World Cup: Daily predictions – Messi to score twice in Argentina win, Lewandowski struggles to continue

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Groups C and D take centre stage on Saturday, highlighted by the crunch clash between Argentina and Mexico.

Saudi Arabia currently top pool C after stunning the South American champions on Tuesday, and they will look to secure a place in the knockout phase, against all expectations, by defeating Poland.

In Group D, France lead the way after beating Australia 4-1. They will fancy their chances of making it two wins from two against a Denmark side who have caused them problems already in 2022.

Harnessing Opta data, Stats Perform makes some key predictions ahead of another busy day of action.

All times local.

Tunisia v Australia – Al Janoub Stadium (1300)

Australia come into this clash on the back of a 4-1 humbling by defending champions France and know three points are a must if they are to retain any realistic hope of qualifying from Group D.

The omens for Graham Arnold's side are not promising, however. The Socceroos have lost six of their last seven World Cup games, with five of those losses seeing over 2.5 goals in the game.

Tunisia secured a useful goalless draw against Denmark in their opener – a result that maintains their strong recent form. The north Africans have kept a clean sheet in each of their last eight victories in all competitions, while they have kept a clean sheet in eight of their last nine matches in general.

Player prediction – Issam Jebali to score: Jebali had the highest xG of any Tunisia player on matchday one (0.53), with all three of his shots coming from inside the box. He also had the most touches in the opposition box of any Tunisia player (five). Given Australia's porous defence, Jebali will fancy his chances of grabbing his first goal of the tournament.

Best bet – Australia to receive three or more yellow cards: Australia have been shown at least three yellow cards in three of their last four World Cup matches, and in seven of their last 11.

Poland v Saudi Arabia – Education City Stadium (1600)

Saudi Arabia stunned the football world by beating Lionel Messi and Argentina 2-1 in their opening game in Group C, while Poland played out a drab goalless draw against Mexico.

The Poland result should have come as little surprise given 17 per cent of their games at the World Cup have ended without a goal (six out of 35), the highest percentage of any team to play at least 20 games at the tournament.

Indeed, Poland have either kept a clean sheet or failed to score themselves in each of their last five matches in all competitions.

While this is unlikely to be a goalfest, keep an eye on Salem Al Dawsari, the scorer of Saudi's second goal against Argentina. Al Dawsari also scored the winner in his nation's previous World Cup game, against Egypt in 2018.

Player prediction – Robert Lewandowski under 1.5 shots on target: The Barcelona star is still searching for his first goal at a World Cup after missing a penalty against Mexico. He has failed to have more than one shot on target in any of his last six games for Poland, while he has managed just four shots on target in four World Cup appearances to date.

Best bet – Poland to win and keep a clean sheet: Poland have won all four of their previous meetings with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia have lost nine of their 10 World Cup games against European nations, including each of their last eight, failing to score in any of the last seven.

France v Denmark – Stadium 974 (1900)

France's 4-1 thrashing of Australia in their opener cemented their status as one of the likely winners of the World Cup.

It also continued a remarkable run of form in front of goal, with Les Bleus winning each of their last five games at the tournament, scoring four goals in three of them, including the 2018 final against Croatia.

Will they go one better this time, though? Their last four matches at either a World Cup or European Championship have finished 1-1, 2-2, 3-3 and 4-1, scoring one more goal each time than in their previous match.

Olivier Giroud equalled Thierry Henry's France record of 51 goals in the win over the Socceroos, and the Milan striker will be determined to edge ahead against the Danes.

If there is one team who could scupper Giroud and France, however, it is Denmark. Kasper Hjulmand's men have won their last two meetings – in the Nations League in June and September this year.

Player prediction – Kylian Mbappe to score and France to win: Mbappe has scored 12 goals in his last 11 appearances for France, with the world champions never losing when he has found the back of the net, winning 20 of those 23 matches.

Best bet – Four-plus cards: Both France and Denmark have been shown two-plus cards in five of their last seven World Cup games.

Argentina v Mexico – Lusail Stadium (2200)

Argentina's humbling by Saudi Arabia has left Lionel Scaloni's men in unforeseen peril. Another defeat here could prompt an unthinkable early exit.

History gives Messi and Co. cause for optimism, with Argentina winning all three of their World Cup games against Mexico by an aggregate scoreline of 11-5.

Mexico have failed to score in eight of their 13 World Cup matches against South American nations, while they have also failed to score in each of their last three World Cup matches in general.

Player prediction – Messi to score two-plus goals and Argentina to win: Messi has scored 12 goals in eight games (seven starts) for Argentina in 2022. He has scored two or more goals in three separate games this calendar year for the national team. But for a close offside decision, Messi would have extended that run against the Saudis.

Best bet – Four goals or more: Among fixtures played more than three times at the World Cup, Argentina v Mexico has the highest goals-per-game average (5.3). Those goals may come in the second half as Mexico have not conceded in the first half of any of their last nine matches at the World Cup, a run that stretches back to their first game of the 2014 tournament.