Middle East powers Saudi Arabia are back for a sixth World Cup finals and will be desperate to try and emulate their debut feats of 1994, when they reached the last-16.
Saudi Arabia are getting the hang of World Cup qualification as they prepare for a sixth finals since 1994, but making an impact is proving far tougher.
They qualified well for Qatar - topping a group featuring both Japan and Australia - and in Herve Renard are blessed with a coach who has a knack of winning big competitions.
However, the Green Falcons are 750/1 chances in outright betting and 5/1 shots to progress from their group for a reason.
Given the calibre of the sides going to Qatar, they were always likely to find themselves in a difficult group and a quartet featuring Argentina, Mexico and Poland looks as tough as it gets.
|When:||20th November - 18th December 2022|
|How to watch:||All matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV|
|Odds:||Brazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Spain 8/1, Argentina 7/1|
Head coach Herve Renard named his final 26-man squad on 12th November.
Little was expected of Saudi Arabia when they qualified for World Cup 1994, their first ever finals, under the stewardship of Argentine Jorge Solari.
By the end of the group stage, however, they were household names, especially Saeed Al-Owairan for his wonder goal against Belgium, a dazzling solo effort which saw the Saudis make it through to the last 16 where they lost 3-1 to Sweden.
That, though, was very much their World Cup high point. The Gulf side qualified for each of the subsequent three finals but failed to win a game at any of them, the low point coming in 2002 when they also failed to even score a goal.
After two qualifying flops they returned in Russia four years ago where they lost to the hosts - heavily - and Uruguay - narrowly - before signing off with a 2-1 win against Red Sea rivals Egypt.
1998, 2002, 2006, 2018
The Saudis' long road to Qatar began in September 2019 with a low-key 2-2 draw in Yemen in the second round of Asian qualifying, dropped points which almost proved critical.
It was a group Renard's side should have bossed, yet actually went down to the final match, a winner-takes-all showdown with Uzbekistan in Riyadh which Saudi Arabia won 3-0.
After surviving that ordeal, the next stage went perfectly to plan with seven wins - they won all five at home - from 10, and qualification for the finals booked with a round of matches spare.
Saudi Arabia are up against three international juggernauts in two-time champions Argentina, Mexico and Poland and it's no surprise that the South Americans are 2/5 to win Group C, less surprising still that the Greens are 20/1 to do so.
Herve Renard's men, 1/8 not to qualify, are massively up against it.
If we know one thing about the World Cup, however, it is that surprises do happen. Argentina fans of a certain vintage will well remember Diego Maradona's then world champs crashing to Cameroon in the first game of Italia 90.
The Saudis play the Albiceleste in their Group C opener on 22nd November and are 12/1 to pull off what would be the greatest result in their history.
Frenchman Herve Renard is a well-travelled coach with a more than respectable CV who has so impressed the Saudis that they gave him a new five-year contract in May.
Renard, who spent nine months at Cambridge United in his early coaching days, took Zambia to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 2012 and repeated the feat with Ivory Coast three years later.
He then took charge of Morocco, who he led to the last World Cup in Russia.
Not too many Saudi stars turn heads in Europe, but winger Salem Al-Dawsari certainly has.
He has been catching the eye in Saudi ever since he emerged through the youth system at Al-Hilal, the club he has graced for over a decade.
Among the eyes he caught further afield were at Villarreal who, in 2018, were persuaded to take him on to their books as part of a deal between the Saudi FA and La Liga.
He turned out for the Spaniards months before going to the World Cup in Russia, where he scored the winner in the 2-1 triumph over Egypt, their lone group success.
He was named MVP guiding Al-Hilal to glory at last year's AFC Champions League and top scored in World Cup qualifying with seven goals.
Al-Hilal striker Abdullah Al-Hamdan is another Saudi star who went off to Spain in 2018 and made an impression with Sporting Gijon.
Saudi Arabia look ever so light in attack, so a breakthrough for Al-Hamdan wouldn't just put his name up in lights, but it could also be hugely beneficial for his country.
Saudi Arabia (4-3-3): Mohammed Al-Owais; Mohammed Al-Breik, Abdullah Madu, Ali Al-Bulaihi, Yasser Al-Shahrani; Salman Al-Faraj, Mohamed Kanno, Hattan Bahibri; Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Abdullah Al-Hamdan.
Renard has no shortage of options for most areas and given that his entire squad comes from the same league, they all know each others' games.
Where he is light is in attack - they scored 12 goals in 10 final-stage qualifiers - which is why Renard tends to prefer 4-3-3 (more like a 4-5-1) rather than 4-4-2 given the absence of options to fill the striker berths.
Saudi Arabia don't have far to travel for this year's World Cup which means they won't have far to go for their early exit.
Those with long memories will always cling to what happened in the USA in 94, but the class of 2022 are more obdurate than classy.
While it's entirely possible that one of Poland or Mexico will have an off-day, the idea that both will flop and gift the Saudis a place in the last-16 looks pretty fanciful.