Saudi Arabia certainly got the 2022 World Cup result when they stunned Lionel Messi’s Argentina this week, but they’re not done yet.
Hervé Renard’s men came from behind and beat Albiceleste 2-1 with just two goals, one of the biggest defeats of the tournament.
In this match the odds were even against Saudi Arabia as they will be in the second round again when they take on Poland.
Saudi Arabia have lost nine of their 10 World Cup matches against European rivals, including each of the last eight in a row.
That grim streak included an 8-0 humiliation at the hands of Germany in 2002, but striker Saleh Al Shehri knows it’s a different team.
“In the past, it was a defeat,” Al-Shehri said. “I think we as a country want to come back and rise to the top as a team.
“And I think in 20 years we have worked hard, we have worked hard. Now, in 2022, we have made history in Qatar, and that’s not all.”
Al-Shehri equalized with Argentina to set Saudi Arabia up for a second consecutive World Cup victory after another 2-1 victory over Egypt in 2018.
Saudi Arabia have only won two of their previous 15 games in the final – back-to-back in 1994 – and this is the first time they have scored twice in back-to-back matches.
However, they have never scored three goals in a World Cup match, and will face a Polish team seeking a third clean sheet in a row – last achieving such a streak between 1974 and 1978.
“I’m thinking about pressure,” Al-Shehri added. “Every game has its own pressure.
“We did one job perfectly. It’s over and we’re looking forward to the next game against Poland. There’s always pressure when you play at such a high level.”
Poland may be tight defensively but struggled to attack, taking just six shots in a 0-0 draw with Mexico.
It was their sixth goalless tie in 35 World Cup matches, representing 17 percent, the largest such percentage of any team that played 15 or more games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Poland – Arkadiusz Milik
Milik will likely never start as long as Poland plays with one striker, but the Juventus player will continue to take opportunities off the bench as Robert Lewandowski’s drought drags on. Lewandowski did not score in his four World Cup appearances, scoring 11 times, including a botched penalty against Mexico.
Saudi Arabia – Salem al-Dawsari
Al-Dawsari could have ended the career of the Saudi Arabian World Cup hero even before this tournament, scoring the stoppage-time winning goal against Egypt in 2018. Now, after the decisive goal in the match with Argentina, he became the second player from Saudi Arabia. score at several world championships. Sami Al-Jaber, the other, scored a total of three goals, a record that Al-Dawsari can match with another key strike.
Saudi Arabia may have beaten Argentina, but the supercomputer still doesn’t expect them to follow through with a win over Poland. They are only given a 20.0 percent chance.
Poland is the clear favorite at 55.5%… or could there be another 0:0 on the cards? A draw is more likely than a Saudi victory (24.5%).