Which teams will be in action and at what times in the FIFA World Cup on Tuesday?
Argentina vs Saudi Arabia
Lionel Messi’s Argentina has an easy-looking start to the World Cup, based on blistering recent form.
The South Americans are on a 36-match unbeaten run with top scorer and captain Messi playing his fifth and possibly last World Cup in search of the elusive honour that would grant him immortality at home alongside Diego Maradona. If Argentina remains unbeaten against Saudi Arabia, it will equal Italy’s run of 37 unbeaten games under Roberto Mancini.
Saudi Arabia, ranked 48 places below Argentina (3rd in FIFA rankings), lost to Venezuela, Colombia and Croatia in a mixed bag of friendlies, and has a poor record in its opening games at World Cups. It lost 5-0 to Russia in 2018 and 8-0 to Germany in 2002.
Yet, it has pedigree too: this is its sixth World Cup. Saudi Arabia reached the last 16 in 1994, and it made it to Qatar by topping its group ahead of Japan.
Denmark vs Tunisia
Denmark goes into its opening World Cup game against a tricky Tunisia side on Tuesday in the unusual position of being among Europe’s dark horses, in with an outside chance of winning the tournament if they can get everything right in Qatar.
To ensure the best possible start, the Danes will turn to playmaker Christian Eriksen, who suffered a heart attack in their Euro 2020 opener against Finland in Copenhagen but has since made a full recovery.
A 5-1 drubbing by Brazil in Paris aside, Tunisia’s recent performances have been steady without being spectacular, but it is still capable of punishing any mistakes the Danes might make.
At the 2018 World Cup, Tunisia held England scoreless until Harry Kane scored in the 91st minute to give the English a narrow win.
Appearing at its sixth finals, Tunisia has never made the knockout stage. Being drawn into a group with Denmark, France and Australia has left it with a mountain to climb.
Mexico vs Poland
Mexico and Poland kick-start their World Cup campaign, knowing the outcome could decide who survives beyond the group stage of the tournament.
Group favourites Argentina takes on unlikely contenders Saudi Arabia in the earlier duel and barring a major upset in that match the second spot in the final group rankings is likely to go to either Mexico or Poland.
Mexico’s strong record of being unbeaten in its World Cup openers is a statistic any team would respect. Mexico has won five of its opening matches and drawn one in its last six appearances in the tournament, always making it to the knockout stage.
France vs Australia
France’s preparations for Qatar have been far from smooth, with a poor run of form and the loss of influential midfielders Pogba and N’Golo Kante to injury. The team suffered a huge blow on Saturday when Ballon D’Or winner and striker Karim Benzema was ruled out of the tournament with a thigh injury.
Incidentally, France had opened its campaign against Australia in 2018.
Head coach Didier Deschamps does, however, have the luxury of being able to call on Olivier Giroud to reunite with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann in an attack that served him well in 2018.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has much less proven quality to choose from and will be looking to Australia’s famous physicality and fighting spirit to deliver a first World Cup finals win for the country since 2010.
Failing that, with Group D matches against Denmark and Tunisia to follow, Australia will be desperate to avoid a repeat of the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Germany that derailed its 2010 campaign before it really got started.
(With inputs from Reuters)
FIFA World Cup Day 2 recap
England vs Iran – England hammered Iran to clinch a 6-1 win in its opening fixture of the World Cup. Jude Bellingham, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish- all scored their debut World Cup goals for England.
Senegal vs Netherlands – Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen scored a goal each to give Netherlands win in World Cup opener against Senegal. Netherlands was playing its first World Cup game since 2014 – REPORT
USA vs Wales – Gareth Bale rescued Wales as the captain’s late penalty salvaged a draw against the United States in his country’s first World Cup game for 64 years – REPORT