World Cup 2022: armband row in Qatar before England, Wales and US enter fray – live

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Key events

Jonathan Liew

Tuesday’s early kick-off sees Argentina start their Group C campaign against Saudi Arabia. Mexico and Poland are also in the group. Jonathan Liew writes for us that 2022 might just be Lionel Messi’s best shot at glory:

This is Messi’s fifth World Cup. And of course there has been a lot of the usual talk about whether he “needs” to win it for his legacy, a lot of the usual hot air and spume about his duel with Cristiano Ronaldo, football discourse reduced to the level of a pub debate. Within Argentina, however, something seems to have changed. After more than a decade of treating Messi as a vessel for their expectations Argentina are finally beginning to ask not what Messi can do for them but what they can do for Messi.

Perhaps the turning point in this respect was the 2019 Copa América campaign, in which Messi was an uncharacteristically vocal presence. He complained about the poor quality of the pitches, described the refereeing as “corrupt” and insisted that the “whole thing is set up for Brazil”.

Having been criticised early in his career for his meek rendition of the national anthem, here Messi sang it loudly and passionately. Nobody ever doubted how much Messi cared. But here, perhaps, was a recognition by him that it needed to be shown, not simply known.

You can read more from Jonathan Liew here: Lionel Messi’s World Cup swansong might just be his best shot at glory

If you fancy something to listen to in order to get in the mood, and you missed it last night, our Football Daily podcast discussed that opening fixture last night, as Max Rushden was joined by Barry Glendenning, Lars Sivertsen and Troy Townsend with Jonathan Wilson chipping in from the Al Bayt Stadium in Qatar. You can listen to it here.

Before we get into previewing today’s matches, there is some good news for Ecuador fans and anybody who immediately lumped some money on Enner Valencia for the golden boot after the 31st minute of yesterday’s match – he has said he thinks he will be fit to face the Netherlands.

Reuters is carrying a quote from the 33-year-old former West Ham striker saying “I have some discomfort in my knee and ankle. The doctors will assess and see how serious it is. I hope to play in the second game against the Netherlands.”

With his brace, Valencia became the fourth player in the last five World Cups to score twice in the opening game of the tournament, after Germany’s Miroslav Klose (2006), Brazil’s Neymar (2014) and Russia’s Denis Cheryshev (2018).

Preamble

Welcome to our live coverage of day two of the weirdest World Cup of all our lifetimes to date.

After an explosive start – including some baffling VAR – yesterday’s opening match settled down into a rather unambitious dull affair. Ecuador may ultimately regret not pushing harder to rack up more goals in a group where only two of the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador can progress.

We have got a busy day ahead. There should be media appearances from teams playing on Tuesday, which includes holders France, much-fancied Argentina, dark horses Denmark and the Socceroos.

And there is the small matter of three matches today. England kick off against Iran at 1.00pm GMT hoping for more of the spirit from the second half of that 3-3 Nations League draw with Germany at Wembley in September than the humiliating home thumping they got off Hungary during the summer.

At 4pm GMT Netherlands and Senegal face each other. You suspect that neither of them saw anything Sunday from Group A’s other teams to make them doubt they will ultimately both progress to the knockout stages.

And last, but very much not least, at 7pm GMT Wales kick off their first match at a World Cup finals since losing 1-0 to Brazil in a quarter-final in Gothenburg in 1958. They face the USA.

The main debate around those England and Wales games right now isn’t so much whether Jack Grealish will play and what formation Wales will set up in, as what Harry Kane and Gareth Bale will be wearing on their arms. As my colleague Jacob Steinberg reports from Doha, England’s players will take the knee before the game, but Kane must decide whether to support LGBTQ+ rights by wearing the “OneLove” rainbow captain’s armband the FA have been promising, or wear the Fifa-mandated armband message, amid fears that the gesture could earn him an instant booking. You can read more here.

This is Martin Belam in London. I have spent most of this year live blogging countless unnecessary deaths, human rights abuses, corruption and people struggling to get hold of the basics for life like drinking water. So for a complete change of scene, here’s the World Cup in Qatar.



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