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World Cup predictions, picks: Argentina vs. Poland

Is this the end of the line for Lionel Messi and Argentina?

LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - NOVEMBER 26:  Lionel Messi of Argentina  looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
LUSAIL CITY, QATAR - NOVEMBER 26: Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match between Argentina and Mexico at Lusail Stadium on November 26, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)Read moreSTUART FRANKLIN / Getty Images

Lionel Messi’s World Cup career could come to a close on Wednesday.

Messi’s Argentina are heavy favorites to beat Poland in their final group-stage match, but if they lose, the Albicelestes go home and that will be curtains for Messi on the game’s biggest stage.

Poland, meanwhile, would top Group C with a win over Argentina but could advance with a draw, as well.

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Argentina vs. Poland prediction: Pick

  1. Draw (+310, FanDuel)

Argentina vs. Poland prediction: Analysis

It’s a fair assessment to say that Saudi Arabia have been the only impressive team thus far in Group C. Mexico has been dreadful, Poland is fortunate to be atop the group and Argentina has not come close to justifying their status as the second-favorite to lift the trophy.

And while you could say that Messi and Co. were unlucky not to get at least a point against Saudi Arabia, the fact that the game was in the balance long enough for the Falcons to nick the win is an indictment of Argentina.

The Albicelestes look vulnerable defensively and seem lost trying to create offense. Argentina eventually was able to find a couple of moments of magic from Messi and Enzo Fernandez against Mexico, but counting on wondergoals to bail you out is not a sustainable path to success, even for teams with Lionel Messi.

» READ MORE: World Cup 2022 Golden Boot Odds: Richarlison, Mbappe favorites to claim award

Poland’s attack looked like it came to life in a 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia in which the Eagles created 1.6 expected goals, but a lot of that was because the Saudis played a pretty aggressive style and lived with the consequences. So the fact that Poland was played off the park in the first half and was lucky not to go behind on a number of occasions tells you where Poland’s form is at. The Eagles looked pretty dreadful in their 0-0 opener against Mexico, too.

In terms of what to expect from a stylistic standpoint, this match will likely feature Argentina in possession and Poland looking to counter. That should turn this game into a low-event contest and with neither offense firing on all cylinders, the draw will likely be in play from the kick-off until the final whistle.

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