Argentina kick off their Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with a Group C encounter against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday afternoon.
Lionel Messi will lead his country for the last time as they seek to end a 36-year drought since their last World Cup win in 1986.
Since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America, Argentina have embarked on an astonishing 36-game unbeaten run across all competitions.
Argentina lost the 2014 final to Germany and that was followed by a disappointing tournament in 2018 where they were knocked out in the last 16.
Saudi Arabia held the honor of opening the 2018 World Cup against host nation Russia but were humiliated 5-0 before losing to Uruguay and beating Egypt 2-1.
Though Saudi worked hard to qualify for the 2022 World Cup and topped their group ahead of Japan in the qualification table.
Argentina have qualified for the knock-out stages of the World Cup in 12 of their last 13 tournaments, with their only failure coming in 2002.
A last-16 finish in 1994 represents Saudi Arabia’s sole progression beyond the group stage of the World Cup so far and they are out to change that this year.
Will this be a routine win for Argentina or can Saudi shock the world and get a point at least?
What time does Argentina vs Saudi Arabia start?
The game kicks off at 1pm Kenyan time at the Lusail Stadium.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia team news
Emiliano Martinez will be between the sticks and he will be guarded by Lisandro Martinez and Nicolas Otamendi in the center back positions.
Rodrigo de Paul and Leandro Paredes will be the key components of the midfield.
Up front, Messi will occupy one flank with Angel Di Maria expected to start on the opposite wing in support of Lautaro Martinez as the sole striker.
For Saudi, Fahad Al-Muwallad – who has 17 international goals to his name – was left out of the squad after failing a drugs test.
Salem Al-Dawsari will expect to occupy the left flank for Saudi Arabia, as Saleh Al-Shehri – the joint top goalscorer in the third round of AFC qualifying with four strikes – starts on the opposite side.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia head to head
The only match played between these two nations ended in a barren draw back in 2012.
This is the first meeting between Argentina and Saudi Arabia at the FIFA World Cup.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia current form
Saudi’s most recent 1-0 defeat to Croatia is their only loss in their last 5 games. Aside from that, they have won once and shared the spoils in 3 others.
The Argentines have won their last 4 games and drawn once in that run.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia prediction
Messi’s side have scored 17 goals and conceded just one in their last 5 games and are expected to keep up their great goal-scoring form against the 51st ranked team in the world.
This is expected to be a comfortable win for Argentina.