The task of following their incredible win against Argentina was always going to be a tough one for Saudi Arabia. So it proved, as they were defeated 2-0 by Poland in their second game. As is so often the case, they played almost as well in defeat as in victory. Against Argentina, The Green Men had only 31% possession and two shots on target compared to Argentina’s six. Expected Goals favoured the South Americans — who had three goals ruled out — by 2.30 to 0.15, and yet Saudi Arabia picked up the three points. On Matchday 2, the Saudis had 64% of the possession against Poland, and managed five shots on goal to Poland’s three, and ended up with nothing. After a goalless draw against Poland, in which their goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa came to their rescue by saving Robert Lewandowski’s penalty, Mexico held out against Argentina for over an hour. Two moments of magic, from Messi and Fernández, ended El Tri’s hopes of adding to the point they gained on opening day. The evidence of the first two Matchdays suggests that there is less between these sides than the FIFA Rankings suggest, with Mexico ranked 13th, and Saudi Arabia in 51st.
Saudi Arabia are likely to stick with the 4-1-4-1 formation they’ve used in both games, while Mexico are likely to revert to 4-3-3, having played five at the back in an attempt to repel Argentina. Mexico are unbeaten in five previous meetings with Saudi Arabia, with four wins and a draw. Another victory is imperative for Mexico to have any chance of making the last 16 for the eighth World Cup in a row. Saudi Arabia has only escaped the group at the World Cup on one occasion, in 1994, and will do so again if they beat Mexico. If Poland beat Argentina, then a draw will be enough to send The Green Men into the knockout stages.