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Sunday 7 June 2020

Score to settle at World Cup, says Messi

Messi will turn 31 during the competition. He has yet to make a decision on his Argentina future but would be 35 by the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar

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 Buenos Aires: Nobody would dispute Messi’s status as one of the all-time greats, but many in Argentina believe he cannot be considered on the same level as Diego Maradona until he wins a major honour with his country, as his compatriot did at the 1986 World Cup. 

Rubbing salt into those wounds, Messi has lost in three successive major finals with Argentina as the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 and 2016 Copa America titles slipped from his grasp.

Argentina lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany 1-0 after extra time and then finished runners-up at successive Copa America tournaments, losing to Chile on penalties in both 2015 and 2016.

No doubt, Argentina captain Messi admits that his generation has a score to settle at the World Cup in Russia after a series of agonising near misses in major tournaments.

“(In Russia) it will be a good opportunity. Argentina is always a candidate for the title because of its image, its history. But this year, we are not favourites,” Messi added.

Argentina, who beat Italy 2-0 in Manchester last Friday, will play Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria in Group D at the World Cup.

Argentina is one of the most successful national football teams in the world, having won 2 World Cups in 1978 and 1986. Argentina has been runners-up three times in 1930, 1990 and 2014. The team was present in all but four of the World Cups, being behind only Brazil, Italy and Germany in the number of appearances.

In Barcelona’s colours, Messi has experienced nothing but success, winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns. But pulling on Argentina’s blue-and-white striped shirt has brought the forward some of the most painful moments of his career.

Often considered the best player in the world and regarded by many as the greatest of all time, Messi has a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards, four of which he won consecutively, and a record-tying four European Golden Shoes. He has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 30 trophies, including eight La Liga titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, and five Copas del Rey.

Both a prolific goalscorer and a creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga (374), a La Liga season (50), a club football season in Europe (73), a calendar year (91), El Clásico (25), as well as those for most assists made in La Liga (149) and the Copa América (11). He has scored over 600 senior career goals for club and country.

Vice-captain Javier Mascherano has already announced he will retire from international duty after the World Cup, while Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain will all be 30 come the finals.

Messi will turn 31 during the competition. He has yet to make a decision on his Argentina future but would be 35 by the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

 

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