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Messi’s last World Cup bid

Sports 02 Nov, 2022 Follow News

Lionel Messi hopes to finally win the big prize

Diego Maradona is still more revered than Messi

Lionel Messi has won absolutely everything in a glittering career over the last 18 years. Everything, that is, except the World Cup.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has an enviable list of achievements at club level, but it’s that World Cup winner’s medal that eludes the brilliant Argentinian.

Messi has suffered much heartache with Argentina. At the 2010 World Cup he watched many Barcelona team-mates grab glory with Spain after Argentina were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Germany. Four years later it was a 113th-minute strike by Germany’s Mario Gotze that denied him, despite being awarded the Golden Ball award. The 2018 World Cup was another flop for Argentina, losing to France 4-3 in the Round of 16 before they went on to win it.

Now 35, Messi has confirmed the World Cup in Qatar this month will be his last. “There’s some anxiety and nerves at the same time... it is the last one,” he said in an interview with Star Plus.

For all his brilliance, critics believe Diego Maradona and Pele’s World Cup successes are why Messi cannot claim to be the Greatest of All Time. (Cristiano Ronaldo is also a candidate.) With that in mind, Messi aims to silence persistent detractors in his last dance on the biggest stage.

When Lionel Scaloni took over from Jorge Sampaoli after the failings of 2018, few predicted Argentina’s dramatic improvement. Scaloni took over with no experience in management but has since transformed the South Americans.

Argentina enter the tournament with a magnificent 35-match unbeaten run and are as one of the favourites. They ended a 28-year barren run in winning the Copa America in 2021. And to make it sweeter, that victory was against bitter rivals Brazil inside their iconic Maracana stadium.

Scaloni has cleverly evolved Argentina to no longer be heavily reliant on Messi, as in previous tournaments, although there are no huge names anywhere near his class. He still remains the player the opposition focuses on.

Messi’s lost a little speed and wizardry yet last week he broke Pele’s record for most goals and assists ever. PSG smashed Maccabi Haifa 7-2 in the Champions League. Messi grabbed two goals and two assists as they sealed qualification to the round of 16.

In doing so, he reached a combined total of 1,127 goal involvements in his career. This overtakes the legendary Pele, who was involved in 1,126 goals. During his remarkable career, Messi has scored 672 goals for Barcelona, 22 for PSG and 90 for Argentina.

Meanwhile, Messi is ignoring calls from Barcelona as he holds talks over a sensational transfer to Inter Miami. The maestro has been linked with a switch to the MLS side when his current PSG contract expires in the summer. This is despite the clear desire of former club Barcelona to bring him back - with their season once again imploding after they crashed out of the Champions League at the group stage.

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