Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina to produce the first major shock of the World Cup and throw Group C wide open. Considered among the favourites for tournament victory, Argentina struck early on as Lionel Messi converted from the penalty spot after Leandro Paredes had been dragged down, a goal that appeared to set them on their way to a comfortable opening victory and extend their 38-game unbeaten run.
But Lionel Scaloni’s side were thrice denied by the offside flag as they struggled to beat the Saudi Arabian offside trap and, after the break, were seemingly helpless as their opponents struck twice in five minutes soon, first Saleh Alshehri firing a low left-footed effort into the far corner before Saleh Aldawsari produced a spectacular goal, twisting to create space on the edge of the box and curling home beautifully.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | Group C Match | 22nd November 2022
Herve Renard’s team were resolute thereafter, with goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais and centre-half Hassan Altambakti particularly impressive to deny Messi & Co. as Saudi Arabia held firm to secure a famous victory. Read back the game live below with expert analysis from Malik Ouzia in Lusail.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia latest news
GOAL! Saudi Arabia lead and it’s a stunner!
GOAL! Alshehr levels it up!
GOAL! Messi rolls home an early penalty
Argentina 1 - 2 Saudi Arabia
12:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That was quite the start to the first full, four-game day of action in Qatar, and the football continues apace, with kick off swiftly approaching at the Education City Stadium. Tunisia and Denmark are preparing to get their World Cups underway - you can follow it as it happens LIVE with my colleague Jonathan Gorrie here.
But, from me, it’s farewell for now. Ta ta!
Herve Renard proves his worth again
12:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle
There are some coaches who consistently maximise their resources at international level, and having transformed Zambia into Africa Cup of Nations winners a decade ago, this win for Saudi Arabia is another significant feather in the cap for Herve Renard. Renard has been able to have his squad together for a significant amount of time ahead of the tournament, and that was a cohesive, collected performance - Argentina didn’t really have too many clear openings even when desperately chasing the game in the second half.
How the Argentina players rated in a stunning defeat to Saudi Arabia
12:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Malik Ouzia was at Lusail Stadium for an incredible upset, and has assessed the performances of the Argentina side.
F/T: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
12:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That’s not tournament over for Argentina with two group games to come, but they now can’t afford another slip-up against Poland or Mexico - both stronger sides than Saudi Arabia on paper.
F/T: Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia
12:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Wow. It is not overstating it to say that is one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history. Saudi Arabia, ranked outside of the world’s top 50, have ended Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten run and thrown Group C wide open. Lionel Scaloni’s side, considered by many to be the favourites for this tournament, have been stunned.
No. 51 ranked Saudi Arabia have just ended Argentina's 31-game unbeaten streak!!
The competition favourites hadn't lost since July 2019...
That was the Saudis' second World Cup win in 28 years...#ITVFootball | #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/m6XKFZuLxj
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 22, 2022
FULL TIME! ARGENTINA 1-2 SAUDI ARABIA
12:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 13 minutes
12:07 , Harry Latham-Coyle
One last offensive for Argentina. The right side of the Saudi Arabian defence tackle, and punt up field, caring not where it ends up, or about the pursuit.
Lionel Messi has the ball. Time for some of his magic? No, two get around him, blocking his attempted stab through. Surely this must be it...
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 11 minutes
12:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle
An Angel Di Maria cross drifts harmlessly, hopelessly behind without a teammate in sight...
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 10 minutes
12:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That long delay means we will play on beyond the signalled added time.
Julian Alvarez...looped into the hands of Mohammed Alowais! Might that seal it?
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 8 minutes
12:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That was a nasty collision, and another worrying incident. The referee allowed play to continue for a long while with Yasser Alshahrani down in some discomfort after leaping to attempt to clear a ball into the box.
Goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais drops his head into his hands - not nice to clash with a teammate in that manner.
Pleasingly, Alshahrani is able to briefly get to his feet, and lifts a thumb into the air as he is draped on to the stretcher. He’ll be carried off as his team edge ever closer to a remarkable win.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 4 minutes
11:59 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Lionel Messi twists, turns, and tries to conjure. Nothing doing. Saudi Arabia smother him.
Oh dear - this doesn’t look good. Yasser Alshahrani has taken a horrible knee to the head from his own goalkeeper and appears to have been knocked out.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 1 minutes
11:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Cleared off the line! A remarkable defensive intervention from Abdulelah Alamri, getting back to head away a goal-bound effort.
There was an offside, anyway. Mohammed Alowais believes he was fouled, too, and is shown yellow by Slavko Vincic for his protestations to that end. The goalkeeper will take the free kick.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 + 1 minutes
11:54 , Harry Latham-Coyle
...But the delivery drifts too deep.
Argentina win a corner. Eight additional minutes between Saudi Arabia and a famous World Cup victory.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 90 minutes
11:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Angel Di Maria darts infield and has his heels clipped by the newly-arrived Haitham Asiri...
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 88 minutes
11:52 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Resolute stuff from Saudi Arabia. Hassan Altambakti challenges in a timely, firm manner, allowing his teammates to clear.
Herve Renard makes two more changes; Nawaf Alabed, introduced in the first half, is one of those now removed, receiving a yellow card for his rather laboured exit from the field. Abdulelah Alamri comes on to add an extra defensive body.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 84 minutes
11:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Another comfortable save for Mohammed Alowais. Lionel Messi lurks at the back stick and rises to direct towards goal in a manner not dissimilar to his goal in the 2009 Champions League final - unlike then, he can’t generate the power to beat the goalkeeper, who flops, contented, to his left as he catches.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 82 minutes
11:46 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Another competent claim from Mohammed Alowais, who has controlled the airspace expertly throughout this encounter.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 80 minutes
11:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Up he steps...over it goes! An anguished stretch of the shirt from Lionel Messi - far from his finest.
Ten minutes of regular time left.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 78 minutes
11:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Saleh Alshehri, scorer of the equaliser, departs for Saudi Arabia to an ovation.
Argentina earn a free kick 25 yards out. Lionel Messi territory?
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 77 minutes
11:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Julian Alvarez is forced right the way back into defensive duties in the left corner, nicking the ball smartly but then nearly contriving to lose it again to Saud Abdulhamid. He just about earns a free kick.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 76 minutes
11:39 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Marcos Acuna crosses; Enzo Fernandez stoops and heads comfortably over the bar. 88,012 is the official attendance today - make of that what you will...
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 74 minutes
11:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Alowais really has had an impressive game. It appeaers Lautaro Martinez has broken free of the defence as he rushes on to the latest Argentina through ball, but the 31-year-old charges out of his box and slides the ball away, hurrying back into position as a defender gets in the way of Argentina’s attempts to capitalise on a goal left vacant.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 72 minutes
11:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina are trying to get Lionel Messi on to the ball whenever they can. Saudi Arabia engulf him whenever he gets a sniff of the ball, which is creating space for others: Angel Di Maria is released on the right, cutting in on his left foot but rather tamely finding Mohammed Alowais’s gloves again with a stabbed effort.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 70 minutes
11:34 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Saudi Arabia are playing this very intelligently. Their press remains energetic and they are taking time out of the game wisely, as Malik Ouzia has spotted.
“Saudi Arabia have a player down and the physio is on. Suspect we could be headed for a fairly amusing situation where Argentinian footballers end up very annoyed about playacting.”
Argentina make their fourth substitution: Marcos Acuna replaces Nicolas Tagliafico on the left edge of defence.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 69 minutes
11:32 , Harry Latham-Coyle
This time Lautaro Martinez does get his head to the ball, attempting to guide Lionel Messi’s latest swing into the box towards the near post, but getting too much purchase on his flick. It flies by some distance from the post.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 65 minutes
11:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Mohammed Alowais has dealt well with Argentina’s aerial threat. He rises high to claim a lofted cross above Lautaro Martinez.
From Malik Ouzia at Lusail Stadium: “Every little action from a Saudi player - any tackle, any catch from the goalkeeper - is being met with a deafening roar. They’ve still got a long while to hold out but they are so up for this.”
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 64 minutes
11:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Lionel Messi’s outswinging corner is then headed away confidently.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 63 minutes
11:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Top stop! Superb reactions from Mohammed Alowais, somehow denying Nicolas Tagliafico from close range after Lisandro Martinez’s header had clattered into the left-back’s knee. Saudi Arabia survive and smuggle behind for a corner.
Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia, 59 minutes
11:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Lionel Scaloni reacts to falling behind by making a triple change. Cristian Romero has looked slightly fatigued in this second half after his return to action, so Lisandro Martinez is on at the back, while Enzo Fernandez and Julian Alvarez are also introduced. Leandro Paredes and Papu Gomez are the other men replaced.
GOAL! Argentina 1-2 SAUDI ARABIA (Salem Aldawsari goal, 54 minutes)
11:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Can you believe it? Saudi Arabia lead!
Lionel Scaloni wears a face of disgust - his side have been stunned in five second-half minutes. This is a pearler from Saleh Aldawsari, the lively forward picking the ball up inside the Argentina area and meandering to find space.
Aldawsari creates an opening and unfurls a lovely curling shot towards the top corner, the shot taking a piece of Emiliano Martinez’s glove en route to the back of the net. The stand-in Saudi captain celebrates in some style, gambolling away and somersaulting in delight.
Whatever Hervé Renard said to his players at half-time, it worked!! 🤩@SaudiNT_EN have gone 2-1 up against one of the competition favourites Argentina with this belter!! 🚀#ITVFootball | #FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/uHdXpjUAdm
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) November 22, 2022
Argentina 1-1 Saudi Arabia, 52 minutes
11:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
That has properly enlivened those of a Saudi persuasion inside Lusail Stadium. Argentina just looked a little flat re-emerging from the half-time interval and will now have to really lift things.
Malik Ouzia: “The press box here is surrounded by a horseshoe of Saudi fans and they are going absolutely nuts. Cracking atmosphere.”
GOAL! Argentina 1-1 SAUDI ARABIA (Saleh Alshehri, 49 minutes)
11:12 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Saudi Arabia level!
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 47 minutes
11:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Angel Di Maria rolls about in pain, holding the top of his thigh with Mohammed Kanno glaring disapprovingly down at the stricken Argentine.
The Juventus veteran is soon haring off in pursuit of a long diagonal, but is halted by the referee’s whistle. Di Maria had, as you can probably guess, gone too soon - that’s Argentina’s eighth offside.
Back out there
11:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A relatively slow saunter out of the tunnel from both teams. Herve Renard has some encouraging words for the Saudi Arabia players, with goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais engaging in an extended discussion with a couple of other members of the coahcing staff.
Argentina will get things back underway.
H/T: Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia
11:03 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Can Argentina improve after the interval? They are keeping Saudi Arabia at arm’s length but could, perhaps, play with slightly more purpose. Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez are linking up nicely, but need to be more accurate in the final third.
H/T: Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia
11:00 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Just a single goal, then, for Argentina, who are yet to fully kick into gear. On three occasions Lionel Scaloni’s side have had goals ruled out for offside, finding space in behind readily but unable to time their runs correctly to exploit Saudi Arabia’s high line. Herve Renard will be a little disappointed to concede a soft penalty in the first ten minutes, with Saud Abdulhamid rugby tackling Leandro Paredes, but Saudi Arabia are still very much in the game.
HALF TIME! ARGENTINA 1-0 SAUDI ARABIA
10:53 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 45 + 4 minutes
10:50 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Salman Alfaraj race is run, it appears. The Saudi Arabia captain had battled on after taking that bang to the shin, but he falls to the floor for a second time after one last midfield exertion. He looks mighty disappointed, understandably.
Nawaf Al-Abed is on in his stead, with Salem Aldawsari taking over the captaincy.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 45 + 2 minutes
10:48 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Angel Di Maria gets to the byline but can’t find a teammate as he stands up a cross to the far post.
Di Maria is in again, carving in behind on to a curled ball, but his hook towards goal is gentler than he’d like and collected in comfort by the gloved hands of Mohammed Alowais.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 45 minutes
10:47 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Into five added minutes at the end of the half.
Nicolas Otamendi slides in very sharply to prevent Saudi Arabia capitalising after Argentina lose possession with men piling forward.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 44 minutes
10:45 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A few appeals from the Saudi Arabia players as Saleh Alshehri hits the deck in reasonably close proximity to a challenging Nicolas Otamendi, but there is no clash of boots - play on is the call, and Argentina clear their lines.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 42 minutes
10:44 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Skied over! A rather ugly effort from Rodrigo de Paul as the ball is headed out to him on the edge of the box, the midfielder leaning back as he strikes on the half-volley. He troubles only the gathered fans in Row M or N far beyond the goal.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 41 minutes
10:43 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Abdulelah Almalki pleads his innocence as he lunges in on Papu Gomez after Argentina work a short corner routine. Referee Slavko Vincic looks harshly upon the defendant - it’s a certain foul.
Lionel Messi will deliver from the left.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 40 minutes
10:41 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Al-Abed sits back down as the Saudi Arabia captain rejoins proceedings in midfield.
Angel Di Maria produces a lovely reverse pass in behind which Cristian Romero, pressing on from central defence as is his wont, gathers, but the Tottenham defender can’t find a teammate.
Lionel Messi then wins a corner, which Papu Gomez will take.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 38 minutes
10:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A bit of a worry for Saudi Arabia captain Salman Alfaraj, who tugs his sock down with a grimace after taking a knock to the top of the shin. A blast from the magic spray and a squirt of water is the chosen method of treatment, which appears to work, though Nawaf Al-Abed is being readied to come on.
Offside for a third time! Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 35 minutes
10:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Would you believe it - up goes the flag to deny Argentina for a third time!
This one is more certain than the last, Lautaro Martinez once more the man going through. Lionel Messi puts him in and Martinez completely fools Mohammed Alowais with a funky step-over, but his nervous look towards the linesman reveals a hoisted flag.
There is certainly a load of space for Argentina to exploit, and Malik Ouzia wonders if their attackers need to make their movements quite so soon: “One of those offside goals was an incredibly tight call but Argentina have been flagged six or seven times already in this half and the majority of them have been completely needless. Martinez, in particular, has got the legs on the Saudi centre-backs all day long. Give yourself a yard, lad.”
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 33 minutes
10:35 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Saleh Aldawsari is finding some space on the left for Saudi Arabia, but Argentina are re-forming their defensive shape swiftly. Angel Di Maria hustles back to aid Nahuel Molina, sliding in to force the ball away from the Saudi left-winger.
A replay shows that it was the top of Lautaro Martinez’s arm that was offside. As tight as they come.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 32 minutes
10:33 , Harry Latham-Coyle
If Saudi Arabia are to make anything of these repreives, you think they may have to take their opportunities from set pieces. That’s not the best, floated in a non-particular manner into the arms of Emiliano Martinez, who is yet to be forced into a save in earnest.
Offside again! Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 27 minutes
10:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Another ruled out for Argentina! Lautaro Martinez’s run is sharp and the ball through to him perfectly threaded, but a VAR check reveals that the striker had just, just strayed beyond the final defender at the time the ball was played. It’s a shame, too, for Martinez took it wonderfully delicately, lifting the gentlest of lob wedges over the onrushing goalkeeper. It remains 1-0.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 27 minutes
10:28 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Delicious footwork from Lionel Messi, skipping merrily through midfield and then teeing up Nicolas Tagliafico on the left. The left-back can’t make anything of a good crossing position.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 25 minutes
10:27 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Boos and whistles from the crowd as Saud Abdulhamid goes through the back of Papu Gomez. Saudi Arabia’s defensive line are pressing up quite high, trying to hassle and harry Argentina’s midfielders though leaving great gaping space in behind.
Offside! Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 22 minutes
10:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Lionel Messi has the ball in the back of the net again, but he’s just offside! A lovely curled ball over the top and Messi cooly beats Mohammed Alowais again, but he’d gone ever-so-slightly too soon, with the flag up and the offside confirmed by the semi-automated system in the VAR room.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 20 minutes
10:22 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Good defensive work from Yasser Alshahrani, forcing back Nahuel Molina as the full-back tries to advance up the right. There’s plenty of energy about the Saudi Arabian press - you fancy that Herve Renard will be quite annoyed to gift Argentina an early goal, because otherwise his side have looked organised so far.
4 - Lionel Messi is the fifth player to score at four different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2014, 2018, 2022) after Pelé, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo. Legend. pic.twitter.com/EwEe0VOGEZ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 22, 2022
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 18 minutes
10:20 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A sustained period of possession for Saudi Arabia inside the Argentina half as they look to bounce back from the early concession of Lionel Messi’s penalty. A fizzed ball into the box is miscontrolled to end the opportunity.
Malik Ouzia has sent this across on that penalty decision from Lusail Stadium: “That decision makes you think there must have been some internal conversation last night following the penalties that were and weren’t given in the England vs Iran game. I’ve not got any issue with that being a spot-kick, or in Fifa recognising they got yesterday’s on Maguire wrong - so long as we see consistency from here on in.”
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 15 minutes
10:17 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Salman Alfaraj’s free kick is lifted diagonally towards the far post, but Saudi Arabia can’t work an opportunity from the floated ball.
Argentina 1-0 Saudi Arabia, 14 minutes
10:16 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Herve Renard is gesturing to his players, who have looked slightly more spritely since going behind. The gathered Saudi fans roar their disapproval as they spot an apparent foul that goes unpunished on the fringes of the Argentina area, but Papu Gomez is whistled for a free kick 40 yards from his own goal.
GOAL! ARGENTINA 1-0 Saudi Arabia (Lionel Messi, 10 minutes)
10:11 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Never in doubt. An unihibited sidle up to the ball and gentle stroke past Mohammed Alowais as the keeper guesses the wrong way. International goal number 92 for Lionel Messi - Argentina are up and running.
Penalty to Argentina! Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 8 minutes
10:10 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Given! Curious from Saud Abdulhamid, dragging down Leandro Paredes rather obviously, and the referee needs only a brief check at the monitor to confirm he should point to the spot.
VAR check! Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 7 minutes
10:09 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Now then. A bit of grappling inside the penalty area and Slavko Vincic has been called over to check a possible penalty...
Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 6 minutes
10:08 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina earn the first corner of the game, but Mohammed Alowais is out quickly to punch powerfully clear.
The ball is returned to Lionel Messi, who niftily lifts a short ball on for Rodrigo De Paul. The midfielder tumbles over under pressure and earns a free kick just left of the penalty area, from where Messi will look for a better delivery.
Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 5 minutes
10:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle
I say a 4-4-2 for Argentina, but already the two wide men are pushing on to make a forward quartet.
Plenty of empty seats at Lusail Stadium early on. It appears fans are again having difficulty getting in to the ground.
Fortsatt problemer med billettappen. Trege og lange køer selv etter avspark. pic.twitter.com/2wvc26kcje
— Arilas Ould-Saada (@arilasos) November 22, 2022
Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 4 minutes
10:05 , Harry Latham-Coyle
It looks like a 4-4-2 for Argentina, with Lionel Messi alongside Lautaro Martinez up front. Pau Gomez is providing the width on the left; Angel Di Maria on the right.
Martinez takes a sore one as a Saudi Arabian boot makes contact with his leg as they slide for the ball.
Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 2 minutes
10:04 , Harry Latham-Coyle
First shot, first save! Of course it is Lionel Messi who fires the first effort on the Saudi Arabian goal, the ball breaking to him 15 yards or so out after good work from Angel Di Maria up the right.
Messi, usually so precise in finding the corner, pulls his effort too close to Mohammed Alowais, who moves well to his right to palm away.
Argentina 0-0 Saudi Arabia, 1 minute
10:02 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina stroke the ball around pleasantly early on, working it around the back with Saudi Arbia already dropping back with two strong banks of four.
10:01 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Saudi Arabia knock the ball back from the centre circle and we are underway at Lusail Stadium.
09:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The “Himno Nacional Argentina” builds wonderfully to that great final crescendo, Lionel Messi more muted than some but standing proudly.
The Saudi Arabian players turn in unison, draping a palm across their hearts for their anthem. Manager Herve Renard has a hearty high five for each of his assistants - can his side cause a World Cup shock?
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia
09:55 , Harry Latham-Coyle
The atmosphere is warming nicely in the heat of the Lusail Stadium sun. Plenty of Saudi fans have made their way across the border onto the Qatar peninsula - but there are heaps of Argentina fans in the Middle East, too.
Malik Ouzia is settling in to his seat ahead of kick off, and has sent this dispatch: “Lionel Messi’s name being read out got just about the loudest cheer I’ve heard all tournament. Lots of countries’ fans haven’t travelled in their usual numbers to Qatar but Argentina shirts have been everywhere around Doha since we got here. They’re in a big, big majority here.”
Lionel Messi and Argentina look to match record
09:42 , Harry Latham-Coyle
As Malik mentions, it is more than three years since Argentina were last beaten. Avoid defeat today and they will match Italy’s record run in international men’s football.
Lionel Messi looked calm and relaxed as he warmed up with the rest of the Argentina team. We are expecting Saudi Arabia to sit deep, but there is so much creativity in Argentina’s midfield and attack.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia
09:38 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Under the clearest of blue skies and searing sunshine, Standard Sport’s Malik Ouzia has fired in a message from outside Lusail Stadium:
Is this the start of a #ARG and Lionel Messi's run to #FIFAWorldCup glory?
It's #KSA up first, and we have @MalikOuzia_ in position.
LIVE: https://t.co/siM0SfvzxU#FIFAWorldCup | #Qatar2022 | #ARGKSA pic.twitter.com/3OsdDEuHi5
— Standard Sport (@standardsport) November 22, 2022
2022 Fifa World Cup
09:36 , Harry Latham-Coyle
After another day of off-field controversy yesterday, the ITV build-up is focusing on the involvement of both Qatar and Saudi Arabia in football.
“The World Cup shouldn’t be here,” says Roy Keane on the elevision coverage. “We all love football, but dismissing human rights flippantly for a football tournament isn’t right.” However impressive the Lusail Stadium may look as it prepares to make a World Cup debut, it is always worth remembering just what the human cost was of building it.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia
09:23 , Harry Latham-Coyle
A great roar from the fans already inside Lusail Stadium as Lionel Messi makes his way out to begin his warm up. I fancy that a fair few supposed neutrals attending today are there in part to see Messi do his thing. What damage can he do today?
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 22, 2022
Team News - Saudi Arabia
09:18 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Herve Renard has opted for a 4-5-1 to try and counter Argentina’s attacking threat.
Saudi Arabia XI: Alowais; Abdulhamid, Albulayhi, Altambakti, Alshahrani; Albrikan, Kanno, Almalki, Alfaraj, Aldawsari; Alshehri.
— Saudi National Team (@SaudiNT_EN) November 22, 2022
Team News - Argentina
09:06 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Right, we’ve got team news. Lionel Messi starts for Argentina, as expected, while Lautaro Martinez gets the nod up front. Cristian Romero has overcome his injury issue to begin in the heart of the defence, but there is no place for Lisandro Martinez, with Nicolas Otamendi alongside Romero.
Argentina XI: Martinez; Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Tagliafico; De Paul, Paredes, Papu Gomez; Messi, Martinez, Di Maria.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) November 22, 2022
08:58 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Today affords us our first look at Lusail Stadium, which will host ten matches during the course of this tournament, including the final. Official attendances over the first two days of this World Cup have been oddly strong given the swathes of empty seats apparent from television coverage and reports on the ground, with recorded figures also, peculiarly, above the capacities listed by Fifa in their venue guides.
There is, apparently, space for 80,000 spectators at Lusail Stadium.
At the Lusail Stadium, where the World Cup final will be held on December 18, for Argentina vs Saudi Arabia, and a small matter of a certain Mr Messi etc etc pic.twitter.com/2FOgeKoxGm
— Dan Kilpatrick (@Dan_KP) November 22, 2022
What about Saudi Arabia?
08:40 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Argentina begin against Saudi Arabia, a nation making a sixth appearance at a World Cup after returning to the tournament in Russia four years ago.
Their squad is comprised entirely of domestic based players who should be familiar with the conditions of the Arabian peninsula, and managed by Herve Renard, something of a legend of African football after guiding both Zambia and the Ivory Coast to Africa Cup of Nations crowns. Renard has done solid work with the side - Saudi Arabia topped Group B of the third round of Asian qualifying ahead of Japan and Australia to reach this tournament.
Lionel Messi ready to achieve ‘great dream'
08:31 , Harry Latham-Coyle
Of course, it helps Argentina that their star man arrives at this tournament in excellent form. After an injury-hit, mixed first season in the French capital, Lionel Messi has been back to somewhere near his best for Paris Saint-Germain this year.
“This is probably my last World Cup, my last chance to achieve this great dream that I have,” Messi said yesterday ahead of Argentina’s opening game.
“I feel very good physically, I think I’m in a great moment, both personally and physically and I don’t have any problems.
“It’s a beautiful thing that many people outside Argentina want us to be champions and that it’s largely because of me.I’m grateful for the love I’ve received around the world during my career.
“I don’t know if we arrive better than at other World Cups, but we’ve just won [the Copa America] and that decompresses us a lot.
“It makes us work in a different way, without anxiety about the national team and its results, and enjoying ourselves.”
Finally World Cup glory for Lionel Messi?
08:24 , Harry Latham-Coyle
What do you get the man who has won almost everything? A World Cup winners’ medal is about the only thing missing from the glittering CV of Lionel Messi, inarguably one of the greatest and yet still, curiously, perceived to have not yet succeeded as he might have done at international level by some.
Having come so close in 2014, hopes are high in Argentina that this is a team capable of delivering a World Cup triumph, as our Malik Ouzia outlines:
08:02 , Alex Young
Saudi Arabia are likely to be a difficult team to break down as they rightly set up defensively in their group opener, but an Argentina side in this kind of form surely have too much. Plenty will be looking to make a statement as the Albiceleste look to go deep in the competition.
Argentina to win 2-0.
Team news: Two doubts for Saudi Arabia
07:55 , Alex Young
As for Saudi Arabia, their star man Salem Al-Dawsari (below) - essentially their Lionel Messi - is fit to start, and will be joined by Saleh Al-Shehri, who scored four in qualifying, on the opposite flank.
Midfielder Riyadh Sharahili will be assessed ahead of the game after picking up a muscle injury in the build-up, but defender Hassan Tambakti has been given the all-clear.
Team news: Messi fit but doubts over Romero
07:50 , Alex Young
Lionel Messi has already confirmed that this is his World Cup swansong, the final chance for him to win the game’s biggest prize and cement himself as the greatest player to kick a ball.
He gave Argentina, and neutral, fans a scare a few days ago when he was unable to complete training with his team-mates, but yesterday declared himself fit for this morning’s Group C opener. He will partner either Julian Alvarez or Lautaro Martinez up front.
There remain concerns over Cristian Romero’s fitness. The Tottenham defender will be assessed before the game but may not be risked against today’s opponents.
Where to watch
07:41 , Alex Young
TV channel: The game will be broadcast on ITV1 and STV.
Live stream: The ITV Player and STV Player (both free with a subscription) will offer a live stream.
07:34 , Alex Young
Some would argue - though certainly not England fans - that today is when the World Cup really kicks into gear. The first ‘full’ day of four games, and it’s Lionel Messi’s first outing in the Group C opener.
Argentina, many peoples’ first or second pick to win the whole thing, take on Saudi Arabia in a ‘very World Cup’ game. Appetites have been whetted, now it’s four games a day for the next week and a half.
Kick off is at 10am GMT at the Lusail Stadium. We have Dan Kilpatrick and Nizaar Kinsella there for us.