Saudi Arabia will qualify with a win over Mexico in their final group game as one of Argentina and Poland will drop points.

Group C is wide open ahead of the final matchday, as all four sides have a chance to qualify. Saudi Arabia, in particular, have a massive opportunity if they can win against a battered Mexico. As one of Argentina and Poland are set to drop points in their clash, it represents a decent chance for the Falcons to go through.

It is a tricky situation for Herve Renard heading into the final group game. After a confidence-boosting shock victory over Argentina in their opening game, Saudi Arabia faltered against Poland. Piotr Zelinski and Robert Lewandowski put the Falcons to the sword to keep their hopes in the tournament alive.

While a win guarantees Saudi Arabia a place in the next round, a draw may prove sufficient if Poland can beat Argentina. It is tricky for Renard’s men, but they will need to put in a monumental effort and hope they get a stroke of luck elsewhere.

Speaking of luck, Mexico need it the most heading into the final matchday. Considering Saudi Arabia’s last game, El Tri will be confident of beating their Asian counterparts. However, they will need more than a win to secure progress into the last round, as luck should favour their case and hope Poland beat Argentina.

Gerardo Martino will be disappointed in the manner of their defeat to Argentina. While the game was deadlocked for over 60 minutes, Mexico learned a hard lesson by giving Lionel Messi too much time and space. The diminutive wizard found the bottom corner, and later, Enzo Fernandez wrapped the points with a delightful finish.

Hence, a win is imperative for Martino and his men against Saudi Arabia. Losing or drawing will eliminate El Tri from Qatar, while a win will keep their chances of qualifications alive. With the entire group set to go down the wire, the final games promise fiesty encounters.

Team News & Tactics

Saudi Arabia

Herve Renard will have to deal with the absence of midfielder Abdulelah Al-Malki, who picked up a second yellow card and will miss the final group game. Nawaf Al-Abed is the ideal choice to replace the absent midfielder.

Yasser Al-Shahrani and Salman Al-Faraj are absent from the game following injuries they suffered during the win over Argentina. Hence, Renard is likely to make minimal changes to keep the continuation and momentum within the team.

Renard will take a cautious approach ahead of the final group game and use Nasser Al-Dawsari as a single midfield pivot. Mohamed Kanno and Sami Al Najei will provide support further ahead of the defensive midfielder.

Salem Al-Dawsari and Firas Al-Buraikan will provide width from wide areas and decent support for central striker Saleh Al-Shehri. Renard’s backline will have a familiar feel, with a back four in place.

Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Al-Owais; Abdulhamid, Al-Amri, Al-Bulaihi, Al-Burayk; Nasser Al-Dawsari; Al-Buraikan, Al Najei, Kanno, Salem Al-Dawsari; Al-Shehri


Gerardo Martino will have a few critical decisions to make before the final group game. Andres Guardado came off injured at half-time against Argentina and is likely to remain sidelined for the Saudi Arabia clash. Edson Alvarez is his likely replacement in the middle of the pitch.

The Ajax midfielder should get a recall into the lineup as Martino looks for goals in his side and could revert to a back four. Moreover, Raul Jimenez could spearhead the attack and lead the line for Mexico against Saudi Arabia.

Hector Herrera could keep his place alongside Luis Chavez in midfield, with Alvarez in a defensive position. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega are the likely choices in the front three alongside Jimenez.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ochoa; Sanchez, Moreno, Montes, Gallardo; Herrera, Alvarez, Chavez; Lozano, Jimenez, Vega

Key Stats

  • Saudi Arabia last qualified for the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup during USA 1994.
  • Saudi Arabia have won four of their last 19 matches in all competitions.
  • Mexico have four wins in 5 games against Saudi Arabia, with the most recent coming in 1999.
  • Mexico have failed to score in their last four matches in the FIFA World Cup.
  • Mexico and Tunisia are the only two teams in this World Cup to have not scored a goal yet.

Player to Watch

Hirving Lozano

The Napoli winger was electric in moments against Argentina in the last game but could not force the issue to hurt the opposition. With no goals scored by Mexico in this edition of the World Cup, the North Americans find themselves in a tricky situation, which calls for their best players to perform.

With Mexico desperately needing a win to have a chance to go through, they will need Lozano to be at his best. The inclusion of Raul Jimenez could also work in the winger’s favour. He could express his ideas better with a more focal point striker upfront.


Saudi Arabia 1-1 Mexico

The game is poised for a draw taking into account the respective teams and their performances from the previous game. While Saudi Arabia may have a better chance on paper, Mexico can spring up with something surprising. The game will decide which team wants more of a result, with both desperate for a win.

Saudi Arabia’s problems in the attack got exposed against Poland, while Mexico were toothless against an Argentine side with defensive frailties. As for this game, it is expected to end in an eventful draw, although this could change if either side can surprise the other.

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