Argentina and Lionel Messi look to be on a date with destiny at the 2022 World Cup as the PSG superstar faces a final chance at international glory.
Messi finally ended his streak of heartbreak with the national side last year as Argentina lifted the 2021 Copa America, and Messi saw a weight lifted.
However, the 35-year-old remains frustrated by his lack of a world title with Argentina, with Qatar likely to be his swansong on the biggest stage.
Despite being the oldest outfield player in Lionel Scaloni’s squad, Messi has been relentless so far in the tournament, with three goals from four games despite some fitness concerns ahead of Qatar.
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Is Lionel Messi playing vs Netherlands?
After struggling with a muscle issue ahead of the competition, Messi has maintained full fitness, despite the demands of tournament action.
His determination and inspiration have kept him on the pitch for 90 minutes in all four of Argentina’s matches ahead of the quarterfinals, and no injury niggle will keep him out of this tie.
Scaloni has resisted temptation to withdraw him in certain games, with late goals a feature of Argentina’s run to the knockout stages, and Messi will spearhead the Argentina attack for certain.
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Lionel Messi World Cup stats
Argentina’s disappointing start to Qatar 2022 set alarm bells ringing over a possible early exit after losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in their opening game.
However, Messi’s resilience, and some key changes from Scaloni, have revived their chances as their iconic skipper leads the charge.
|Date||Stage||Result||Mins Played||Goals Scored||Assists||Shots on target||FIFA Player of the Match Award|
|Nov. 22, 2022||Group Stage||Argentina 1-2 Saudi Arabia||90||1||0||2||0|
|Nov. 26, 2022||Group Stage||Argentina 2-0 Mexico||90||1||1||1||1|
|Nov. 30, 2022||Group Stage||Poland 0-2 Argentina||90||0||0||3||1|
|Dec. 3, 2022||Round of 16||Argentina 2-1 Australia||90||1||0||2||1|
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Is this Lionel Messi’s last World Cup?
With Messi set to turn 39 at the 2026 World Cup, all the signs point towards this being his final appearance on the world stage.
Messi has consistently remained open-minded on the next step in his international career, with the 2024 Copa America still an option, but he appears ready to bow out, if the timing feels right.
“Surely, this will be my final World Cup”, he said ahead of the tournament. “That decision looks to be already made.”
Important to clarify again that Messi will not decide his future between PSG and Barça now or in the next weeks; it will be in 2023. pic.twitter.com/W54EDZIpfm
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) October 6, 2022
Argentina supporters will want Messi is keep on playing, but he faces a decision over prolonging his club career beyond his 35th birthday, or maintaining a role with the national side.
Has Messi played vs Netherlands?
This clash is Messi’s third meeting with La Oranje, with the two previous meetings, both in World Cup action, ending 0-0.
— Squawka (@Squawka) December 3, 2022
18-year-old Messi was withdrawn at halftime in their 2006 group stage stalemate in Frankfurt, his first ever World Cup start.
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Twelve years later in Brazil, Messi was a seasoned winner with Barcelona, but 120 minutes of grueling semifinal action could not separate the two teams, with the match decided on penalties.
Messi stepped up first to tuck away his spot kick as Argentina went through, but it was to be heartbreak against Germany in the final.