the final step to the top for Lionel Messi
Seven Golden Balls, four Champions Leagues, ten Spanish championships or even six Golden Boots… The Argentinian’s trophy cabinet is full. However, one is missing: the World Cup.
Is Lionel Messi the best player in history? It is very difficult to answer this question. First of all because the ranking is subjective, and other stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Pelé or Maradona, to name a few, are serious competitors. But also because it is almost impossible to mix the seasons. In any case, one thing is certain: the Argentinian wants to lift the World Cup of his choice, the only trophy missing from his list.
If this coronation is clearly the ultimate reward for any footballer, it is also and above all the only one missing from the Argentine number 10. His personal and club record is as long as his arm: seven times Ballon d’Or, four-time winner of the Champions League, ten-time winner of La Liga or even top scorer in history during a calendar year in 2012 with 91 achievements , the inclusion of differences. On the other hand, the Argentinian will have to wait for selection, he who only won his first title in 2021 with the Copa America, after three failures in the final (2007, 2015, 2019). Even worse, the Albiceleste also failed in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany (1-0, ap).
The last time?
At the age of 35, Lionel Messi will probably play in his last World Cup. In 2014, the ultimate reward passed under his nose. In 2018, it was France who stopped the Albiceleste in the round of 16. Four years later, the Argentine selection seems to be in a better position to land its third star. Although nothing is decided early in the competition, Lionel Scaloni’s men remain favorites in their group C, which consists of Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.
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More importantly, Argentina is in Olympic form. The last defeat for the South Americans began in July 2019 (2-0 in the semi-final of the Copa América against Brazil). Since then they have gone on an impressive 36-game unbeaten streak. A sequence explained by workers who seem to be more armed. Lionel Scaloni managed to build a homogeneous team between several executives (Messi, Di Maria, Otamendi…) and the installation of other players such as Lisandro Martinez (central defender of Manchester United) Emiliano Martinez (keeper of Aston Villa) or again Rodrigo de Paul (midfielder of Atlético de Madrid).
Messi fit and essential
As a symbol, Lionel Messi is no stranger to this way of choosing the Argentine. He is certainly one of the most watched players in the competition. Back almost to the best level since the beginning of the season with PSG, after a more difficult previous exercise, “ The Flea He knows that this World Cup is his last chance to take Argentina to the top.
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Already the author of 7 goals and 10 assists in 13 league games, but also having 4 goals and 4 assists in five Champions League games with his club, Messi is also decisive in his selection. The captain, who has the most caps and top scorer in Albiceleste history, has been decisive in Argentina’s last five games, including a quintuple against Estonia. So the number 10 is important for his teammates. After Argentina’s victory over Italy (3-0) in the Finalissima (the last winner of the Copa America against the last winner of the Euro), Emiliano Martinez, the titular goalkeeper declared: “ A year ago we were nothing and now we are candidates for the World Cup because we won titles. We will always be candidates because we have the best in the world (Lionel Messi). We are all lions fighting for him! »
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Beyond the statistics, Argentina seems to be united around its captain. It seems everyone wants to win for Messi first. Everyone, including him opponents “. Luis Enrique, his former coach at Barcelona (2014-2017), said: “Si on (Spain) is not winning it, I would like it to be Argentina. It would be unfair for a player like Lionel Messi to retire without winning a World Cup.” There are seven matches left for Messi and Argentina to clinch the ultimate title. And the first phase starts this Tuesday against Saudi Arabia (11 am).
All World Cup winners since 1930