Qatar 2022: what does Argentina need to advance to the round of 16?
This was meant to be Lionel Messi's crowning moment for Argentina, the tournament in which he steps out of Diego Maradona's shadow for the Argentina national team, but the 2022 World Cup has been a mixed experience for the 35-year-old, so far.
Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina in their opening game, before getting their campaign back on track with a 2-0 win over Mexico in which Messi scored the opener.
It means that with just one game remaining in Group C, Argentina is still in contention to advance to the round of 16 in Messi's fifth World Cup campaign.
Argentina sit second with three points, one point behind Group C leaders Poland, knowing that a win in their last match against the Poles will ensure their progression.
Defender Lisandro Martínez said the team, including Messi, has improved.
“Everything comes down to the details,” Martínez said Tuesday at a press conference.
“We saw it with Messi's goal.
Before that the match (against Mexico) was very tight."
“We know what we are capable of.
We can play better and we know we haven't reached our best level yet.
But we are trying,” he added.
Messi's representative denies that the Argentine is in negotiations with Inter Miami of the MLS
Poland - Argentina in Qatar 2022: what time does it start and how to watch it on television and the internet
Messi may have thought that this tournament would be his time to step out of Maradona's shadow, but things haven't quite gone according to plan.
(Credit: Ariel Schalit/AP)
Argentina faces Poland.
Pictured here is Poland's star Robert Lewandowski celebrating his team's second goal during the Group C match between Poland and Saudi Arabia.
(Credit: Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)
Argentina faces a Poland team led by their own iconic striker, Robert Lewandowski, who scored his first World Cup goal last time out against Saudi Arabia.
The 34-year-old Lewandowski, who is also his country's all-time top scorer just like Messi, missed a penalty in Poland's 0-0 draw against Mexico in the first game but redeemed himself with the second in the 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia.
And Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni praised Lewandowski as a good player.
“It will be a privilege and a pleasure to see him up close as a football fan,” Scaloni said.
"Is he at the same level as Messi?
You just have to enjoy such a good player.
Why compare one player with another.
That's not helpful.
Following their famous victory over Argentina, a victory for Saudi Arabia against Mexico will secure their first qualification for the round of 16 since 1994, while a draw would mean Poland would need to beat Argentina.
Saudi Arabia head coach Herve Renard said his team has already defied expectations.
“Nobody in the whole world thought we could play at this level.
Yes, in Saudi Arabia we know the players well, but they are unknown to fans around the world," Renard said at a press conference after the game against Poland.
"We are still alive."
Mexico's hopes are much slimmer, as they need to beat Saudi Arabia by at least a three-goal margin, and Poland not to lose to Argentina.
Summary of news and results for November 29 3:39
The battle for the final spot in Group D
The other group that will reach its climax on Wednesday is Group D, in which Australia plays Denmark and Tunisia faces France.
Reigning World Cup champions France have already sealed their place in the next round with two wins from as many games.
However, the rest of the group is balanced with Australia on three points and Denmark and Tunisia on one point each.
Australia have a great chance to progress to the round of 16 for the first time since 2006: a win will guarantee their progression, although a draw would suffice if Tunisia fail to beat France.
Forward Mathew Leckie recalled Team Australia's successful run in Germany 16 years ago ahead of their crucial match on Wednesday.
Qatar World Cup 2022: what games are played today, November 30?
Schedules and confrontations
Mathew Leckie of Australia competes for a header against Aissa Laidouni of Tunisia during the Group D match between Tunisia and Australia. (Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Mathew Leckie of Australia competes for a header against Aissa Laidouni of Tunisia during the Group D match between Tunisia and Australia.
(Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
“We have always believed that we can create something special,” Leckie said at a news conference on Tuesday.
“When the Socceroos came out of the group in 2006, I was a proud fan and now we have the chance to be players and do that.
“We saw how proud people are at home.
So we're doing it for the country, for ourselves, for our friends, for our family, and that's the motivation itself."
Australia will face a team from Denmark that have struggled to create clear openings, despite looking solid defensively
Having scored 30 goals in 10 World Cup qualifiers, Denmark have scored just once in Qatar, prompting Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand to joke that he might have to call on Norway striker Erling Haaland.
The day before Denmark's key clash against Australia, Hjulmand kept his cards in check when it came to the team he could pick on Wednesday.
“The way it looks now everyone is ready,” Hjulmand told the media.
“We have 26 players who all deserve to play.
They are all good enough and deserve to play.
“All we have to see is what kind of technical approach we should take tomorrow, what structure we should play with, who we know fits.
"I trust all the players we've brought in, so there are a lot of ways to do it."