Argentina vs Saudi Arabia World Cup lineup, starting 11 for Group C match at Qatar 2022
Lionel Messi will begin his final tilt at World Cup glory when Argentina take on Saudi Arabia in Group C.
The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner looks like he might have a set of teammates finally worthy of his talents, with the Albiceleste resurgent under Lionel Scaloni.
Argentina beat Brazil 1-0 thanks to an Angel Di Maria goal to end a 28-year wait for a major trophy in last year's Copa America.
They head into the game on a 36-match unbeaten run, meaning Saudi Arabia — ranked 51st in the world and under well-travelled coach Herve Renard — are likely to have their work cut out.
Below are the projected lineups for both teams based on the latest news leading up to the match.
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia lineups
Lionel Messi insists he is in "good condition" ahead of Argentina's World Cup opener after the Paris Saint-Germain forward prompted fears by sitting out parts of his team's training sessions.
"I think I come here in really good form both personally and physically. I have no issues whatsoever," he told a pre-match news conference.
"I heard there were rumours about having to miss part of the training, or training apart from the team because of a blow. No, it was just precautions — nothing strange or out of the ordinary."
Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni has explained the strains placed upon his squad by a mid-season World Cup.
"We've had to work very well in our training sessions so they all reach these finals in the best form possible. The issue is not that the World Cup is played in November, it's that October was terrible," he said.
"For those players who play in the major leagues, it was a very tough month."
Below are the projected starting lineups for both teams ahead of their match at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday, November 22.
Argentina predicted lineup
(4-3-3, right to left): 23. E. Martinez (GK) — 26. Molina, 13. Romero, 19. Otamendi, 8. Acuna — 7. De Paul, 5. Paredes, 20. Mac Allister — 10. Messi, 22. Martinez, 11. Di Maria,
Defender Cristian Romero (muscular) did not play in his nation's 5-0 warmup win against the United Arab Emirates but is thought to be ready to start.
Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez is likely to accompany Nicolas Otamendi if Romero is not fit, while Nicolas Tagliafico is the main contender to stand-in for Marcos Acuna at left-back.
Alexis Mac Allister is ready to start in midfield alongside Rodrigo De Paul and Leandro Paredes after Giovani Lo Celso's injury absence amounted to Scaloni's major pre-tournament headache. Benfica's highly rated former River Plate youngster Enzo Fernandez is another option.
Saudi Arabia predicted lineup
(4-5-1, right to left): 21. Al Owais (GK) — 2. Al Ghannam, 3. Madu, 4. Al Amri, 13. Al Shahrani — 7. Al Faraj, 23. Kanno, 14. Otayf, 19. Bahebri, 10. Al Dawsari — 9. Al Buraikan
Saudi Arabia's Saleh Al-Shehri returned from an Achilles tear in October. The centre-forward for Saudi Pro League team Al-Hilal should be fully fit for the game.
Winger Fahad al-Muwallad will not be involved, having been dropped from the squad as a 'precaution' due to failing a doping test back in February.
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