. They have a squad, full of quality and their form in the lead-up to the World Cup should give them a lot of confidence.

The Danes were unbeaten in the qualifying campaign and even picked up a 2-0 win over France in the lead-up to the World Cup. Having not made the quarter-final stage at the World Cup even once, Denmark will look to end that streak and make a mark in Qatar.

Tunisia, on the other hand, will hope to better their World Cup history, having managed just 2 wins so far in 15 matches in their 5 appearances. Drawn in a group that also has France and Australia, Tunisia will have to play out of their skins to reach the knockout round.

POLAND vs MEXICO

START TIME: 9:30 pm, Stadium 974

Poland and Mexico are both contenders to reach the knockout stage of the tournament. However, with Argentina expected to top the group, there is no room for error in tonight’s match at Stadium 974.

The spotlight will also be on the stadium in Qatar, which is dubbed as the world’s first transportable stadium. Built with remodelled shipping containers and modular steel, the stadium sports a cool look.

At the only stadium in Qatar without AC blowers, Robert Lewandowski will look to take centerstage as Poland look to improve their showing in major tournaments. The Polish side were eliminated in the group stages in both Euro 2020 and FIFA World Cup 2018. Lewandowski’s striking form for Barcelona is a big boost for a squad that looks settled under new coach Czeslaw Michniewicz.

On the other hand, Gerard Martino’s side will need to play to the best of their potential to make it out of the group. Mexico have been unfortunate with injury concerns as their star midfielder Jesus Corona ruled out. Forward Raul Jimenez was added to the squad despite injury concerns. All hopes are pinned on Napoli’s Hiriving Lozano to carry the team in Qatar.

FRANCE vs AUSTRALIA

START TIME: 12:30 am (Wednesday), Al Janoub Stadium

France will be hoping to end the defending champions’ jinx at the FIFA World Cup. Didier Deschamps’s side suffered a defeat to Denmark in the lead-up to the tournament and they would be their biggest threat to a top-place finish in Group D.

France lost their star striker and Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema to an injury but Deschamps did not opt for a replacement, placing faith in his stars.

In Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, and Antoine Griezmann, France have a power-packed forward line-up but a lot will depend on how the team gels as a unit and fires in Qatar.

Australia, on the other hand, will rely on their skipper Mat Ryan, heavily as they look to it make it out of the group stage for the first time in their World Cup history. The France test will be tough but the Socceroos will look to pose a threat to the holders and make a mark early.

Published On:

Nov 22, 2022

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