"Lionel Messi never said this was his last World Cup…" Guillem Balague on why Argentina could be favourites in Qatar

Argentina Lionel Messi (10) celebrates his penalty kick goal during the game between Honduras and Argentina on Friday, Sept 23, 2022 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens FL: inset, Guillem Balague
(Image credit: Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi and Argentina could be favourites for the 2022 World Cup.

That's according to journalist Guillem Balague (opens in new tab), who wrote the biography Messi (opens in new tab). Balague knows the little genius better than most so FourFourTwo wanted to ask him whether he thought that the tournament in Qatar could be the perfect end to the 35-year-old's international career.

"He never said it was the last one!" Balague laughs…

Guillem Balague: Lionel Messi and Argentina are as good as anyone at the 2022 World Cup

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi in action for Argentina against Jamaica (Image credit: Getty)

"Logically it will be the last one," Balague affirms, with FFT sat counting fingers to work out that Messi will be 39 by the time the greatest show on Earth rolls around once more. But enough about four years' time – do Argentina have enough to win the 2022 World Cup?

"The team are 35, 36 games unbeaten, the team plays to his strengths, they attack together and defend together with a clear sense of leadership and no ego problems," Balague says. "Messi is very sharp and they just need luck, a good draw and anything can happen. 

"They are as good as Brazil and the European teams are a step below that. You need so many things to win a World Cup. With less as a team, they managed to get to the World Cup final in 2014 – with a less fit Messi, too."

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi was outstanding in Brazil in 2014 but only finished with a silver medal  (Image credit: Getty)

Back then, of course, Messi was awarded the Golden Ball for a phenomenal tournament in which he almost singlehandedly dragged Argentina to a showdown with Germany. For some, the lack of a world title is what stops him from winning debates about who the greatest player on Earth is.

For Balague, there's no contest, though. 

"I really hope he wins it… just to finish the debates," he says. "To me, he’s the best player ever to have played football."

Perhaps if he doesn't win it, he'll be back in 2026…

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