The pressure will be on Argentina heading into the Qatar World Cup later this year. It could be argued that this is their best opportunity to win the major competition for generations, given that many of the other World Cup favorites are struggling for momentum and have growing lists of injury issues.
It will also be a particularly special event for fans in attendance, as it will be the last chance for Lionel Messi to finally get his hands on the one trophy that has evaded him throughout his legendary career. But, can Argentina finally win a third World Cup honor this winter?
Messi’s Finally Opportunity
Many believed that Lionel Messi’s final opportunity to land a World Cup success came four years ago when he was the highest paid player in Spain, but a disastrous showing in Russia saw one of the pre-tournament favorites crash out in memorable fashion at the hands of France. It wasn’t just the defeat against the French that was a low point, as Argentina was held by Iceland and was comprehensively dismantled by an aging Croatia side.
Messi’s performances were underwhelming throughout. The superstar was a catalyst for his nation four years earlier, as Argentina reached the final of the World Cup, only for Germany to edge out their rivals with a dramatic extra-time goal. While that may have felt like the now or never moment, Messi will have one final opportunity to immortalize himself within the history of the Argentina national team forever.
Argentina On Right Path
It would be hard to argue against the sentiment that Argentina will go into the World Cup as one of the most confident nations. The confidence within the camp stems back from their summer in 2021, as they finally managed to end Messi’s long drought without an international honor by landing success in the Copa America.
That success may be seen as a pivotal moment if Argentina go on to win the World Cup this year, as the PSG ace was contemplating retirement from the international game heading into the competition after losing in the final of both of the previous showpiece events. Even as one of the world’s greats, Messi’s optimism that he could follow in the footsteps of Diego Maradona and lead his nation to international glory was fading.
However, the 1-0 success against Brazil in the Copa America final last year ends all possible doubt that this Argentina side is capable of delivering big moments when they matter most in major tournaments. And, success in the World Cup this year would only further the argument that Messi is the greatest player to have ever played the game.
Route To World Cup Glory
Argentina would have counted their blessings after the World Cup draw earlier this year. They were handed one of the most straightforward groups that they could have expected, and there will be no excuses for them not to top Group C later this year. Argentina kick off their World Cup campaign on November 22 against Saudi Arabia, before facing Mexico four days later and then clashing with Robert Lewandowski’s Poland on the final matchday.
From what we have seen in Argentina throughout qualification and their route to Copa America glory, there is no reason why they shouldn’t pick up maximum points and top Group C in Qatar. However, the knockout stages is where the competition really heats up for Messi and co. Argentina could come up against either France or Denmark in the round of 16, as they will take on the nation that finishes as the runner-up in Group D.
The tests come thick and fast after that, as a showdown with potentially the in-form Netherlands could come in the following round. If they have managed to pass those tests, then they are likely to come up against one of the pre-World Cup favorites in the semi-finals, as a grudge match against Brazil is one of the potential match-ups that we could see. However, Argentina could also face Spain or Germany at the same stage.
Will Argentina Win The World Cup?
The big question is whether Argentina can win the World Cup later this year. They certainly have a squad capable of achieving that target, while the experience of older players such as Messi, Angel Di Maria, and Nicolas Otamendi also looks set to be a pivotal factor. However, they will face a big fight to win a third World Cup in their history, as they are currently the fourth favorites behind Brazil, England and France.