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Messi's Mission: World Cup Group "C" Odds, Predictions, Betting Preview


Argentina vs. Saudi Arabia

Mexico vs Poland, 22 November

Everyone mentions Lionel Messi when discussing Group C at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The 35-year-old forward looks to cement his legacy with the one trophy that has eluded him in his career.

Group C isn't just the tournament's second favorite, according to odds. Mexico and Poland hope to advance with the favorites, but Saudi Arabia hopes familiarity and proximity will help them surprise everyone.

We preview Group C odds, predictions, and betting. As the World Cup progresses, check out our free picks page.

Argentina hopes its heartbreaks are over after Messi's first major international title at Copa America 2021. They've won 35 straight matches, and only Brazil has shorter odds to win.

This team has star power and depth at nearly every position, not just Messi. Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez will join Juventus winger Angel di Maria in a 4-3-3 attack.

Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo de Paul and Villareal's Giovani Lo Celso will control midfield, and Manchester United's Lisandro Martinez will partner Spurs' Cristian Romero in defense.

Argentina has few weaknesses, but they won't be challenged in the group stage. South America will likely win this group with a beautiful and scary style of football.

Lionel Messi. Messi knows this is his opportunity to cement his legacy. He must win the World Cup to unseat Diego Maradona as Argentina's greatest player.

Robert Lewandowski has had success in Europe, but not internationally. The Barcelona striker is one of the world's deadliest finishers and has scored 74 goals in 134 national team appearances.

Too often, Lewandowski has stood alone at the top, hoping for service from his teammates. Maybe that's changing, and this group suits the Poles. Piotr Zielinski is in great form for Napoli, which is dominating Italy and Europe.

Matty Cash and Jan Bednarek will help them in their 4-1-4-1 formation. The Poles allowed 11 goals and kept four clean sheets in 11 World Cup qualifiers.

Charlotte's Karol Swiderski is helping Lewandowski in attack. Swiderski scored five of Poland's 33 World Cup qualifying goals as they won seven of 11 matches.

In the Nations League, Poland faced World Cup opponents Belgium, Wales, and the Netherlands. They beat Wales twice and were competitive in five of six games. This should help them reach the knockout rounds for the first time since 1986.

Zielinski should be watched. The Napoli midfielder has six goals and seven assists this season and is a key player. If Poland can maintain this form throughout the tournament, Lewandowski's full offensive potential could be unlocked.

Mexico has been called "quinto partido" for years due to their Round of 16 failures. El Tri has advanced from the group stage in seven consecutive World Cups, but they've never reached the quarterfinals.

This year's streak could end, but not how Tata Martino's team wants. Mexico must first escape the group stage, which won't be easy given their form. Since August 2021, Mexico has won just three of nine matches, losing four.

Mexico has gone five games without scoring. Four of their nine goals came in last week's win over Iraq. Raul Jimenez is injured and unlikely to play for Wolves. Tecacito's best creative player, Jesus Corona, was also lost. Carlos Vela was shockingly left off the LAFC roster on Monday.

Hirving "Chucky" Lozano and Hector Herrera are left. The Houston Dynamo midfielder and Edson Alvarez will anchor a 4-3-3 formation, while Napoli winger Lozano will pressure defenses. If he can't, Mexico could lose El Tri.

Chucky Lozano. The 27-year-old is Napoli's most explosive player with four goals and three assists. He's an explosive dribbler, but Mexico needs him to score goals to advance.

Fans of USMNT know how frustrating the Saudis can be. In a September friendly, the Americans managed just two shots on goal.

They've allowed four goals in nine matches in 2022. Many of these matches were against low-ranked opponents, but they've shown they can stifle Colombia and Ecuador.

Part of their success is that, unlike most national teams, most of their players play in the Saudi league. Herve Renard's side features many Al Hilal players, which could be key in a tournament where they'll want to absorb pressure and hit on the break.

Salem Al-Dawsari is who they'll look for when they go 4-3-3. His 18 goals for Al Hilal were a career high, and he scored seven during Saudi Arabia's World Cup qualifying run. The winger will hope for help from striker Saleh Al Shehri, whose status for the tournament is unknown.

Saudi Arabia's chances of advancing are low, but they could decide who finishes second. If they can frustrate one of the teams in this group enough to steal a draw or win, it could hurt their opponent's chances of qualifying.

Watch Salem Al-Dawsari. With 17 goals in 70 international appearances, the 31-year-old forward has nearly twice as many as anyone else. His 18 league goals this year doubled his previous high, and his goal against Egypt in the 2018 World Cup gave them their only victory.

Group winner odds from DraftKings as of Nov. 15, 2022.

Best Group C bet

Group predictions: Argentina 1st/Poland 2nd (+175 at bet365).

Not hard for me. I'd pick Mexico to make the Round of 16 if they were healthy. Injuries to Jimenez and Corona will be too much for a team that struggled to score in World Cup qualifying.

No doubt, rgentina will win the group. They're one of the most well-balanced teams in the tournament, they have the depth to rotate, and Messi will be driven to win his final World Cup.

I was tempted to pick them to go perfect in the group stage, but their third match against Poland could see them resting players. That would likely give Poland a point.

Poland would need a win over Mexico or a result against El Tri and Argentina if they beat Saudi Arabia. Lewandowski finally delivers on the big stage, and the Poles advance to the knockout stage.