Lionel Messi set to play his last World Cup match
Star striker Lionel Messi has confirmed that he will feature in his last FIFA World Cup match when Argentina play the final in Qatar. Messi powered Argentina to a 3-0 win against Croatia in the first semi-final. Argentina vie for their first World Cup title since 1986. Messi, who became Argentina's highest goal-scorer in World Cups, is set to play his 172nd international.
Why does this story matter?
- Messi is appearing at his fifth World Cup, having surpassed Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano in this regard (four each).
- The 35-year-old now holds the joint-most appearances in World Cup history, equaling Germany's Lothar Matthaus (25).
- Messi is set to overtake the German in the impending final.
- More than anything else, the Argentine legend would want to finish with the World Cup trophy.
Messi makes it official
"I feel very happy, to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final," Messi told Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole. He added, "It's many years for the next one and I don't think I'll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it's the best."
Messi starred in Argentina's semi-final win
Messi starred as Argentina thrashed Croatia 3-0 in the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Croatia dominated possession for long stretches, but it was Argentina who got the breakthrough in the 34th minute. Messi converted from the spot, with Man City's Julian Alvarez adding the second soon. The 35-year-old set up Alvarez for a brace after half-time to seal the duel.
Argentina's highest goal-scorer in World Cups
Messi, who has appeared in Argentina's last five World Cup campaigns (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, and 2022), has become their highest goal-scorer in the tournament. He broke a tie with Gabriel Batistuta, netting his 11th goal. As per Opta, no player has scored or assisted in more different World Cup matches than Messi (13) since the 1966 edition.
Records galore for Messi
As per Squawka, Messi (11) has now scored more World goals than any other player still active at the international level. Germany's Thomas Muller (10) and France's Kylian Mbappe (9) follow suit. Messi also has the most assists by an active player in the World Cup (8). He now has 96 goals in his 171 appearances for Argentina in all competitions.
Other feats attained by Messi
As per Squawka, Messi is now tied with Mbappe for the most goals in the WC 2022 (5 each). He also has the joint-most assists alongside Harry Kane, Bruno Fernandes, and Antoine Griezmann (3 each). Messi has also attempted 27 shots, more than Mbappe (22).
Third-most international goals
Earlier this year, Messi became the third-highest goal-scorer in men's international football. Messi, who scored a brace in Argentina's 3-0 win over Jamaica in a friendly, touched the 90-goal mark. He surpassed former Malaysia international Mokhtar Dahari (89). Messi made his international debut for Argentina in August 2005 against Hungary. He scored his maiden international goal a year later.