Lionel Messi is part of an elite group of players and is considered among the best to ever play the game. His name regularly appears beside icons such as Pele, Maradona, Zinedine Zidane, and the Brazilian Ronaldo, with many holding the opinion that Messi has already surpassed this prestigious company.
He is one of the most celebrated and decorated players ever, with a trophy haul to rival that of anyone who has come before him. However, one major honour has eluded him, and despite all his La Liga medals and Champions League trophies, it remains the one that many claim he must secure if he wants to be considered the greatest footballer of all time. It is, of course, the World Cup, football’s biggest prize. As the 2022 Qatar World Cup gets underway, is Messi destined to lift the trophy? Let’s find out.
Previous World Cups
It might come as a surprise to learn that a player of Messi’s skill and experience has never won a World Cup. In fact, Argentina has only won it twice, the latest being in 1986. The football-crazed Argentinian people are crying out for success, with many believing Messi is destined to deliver it to them.
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Messi made his World Cup debut at the tender age of 18 when he came on as a substitute in Argentina’s World Cup 2006 group stage match against Serbia. He became the youngest-ever Argentinian player to appear and score in a World Cup when he found the net 13 minutes later. Argentina demolished Serbia 6 – 0 in that game but went on to lose on penalties to Germany in the quarter-final.
In 2010, Messi was nearing the peak of his powers. Argentina managed to reach the quarter-final of that year’s South Africa World Cup, where they were once again beaten by Germany.
Fast forward another four years to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Messi captained his side to what would be their most successful campaign in over 20 years. Despite a somewhat lacklustre team performance, Messi’s magic saw Argentina through the groups and knockout stages where they faced their old enemy, Germany, in the final. Unfortunately, Germany was again the South Americans undoing, scoring a winner in extra time to deny Argentina and Messi the trophy.
Are Argentina Favorites To Win This Year?
According to most sports betting platforms, Brazil is the current favourite to become world champions. However, Argentina is tipped as a very close second, with some experts predicting it will be far closer than some might think.
Few would argue that Brazil and Argentina are among the favourites to lift the trophy, but this year’s tournament is fiercely competitive and packed with formidable opponents. Germany, so often Argentina’s nemesis, will have something to prove after a disappointing few years. Spain and Portugal will also be dangerous, with the latter’s Cristiano Ronaldo on a similar hunt for World Cup glory.
Who Is In The Argentina Team?
Argentina came into the 2022 World Cup in excellent form. They are undefeated in their last 36 games under manager Lionel Scaloni, a remarkable run that will only work to fill them with confidence.
Messi aside, the team has some incredible talent at their disposal. Tottenham’s Cristian Romero has proved to be a rock in defence and has been a godsend for Argentina fans who often criticised the team’s alleged frailties at the back. Romero, who has never suffered a defeat as an Argentina player, will be partnered by Benefica’s Otamendi, with Atlético Madrid’s Nahuel Molina and Sevilla’s Marcos Acuña completing the back four.
De Paul, Paredes, and Gomez will make up the midfield, while Messi, Martinez, and Di Maria will be the main attacking threats.
This star-studded lineup is one of the reasons why so many are backing Argentina to go all the way. With such a talented squad, it’s hard to see past them as heavy favourites.
Who Could They Face?
Argentina is expected to win their group, which could mean they could face France or Denmark in the next round. After that, it could be the Netherlands or the USA in the quarter-final, followed by Spain, Brazil, or arch-rivals Germany in the semis. For the final, they could potentially face Belgium, France, England, or Portugal.
For the neutral, the thought of a Messi vs Ronaldo final is the stuff of dreams. It could finally put to bed the comparisons between them and settle once and for all who is the greatest of all time.
Is Messi destined to lift this year’s World Cup? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, it’ll be an exciting ride whatever happens.