Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (11 CET)
Led by one of the world’s greatest football players, Lionel Messi, for what is most likely his last World Cup, Argentina will be looking to shake off the jinx that has seen it not win the title since 1986 in Mexico, despite reaching the finals on two occasions — in 1990 and 2014.
Saudi Arabia is rated as one of the least likely teams to progress further than the group stage, but judging by its most recent narrow one-goal loss against Croatia, it might prove to be a tough nut to crack.
Denmark vs Tunisia (14 CET)
Denmark is the favourite in what is promising to be an entertaining match. They proved their quality at Euro 2020, losing out to England in the semi-finals in extra time, and showing further superiority in the UEFA Nations League matches, beating the likes of France.
Tunisia is not to be taken lightly, however, having won the Kirin Cup earlier this summer, beating Japan in the final, while they also played well in their last friendly in the run-up to the Qatar tournament, winning over Iran with 2:0 in an assured display.
The return of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen — who collapsed and had to receive CPR during a Euro 2020 game against Finland — to a major tournament will definitely motivate the Danes further.
Mexico vs Poland (17 CET)
Mexico will be playing in a seventh successive World Cup, with each of those campaigns having come to an end in the round of 16 stages.
Their first task at this year’s tournament will be to blunt the threat of Poland talisman Robert Lewandowski, who will be looking to score his first goal at a World Cup when the teams meet at Stadium 974 in Doha for what is believed to be a very close match-up.
The Barcelona striker is a world-class threat, however, having scored nine goals with four assists in the qualifiers, and his 13 direct-goal involvements were twice as many as any teammate.
France vs Australia (20 CET)
Just like at the 2018 World Cup — which France eventually won — Les Bleus will kick off their group stage with a game against Australia. The “no star” Socceroos are promising not to be a pushover, having enjoyed a good run of form as of late.
Meanwhile, the always-expectant French fans are hopeful that the recent injury woes that have ruled out the likes of Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante will not prove to be decisive in their path to repeat glory.
France is the world’s third most-valuable team, estimated to €1.34 billion for its squad. Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who was one of the 2018 tournament’s breakout stars, is their top player with a value of 185 million euros.
What happened at the World Cup on Monday?
England thumped Iran 6-2 following two goals from Arsenal winger Bakayo Saka and one from Borussia Dortmund star Jude Bellingham, Chelsea forward Raheem Sterling, Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, and Manchester City’s Jack Grealish.
Iran’s Mehdi Taremi, a striker for Porto, scored two goals, while goalkeeper Beyranvand was taken off after suffering a head injury. His replacement then conceded three first-half goals.
The Netherlands came out on top 2-0 against Senegal with two late second-half goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen, who scored deep into stoppage time. Both teams are without their key players for the tournament, Memphis Depay and Sadio Mane.
USA and Wales tied 1-1. The former obtained a goal from by Lille winger Timothy Weah in the first half, and the latter saw one scored by veteran striker and Los Angeles FC player Gareth Bale in the penalties.
What are the key talking points so far?
The Iran team declined to sing the country’s national anthem before kick-off, in a gesture seen as a show of support for the anti-government protest movement at home, which has been severely repressed by the authorities.
England was among seven European teams — along with Wales, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark — to say their captains would not be wearing “One Love” armbands to show support for the LGBT community after FIFA threatened to issue yellow cards to any player wearing one in Qatar, where homosexuality remains illegal.
National football associations said they were “frustrated” by the “unprecedented” action by FIFA, saying in a joint statement “we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings”.
Wales has made its first World Cup appearance in 64 years. With a population of just over three million, Wales is the smallest FIFA member nation to qualify for this year’s World Cup — host Qatar received an automatic berth.