World Cup Group C Preview

Leo Messi
(Getty Images)

World Cup 2022
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Group C at the World Cup in Qatar has been completed with six matches between November 22 and November 30. The group contained Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland. The two countries with the best record will advance into the knockout phase.

Argentina is the seeded nation in this section of the draw and deservedly so. The reigning Copa America champions were fourth in the world rankings when the balls were pulled from the pots and have risen since. Lionel Scaloni’s side will hold valid hopes of going deep into the tournament.

Their rivals from Central America, Mexico, will have something to say about that, though. Per the Rankings, they were the strongest second seeds at the time of the draw. By this measure, Group C holds the strongest combination of top two seeds in this edition of the World Cup.

This is bad news for Poland, the section’s third seeds and the only other country with a realistic hope of progressing from this group. As only the sixth strongest side in Pot 3, they were always likely to get a tricky draw, but it could not have gone too much worse for them. Poland has pushed through though, and will be moving on.

That leaves us with Saudi Arabia, the third weakest team in the tournament according to the rankings. Being rated marginally better than neighbors and hosts Qatar will be scant consolation when they try to navigate this group. Somehow they still managed to upset Argentina.


World Cup Group C - Final Standings

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Top 2 teams advanced to knockout stage

World Cup Group C Odds

Argentina and Poland both advance to the next round while Mexico and Saudi Arabia have been eliminated from the World Cup 2022. Listed below are the odds to win/advance from the group. These odds were posted before the tournament kicked off.

TeamGroup WinnerQualify From Group
Odds Provided by BetMGM - Subject to Change

With Argentina priced at -1600 to advance and Saudi Arabia available at +650, we can be fairly safe in assuming that the former will proceed while the latter is set to crash out.

Not that we needed odds to draw that conclusion, of course. It’s the other two sides in Group C which generated the interest in this section.

With a gap of just 50 between their odds for winning the group and a measly five separating their qualification chances, Mexico and Poland are split by the shortest margin seen in any group (tied). And it came down to the wire.

However, among the teams who share such figures, their prices are the shortest. At -110 to reach the Round of 16, Poland is the only team who is third in its respective group with a negative figure.

This made it a very interesting battle to qualify, there’s no value to be had here. The only side with a decent price has less-than-no hope.

Below was our initial analysis/coverage of the Group before the start of the World Cup

World Cup Group C Draw


The obvious way to start a preview of Argentina would be to say that any team which can call upon Lionel Messi clearly has a chance of going all the way.

Yet the Greatest of All Time was at the last four World Cups, too. The Argentines did reach the final eight years ago but otherwise haven’t gone past the last eight with Messi.

Focusing upon the Paris Saint-Germain man also does Lautaro Martinez a slight disservice, too. With seven goals in qualifying, he matched Messi’s total, and only three players in South America bagged more.

But despite possessing two of the top scorers, Argentina bagged 13 goals fewer than Brazil (prior to their rescheduled clash in September). Although they were never in danger of failing to qualify and were unbeaten, they drew six times.

Whether this will cost them in Qatar remains to be seen, and they are unbeaten in three years at the time of writing. Argentina has lost just seven of its 46 previous matches against the other teams in Group C.

As they will surely open their campaign with a win over Saudi Arabia, Scaloni’s side should cruise into the Round of 16. They are strong enough to ensure their journey at the World Cup doesn’t end there.


If you want a sure-fire bet for a team to reach the knockout phase, then history suggests you should select Mexico. They have reached the Round of 16 at the last seven editions of the World Cup. Their problem has been getting past that hurdle – they have only done so in 1970 and 1986, both times as hosts.

The bookmakers expect them to emerge from the group stage once again here. Much will rest on their opening clash with Poland. The Mexicans will hope that their friendly win over the Poles in 2017 is repeated.

Their recent form suggests it might be. Aside from a 3-0 friendly loss to Uruguay in June, they have conceded very few goals this year. Mexico kept clean sheets in their final five World Cup qualifiers, finishing second on goal difference behind Canada.

The concern is at the other end of the field, where they scored just 17 goals in 14 qualification matches. You can spin their record in positive or negative fashion. The fact they had 13 different scorers shows they are not reliant upon a star. Only having three men who scored more than once is a concern, though.

Raul Jimenez was their top scorer in qualifying, and he got three. However, they all came from the penalty spot and came against El Salvador and Panama. Mexico’s defense will need to perform well if they are to advance.


While Poland’s World Cup history contains a pair of third-place finishes (in 1974 and 1982), they haven’t reached the knockout phase in the last eight editions.

But at least they’re at the finals, for only the fourth time since the mid-1980s. Poland came through a playoff after finishing behind England in their qualification group. They were granted a walkover in the semifinal having been drawn to face Russia, then beat Sweden 2-0.

Robert Lewandowski is clearly their key man. There are others capable of contributing, though. Both Adam Buksa and Karol Swiderski grabbed five goals in qualifying (Lewa got eight), while Piotr Zielinski scored in the playoff.

There will be a question mark against their defense, though. Poland only kept one clean sheet against the three best sides in their qualification group. While they were not at full strength, a 6-1 Nations League defeat to Belgium in June may have dampened optimism too.

In each of their previous four appearances at the World Cup, Poland won a single game while losing twice. Saudi Arabia should enable them to get a win, but they will need to break with recent history and get at least a point from the top two seeds.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is going to face a familiar problem at this tournament. They remain one of the stronger teams in the Asian Football Confederation but are weak when compared to the nations they will face in Qatar.

They played 18 matches in the qualification process, topping their table in both phases. They lost just once (2-0 away to Japan) and scored 32 goals while only conceding 10. Herve Renard’s side really couldn’t have done much more.

But they lost friendlies to Colombia and Venezuela in June (failing to score both times) and have enjoyed just one win against any of their Group C opponents. Their odds of reaching the knockout phase are very long, and it’s hard to argue this does Saudi Arabia a disservice.

Left winger Salem Al-Dawsari will be their man to watch. He scored the winner when Saudi Arabia defeated Egypt at the last World Cup and was also their joint-top scorer in qualifying this time around. Saleh Al-Sheri matched his total and scored more in the second, more difficult, phase too.

The chances of them repeating their Round of 16 peak from 1994 are very, very slim. They are far likelier to match 2002, when they lost all three matches in the Group Stage.

World Cup Group C Favorites

In the opinion of BetMGM, the only team less likely to reach the next phase than Saudi Arabia is Costa Rica, so we can safely dismiss their chances.

At the opposite end of the scale is Argentina, second only to England in terms of qualification from the group stage. Add in France, and you have the only two teams deemed more likely to finish at the top of their respective sections. The Argentines will proceed.

As with many groups, it’s the duo in the middle who will be the hardest to call. The bookmakers have Mexico as a 50.1% shot to get through and Poland at 49.1%. It couldn’t be much closer, and at the time of writing, no pairing in any group is as close.

Mexico has by far the greater World Cup pedigree, so perhaps the odds should be more heavily tilted in their favor. The match between the two in the opening pair of fixtures in the group could not be more vital. The Mexicans won their last clash 1-0, and the two before that both ended 1-1. It will be tense.

Teams That Advance From World Cup Group C

The qualifying teams from Group D will lie in wait on Dec. 3 and 4 for the top two countries in this section. As France will surely win the other group, there will be a clear advantage in finishing first here.

Doing so will likely lead to a match against Denmark, who are comfortably second favorites in the group, ahead of Australia and Tunisia. While the Danes merit respect, winning nine of their 10 qualifying matches, they have reached one World Cup quarterfinal in their history. They will be a far more favorable opponent than the defending champions.

World Cup Group C FAQ

What are the World Cup groups?

Group A: Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, Qatar

Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran

Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Group D: France, Denmark, Australia, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica

Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, Korea Republic

How many teams will there be in Qatar in 2022?

For the final time at a World Cup – as an additional 16 teams will qualify for the 2026 edition – there will be 32 nations competing. They are divided into eight groups of four for the opening phase.

Who will win the Golden Gloves award?

Like all player awards, this is very difficult to predict. History shows that the recipient of the Golden Gloves usually has the most clean sheets, appears in the final (often winning it) and is European.

With that criteria, France’s Hugo Lloris is the stand-out candidate. Only four goalkeepers kept more shutouts in one of Europe’s top five leagues last season, so he has the form required to win this trophy.