The La Albiceleste skipper arrived on Monday and has started training.
Argentina captain Lionel Messi has arrived in Abu Dhabi and has joined the rest of the squad to prepare for the World Cup. ‘La Seleccion’ are slotted in Group C with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland. Argentina face Saudi Arabia on November 22nd at the Lusail Stadium.
Post a heart-breaking 1-0 loss to Germany at the 2014 World Cup Final, Argentina have been over-reliant on the talismanic 35-year-old. They lost to eventual champions France in a high-scoring Round of 16 encounter in 2018. Since then, Argentina have won the 2021 Copa America and 2022 Finalissima under Lionel Scaloni’s tutelage.
This will be Lionel Messi’s fifth World Cup and could be his last. He has 90 goals in 164 National Team appearances. He made his debut aged 18 in a friendly against Hungary but was sent off just two minutes after coming on. Since then, he has built a legacy to match the legendary Diego Maradona and a World Cup triumph will add to Messi’s catalog of trophies.
Argentina will play the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a friendly before departing to Qatar. Scaloni has named a 26-man squad with a mix of brimming young talent and experienced heads. Copa America hero Emiliano Martinez will continue as the number one. Fellow Premier League breakthrough stars Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero find a place among some seasoned defenders.
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Atletico Madrid’s Rodrigo De Paul and Juventus player Leandro Paredes headline the midfield. There is no dearth of quality among the forwards. Inter’s Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa, and Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez join the reliable Angel Di Maria and Messi. Paulo Dybala his also part of the squad despite not fully recovering from a hamstring injury.
Once the team finds their stride, they will be a challenging force to stop. Combine that with a frequent springling of Messi magic, Argentina will aim to right the wrongs of previous editions and lift the coveted trophy. Messi often reserves his best for the big occasions and has been in lethal form for Paris Saint Germain.
He has seven goals and 10 assists from 13 league matches and four goals from five Champions League starts. He is in fine fettle for club and country with the third most goal-contributions among Europe’s top five leagues. With what could be his last sojourn, Messi will relish every moment of leading his country out in Qatar.