Lionel Messi, Argentina vs. Poland: Storylines, Odds, Live Stream for World Cup 2022
Two of the biggest stars in men's soccer will square off on Wednesday, with places in the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout round on the line.
Robert Lewandowski and Poland are top of Group C with four points, while Lionel Messi and Argentina are second on three.
Both players found the back of the net in their last matches. Lewandowski took advantage of a Saudi Arabia defensive error, while Messi delivered a tremendous shot from outside the box in the win against Mexico.
Poland and Argentina should be playing for the win, but a draw could get both sides through to the round of 16 if Saudi Arabia and Mexico play to a draw in the other Group C match.
A Poland win guarantees it will go through as the group winner. Argentina needs a victory and for Saudi Arabia to not make up a two-goal gap in goal differential in a win to top Group C.
Odds and Match Info
Poland (+650; bet $100 to win $650)
Argentina (-210; bet $210 to win $100)
Over 2.5 Goals (+110); Under 2.5 Goals (-140)
Date: Wednesday, 30 November
Start Time: 2 p.m. ET
Live Stream: FoxSports.com and Fox Sports app
Lionel Messi vs. Robert Lewandowski
Wednesday's match will be billed as Lionel Messi vs. Robert Lewandowski.
The former and current Barcelona stars might be just one player on the field for their respective sides, but they are two of the biggest difference-makers in the World Cup.
Poland had trouble feeding Lewandowski with service against Saudi Arabia, but he finally scored off a dreadful defensive mistake.
The 34-year-old's 82nd-minute strike against Saudi Arabia was his first in five World Cup matches for his country.
Messi scored on a penalty kick in the shock defeat by Saudi Arabia and opened up the Mexico game with a rolling strike from outside the box that was perfectly positioned to beat Guillermo Ochoa.
The Paris Saint-Germain star has had the better chances in the tournament, and he has the talent around him to provide him with balls into the final third.
Argentina's attack produced 15 completed passes into the 18-yard box, with six of them coming from Ángel Di María, per FBRef.
Poland only has eight completed passes into the 18-yard box, and it has just three completed crosses into the penalty area.
It also had three fewer key passes than Argentina through two games, and three of those were handed out by Lewandowski.
Argentina has the edge in service for its top talisman and better defensive stats. The South American side had an expected goals against of 0.1 versus Saudi Arabia and 0.3 against Mexico. Poland's xGA against the Saudis was 1.7.
Messi and Co. appear to be in better position to win, and the 35-year-old looks to be better equipped to steal the spotlight on Wednesday.
1st Place Vital in Group C
The second-place team out of Group C will face the winner of Group D in the round of 16.
France sits on top of that section with six points from six, and it is expected to dispense of Tunisia with relative ease in the first set of matches played on Wednesday.
Argentina and Poland will know what the potential round-of-16 matchups will be going into their clash, and that should motivate both sides to go for the victory inside Stadium 974.
The Albiceleste are likely better equipped to deal with the threat posed by the holders, but they will not want to face them in the round of 16 for the second straight tournament.
A win sends Argentina to the top of Group C, as long as it scores more goals in a win than Saudi Arabia. There is an unlikely scenario in which both teams win, and Hervé Renard's side outscores Messi and Co. by three goals to take control of the goal-differential tiebreaker.
Poland needs a win to secure first place and a last-16 matchup against the second-place side out of Group D, which will be either Denmark or Australia. Tunisia is technically still alive in the section, but beating France seems unlikely.
A loss could advance the Poles, but they would need either a draw in the other Group C game or for Mexico to win and not make up the four-goal gap in goal differential.
A draw does little good for either side in the case that Saudi Arabia pulls off another victory. Poland would go through in that scenario.
With nothing guaranteed and France looming for the second-place team, Argentina and Poland should both go for the win, which will likely set up one of the most exciting matches of the group stage.
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