The 35-year-old Lionel Messi will make his final World Cup appearance in the upcoming edition in Qatar. The Argentine star footballer confirmed his decision while giving an interview to Star Plus. "There's some anxiety and nerves at the same time. It is the last one, " Messi was quoted as saying. Argentina hadn't won the World Cup in the previous eight editions where Messi took part in the last four of them. Can Argentina finally end their trophy drought in Lionel Messi's final World Cup appearance?
When did Argentina last take home a World Cup trophy?
In front of 114,000 people at the Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, Diego Armando Maradona-led Argentina won their second World Cup title on June 29, 1986, defeating West Germany 3-2 in the title match. This was the final FIFA World Cup title won by Argentina's senior men's team.
Argentina's recent World Cup performances
One of Latin America's footballing powerhouses, Argentina had to remain without a World Cup title in the previous eight editions. Although the Albiceleste played in the finals in 1990 and 2014, they lost 1-0 against the Germans on both occasions and had to sink into despair.
Argentina was the favorite to defeat Germany in the championship match eight years ago at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Argentines would have brought home the World Cup trophy for the third time had striker Gonzalo Higuain not squandered several straightforward opportunities. After a goalless regular 90 minutes, Mario Gotze's goal in extra time gave Germany their fourth World Cup victory.
Argentina's finest performances from 1994 to 2010 included making the quarterfinals in 1998, 2006, and 2010. Even the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan saw them eliminated at the group stage. Argentina's national team was unsuccessful in winning any international trophy from 1994 to 2020, not just in world cup competitions.
From 2014 to 2016, Argentina participated in three finals. The Albiceleste advanced to the finals of the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario, but both times Chile won in penalty shootouts. This led to mental instability in the Argentine camp after losing three straight finals.
It was especially agonizing for the football wizard, Lionel Messi, to come so close to winning the international trophy yet consistently lose in the finals. Lionel Messi was unsuccessful in his early years as an Argentine national team player, despite winning all of the European club football titles with Barcelona on numerous occasions. Leo is therefore constantly motivated to make Argentina successful.
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia's round of 16, the Albiceleste fell to France 4-3. Many believed that Messi would finally decide to leave international football following four dismal World Cups with the national team. Nevertheless, despite several heartbreaks, Leo persisted in his struggle with the hope of bringing home the trophy for his nation.
One of the favourites for the World Cup 2022 after breaking a 28-year international title drought
Argentina won two straight trophies over the past year, ending a 28-year drought without an international title. The Argentina national team defeated Brazil 1-0 in the 2021 Copa America final on the opposition's home soil. Messi won his first championship with the senior team as well. Argentina also won the 2022 Finalissima in June by defeating Italy 3-0.
Argentina has gone 35 games without a defeat since losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa America semifinal. Argentina will equal Italy's record of 37 straight victories if they don't lose any of their next two games. Argentina is now seen as one of the main candidates to lift the 2022 Qatar Football World Cup trophy given their current form.
A few years ago, Messi's lack of teamwork with his Argentine national team colleagues on the field was apparent. What did they do differently now that everything seemed to be going smoothly?
Lionel Scaloni has concentrated on improving Argentina's defense since taking over as national team coach following the 2018 World Cup. In order for Lionel Messi to play at his peak for the national team, he has concentrated on developing the ideal setup and game plan inside the team.
Scaloni has given regular opportunities to several talented new players in the team, while also keeping veterans in the squad who have performed regularly in club football. Talented footballers such as Lautaro Martinez, Rodrigo de Paul, Emi Martinez, and Cristian Romero have made a name for themselves in the national team. On the other hand, there are veterans like Angel Di Maria and Nicolas Otamendi.
The current Argentina team has a strong sense of camaraderie. It is only natural for all plans to revolve around a superstar like Messi if he is a member of the squad. The team is benefiting from everyone being ready to perform their best for Lionel Messi.
Will Argentina win it?
Lionel Messi has confirmed in a recent interview that the upcoming 2022 Qatar World Cup will be his last one on football's biggest stage. At age 35, Messi is still showcasing his magical performance on the football field, but with experience comes a different role. According to many, Messi is currently playing with the best Argentina team of the last 17 years of his international career, where all positions have players to trust.
In Messi's last World Cup, can Argentina finally win the trophy after 36 years to give him the perfect farewell? They have a well-balanced squad to achieve it. Lionel Messi will be seen hoisting the World Cup trophy on December 18 at the 80,000-seat Lusail Iconic Stadium in Qatar if it happens.
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