Soccer  

World Cup 2022: Lionel Messi ‘in a great moment’ for Argentina legend’s final World Cup

Lionel Messi in training
Lionel Messi was part of the Argentina side which lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany

Lionel Messi says he is in a “great moment” as he prepares for what is likely to be his final World Cup.

The 35-year-old is playing in his fifth global tournament with Argentina, whose opening game against Saudi Arabia kicks off at 10am GMT on Tuesday.

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has never won the World Cup, coming closest when Argentina lost the 2014 final.

Messi said: “This is probably my last World Cup, my last chance to achieve this great dream that I have.”

The Paris St-Germain forward says he has not made any special physical preparations despite the tournament being played in the middle of the club season, and he feels fit and ready.

“I feel very good physically, I think I’m in a great moment, both personally and physically and I don’t have any problems,” added Messi, who did light training away from his team-mates on Saturday.

“I heard that they said I trained differently. It was because I had a knock but there is nothing strange [happening]. It was just a precaution.”

Having won countless trophies at club level with Barcelona and PSG, Messi only broke his international trophy duck last year as Argentina lifted the Copa America by beating Brazil in the final.

“It’s a beautiful thing that many people outside Argentina want us to be champions and that it’s largely because of me,” said Messi.

“I’m grateful for the love I’ve received around the world during my career, and here in Qatar it’s another example of that.

“I don’t know if we arrive better than at other World Cups, but we’ve just won [the Copa America] and that decompresses us a lot.

“It makes us work in a different way, without anxiety about the national team and its results, and enjoying ourselves.”

After facing Saudi Arabia, Argentina will also play Mexico and Poland in Group C.

Line-ups

Argentina

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 23Martínez
  • 26Molina
  • 13Romero
  • 19Otamendi
  • 3Tagliafico
  • 7De Paul
  • 5Paredes
  • 11Di María
  • 10Messi
  • 17Gómez Villaverde
  • 22Martínez

Substitutes

  • 1Armani
  • 2Foyth
  • 4Montiel
  • 6Pezzella
  • 8Acuña
  • 9Álvarez
  • 12Rulli
  • 14Palacios
  • 15Correa
  • 16Almada
  • 18Rodríguez
  • 20Mac Allister
  • 21Dybala
  • 24Fernández
  • 25Martínez

Saudi Arabia

Formation 4-5-1

  • 21Al Owais
  • 12Abdulhamid
  • 17Al Tambakti
  • 5Al Bulayhi
  • 13Al Mohammadi Al Shahrani
  • 9Al Brikan
  • 23Kanno
  • 8Al Wahbi Al Malki
  • 7Al Faraj
  • 10Al Dawsari
  • 11Al Shehri

Substitutes

  • 1Al Rubaie Al Yami
  • 2Al Ghannam
  • 3Madu
  • 4Al Amri
  • 6Al Burayk
  • 14Otayf
  • 15Al Hassan
  • 16Al Naji
  • 18Al Abid
  • 19Bahbri
  • 20Al Obud
  • 22Al Suweiti Al Aqidi
  • 24Al Shardan Al Dawsari
  • 25Asiri