The action at World Cup 2022 continues apace on Tuesday, with four games taking place on the same day for the first time.
Argentina and France, two of the pre-tournament favorites to lift the trophy, are among the teams in action, with dark horses Denmark also set to make their bow in Qatar.
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With this likely to be his last World Cup, there is plenty of focus on Lionel Messi going into the tournament. The Paris Saint-Germain forward has been in fine form at club level and, perhaps for the first time ever, Argentina have created a system which brings out the best in the diminutive genius.
Messi is among the favorites to be the World Cup 2022 top scorer, but we believe Lautaro Martinez could be an interesting dark horse at odds of +2000. The Inter striker has scored 21 goals in 40 games for his country and should get plenty of chances with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Rodrigo De Paul feeding him.
Saudi Arabia will look to frustrate Argentina by sitting deep and digging in, but that is unlikely to be enough to halt the excellent Martinez.
Denmark are one of the teams to watch in Qatar. They reached the semi-finals at the most recent edition of the European Championship and have much the same team this summer, with the added bonus of a revitalized Christian Eriksen pulling the strings in midfield.
Denmark are a highly adaptable team, capable of dominating possession and pressing from the front or sitting a little deeper and playing on the counter-attack. A three-man backline of Joachim Andersen, Simon Kjaer and Andreas Christensen will be tough to penetrate, especially with Thomas Delaney and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg providing energy, bite and protection in midfield.
Tunisia tend to be cautious on the biggest stage and we will probably see them sit deep on Tuesday. That could be counter-productive, with a few sporadic breaks forward unlikely to be enough to unseat Denmark.
The winner of this match will become the favorites to qualify for the round of 16 alongside Argentina. The best online sportsbooks believe there is very little to choose between Mexico and Poland ahead of this crucial encounter at Stadium 974.
Both teams to score could be the best prop bet for this match. If either team takes the lead, the other will push hard for an equalizer in the knowledge that defeat could be fatal to their chances of reaching the knockout stage.
Poland possess plenty of attacking firepower. Robert Lewandowski is obviously the main man in this team, but keep an eye out too for Piotr Zielinski, who has helped Napoli enjoy a marvelous start to the campaign in Serie A and the Champions League.
There are more doubts over Mexico’s frontline, with Raul Jimenez still struggling with injury. But with Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega out wide, El Tri should pose a threat to an unconvincing Poland defense.
After a poor Nations League campaign (they won just one of their six games and only narrowly avoided relegation to League B), France will be looking for a morale-boosting victory over Australia in the final match on Tuesday.
Didier Deschamps will be keen to see his team make a fast start at the Al Janoub Stadium. Australia are likely to sit deep and defend, and they will grow in confidence the longer the game stays at 0-0. A 1-0 loss would not be a disastrous result for the Socceroos, but if France can get ahead early the match could open up.
Deschamps has been accused of excessive tactical conservatism in the past, but France nevertheless have the attacking firepower to score plenty of goals in Group D. Back them to find the back of the net either side of half-time here.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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