Argentina’s purpose at Qatar 2022 is obvious – give Lionel Messi the swansong he deserves by lastly profitable the World Cup. The 35-year-old can be enjoying on the event for the fifth time and has confirmed will probably be his last rodeo on soccer’s largest stage: “There’s some anxiety and nerves at the same time. It is the last one,” he admitted in a latest interview.
Having come so shut to glory in 2014, as Argentina misplaced to Germany within the last, solely to then undergo the frustration of a last-16 defeat to France 4 years in the past, Messi’s probabilities of lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy appeared to be over. But new coach Lionel Scaloni has overseen a exceptional rebuild of La Albiceleste over the past cycle – utterly remaking the staff after plenty of well-known and skilled coaches turned down the job within the aftermath of Russia 2018.
He has saved Messi as a focus however labored round his limitations within the twilight of his profession – carving out a job within the system that permits him to purely be a creator and facilitator, stripped of just about all defensive duty. The all-time nice might not have the velocity that he did in his pomp however the footballing genius stays, whereas Lautaro Martinez forward of him does all of the relentless working and urgent for a person a decade older than himself.
Scaloni helped Argentina finish their 28-year quest for main silverware with victory on the 2021 Copa America, cruised by way of CONMEBOL qualification for Qatar and then thumped European champions Italy within the Finalissima. The aspect are on a 35-game unbeaten run in aggressive matches and shouldn’t have any bother negotiating Saudi Arabia, Poland and Mexico in Group C earlier than the actual work begins within the knockout levels. A 3rd World Cup triumph – to add to 1978 and 1986 is a real risk.
Here is every thing you want to know:
Group fixtures (all occasions GMT)
Tuesday 22 November: Argentina vs Saudi Arabia – 10:00
Saturday 26 November: Argentina vs Mexico – 19:00
Wednesday 30 November: Poland vs Argentina – 19:00
Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate) and Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal)
Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyonnais), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla)
Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Forwards: Paulo Dybala (AS Roma), Lionel Messi (Paris St Germain), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).
Ones to watch
Star – Lionel Messi: Sometimes the apparent reply is the precise one. Messi continues to be the person that makes Argentina tick and the World Cup trophy is the one obvious omission from the legend’s glittering profession CV. He’s modified his recreation because the tempo and stamina has inevitably dwindled with age however his wand of a left foot stays a phenomenon and he’s the final word match-winner. After an up-and-down first season at PSG, the little maestro is enjoying his greatest soccer in years this time period and with Scaloni having constructed a system round his strengths and limitations, that additionally locations a number of the burden on his gifted teammates, Messi is about to shine one final time in Qatar.
Breakout expertise – Cristian Romero: Premier League, and particularly Tottenham, followers know all concerning the abilities of Cristian Romero however Qatar 2022 will present the platform for him to present the world. A cultured centre-back, the 25-year-old is Argentina’s defensive chief – the uncommon defender who can change a recreation together with his interventions and a defence might be constructed round. Strong within the air, fearsome in one-on-one conditions, fast sufficient to get well from any lapses and comfy enjoying the ball out, he’s an all-round fashionable centre-back who varieties an intimidating partnership with Nicolas Otamendi.
It actually is win or bust for Argentina in Qatar for Messi’s final stand. The group stage shouldn’t trigger any points and they’ll be favourites for potential last-16 and quarter-final matches towards Denmark and Netherlands respectively. If every thing goes to kind, then a mouth-watering semi-final towards a Brazil aspect who can be determined for revenge after the 2021 Copa America last awaits and the winner of that can seemingly go on to raise the trophy. Barring calamities, Argentina ought to go extremely deep on this event and they may simply give Messi his fairytale end… Win the World Cup