Argentina begins their bid for a third World Cup, with a first meeting in ten years with Saudi Arabia, which will take place in the Lusail Iconic Stadium, where La Albiceleste will hope to return for the Final, 26 days later. Injury means they will have to do without the services of former Tottenham man Giovani Lo Celso, but Paulo Dybala has been included in their squad, despite hardly having played since October. For their opponents, first-choice striker Saleh Al-Shehri is hopeful of returning to action for this game, following an injury layoff.
The Saudis will be familiar with the conditions, being just 400 miles from the host country, and hope to co-host the 2030 renewal. The Green Men will be well-drilled, having played six warm-up games since 22nd October, and were competitive in their last match, losing only 1-0 to Croatia. A lack of goals has been the issue for Saudi Arabia, who have scored just seven goals in their past 15 games. Argentina arrives on an unbeaten run of 36 games and is the second shortest-priced favourite in any of the first set of group matches. Anything other than three points for the tournament’s second favourites will be a big surprise.