What result do Argentina need to go through? Everything that could happen in World Cup Group C

Lionel Messi celebrates his goal for Argentina against Mexico at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Argentina bounced back from defeat in their World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia earlier this week by beating Mexico 2-0 on Saturday night.

A loss for the Albiceleste against Mexico would have seen them eliminated from the tournament after just two matches, but second-half goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez kept their hopes of a place in the last 16 alive.

Earlier in the day, Poland overcame Saudi Arabia 2-0 to boost their chances of progressing. And with one round of matches still remaining, all four teams in the sector could yet qualify for the knockout stages.

Here is a look at the permutations from Group C and the results needed for each of Argentina, Mexico, Poland and Saudi Arabia to advance to the last 16...


Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring for Argentina against Mexico at the 2022 World Cup.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Now second in Group C after beating Mexico on Saturday night, Argentina will finish top if they defeat Poland in their final group game next Wednesday unless Saudi Arabia can win against Mexico by two or more goals than them. If the Saudis win by two more goals than Argentina, the teams would finish level on goal difference, but Herve Renard's side would finish top courtesy of their win over the Albiceleste.

If Argentina draw their final match, they would finish behind Poland and would be overtaken by Saudi Arabia if the Asian side beat Mexico. A draw for the Saudis would not be enough for them to overtake Argentina (if Scaloni's side also draw) because the Albiceleste have a superior goal difference. A draw for Argentina and a win for Mexico would leave both Latin American teams on four points, but El Tri have yet to score and would need to win by at least three to tie with the two-time champions.


Mexico vs Poland World Cup 2022 how to watch

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Mexico are in trouble after Saturday's loss to Argentina. Tata Martino's men have still not scored a goal at Qatar 2022 and are bottom of Group C with one point.

To advance to the last 16, only a win against Saudi Arabia will do for El Tri. But even that may not be enough. Mexico will advance with a victory by any margin if Poland beat Argentina. But if the other match ends in a draw, Martino's side will have to beat the Saudis by at least three clear goals. To do so, however, they must finish with a better goal difference or more goals scored than Argentina (for example, if Argentina draw 0-0 with Poland and Mexico win 3-0 against Saudi Arabia, they would finish level on goal difference and goals scored, but Scaloni's side would advance after winning the meeting between the two teams).

If Mexico win and Poland lose to Argentina, El Tri can finish above the Europeans but will need a four-goal swing in goal difference (at least). If Mexico win 2-0 and Poland lose by the same scoreline, for example, it would go down to fair play or perhaps even to a drawing of lots.

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Robert Lewandowski of Poland celebrates after scoring his team's 1st goal during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 4 match between Belgium and Poland on June 8, 2022 in Brussels, Belgium.

(Image credit: Sylvain Lefevre/Getty Images)

Poland lead Group C with four points and will top the sector if they beat Argentina on Wednesday, whatever the scoreline.

If Poland draw with Argentina, they are also guaranteed a place in the last 16. A draw on Wednesday would see the Poles finish above the Albiceleste and would also mean they could not be caught by Mexico. A win for Saudi Arabia over Mexico would push Poland down to second place, though.

In the event of a defeat for Poland against Argentina, the European side would be overtaken by the South Americans. A loss for the Poles and a win for Saudi Arabia would see Czesław Michniewicz's side drop out of the top two, while a draw for the Saudis would mean it would go down to goal difference and goals scored (more below). Defeat for Poland and a win for Mexico would also leave those two teams on four points apiece and separating the two could be complicated (more above).

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia victory World Cup 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia will qualify for the last 16 with a win over Mexico. Victory over El Tri will guarantee them a place in the top two of Group C and they could even win the sector. If the Saudis win and Poland beat Argentina, the Asian side will finish second. If Herve Renard's men claim all three points and Argentina defeat Poland, it will depend on goal difference (the South Americans are currently two goals better off, but in the event of a tie, the Saudis would finish higher thanks to their win in the meeting between the two).

If Saudi Arabia draw against Mexico and Poland beat Argentina, the Saudis will finish second. But if the Asians claim a point versus El Tri and Argentina also draw with Poland, the South Americans will advance courtesy of their superior goal difference.

Defeat for Renard's side would see them overtaken by Mexico on four points and eliminated, whatever happens in the other match.

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Weekend editor

Ben Hayward is Weekend Editor for FourFourTwo. A European football writer with over 15 years’ experience, he has covered games all over the world - including three World Cups, several Champions League finals, Euros, Copa América - and has spent much of that time in Spain. He currently divides his time between Barcelona and London.