With the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar quickly approaching, Canada Sports Betting is proud to present group-by-group previews of the upcoming tournament.
In the lead up to the first kick on Nov. 20 at Al Bayt Stadium when the host nation, Qatar, faces Ecuador, Canada Sports Betting will be digging deep into each group exclusively using bet365’s odds.
In addition to the group previews pre-tournament, Canada Sports Betting will have previews for each match day published in advance of the daily action.
Without further ado, here is our Group C preview.
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
Group C Team Previews
Argentina is the favourite to top Group C and a candidate to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy come the final on Dec. 18. La Albiceleste progressed through CONMEBOL’s devilishly difficult qualification undefeated and have in fact not lost a single match since July 2019, when it was defeated by Brazil – the only side more heavily favoured than Argentina at the World Cup – in the semifinal of that year’s Copa America.
Player to watch: Lionel Messi
Messi, who will be playing in his fifth and likely final World Cup, is still one of the best players in the world and Argentina will only go as far as he takes them. Head coach Lionel Scaloni has found a way to assemble a squad and instill a spirit that supports Messi’s greatness without relying entirely upon it. That has led to success with Argentina winning the 2021 Copa America, its first major trophy since topping that same South American Championship in 1993.
With a supporting cast that includes veterans such as winger Angel Di Maria, defender Nicolas Otamendi, and goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, experienced professionals like Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes in midfield, as well as Lautaro Martinez up top, with a splash of fresh blood in defenders Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero, despite having failed to progress past the Round of 16 in the last World Cup, Argentina has high hopes for this edition.
Mexico heads to Qatar with more questions than answers. Head coach Tata Martino has struggled to find any rhythm with a team that has represented CONCACAF in the last seven World Cups. Losses to their archenemy, the United States, in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2021 CONCACAF Nations League finals, as well as getting knocked off the top spot in their confederation by Canada in qualification for Qatar have some questioning both the team composition and the coach’s decisions. But opponents will sleep on Mexico to their peril. In each of those last seven World Cups, El Tri has progressed through its group to the Round of 16, but gone no further.
Players to watch: Andres Guardado and Guillermo Ochoa
Most Mexican players used to stay and play in their domestic league, the strongest in North America, but now some have begun to play elsewhere and venture offshore. With veteran leadership in captain Guardado and goalkeeper Ochoa, Mexico has players who know what it means to represent their country and have dealt with that pressure. In Edson Alvarez and Hirving Lozano, they have emerging stars of the European club game. Injuries to winger Jesus Corona and striker Raul Jimenez will see them racing for fitness, but the biggest question for Mexico is can it take a step forward by finally reaching the elusive quarterfinals, as it did in both 1970 and 1986, two competitions they hosted?
Poland arrives at the World Cup with its heads still spinning from the twists and turns of qualification. In line to secure seeding in the second round of UEFA Qualification, a surprise home loss to Hungary saw it miss out and land a troublesome away date against Russia.
Russia’s suspension from the competition for its aggression in Ukraine advanced Poland to the final of its path where it beat Sweden to secure a spot in Qatar. Add in the departure of head coach Paulo Sousa and his replacement by Czeslaw Michniewicz and it’s been a rollercoaster few months.
With Michniewicz formerly a national team coach at the youth level, his understanding of the emerging talent will supplement that experience. Having neither progressed from its group in the 2018 tournament, nor from the 2020 UEFA European Championships, Poland will be eyeing its 2016 Euros run to the quarterfinals as inspiration for Qatar.
Player to watch: Robert Lewandowski
With captain, top-scorer and all-time appearance record holder Lewandowski adapting nicely to his new surroundings having swapped Bayern Munich for Barcelona, Poland will be looking to make some noise in Group C. A veteran spine featuring Wojciech Szczesny in goal, Kamil Glik at centre-back, Grzegorz Krychowiak in midfield, Piotr Zielinksi on the wing and striker Lewandowski up top, Poland has a group that has been together for a long time and played in some big matches before.
Composed entirely of domestic-based players, Saudi Arabia makes the short trip to Qatar as one of the more unknown sides of this winter’s World Cup, a rarity in modern football. While they may not have a ton of experience playing beyond their borders, their head coach Herve Renard certainly does, leading Morocco to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 and 2015 with Zambia and Ivory Coast, respectively.
The Saudis earned their spot at the World Cup, topping Group B in AFC Qualification ahead of both Japan and Australia, defeating each at home and earning a hard-fought away point in a scoreless draw against Australia – they fell 1-0 to Japan.
Saudi Arabia will be looking to catapult off its appearance at the 2018 tournament, where after falling 5-0 to Russia in the opener, it fell by a single goal to Uruguay in the second match and finished strong with a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind win over Egypt. They will benefit from the first World Cup being held in the Middle East with thousands of travelling fans expected to make the short trip to support the side and while players play their league football domestically, that does not mean they have absolutely no experience outside of the country, as Saudi clubs, principally Al-Hilal, which has appeared in four of the last eight AFC Champions League Finals, have excelled at the club level internationally.
Player to watch: Salem Al-Dawsari
The midfielder is considered one of the best in Asia, but top-scorer in qualification, forward Saleh Al-Shehiri, may miss out with an injury which will put more of the goal-scoring pressure on striker Firas Al-Buraikan.
Group C Winner Odds
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
With Argentina heavily favoured to emerge from Group C and expected to go far in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, banking on it winning the group appears a relatively safe bet. But should either Mexico or Poland hit their stride and Argentina falter, there is value in picking either of those teams to take top billing.
Group C World Cup Winner Odds
Looking over the entire field of teams taking part in the competition, only one, Brazil at +400, has shorter odds than Argentina to win it all. With Messi intent on padding his already illustrious resume with the highest honour in the game, it will be hard to pass on the potential of that storybook ending. There may come a day where Saudi Arabia is a contender to lift the World Cup trophy, but this is not that day.
Group C Prop Betting Odds
In the “Top Goalscorer” category, Messi (+1200) and Lewandowski (+4000) are viable candidates.
Argentina “To Reach The Final” (+300), Messi “To Win The Golden Ball” (+1200) and “Winner and Top Goalscorer” of Argentina & Messi looks tempting (+4000).
Saudi Arabia, drawn against teams with vastly more international experience, is heavily expected to finish bottom of the group (-300), but should it surprise either Mexico (+450) or Poland (+550) in the group stage, it may leave that unwanted position open for one of the others.
Group C Soccer Betting Final Thoughts
Look for Argentina and Messi to emerge at the top of the group, while Mexico and Poland battle it out for second in the group to advance to the knockout round. Should the goals flow in the group stage, Lewandowski’s prowess, even if Poland does not advance, could see him in contention for the Golden Boot, while if Mexico clicks at the right time, it could surprise some and reach the long-awaited promise of a fifth, or even sixth, game.