Argentina 2022 World Cup Preview: Messi’s last dance


Source: Mundo Albiceleste (2021)

FIFA ranking: 3

How they qualified: CONMEBOL qualifying runners-up

2018 World Cup performance: Round of 16

Previous World Cup appearances: 17

Best result: Winners (1978, 1986)




Argentina are amongst the favourites to win this year’s World Cup after they finally managed to end their 28-year trophy drought by winning the 2021 Copa America. La Albiceleste will be led by their talismanic captain and all-time top scorer and appearance holder, Lionel Messi, who at 35 will be playing his last World Cup – confirmed by the player himself. Argentina had a largely disappointing 2018 World Cup, where they only narrowly advanced from their group behind eventual finalists Croatia. They were then swiftly knocked out in the round of 16 by eventual winners France, in a cracking 4-3 encounter. Those past disappointments have seemingly been forgotten under new coach Lionel Scaloni, who managed to step up from his role as assistant coach and lead Argentina to their first Copa America title since 1993, after three consecutive tournaments where Argentina finished in the top three, but ultimately fell short. Argentina managed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup going unbeaten in CONMEBOL qualifying and only finishing six points off qualifying winners Brazil.


The Coach – Lionel Scaloni

Source: Getty Images

Lionel Scaloni did not have an impressive managerial CV before taking over as the coach of Argentina, in fact, Scaloni’s two other roles have both been assistant positions, first at Sevilla during the 2016-17 season, then at Argentina between 2017 and 2018. Ironically, Scaloni replaced Jorge Sampaoli at the helm of the Argentina national team, the same man who handed Scaloni his first assistant role at Sevilla only years prior. Initially, Scaloni and Argentina legend Pablo Aimar were named caretaker coaches after the disastrous 2018 World Cup, however, the 2019 Copa America performances convinced the Argentina FA to hand Scaloni the job on a full-time basis. As it turned out, this was a masterstroke from the AFA, as Scaloni managed to lead Argentina to their first major trophy since 1993, by winning the 2021 Copa America on the home soil of their bitter rivals Brazil, and the 44-year-old will be hoping to follow that up with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.


Key Player – Lionel Messi

Source: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Who else but Messi? Lionel Messi is not only Argentina’s all-time top scorer and appearance holder, but he is arguably one of the best, if not the best football player to ever grace the beautiful game. Messi was influential in Argentina’s qualifying, adding seven goals and finishing as the team’s joint top-scorer, and while he has not been able to step into the shoes of previous Argentina captain Diego Maradona on the biggest international stage, the stars have aligned for the 35-year-old to finally do it for his country in his last ever World Cup tournament. If all goes well, the 2022 World Cup final could be Messi’s 1000th professional football match and the headlines would write themselves.


Predicted Line-up



World Cup Chances

Source: Getty Images

Argentina are currently the third favourites on odds to win the 2022 World Cup, and while odds on paper mean nothing on the field, La Albiceleste have all the tools to go very far in Qatar. Previous Argentina teams have relied on outscoring their opponents due to their overwhelming strength in attack but weakness in defence. However, this time the tables seemed to have turned, with Argentina relying on their defence to do the talking – in CONMEBOL qualifying they only conceded eight goals, while ‘’only’’ scoring 27 at the other end. Argentina have been drawn in a relatively easy group on paper, with Saudi Arabia, Mexico, and Poland, indicating a simple passage to the round of 16 should be achieved. It is however important to remember that the same was said before the previous World Cup, where they only narrowly reached the knockout stages after amassing four points out of possible nine. This will be Messi’s final chance to show the whole world he is the greatest of all time and Argentina’s chances will depend on their star man’s form.


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