There’s optimism that Saudi Arabia have their strongest group in years and led by the skilled Herve Renard, who gained the Africa Cup of Nations with each Zambia and Ivory Coast and led Morocco on the 2018 World Cup, they’ve hopes of constructing it previous the group levels.
It is going to be the sixth World Cup look for the Inexperienced Falcons, who topped Asian qualifying Group B forward of each Japan and Australia, shedding only a single sport within the course of. That being mentioned, a tricky group draw alongside one of many favourites Argentina, Poland and Mexico signifies that they may have all of it to do to match their efficiency at USA 1994.
They may, no less than, be accustomed to circumstances in neighbouring Qatar and have that as a bonus if nothing else. Here is what to anticipate from Saudi Arabia on the 2022 World Cup.
Saudi Arabia are but to verify their closing squad or when they may make the announcement on the time of writing.
The one harm concern for Saudi Arabia heading into the match is Al-Hilal ahead Saleh al-Shehri, who has just lately returned from an Achilles tear and got here off the bench within the pleasant (and scored) in opposition to North Macedonia. He ought to be match sufficient for choice.
Star participant Salem al-Dawsari had appendix surgical procedure in September however seems absolutely recovered after participating in Saudi Arabia’s October and November friendlies.
Described by then-club teammate Bafetimbi Gomis (who else?) as ‘one of the best Asian participant’ on Instagram, Al-Dawsari even tasted European soccer whereas on mortgage with Villarreal, approaching for half an hour in La Liga in his solely look for the membership. Regardless of failing to make the grade there, Al-Dawsari has a powerful objective file each domestically and at worldwide degree for a winger and can seemingly be Saudi Arabia’s most harmful attacking menace.
A stalwart for each Al-Hilal and Saudi Arabia for the previous decade, left-back Yasser al-Shahrani goes into the match as one in all his nation’s most reliable and constant gamers. With 71 caps to his identify at 30 years of age, the full-back will mix with membership teammate Al-Dawsari down Saudi Arabia’s left flank and look to overlap because the winger cuts inside on his harmful proper foot.
Lastly, there’s their captain Salman al-Faraj, an icon for membership and nation and a person who has gained all of it for Al-Hilal, together with two AFC Champions League trophies. An clever and tidy left-footed midfielder, the 33-year-old will look to orchestrate for his group as one thing of a deep-lying playmaker.
It is laborious to foretell precisely how Herve Renard will set his group up in Qatar, principally as a result of he has ditched a 4-2-3-1 form that obtained the group by qualifying for a 4-3-3 in current warm-up fixtures.
Renard has loads of choices in midfield and on the wings to fluctuate between the 2 programs though he may effectively begin the primary sport in opposition to Argentina with a extra defensive 4-5-1.
Saudi Arabia predicted beginning XI: Al-Owais; Abdulhamid, Al-Amri, Al-Bulaihi, Al-Shahrani; Al-Faraj, Kanno, Al-Najei; Asiri, Al-Buraikan, Al-Dawsari.
Saudi Arabia have solely performed friendlies since a 1-0 win at residence over Australia in World Cup qualifying all the way in which again in March. Of the 9 video games since, they’ve gained two, drawn 5 and misplaced two.
The wins had been slim 1-0 victories over North Macedonia and Iceland, whereas the losses had been defeats to Colombia and Venezuela by the identical scoreline. It suggests Herve Renard will try and take the pragmatic method and make his aspect laborious to beat, trying to snatch a objective and see video games out slightly than expose themselves to potential thrashings, such because the 5-0 defeat suffered by the hands of Russia on the 2018 World Cup.
Saudi Arabia’s final 5 outcomes (all competitions)
Saudi Arabia 1-0 North Macedonia
Saudi Arabia 1-1 Albania
Saudi Arabia 0-0 Honduras
Saudi Arabia 1-0 Iceland
Panama 1-1 Saudi Arabia
Of their 5 earlier World Cup appearances, Saudi Arabia have solely made it previous the group stage as soon as – at their debut match, USA 1994. In truth, since 1994 they’ve solely gained a single sport on the match (of 12), a lifeless rubber closing group fixture in opposition to Egypt in 2018.
Drawn in a comparatively powerful group containing Argentina, Poland and Mexico, it is laborious to see that streak altering in Qatar. Saudi Arabia will wrestle to make it previous the group stage.
Prediction: Group stage exit