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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia may not be the best team on any pitch at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they will have one of the best uniforms. (Photo by Jose Jordan / AFP)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia may not be the best team on any pitch at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they will have one of the best uniforms. (Photo by Jose Jordan / AFP)

2022 FIFA World Cup Team Previews: Saudi Arabia

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is less than a month away from kicking off in Qatar. Over the next 32 days, I will be previewing each team that will be taking part in the world’s most-watched event. Check out all of the team previews that have been done so far. Up next is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia comes into the 2022 World Cup as the second lowest-ranked team in the FIFA men’s rankings at 51, ahead of only Ghana. The “Green Falcons” have had a rough 2022 winning only three times in 11 matches so far. They did however draw five times including 0-0 with the United States. As the only neighbor of the host country Qatar, there should be quite an atmosphere when Saudi Arabia is playing. They qualified for the 2022 World Cup by winning their group ahead of Japan and Australia, only losing once in 10 matches. Therefore, their odds to win the World Cup are still competitive. 

World Cup Appearances

It was not until 1994 that Saudi Arabia made their World Cup debut, but that was the first of four consecutive appearances. After failing to qualify in 2010 or 2014, the “Green Falcons” returned to the world’s stage in 2018 and made their sixth World Cup this year.

Best Finish at a World Cup

The last four times Saudi Arabia played in the World Cup they went out in the group stage having only one win which came in 2018 against Egypt. In their first World Cup in 1994 though, the “Green Falcons” won two of three group games beating Belgium and Morocco to advance to the Round of 16. Unfortunately for Saudi Arabia, they came up against a strong Swedish team and lost 3-1.

Key players

Saudi Arabia is one of the few teams competing at the 2022 World Cup with all of their players playing club soccer in their home country. Midfielder Fahad Al-Muwallad is the most experienced player on the current team with 72 caps just ahead of defender Yasser Al-Shahrani (70). The captain of the “Green Falcons” is 33-year-old Salman Al-Faraj who is one of 13 players who play for Al-Hilal, the winningest team in the Saudi Professional League and three-time defending champions. As far as the attack goes, Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari led the way in qualifying with seven goals each tied with Son Heung-min and others for eighth during AFC World Cup Qualifying.

Manager

The winningest foreign manager Saudi Arabia has ever had is Frenchman Hervé Renard. Renard has been in charge of the “Green Falcons” since 2019 and guided them through qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. He has had some success managing national teams winning the 2012 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Zambia and the 2015 AFCON with Ivory Coast.

Biggest Group Game – vs. Argentina on Nov. 22

Anytime a smaller team like Saudi Arabia plays against one of the best teams and the best player in the world it is an important match. It is also the first match for Saudi Arabia at the 2022 World Cup, and they will have no room to make mistakes or Lionel Messi and co will make them pay. This is the first time that the “Green Falcons” have played Argentina since a 0-0 draw in 2012 that saw Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria play the whole match without scoring.

Prediction

Any sort of result would be a success for Saudi Arabia. In Group C with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland, the “Green Falcons” should finish winless and sit at the bottom of the group at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This would be the fourth time that Saudi Arabia would finish a World Cup with no wins.

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