At the 2022 World Cup, Group C will arguably have the most tense final set of group stage games, with all four teams still in contention to advance to the knockout stages. This is due, in part, to Saudi Arabia’s historic 2-1 win over Argentina in their group opener, though their crushing 2-0 loss to Poland the previous time out blew the group wide open.
That result opens up a slew of possibilities for Saudi Arabia’s hopes of advancing from the group stage for the first time since their debut in 1994, with the path of least resistance being if they win here or at least better Argentina’s result given their current inferior goal difference. A Mexico team they’ve never beaten (D1 , L4) stand in the way of the Saudis fulfilling their dream in what will be their 19th historical game at the World Cup finals, all against different opponents!
Mexico’s situation is much more complicated because they do not have the luxury of choosing their own fate, as only a win would put them in contention for a ninth consecutive World Cup knockout phase appearance. A win for Mexico combined with a win for Poland would see the Tricolor advance; otherwise, a draw or a win for Argentina would see goal difference come into play, with Mexico currently having the worst in the group.
Given that Mexico has failed to score in their last four games, this could be the worst-case scenario matches in the World Cup finals (D1, L3), casting serious doubt on their ability to achieve the bare minimum requirement of a win. Those doubts are only exacerbated by their record in the final group game of a World Cup tournament, where they have won only once in their last seven such games (D3, L3).
Watch out for these players: Saudi Arabia’s match-winner against Argentina, Salem Al-Dawsari, will look to be influential once more, having scored the opening goal in five of his last seven appearances. With their knockout hopes hanging by a thread, Mexico will be hoping that their good luck charm Hirving Lozano can pull them out of the fire, as the forward has never lost when he scores (W13, D1).
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia only had one clean sheet in their 18 World Cup games.
Mexico has appeared in the World Cup finals the most times of any country that has yet to be crowned world champion.