FIFA World Cup 2022: Will Lionel Messi thrive in his last dance with Argentina?

Argentina were far from their best form in the 2018 World Cup, losing 4-3 to eventual champions France in the Round of 16 stage, and will be looking to make significant improvements in Qatar.

They finished second in their qualifying group without losing a game, with three more draws leaving them six points behind Brazil, with Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martnez each scoring seven goals, but more importantly, they won their first Copa América in ten years in 2021, defeating their great rivals in the final thanks to an Angel Di Mara goal.

La Albiceleste, managed by former Deportivo La Corua defender Lionel Scaloni, are always World Cup candidates, with star quality in their ranks.

Argentina World Cup 2022 squad

Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Franco Armani (River Plate) and Geronimo Rulli (Villarreal)

Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), German Pezzella (Real Betis), Cristian Romero (Tottenham Hotspur), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Nicolas Tagliafico (Olympique Lyonnais), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla)

Midfielders: Leandro Paredes (Juventus), Guido Rodriguez (Real Betis), Enzo Fernandez (Benfica), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Alexis Mac Allister (Brighton & Hove Albion)

Forwards: Paulo Dybala (AS Roma), Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain), Angel Di Maria (Juventus), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Joaquin Correa (Inter Milan), Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City).

Who will the Tango face in this tournament?

Argentina are in Group C along with Poland, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

World Cup 2022 Group C

Argentina are more stable and coherent than in previous tournaments, relying on a solid system rather than a handful of superstar players.

Nobody in this group will be able to touch Argentina, but Poland and Mexico should engage in a fierce battle for second place.

Mexico are perennial participants in the Round of 16, whereas Poland boasts Robert Lewandowski. Prior to Euro 2020, he had only scored two goals in major international championships. However, he has yet to score in World Cup finals. Group C will be determined by Lewandowski’s performance in this tournament, with Saudi Arabia destined for the wooden spoon.

How is Argentina’s history in the World Cup?

Argentina have been World Cup winners on two occasions: 1978 and 1986. The latter, won in Mexico is one of the most iconic triumphs in the tournament’s history with La Albiceleste captained by Diego Maradona, who was at the height of his powers. 

In the midst of his successful seven-year spell with Napoli, he created five and scored five, including the infamous Hand of God goal and the mazy 60-yard run later voted ‘Goal of the Century’ in a 2-1 quarter-final win over England. 

They also finished runners-up in both 1990 and 2014, losing to Germany, in one form or another, in the final on both occasions.

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