Considered one of the greatest players the world has ever seen, Lionel Messi is the crown jewel of Argentina’s modern generation.
Nicknamed “La Pulga” for his smaller size, Messi has dazzled fans across the globe across his 18-year career. Playing for Barcelona and PSG at club level, Messi has been at the forefront of the Argentina national team since his international debut in 2005.
Yet the 35-year-old had been dogged by a lack of international success for years, unable to hoist an international trophy for a significant portion of his time with Argentina. That changed a few years ago, able to shake the narrative and prove he can win at the highest level.
The Sporting News brings you all the details on Lionel Messi’s time at the FIFA World Cup ahead of the 2022 edition in Qatar where he will appear for the fifth time in his illustrious career.
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Has Lionel Messi won the World Cup?
Lionel Messi has never won a FIFA World Cup. It is the only major trophy available to him that he has not won throughout his career.
For a long time, Messi was missing a major international trophy, having won it all at club level multiple times but yet to win with Argentina. That changed in 2021 when he lifted the Copa America, beating Brazil in the final and finishing as joint-top scorer in the tournament. Messi won the tournament’s best player award as well.
Messi said that victory gave him “peace of mind” as he was able to lift the international monkey off his back, but failing to achieve a World Cup title still weighs on his mind. “We’re not World Cup favorites [in 2022] but we will fight,” Messi said after the 3-0 victory over Italy in the inaugural Finalissima this past summer. “We continue to say that we are not the top favorites, but we will put up a fight against anyone because this group is hopeful, it has clear goals.”
However, Messi likely has just one shot left to win a World Cup with Argentina. He announced in early October that the 2022 tournament will be his final one.
“This will be my last World Cup — for sure,” Messi said. “The decision has been made. I am counting down the days to the World Cup. There is a bit of anxiety and nerves at the same time.”
Has Lionel Messi played in a World Cup final?
Messi came so close to lifting the World Cup trophy in 2014, nearly winning the tournament on rival soil in Brazil.
With the hosts embarrassed by Germany in the semifinals, Argentina had the chance to take home the title and stick it to Brazil at their most famous stadium. They got by Switzerland and Belgium by 1-0 scorelines in the first two knockout matches before a 0-0 draw with the Netherlands in the semifinals nearly did them in, but they advanced 4-2 on penalties.
Messi and the Argentina attack continued to sputter in the final, failing to find the back of the net before Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner saw Germany prevail 1-0, leaving Messi and Argentina to rue what could have been. Messi himself missed a key chance in the 72nd minute, firing a shot wide while one-on-one with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Messi was awarded the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but that would not serve to heal the wounds from the match.
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Lionel Messi World Cup matches, goals
While Messi has done his best to push Argentina towards World Cup glory, his own personal return from his four World Cup appearances to date have been disappointing.
“La Pulga” has reached past the quarterfinals of the World Cup just once, in the 2014 run to the final in Brazil that ultimately came up just short.
The most glaring number is his record in the knockout stage. Through eight matches and 756 minutes of play in the FIFA World Cup knockout stage across his entire international career, Messi has not scored a single goal. However, of Messi’s five career World Cup assists, four of them came in the knockout stage, setting up teammates for chances in the most important games of his career.
Will Lionel Messi win the 2022 World Cup?
Argentina are not considered the overall betting favorite for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, but they are amongst the top nations at the tournament.
According to most bookmakers, Argentina are considered either third-favorite or fourth-favorite behind Brazil, France and England.
Messi’s presence is a big reason why the Albiceleste are rated so highly, with Luis Scaloni hoping to get one last moment of glory out of his 35-year-old star before his career comes to a close.
Odds via BetMGM (USA), Sports Interaction (Canada) and SkyBet (UK), current as of Nov. 10, 2022.
Has Argentina won a FIFA World Cup?
Argentina has won two prior World Cup titles, coming in 1978 and 1986, both surrounded by controversy.
The first came on home soil as Mario Kempes scored an extra-time winner against the Netherlands who were upset with the hosts stalling tactics. In 1986, Diego Maradona led the way, with the famous Hand of God goal seeing them past England in the quarterfinals before downing West Germany 3-2 in the final.
The two titles make Argentina the joint-second most successful South American side at the World Cup, level with Uruguay and behind Brazil’s world-best five World Cup championships.
|Year||Host||Stage Reached||Eliminated by||Top goalscorer|
|1930||Uruguay||Final||Uruguay (4-2)||Guillermo Stabile (8)*|
|1934||Italy||Round of 16||Sweden (3-2)||2 tied w/ 1 goal each|
|1958||Sweden||Group Stage||—||Oreste Corbatta (3)|
|1962||Chile||Group Stage||—||2 tied w/ 1 goal each|
|1966||England||Quarterfinals||England (1-0)||Luis Artime (3)|
|1970||Mexico||Did not qualify||—||—|
|1974||West Germany||2nd Group Stage||—||Rene Houseman (3)|
|1978||Argentina||Won Final||—||Mario Kempes (6)*|
|1982||Spain||2nd Group Stage||—||3 tied w/ 2 goals each|
|1986||Mexico||Won Final||—||Diego Maradona (5)|
|1990||Italy||Final||West Germany (1-0)||Claudio Caniggia (2)|
|1994||United States||Round of 16||Romania (3-2)||Gabriel Batistuta (4)|
|1998||France||Quarterfinals||Netherlands (2-1)||Gabriel Batistuta (5)|
|2002||Japan/South Korea||Group Stage||Sweden (1-1)||2 tied w/ 1 goal each|
|2006||Germany||Quarterfinals||Germany (1-1, 4-2 pens)||2 tied w/ 3 goals each|
|2010||South Africa||Quarterfinals||Germany (4-0)||Gonzalo Higuain (4)|
|2014||Brazil||Final||Netherlands (0-0, 4-2 pens)||Lionel Messi (4)|
|2018||Russia||Round of 16||France (4-3)||Sergio Aguero (2)|