World Cup 2022: Mexico v Poland match preview

The game that could determine which of the two makes it out of Group C.

At 34, this will almost certainly be Robert Lewandowski's last World Cup. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel)

Who: Mexico vs Poland, Group C

Where: Stadium 974

When: 7pm (16:00 GMT)

FIFA ranking: Mexico (13), Poland (26)

What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? We’ll find out when the stalwart Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa comes up against Poland’s Robert Lewandowski in their Group C encounter on Tuesday.

While both these players are well into their mid-thirties, the fortunes of their teams in this World Cup hinge heavily on them. Ochoa’s eye-catching saves in the previous two editions, particularly his performance against Brazil in 2014, have made him a World Cup cult hero.

Lewandowski is one of the most skilled marksmen in world football today and in October he won the Gerd Müller Trophy for best striker of the year. But he has a point to prove: While the Barcelona forward has more than 600 goals for club and country, he’s yet to score in the World Cup.

There’s plenty at stake. The group includes Lionel Messi’s Argentina, one of the tournament favourites, and low-ranked Saudi Arabia, which isn’t expected to proceed to the next stage of the tournament. That means the outcome of the Mexico-Poland match could well determine which of the two secures qualification to the next round.

Mexico has made it out of the group stages in each of the last seven World Cups. In the 2018 edition, they famously defeated holders Germany 1-0 in the group stage but went out to Brazil in the Round of 16.

Mexico’s Hirving Lozano scored the decisive goal in their 1-0 win over Germany in the 2018 World Cup.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Poland’s World Cup appearances haven’t been as eventful. They haven’t made it past the group stages since 1982 and they failed to qualify for the 2010 and 2014 editions of the tournament. In 2018, they lost their opening two matches before defeating Japan in their final group game.

The two countries have played each other thrice before, the last being in 2017. They’ve both won a game each and have shared a draw. They enter the tournament in similar form, having both won just two of their last five games.

There’s no better time to step up than a crunch game like Tuesday’s.

Source: Al Jazeera