The 2022 World Cup in Qatar next month will be the last in Lionel Messi’s illustrious career.
The 35-year-old Argentinian star, who will compete in his fifth World Cup, is still searching for his first title at the flagship tournament (which starts on November 20 this year) and admitted he is nervous ahead of his final appearance in the world biggest stage in football.
“There’s a bit of fear and nervousness at the same time. It’s the last time,” Messi said in an interview with Star Plus.
It’s the first time the Paris Saint-Germain striker has spoken openly about his future after the tournament, with Messi yet to say definitively whether he will retire from the national team after Qatar.
Argentina, unbeaten in their last 35 competitive matches, will come to the World Cup with great confidence after beating hosts Brazil in the 2021 Copa America final in what Messi believes will be a turning point for his team following multiple near misses.
“Anything can happen at a World Cup. All the matches are very tough. In the end, the favorites don’t always win,” said Messi. “I don’t know if we’re the favourites, but Argentina is always a contender because of their history. Now even more so because of the moment we’re in it, but we’re not the favourites. I think there are other teams.” who are above us.”
Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 and 1986. The team will open the tournament in Group C on November 22 against Saudi Arabia before taking on Mexico and Poland.
“I feel good physically,” said Messi. “I had a good pre-season this year, which I couldn’t do last year [when he moved from Barca to PSG]. It was the key to a better start like I did, with a lot of mental focus and zeal.”
Messi’s record with Argentina stands in stark contrast to his success at club level. Argentina came close to ending their long trophy drought three times, but were beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and by Chile in the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals.
“I’ve been playing with the national team for a long time now,” said Messi. “There were spectacular moments like in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but we didn’t win and we were criticized for not being champions.
“We did everything right until the final.”
Messi said he’s going to Qatar with a positive outlook as a senior statesman in a team full of young talent, while also still celebrating Argentina’s massive Copa America win last year.
“It was very difficult, but in 2019 a new group came with a lot of young people and they won the Copa America. That helped us a lot,” added Messi. “I couldn’t believe it, I can’t explain it. It’s one of those goals that I needed to complete everything. It was very important for me to win something with the national team, if not that monkey always be there would.” my back, all those lost finals.”
“I would have liked to have enjoyed it with the Argentines. It’s crazy how they experienced it, the consequences. They’re crazy about the team, excited. That’s why it’s good to refuse it, we’ll fight against everyone, but we don’t think we’re the champions. We think we’ll just overtake everyone, but it’s not like that. The first game is key.”
“My love for the Argentine people is unconditional. I am very grateful to have experienced and enjoyed everything. It was very special.”
Argentina meet the United Arab Emirates in November’s final warm-up ahead of the group stage in Qatar.
Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this story.
https://www.espn.com/soccer/argentina-arg/story/4762702/lionel-messi-says-2022-world-cup-with-argentina-will-be-his-last Lionel Messi says 2022 World Cup with Argentina will be his last