When Lionel Messi left the 2018 World Cup a dejected figure in a chaotic Argentina side, it was widely believed that his last real chance at international glory was lost.
Now Messi and his team-mates are in Qatar and are among the sides predicted to lift the title, bolstered by an ongoing 36-game unbeaten streak.
Last year, the 35-year-old ended his career-long wait for a major international title when La Albiceleste won the 2021 Copa America, his country’s first success since 1993.
All of this was achieved under Lionel Scaloni, a man who had never served as head coach before taking charge after Russia in 2018.
A new group of exciting talent is poised for their World Cup debut, but who will line up alongside Messi when he takes to international football’s biggest stage for the fifth time?
𝐌𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐝𝐨: 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧
🇦🇷 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝟏𝟐: 𝐀𝐭 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭
🏆 In our series finale, Captain Lionel Messi ends Argentina’s trophy drought with Copa America glory 👉 https://t.co/axW70AurB5 pic.twitter.com/VWmt7RO6wg
— Sporting News Football Club (@sn_footballclub) November 20, 2022
MORE: Argentina unbeaten run nears Italy’s world-record streak
Argentina lineup vs Saudi Arabia
Lionel Messi insists he is in “good shape” ahead of the World Cup opener in Argentina after the Paris Saint-Germain striker sparked fears by suspending parts of his side’s training sessions.
“I think I come here, both personally and physically, in really good shape. I don’t have any problems at all,” he said at a pre-game press conference.
“I’ve heard there have been rumors of missing part of practice or having to practice off-team because of a stroke – no, they were just precautions, nothing strange or out of the ordinary.
defender Christian Romero (muscular) was not featured in his country’s 5-0 warm-up win over United Arab Emirates but is considered ready to start.
Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez will probably accompany Nicholas Otamendi if Romero is not fit while Nicholas Tagliafico is the main contender to step in for Marcos Acuna at left-back.
Alexis MacAllister is ready to start in midfield next door Rodrigo de Paul and Leandro Parédes after Giovanni Lo Celso Lacking an injury was Scaloni’s biggest headache ahead of the tournament. Benfica’s highly rated former River Plate youngster Enzo Fernandez is another option.
Expected line-up for Argentina (4-3-3, right to left): 23 E. Martinez (TG) – 26 Molina, 13 Romero, 19 Otamendi, 8 Acuna – 7 De Paul, 5 Paredes, 20 Mac Allister – 10 Messi, 11 Di Maria, 22 Martinez
- Hurt: Romero (muscular), gomez (beat), Acuna (beat)
- Exposed: none
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Argentina World Cup Squad
Here are the 26 names in Argentina’s current World Cup squad in Qatar:
|goalkeeper||Franco Armani||River Plate (ARG)||36||18|
|goalkeeper||Emiliano Martinez||Aston Villa (GER)||30||19|
|goalkeeper||Geronimo Rulli||Villarreal (SPA)||30||4|
|defender||Marcos Acuna||Seville (Spain)||30||43|
|defender||Juan Foyth||Villarreal (SPA)||24||16|
|defender||Lisandro Martinez||Man United (ENG)||24||10|
|defender||Nahuel Molina||Atlético Madrid (SPA)||24||19|
|defender||Gonzalo Montiel||Seville (Spain)||25||19|
|defender||Nicholas Otamendi||Benfica (POR)||34||93|
|defender||German pizza||Real Betis (SPA)||31||32|
|defender||Christian Romero||Tottenham (GER)||24||12|
|defender||Nicholas Tagliafico||Lyon (FRA)||30||42|
|midfield player||Rodrigo de Paul||Atlético Madrid (SPA)||28||44|
|midfield player||Enzo Fernandez||Benfica (POR)||21||3|
|midfield player||Alejandro “Papu” Gomez||Seville (Spain)||34||fifteen|
|midfield player||Alexis MacAllister||Brighton||23||8th|
|midfield player||Exquiel Palacios||Bayer Leverkusen (DE)||24||20|
|midfield player||Leandro Parédes||Juventus (ITA)||28||46|
|midfield player||Guido Rodríguez||Real Betis (SPA)||28||26|
|Forward||Julian Alvarez||Manchester City (ENG)||22||12|
|Forward||Thiago Almada**||Atlanta United (USA)||21||1|
|Forward||Angel of Mary||Juventus (ITA)||34||124|
|Forward||Paulo Dybala||AS Roma (ITA)||28||34|
|Forward||Angel Correa*||Atlético Madrid||25||22|
|Forward||Lautaro Martinez||Inter Milan (ITA)||25||40|
|Forward||Lionel Messi||PSG (FRA)||35||165|
*Replaced the injured Nicolas Gonzalez
**Replaced the injured Joaquin Correa
READ: MESSI & RONALDO: DESTINATION MUNDIAL | THE COMPLETE SERIES