From Diego Maradona to Cristiano Ronaldo: Lionel Messi set to smash records of football greats at FIFA World Cup 2022
From Diego Maradona's long-standing record to surpassing goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina captain Lionel Messi is eyeing a record-fest outing at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Messi-led Argentina will meet Saudi Arabia in its FIFA World Cup 2022 opener at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Tuesday.
For the first time in the 2022 edition of the FIFA World Cup, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi as the charismatic leader of former world champions Argentina is set to rewrite history at the grandest stage of them all. After breaking the internet with his Ballon d'Or arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi rubbished reports about sustaining an ankle injury on the eve of Argentina's Group C opener at the Qatar World Cup. (FIFA World Cup 2022 Live Score Argentina vs Saudi Arabia)
Dubbed as one of the greatest players in the modern era of the beautiful game, Argentina captain Messi will take centre stage when the two-time champions square off against Saudi Arabia in their FIFA World Cup 2022 opener at the Lusail Iconic Stadium on Tuesday. Even though Messi's former El Clasico rival Ronaldo has expressed his desire to 'checkmate' the Little Magician, the in-form Argentina captain is heavily tipped to eclipse the Portuguese stalwart at the Qatar World Cup.
Messi will join the elite list of footballing greats by kickstarting his fifth World Cup campaign for Argentina on Tuesday. Marshalling his troops in Argentina's FIFA World Cup 2022 opener, Messi will remain within touching distance of surpassing Ronaldo's goal-tally. The Paris Saint Germain (PSG) superstar has scored 6 goals for Argentina while Manchester United icon Ronaldo has netted 7 for Portugal at the World Cup.
Matthaus' all-time record
For the unversed, Messi is the most-capped player at the World Cup in terms of active players. Messi's arch-rival Ronaldo has played 17 matches at the FIFA World Cup. Former Barcelona captain Messi has featured in 19 games for Argentina at the showpiece event. Legendary Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus holds the record of making the most appearances (25) in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
Maradona's long-standing record
Late Diego Maradona is still Argentina's most-capped player at the FIFA World Cup since the elite tournament’s inception. The legendary footballer and Messi's icon played 21 matches for La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blue) at the FIFA World Cup. Messi is all set to break Maradona's long-standing record in the group stage of the FIFA World Cup 2022. Messi-led Argentina will meet Poland in its final Group C fixture at the Qatar World Cup on December 1.
Gabriel Batistuta's elusive feat
Messi is also closing on Gabriel Batistuta's sensational feat for Argentina at the FIFA World Cup. With 10 goals to his name, the former Fiorentina and AS Roma star has remained Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer at the FIFA World Cup. Messi has netted six goals for the two-time winners at the FIFA World Cup. If Messi extends his free-scoring run in Qatar, the 35-year-old will remain in pole position to shatter Batistuta's record at the FIFA World Cup.
Golden Ball two-peat
Messi was honoured with Golden Ball award in the 2014 FIFA World Cup although the special feat was nothing but a consolation for the Argentina captain at the time. Germany edged past Messi's Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final to lift the famous trophy at the Maracana Stadium. Messi's former Clasico rival Luka Modric was crowned the winner of the Golden Ball award in the previous edition of the World Cup. Both Messi and Modric can battle for the famous trophy at the FIFA World Cup 2022. No player has ever won the Golden Ball twice in the history of the FIFA World Cup.