Saudi Arabia produced surely the result of the 2022 World Cup when they stunned Lionel Messi's Argentina this week, but they are not done there.

Herve Renard's men came from behind to beat the Albiceleste 2-1, scoring with their only two shots for one of the tournament's biggest ever upsets.

The odds were stacked against Saudi Arabia in that match, as they will be again on matchday two as they tackle Poland.

Saudi Arabia have lost nine of their 10 World Cup matches against European opposition, including each of the past eight in a row.

That dismal run included an 8-0 humiliation at the hands of Germany in 2002, but forward Saleh Al Shehri knows this is a very different team.

"That was a defeat in the past," said Al Shehri. "I think we, as a country, want to get back and go up to the top as a team.

"And I guess in the 20 years, we worked a lot, we worked hard. Now, in 2022, in Qatar, we made history, and there's still more to come."


Al Shehri scored the equaliser against Argentina, setting Saudi Arabia on their way to a second straight World Cup win after another 2-1 success against Egypt in 2018.

Saudi Arabia had won only two of their previous 15 games at the finals – again in succession in 1994 – while this is the first time they have scored twice in consecutive matches.

They have never netted three in a World Cup match, though, and face a Poland team looking for a third clean sheet in a row – last achieving such a sequence between 1974 and 1978.

"I think about the pressure," added Al Shehri. "Every game has its own pressure.

"We did one job perfectly. It's finished and we are waiting for the next game against Poland. The pressure is always on when you play at this top level."

Poland may be tight at the back but have struggled in attack, attempting only six shots in the 0-0 draw with Mexico.

It was their sixth goalless draw in 35 World Cup matches, making up 17 per cent – the largest such percentage of any team to play 15 or more games.


Poland – Arkadiusz Milik

Milik is never likely to start while Poland play with only one striker, but the Juventus man will continue to get opportunities from the bench while Robert Lewandowski's drought drags on. Lewandowski has not scored in his four World Cup outings, attempting 11 shots – including that unsuccessful penalty against Mexico.

Saudi Arabia – Salem Al Dawsari

Al Dawsari could have retired a Saudi Arabia World Cup hero even before this tournament, having netted a stoppage-time winner against Egypt in 2018. Now, after topping that effort with the decisive goal in the Argentina game, he is just the second Saudi player to score in multiple World Cups. Sami Al Jaber, the other, netted three goals in total, a record Al Dawsari can match with another key strike.


Saudi Arabia might have beaten Argentina, but the supercomputer still does not expect them to follow that up with victory against Poland. They are given just a 20.0 per cent chance.

Poland are clear favourites at 55.5 per cent... or could there be another 0-0 on the cards? The draw is rated more likely than a Saudi Arabia victory at 24.5 per cent.

Cristiano Ronaldo's club future could yet be in Saudi Arabia despite rebuffing a previous offer, with the nation's sports minister hailing him as a "role model".

The Portugal captain is without a domestic team after mutually agreeing the termination of his contract with Manchester United in the wake of a controversial interview.

It brings to an end an ill-fated second spell with the Premier League club, yet it could have been curtailed even earlier after the forward fielded bids from other teams during the off-season.

One of those was from an unnamed Saudi club, and now the country's minister of sports, Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, has backed the possibility of another move to bring him to the nation.

"Anything is possible," he told BBC Sport. "I would love to see Ronaldo play in the Saudi league.

"It would benefit the league, the sports ecosystem in Saudi, and it will inspire the youth for the future. He's a role model to a lot of kids and has a big fan base."

Ronaldo's exit prefaced news the Glazer family, long-term owners of United, are reportedly considering a sale, after years of protests over the direction the club has headed under their watch.

Coupled with Fenway Sports Group, the owners of fellow Premier League team Liverpool, exploring their options, the door is open for potential further investment into the English top-flight from the gulf state.

Newcastle United are already owned by Saudi Arabia's state-backed Public Investment Fund (PIF), but while Abdulaziz has ruled out another bid from the government, he has suggested private investment could still be explored.

"It's the most-watched league in Saudi and the region, and you have a lot of fans of the Premier League," he added.

"From the private sector, I can't speak on their behalf, but there is a lot of interest and appetite and there's a lot of passion about football.

"We will definitely support it if any [Saudi] private sector comes in, because we know that's going to reflect positively on sports within the kingdom. If there's an investor willing to do so and the numbers add up, why not?"

Saudi Arabia defender Yasser Al Shahrani has undergone successful surgery after being involved in a horror collision with his own goalkeeper in his side's shock World Cup win over Argentina.

Al Shahrani was caught in the face and stomach by Mohammed Al Owais' knees as the Saudi keeper attempted to claim a high ball late on in Tuesday's Group C contest at Lusail Stadium.

The Al Hilal player, who has been capped 73 times for his country, was stretchered off the field and later flew back to Riyadh to be operated on. 

Saudi Arabia confirmed on their official Twitter page on Thursday the surgery was successful, but it is not known if Al Shahrani will play any further part in the World Cup.

"Yasser Al Shahrani successfully underwent surgery to his pancreas gland yesterday in Riyadh's King Abdulaziz Medical City at the National Guard Hospital," the statement read.

"He remains under the full supervision of the national team's medical staff. The Saudi football family wishes Yasser a speedy recovery."

Saudi Arabia became the first non-European side to beat Argentina at the World Cup since Cameroon in 1990 with their shock 2-1 victory.

The last three teams to beat Argentina at the World Cup have either gone on to win the competition (Germany in 2014 and France in 2018) or reached the final (Croatia in 2018).

Herve Renard's side lead Group C ahead of facing Poland on Saturday and Mexico in their final first-round clash next Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia's government has declared the country will celebrate Tuesday's stunning World Cup win over Argentina with a public holiday.

Argentina, touted as pre-tournament favourites by many, looked likely to extend their 36-game unbeaten run when Lionel Messi's penalty handed them an early lead at the Lusail Stadium.

However, second-half goals from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completed a remarkable turnaround for Saudi Arabia, who became the first non-European team to beat Argentina at the World Cup since Cameroon in 1990.

The result, instantly hailed as the best in Saudi Arabia's history, has provoked the country's ruler King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to designate Wednesday November 23 as a national holiday.

A tweet from the Saudi Press Agency said the day would be "a holiday for all employees in all government sectors and private sector, and students in all educational stages."

Saudi Arabia have not progressed beyond the World Cup's group stage since doing so on their tournament debut in the United States in 1994, but Herve Renard's men could now take a huge step towards replicating that feat when they face Poland on Saturday.

Lionel Messi says Argentina have "no excuses" after they fell to a hugely disappointing 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup opener at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

Argentina headed into the tournament as one of the favourites to win their third title, and a Messi penalty put La Albiceleste a goal to the good at half-time as they appeared to be cruising to a first victory in Group C.

However, two goals in the space of five minutes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completely flipped the script, and Messi's side were condemned to one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

Messi acknowledged he and his team-mates must not seek to justify the stunning loss, though he hoped it would end up bringing the group closer together.

"There are no excuses," Messi told reporters in a post-match news conference.

"It's a very hard blow for everyone, we didn't expect to start like this.

"We are going to be more united than ever. This group is strong and they have shown it.

"This is a situation that we did not have to go through in a long time. Now we have to show that this is a real group.

"Things happen for a reason. We have to prepare for what's coming, we have to win and it depends on us."

After Messi converted from the spot to put Argentina 1-0 up after just 10 minutes, Lionel Scaloni's men remarkably saw three goals chalked off for offside before half-time as Saudi Arabia employed a bravely high line.

The Paris Saint-Germain star complimented Herve Renard's side for their defending, but conceded Argentina could have done more to break through.

Messi said: "We knew that [Saudi] Arabia is a team with good players, that moves the ball well and that advances the [defensive] line a lot.

"We had worked on it, but that's why we had many goals ruled out. Perhaps we did not find the right moment to avoid falling into the trap."

The defeat ended a run of 36 matches unbeaten, and Messi feels La Albiceleste need to get the fundamentals right to bounce back and salvage their World Cup campaign.

"It's the first game," Messi added. "It's up to us to correct what we did wrong, [and] try to get back to the base of who we are."

Argentina now face Mexico in a crucial clash on Saturday, before their group stage ends against Poland on November 30.

Argentina's World Cup hopes took a shuddering blow in their Qatar 2022 opener as they were sensationally beaten 2-1 by Saudi Arabia.

Having won the Copa America last year and embarked on a 36-match unbeaten run, La Albiceleste arrived in Qatar as one of the favourites to be crowned world champions.

Lionel Messi's penalty gave them an early lead in their first Group C match at Lusail Stadium, but second-half goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari ensured Saudi Arabia pulled off a huge upset.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at five of the other monumental World Cup shocks over the years.

Senegal 1-0 France (Korea/Japan 2002)

Perhaps the all-time upset in World Cup history, France headed to the 2002 edition four years on from a triumph on home soil with a squad brimming with talent and set on defending their crown.

Yet in the opening match, Les Bleus - without talisman Zinedine Zidane - were stunned by Senegal, the competition's lowest-ranked side, thanks to Papa Bouba Diop's first-half finish in Seoul.

France went on to finish bottom of Group A with just a draw against Uruguay to their name, and failing to score a single goal.

North Korea 1-0 Italy (England 1966)

Arriving in Europe for their first appearance at the World Cup, North Korea were widely expected to make an early exit after a defeat to the Soviet Union and a draw with Chile.

But Pak Doo-ik made history when his lone goal saw them shock two-time winners Italy at Ayresome Park in Middlesbrough.

North Korea have only been back to the World Cup once, at South Africa 2010, where they scored once and conceded a dozen, finishing bottom of Group G.

Cameroon 1-0 Argentina (Italy 1990)

This is not the first time La Albiceleste have been involved in one of the most unexpected results at a World Cup, having been stunned in the first match of their title defence over three decades ago.

Argentina arrived at Italia 90 looking to defend the crown Diego Maradona guided them to four years prior, but Francois Omam-Biyik's 67th-minute goal at San Siro left them shell-shocked.

USA 1-0 England (Brazil 1950)

Heading into their tournament debut in South America, England were fancied to make a big impact, particularly when they came up against a United States team dominated by part-timers.

But a goal for Joe Gaetjens made history for the USA, bringing England back down to earth after they started with a 2-0 win over Chile.

Walter Winterbottom's men were then on their way home after slumping to a 1-0 loss at the hands of Spain.

Northern Ireland 1-0 Spain (Spain 1982)

Fondly remembered four decades down the line, Northern Ireland's win against tournament hosts Spain ranks among the greatest in their history, as they defied the odds in Valencia.

Gerry Armstrong's goal early in the second half put then in front and although Mal Donaghy was shown a red card, Billy Bingham's team hung on to deliver an almighty upset.

Lionel Scaloni quickly turned his focus towards Argentina's next game against Mexico as he struggled to come to terms with their sensational defeat to Saudi Arabia.

Argentina are the reigning South American champions and were on a 36-match unbeaten run – one short of Italy's record – going into their World Cup opener.

But a series of disallowed goals meant they could not build on Lionel Messi's early penalty, and Saudi Arabia netted twice in quick succession after half-time to claim a famous 2-1 win.

The Albiceleste have no room for error now, facing Mexico on Saturday and then Poland next Wednesday – their final two Group C opponents set to begin their campaigns against one another later on Tuesday.

"It's difficult to digest," Scaloni said. "In four, five minutes, they scored two goals, two out of two shots on goal.

"But we will have to bounce back from this defeat and prepare the next two matches. We do not have to analyse more than that.

"It's a sad day, but as we always say: head held high. We have to bounce back."

He added: "There is nothing we can do. If we had won, we would also be waking up tomorrow thinking about the game tomorrow against Mexico and thinking about different aspects we can improve. This doesn't change our analysis."

The Argentina players, like Scaloni, were still in shock, as the coach said: "I've not spoken to them yet, because they are in pain, to be honest.

"They are thinking about how we can turn things around. It's all about winning the next games, and that's what we are trying to do."

Scaloni praised Saudi Arabia's offside trap, a tactic he insisted Argentina were prepared for.

Indeed, the Albiceleste coach was adamant their opponents had not been underestimated.

"No, we fully respect Saudi Arabia. That wasn't the reason behind this defeat," Scaloni said. "Quite on the contrary, they are a good team, they have technical players, they are very well prepared physically."

Herve Renard acknowledged Saudi Arabia benefited from an 'off day' for Argentina in their "crazy" World Cup win.

Saudi Arabia came from behind to sensationally shock the South American champions 2-1 in their Group C opener at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday.

Argentina led through Lionel Messi's 10th minute penalty and had a further three goals disallowed in the first half.

"If we conceded a second goal, I think this game is finished," said Saudi Arabia coach Renard, adding he was "not happy" with the first-half display from his team.

"The determination was not good," he said. "At a World Cup, you have to give everything, because we cannot play how we played in the first half."

After the break, however, Saudi Arabia caught the Albiceleste out twice in quick succession, scoring through Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari to turn the match on its head and secure a lead they defended bravely until the final whistle.

Renard thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for not "putting too much pressure" on his side, explaining that helped Saudi Arabia to prepare "very well".

"And today," he added. "All the stars in the sky were in the same line for us.

"But don't forget Argentina is still a fantastic team. They came here without losing in 36 games.

"They are South American champions, they have amazing players, but this is football, sometimes it can happen – things that are crazy."

Renard could understand why Argentina underperformed in a game in which they were huge favourites.

"Can you imagine Lionel Messi playing against Saudi Arabia? He will say they have to start well, but the motivation is not like when he plays Brazil," Renard said. "This is football.

"We made history for Saudi Arabia. This will stay forever. This is important.

"But we need to think about moving forward. We still have two games that are very difficult for us."

Renard added: "Anything can happen. You can win the first game and not qualify. You can lose the first game and be world champion for Argentina. It's possible.

"Let's enjoy this competition and be ready for the second game."

Lautaro Martinez put Argentina's stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup Group C opener on Tuesday down to their own "mistakes".

Lionel Messi put La Albiceleste ahead early on from the penalty spot at Lusail Stadium, but two goals in the space of five second-half minutes from Saleh Al Shehri and Salem Al Dawsari completed one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

Martinez, who had two efforts ruled out for offside with the score at 1-0, lamented his side's sloppiness and says their focus needs to turn immediately to their two remaining Group C games against Mexico and Poland.

"We lost the game due to our mistakes more than anything in the second half," he said. "In the first half we had to score more than one goal, but this is the World Cup.

"Now to rest and think about what is coming. It's two big games now. Mexico and Poland are going to make difficult rivals, as it was today too. 

"In the second half we made mistakes; we have to correct that for what is to come.

"The defeat hurts a lot. We wanted to start by winning, but it's over. We need to think about the games that are coming."

The defeat was Argentina's first since July 2019, when they lost 2-0 to Brazil, ending a run of 36 matches unbeaten.

The result saw Lionel Scaloni's men lose a World Cup match after scoring the first goal for the first time since 1958 against Germany, while it was the first time they lost after leading at half-time since the 1930 final against Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia produced one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as they came from behind to beat Argentina 2-1 in their Group C opener on Tuesday.

La Albiceleste, who are one of the favourites to triumph at Qatar 2022, started well at Lusail Stadium and went ahead after 10 minutes courtesy of Lionel Messi's penalty.

Lionel Scaloni's men saw three efforts ruled out for offside before half-time – a reprieve that Saudi Arabia took full advantage of in the space of five minutes early in the second half.

Saleh Al Shehri pulled Herve Renard's side level, before Salem Al Dawsari sealed a famous win soon after with a sumptuous strike from the edge of the penalty area.

Mohammed Al Owais denied Messi inside the opening two minutes but he was powerless to stop the superstar's cool penalty after 10 minutes, the spot-kick given after Saud Abdulhamid had hauled down Leandro Paredes.

La Albiceleste twice thought they had extended their advantage before the half-hour mark, yet strikes from Messi and Lautaro Martinez were ruled out for offside.

Remarkably, Martinez had another effort chalked off for offside 10 minutes before the interval as Scaloni's side looked to take full advantage of Saudi Arabia's high defensive line.

Saudi Arabia pulled level with their first shot three minutes into the second half, Al Shehri powering past Cristian Romero and flashing a low shot into Emiliano Martinez's far corner. 

They completed an extraordinary turnaround just five minutes later when Al Dawsari cut inside from the left and whipped in a superb strike from 18 yards. 

Messi had an effort cleared off the line in the closing stages as Saudi Arabia held on for a famous win against a side 48 places above them in the world rankings, despite a lengthy stoppage after Mohammed Al Burayk had taken a knee to the face from his own goalkeeper.

What does it mean? Saudis snap Argentina's lengthy unbeaten run

Argentina looked like they would cruise to victory when Messi slotted home from 12 yards early on, yet their 36-game unbeaten run came to a crashing halt after a wild start to the second half.

Those quick-fire strikes from Al Shehri and Al Dawsari secured just a fourth World Cup win for Saudi Arabia and ensured Argentina will need to do it the hard way if they are to progress to the knockout stages.

Magical Messi

It will be scant consolation for Messi, but the 35-year-old's goal saw him become the fifth player to score at four different World Cup tournaments (2006, 2014, 2018, 2022) after Pele, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Old boys off the pace

Argentina became the first team in World Cup history to have four players aged 34+ in their starting XI (Messi, Nicolas Otamendi, Angel Di Maria and Papu Gomez). That scarcely looked an issue during the first half, but Argentina sorely lacked energy and vigour as they chased a leveller after Saudi Arabia had taken the lead.  

What's next?

Both sides are in action again on Saturday, with Argentina taking on Mexico and Saudi Arabia facing Poland.


Lionel Messi begins his World Cup campaign on Tuesday against Saudi Arabia, whose head coach is looking forward to the challenge.

Herve Renard's men face Argentina in their Group C opener and the experienced French coach insists his team are not just in Qatar to make up the numbers.

All six of Messi's goals at previous World Cups have been scored in the group stages, while he has netted 12 times in 19 games for Paris Saint-Germain this season.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Renard said: "Cristiano [Ronaldo] and Messi are football legends and thanks to them, football is different. It's an honour to be here and play against them. 

"When there's a fight you have to be one hundred per cent motivated to beat the best. That's the beauty of sport. In sport, there can always be surprises.

"We have to be ready. Above all, we have to be very good in all three games, not only against Argentina. All three are equally important."

Saudi Arabia will come up against Mexico and Poland after taking on the Albiceleste in what appears an incredibly challenging task for Renard's men in Group C. 

While conceding it is unlikely Saudi Arabia will qualify, Renard insisted his team – ranked 51st in the FIFA rankings, one place below hosts Qatar – will "fight against the forecasts".

"We love it when they forget about us from the outside," he said. "We like this, that they consider us the smallest team. It doesn't matter to us. It's justified if we take into account the FIFA ranking. 

"I don't think we'll go to the next round but we're here to fight against the forecasts. In the World Cup, there are surprises and that is the mentality we have."

Lionel Messi confirmed he is in a great place physically and mentally on the eve of his final World Cup.

The Argentina captain cut a remarkably relaxed figure ahead of Tuesday's game against Saudi Arabia in Doha, repeatedly stressing how much he is enjoying his football as his glittering career enters its final chapters.

Messi caused alarm over the weekend by failing to show for the section of training open to the media, but he was quick to rule out any injury concerns.

He said: "I am feeling very well physically, I'm in good condition. I come here in really good form, both personally and physically. I have no issues whatsoever.

"There were rumours about missing part of training, but no, it was just a precaution, nothing out of the ordinary."

Messi accepts this will be his last realistic shot at World Cup glory, but Argentina's Copa America win last year has lifted an element of pressure and the 35-year-old is determined to depart the global international stage with a smile.

He added: "I don’t know if it’s the best moment in my career but I feel really well and perhaps a bit more mature, always trying to give my best and enjoying everything.

"I think I’m enjoying it much more now. Before I didn’t think about that, I just wanted to play. Now I am trying to enjoy it, but when you play every three days it's sometimes tough.

"Age makes you see things differently, and maybe give more importance to small details. Perhaps before I didn't do that. Now I try to focus on the details and enjoying it is more important than everything else."

The unusual timing of this World Cup has meant a different build-up, but Messi says the pre-tournament nerves remain the same.

"It is different, we usually play the World Cup at the end of the season and we normally have a whole month to prepare," he said.

"Now it's completely different. We've had little time to prepare, but we knew this was the situation. It's always special.

"We expect a tough game, we are aware of this because it's the beginning of the World Cup. We will have to deal with the nerves the best way we can."

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni also pinpointed his side's 2021 Copa triumph in Brazil – their first major title in 28 years – as a key factor in why they have arrived in Qatar with a quiet confidence.

He said: "The reality is we now play in a much more calm way, we don’t have that weight on our shoulders.

"We are always calm when we go on the pitch and like to feel that freedom. And then it comes down to details. Emotionally we are far more assured and that allows us to play our football.

"But a nation like Argentina always has pressure and if the results are not the best it's obvious that we have criticism.

"We knew about the journey we had to take and we need to keep doing that. We think that’s the best way to do it. We respect the other teams, but we are here to be competitive."

Argentina head into the World Cup with the aim of adding global glory to their Copa America crown, but head coach Lionel Scaloni is all too aware of the challenges awaiting his side in Qatar – starting with first opponents Saudi Arabia.

La Albiceleste ended a 28-year wait for major silverware by beating Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final, making this the first World Cup they enter as champions of their continent since USA 94.

Unlike that tournament, where they exited at the hands of Romania in the last 16, Argentina will fancy themselves to go all the way this time around with a motivated group led by Lionel Messi in what is set to be his final World Cup.

Argentina begin their Group C campaign against Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday, before facing Mexico and Poland, but Scaloni is not expecting an easy test against a side down in 51st in the latest FIFA rankings.

"We know Saudi Arabia well," he said. "They're a very good team, a technically strong team with fast players. They will make things difficult for us.

"On top of that it is our first game of the World Cup, which is always difficult. But this is the World Cup and every game is difficult.

"We don't have pressure because at the end this is football; we're going to play a World Cup. We're conscious what football represents for Argentina, but it's sport and that's why we have to step on the pitch and do our own thing."

Argentina are one of three South American teams to have lifted the World Cup, alongside Brazil (five times) and Uruguay (twice), though not since 1986, in the days of Diego Maradona, have they got their hands on the trophy.


Indeed, the World Cup has provided far more painful memories than happy ones from an Argentinian perspective over the past three decades, even when factoring in their march to the final eight years ago, when they lost to Germany.

If anything other than going all the way will be considered a disappointment for Scaloni's side, advancing from the group stage for only the second time will be the aim for Saudi Arabia in this, their sixth participation in the tournament.

Herve Renard's charges booked their place in Qatar with 13 wins and only one defeat across their 18 qualifying matches, spread across two group stages, but the luck of the draw was not on their side for the finals.

Renard has experience of defying the odds after guiding Zambia to the Africa Cup of Nations crown in 2012, before doing likewise with a more fancied Ivory Coast in 2015 to become the first man to win the tournament with different teams.

With this his second taste of the World Cup, having previously led Morocco in the 2018 edition, Renard is dreaming of another magical journey with Saudi Arabia.

"We have a tough set of matches, but as a coach or a player you dream of qualifying for the World Cup and pitting yourself against the best," he said.

"The best teams in the world always come with the intention of winning it, but there are always upsets. When you are one of the smaller teams in the tournament, you must rely on shock results."


Argentina - Lionel Messi

Messi has returned to something close to his best form in his second season with Paris Saint-Germain, the superstar forward having been directly involved in 26 goals in all competitions – a tally only Erling Haaland and team-mate Neymar can match among players from clubs competing in Europe's top five leagues.

The 35-year-old has already stated he expects this to be his final World Cup and, having lifted some almighty weight off his shoulders with his part in last year's Copa America triumph, he is now determined to become a world champion with his country.

Messi failed to register a knockout-stage goal in his previous four World Cups, totalling 756 goalless minutes on the pitch, but he has netted six times in the group stage and will back himself to add to that tally in this opener.

Saudi Arabia - Saleh Al Shehri 

Renard is without 17-goal Fahad Al Muwallad due to the winger failing a doping test earlier this year, but there are a number of other options to call upon in the final third.

Al Shehri is among them, and the Al-Hilal striker will be looking to make his mark in Qatar after netting from all four of his shots on target in the AFC third-round qualifiers to finish joint-top of the scoring charts.

However, of the 11 goals Saudi Arabia have scored in the finals, four of those have come from the penalty spot – a higher proportion than any other side competing in Qatar.


Argentina have lost three of their past five matches at the World Cup, as many as in their previous 24 combined (W16 D5), but they are strong favourites for this meeting with Saudi Arabia.

That is reflected in our supercomputer prediction model, which gives Argentina an 80.2 per cent chance of victory, compared to just 6.9 per cent for Saudi Arabia. 

A draw is predicted at a 12.9 per cent likelihood of happening as Renard's men look to pull off what would be a shock result.

Christian Pulisic is "not panicked" about the United States' form ahead of the World Cup despite a winless international break.

In the USA's final warm-up games for Qatar 2022, a poor 2-0 loss to Japan in Dusseldorf was followed by a limp goalless draw with Saudi Arabia in Murcia on Tuesday.

It means Gregg Berhalter's side will go into the finals with just one victory in their past five matches.

With Gio Reyna also suffering an injury scare against Saudi Arabia, this was not a successful camp for the United States.

But captain Pulisic pushed back on concerns around the team's performances, even if he acknowledged the need for improvement in the final third.

"We had a pretty good first half," the Chelsea forward stated. "I think we had a couple of half-chances where we created some things.

"But I felt like we lost it a bit at the start of the second half, and they got a little bit of rhythm. We have to do more to figure out what we are going to do to create chances at the end of the day.

"There are definitely some positives to take from the game, and a clean sheet is always good. I'm not panicked at all.

"We have a fresh slate going into the World Cup, and we're going to give it everything that we have."

The USA play Wales, England and Iran in Group B in Qatar.

Gio Reyna was substituted early on during the United States' limp 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, dealing them an injury scare less than two months before the start of the World Cup.

The Borussia Dortmund winger, who is expected to play a key role for Gregg Berhalter's men in Qatar, bowed out after just half an hour of the team's final pre-tournament friendly in Murcia, being replaced by Paul Arriola.

The teenager's departure will have set alarm bells ringing, particularly given he missed much of last season after suffering several muscle injuries.

A statement on the national team's social media channels moved to allay those fears, however, indicating the Dortmund man was replaced as a precautionary measure after experiencing "muscle tightness".

Berhalter's side had started brightly in Spain, with Tyler Adams going close from distance, but Saudi Arabia missed the best chance of the first half when DeAndre Yedlin – who was also later substituted through injury – made a last-ditch block to deny Hattan Bahebri.

Jesus Ferreira could only manage a tame attempt when presented with the USA's best opportunity of the second half, and they will enter the World Cup in disappointing form, having suffered a dismal 2-0 loss to Japan last week.


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