World Cup Group C betting odds and predictions: Qatar 2022 sees Messi's final quest for glory with Argentina

The World Cup's Group C looks set to be an interesting one, with at least three teams likely expecting to reach the Round of 16: Argentina, Poland, and Mexico. The fourth team - Saudi Arabia - will arrive in Qatar desperate to upset the odds and spring a surprise. The least-favored side in World Cup Group C will have the chance to bloody Argentina’s noses in the opening matchday, while Poland taking on Mexico is as spicy as an opener can be, with each side knowing their chances of progression rely on avoiding defeat from the off.

Lionel Messi causes carnage among the French players

Lionel Messi causes carnage among the French players. Pic: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

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Conor Clancy

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World Cup 2022 Group C fixtures

World Cup Group C FixturesWhen (ET)Where
Argentina vs Saudi ArabiaNovember 22, 5amLusail Iconic Stadium
Mexico vs PolandNovember 22, 11amStadium 974
Poland vs Saudi ArabiaNovember 26, 8amEducation City Stadium
Argentina vs MexicoNovember 26, 2pmLusail Iconic Stadium
Poland vs ArgentinaNovember 30, 2pmStadium 974
Saudi Arabia vs MexicoNovember 30, 2pmLusail Iconic Stadium

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World Cup 2022 Group C predictions

While World Cup groups are never easy to predict, it’s hard to look beyond Argentina making it out of World Cup Group C. The side to join them is the trickier selection and it’s probably going to be one of the more competitive battles we see in this year’s World Cup group stage.

Being pushed, though, Poland should have just enough about them to get past Mexico and Saudi Arabia, joining the South American champions in progressing through the World Cup group stage.

The Asian representatives are the side we'd worry most for here, and it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see them head home at the end of the World Cup group stage with zero points to show for their time at the tournament. Saudi Arabia losing each of their three games is something to consider.

Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al-Dawsari (18) chases the ball with Russia midfielder Aleksandr Samedov (19)

Saudi Arabia midfielder Salem Al-Dawsari (18) chases the ball with Russia midfielder Aleksandr Samedov (19) Pic: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

After that, Argentina should really be topping World Cup Group C, which is something worth backing. And Lionel Messi is likely to be at his very best yet again for his country, as he was in the Copa America and in La Finalissima against European champions Italy. At the moment, we’ve only seen six Messi World Cup goals, and it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to seem him go close to doubling that tally this summer. Argentina’s chances will be helped by this one not being played in Europe, too. The last time that happened, Messi led Argentina to the final.

World Cup Group C betting picks

  • Argentina to top Group C

  • Poland to qualify from Group C

  • Saudi Arabia to get no points

Argentina World Cup 2022 overview

At 35, Messi World Cups are getting more and more precious, as are Messi World Cup goals. Qatar is expected to be his last, and he’ll want to make it count. That considered, we shouldn’t be looking past Messi as being a candidate to end the winter as either the Golden Ball or the Golden Boot winner. As he’s not really a striker and has been scoring fewer goals in recent seasons, Messi to win the Golden Ball again is a bet worth taking.

Beyond the obvious threat of the Albiceleste celebrating this winter and having it remembered as ‘the Messi World Cup’, Argentina have come together as a real group under Lionel Scaloni and are more of a unit than we’ve seen them for most of the ex-Barcelona man’s career.

One of the keys to their recent success and form has been Inter’s Lautaro Martinez, and the forward ended the 2021/22 campaign in frightening form for the Nerazzurri even though they fell short of city rivals AC Milan in the Serie A title race.

Lautaro’s form dipped mid-season, but there was nobody hotter than him at the back end of the campaign, showing that he’s ready to fire his teams towards success as best he can at the crucial point of the campaign. This winter, Argentina will be relying on him and he has what it takes to be their top goalscorer.

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Argentina picks and predictions

Saudi Arabia World Cup 2022 overview

It’s never a nice thing to say or to write but it’s hard to look at this World Cup group stage and not fear that Saudi Arabia will be one of the whipping boys.

Being drawn in World Cup Group C, they’ll face tough opponents in each of their three games and their game against Mexico might just be their best chance at getting an unlikely win, and it’s could even come at an attractive price as well.

It’s worth remembering that they booked their place in the World Cup 2022 groups having come through an Asian qualification path that saw them drawn in the same group as both Japan and Australia, and it was Saudi Arabia who topped the group with 23 points to Japan’s 22 and the Socceroos’ 15.

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Saudi Arabia midfielder Taisir Al-Jassim (17) chases the ball with Russia midfielder Yuriy Zhirkov. Pic: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Their saving grace might just be coach Herve Renard, who is taking charge at his second straight World Cup having guided Morocco in Russia in 2018, and he has plenty of international tournament experience, mostly with African sides in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Salem Al-Dawsari will be their one to watch, and he’s their leading goalscorer too, so expect him to be a danger man for Argentina, Poland, and Mexico to keep an eye on. His main strengths come with the creative side of things, though he did manage two goals in that aforementioned qualification group.

Their main scoring threat is Saleh Al-Shehri, though, and the Al-Hilal striker is more than likely to be their top-scoring player in Qatar.

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Saudi Arabia picks and predictions

  • Saudi Arabia to win under 1.5 games and not to qualify from Group C

  • Saleh Al-Shehri to be top team goalscorer

Mexico World Cup 2022 overview

Mexico are in a similar position to Saudi Arabia in this World Cup group stage in that they’ll do very well to get out of a tough group ahead of either Argentina or Poland, and they’re more likely than not to be going home after the final round of games in the World Cup 2022 groups.

Raul Jimenez is perhaps their star player, along with Hirving Lozano, even though the No.9 hasn’t quite been able to rediscover he best form since suffering his serious and career-threatening head injury, while Lozano has been a little too inconsistent at Napoli.

Mexico defender Edson Alvarez (21) celebrates. Pic: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Mexico defender Edson Alvarez (21) celebrates. Pic: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

For those reasons, Mexico might struggle in the final third, and their results over the summer didn’t exactly spark inspiration, drawing with Jamaica in the CONCACAF Nations League, while their only two wins in their five games across May and June saw them beat Nigeria and Suriname. They lost 3-0 to Uruguay and also drew with Ecuador.

As a result, it’s easy to see Mexico scoring under 3.5 goals in their World Cup group stage efforts and to crash out at the first hurdle, leaving Argentina and Poland to progress.

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Read Mexico's match-up previews below:

Mexico picks and predictions

  • Mexico to score under 3.5 goals

  • Mexico to not qualify from Group C

Poland World Cup 2022 overview

Poland are undeniably one of those fortunate ‘smaller’ footballing nations - granted they have a population of almost 40 million - in that they are led by a superstar in attack and Robert Lewandowski presence alone is enough for any opponent to worry when facing them.

Their World Cup group stage games should show us their attacking threat, and even beyond Lewandowski they have plenty to worry opponents in Krzysztof Piatek, Piotr Zielinski and Aston Villa’s Matty Cash as well.

At the back, though, Poland are anything but watertight and they really struggle to keep opposing teams out, meaning that Lozano, Jimenez and co. might just be able to punish them in Mexico vs Poland.

Robert Lewandowski in action against Senegal. Pic Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Robert Lewandowski in action against Senegal. Pic Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports

Their defensive frailties might just be enough to keep their games interesting, perhaps even against Saudi Arabia, and Poland’s matches are likely to be worth tuning in for this winter.

Lewandowski’s presence and their good depth should see them progress, and how could you pick anybody other than the frontman to be their top scorer?

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Poland picks and predictions

  • Robert Lewandowski top team goalscorer

  • Poland to qualify from Group C

World Cup 2022 Group C scenarios

Whoever manages to navigate their way through World Cup Group C will have a side from Group D awaiting them in the Round of 16, with the winners of one group facing the runners-up of the other. Group D contains France, Australia, Denmark, and Tunisia, and it’s hard to look beyond the two European sides as being the strongest there as World Cup holders and European Championship semifinalists.

A desperation to avoid taking on Kylian Mbappe, Karim Benzema and co. is likely to be enough to fire Argentina on to top World Cup Group C and come out as group winners, and any Messi World Cup goals this winter are likely to mean more for that very reason.

Denmark won’t be easy opponents either, but with Les Bleus the current holders and with the roster depth they have available, everything that happens in World Cup Group C is likely to be shaped by the desire to avoid facing them.

Even Poland might take extra motivation out of a slight fear of meeting France, and that may just be enough to drive them on and really go for top spot along with the South American champions. The feeling that this could be a Messi World Cup, though, makes you think twice about that.

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World Cup 2022 Group C players to watch

The World Cup groups don’t always tell us a lot about how the rest of the tournament will go, as some winners often take their time to grow into the tournament. At World Cup 2022, though, it’s hard to see anything other than Lionel Messi hitting the ground running from the off.

Taking on Saudi Arabia, a Poland side with defensive concerns, and a Mexico who aren’t exactly impressing of late, the Paris Saint-Germain man could have the time of his life in the World Cup group stage this winter.

He’s always key when he plays, and that has become more true than ever with Argentina in recent years, so don’t expect that to change this winter. Expect Messi to be decisive in the World Cup group stage and have a hand in most of what Argentina do.

Similarly, Robert Lewandowski is one to watch, though not an up-and-comer by any stretch, much like Messi. This is surely going to be his last World Cup as well, and Poland are an exciting side in attack with him being the point of reference and the main goal threat. As a result, and against Saudi Arabia and Mexico in particular, he should enjoy himself.

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Group C players to watch picks

  • Robert Lewandowski to be top goalscorer in Group C

  • Lionel Messi to score or assist three or more times

World Cup Group C roster updates

Argentina 2022 roster updates

Argentina are more of a group than they’ve ever been with Lionel Scaloni in charge, and Lionel Messi (below) feels like he’s just another player when he’s in the national team setup, though he is as important as ever on the pitch. Rodrigo De Paul’s integration has served them well, and they’ve benefited from his move to Atletico Madrid. In Papu Gomez, too, they have an option likely to start on the bench who can change a game.

Saudi Arabia 2022 roster updates

Their big-name player is undoubtedly Salem Al-Dawsari of Al-Hilal, and he was recently an Asian Champions League winner as well. Being their current top goalscorer, his threat will be known to anybody they come up against, and certainly in Mexico vs Saudi Arabia, and he is direct and almost has an aggressive streak when he finds himself within sight of goal.

Lionel Messi celebrates at  the FIFA World Cup 2018. © Pro Shots/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports

Lionel Messi celebrates at the FIFA World Cup 2018. © Pro Shots/Sipa USA via USA TODAY Sports

Mexico 2022 roster updates

Raul Jimenez is arguably their star player, along with Hirving Lozano, even though the No.9 hasn’t quite been able to rediscover he best form since suffering his serious and career-threatening head injury, while Lozano has been a little too inconsistent at Napoli.

Poland 2022 roster updates

Once Robert Lewandowski is fit and firing on all cylinders, Poland will be a massive threat to anyone in attack. They also have the recent addition of Matty Cash at full back which should help them become a better defensive unit. They have other attacking options around the field but can't afford to be without their star striker.

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Image credits: Mexican National Team midfielder Raul Jimenez: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports. Mexican National Team midfielder Luis Chavez: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports. Mexican National Team defender Hector Moreno: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports