How can Argentina qualify for the World Cup knockout stages?

Argentina got back to winning ways after a shock defeat in their World Cup opener
Argentina got back to winning ways after a shock defeat in their World Cup opener / Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

Argentina, spearheaded by a 35-year-old Lionel Messi who may never get another opportunity to lift the most prestigious prize in football, came into the World Cup as one of the favourites.

With a blistering attack and resolute defence, the two-time World champions seem certain to feature in the deeper stages of the tournament with very feasible ambitions of glory - but, as many know, it's dangerous to look too far ahead.

So, let's first take a look at how Lionel Scaloni's men can qualify for the knockout rounds of the FIFA World Cup.

Argentina at the World Cup so far

If you've been living under a gigantic rock for the past week or so, you won't have heard that Argentina fell victim to one of the greatest ever shocks in World Cup history.

Their matchday one bout with minnows Saudi Arabia went against any script that might have been written. Three disallowed goals after Messi's opener to deny the Argentinians a 4-0 half-time lead grabbed the headlines before the break, but the second 45 was dominated by the underdogs.

A quickfire double after the restart - the second of which being an absolute wonder strike from Salem Al-Dawsari - left Scaloni, his players and Argentina (and the world, while we're at it) utterly shellshocked.

That 2-1 defeat, leaving Group C wide open, was followed up by a professional and well-earned 2-0 victory over tough opposition Mexico, however.

Initially looking like ending in a stalemate, it took a moment of magic from Messi, who thundered a half volley into the bottom corner from range just after the hour mark, to break the deadlock. Following rapturous celebration, Enzo Fernandez's beautifully taken strike shortly before the final whistle sealed the win to get the Argentinians' campaign off the ground.

Argentina remaining World Cup group fixtures

Having played Saudi Arabia and Poland Argentina have one group fixture remaining at the 2022 World Cup - their tight-looking group campaign will be rounded off with a battle against Poland.

After a goalless bore draw with Mexico on matchday one, Czeslaw Michniewicz's men got themselves to pole position in the group with a 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia. Robert Lewandowski got himself on the scoresheet in that one, notching his first ever World Cup goal after missing a penalty in his country's 2022 World Cup opener.

How can Argentina qualify for the World Cup knockout stages?

Argentina now find themselves second in Group C, although still have the ability to go into the last 16 as group winners as they sit just one point behind their matchday-three opposition.

A draw would also suffice to make it into the knockout stages (as a second-placed side, of course) if Saudi Arabia don't better that result when they face Mexico.

The situation looks hopeful for Scaloni's side, but it could also still all go wrong. Should they lose to Poland and Herve Renard's men get something against the Mexicans, Argentina's campaing will come to an end.

And, having featured that titanic shock as well as Lewandowski's missed spot kick, Group C has already shown us that anything can happen.