Lionel Messi has already equalled a World Cup record tonight – but will he ever get a chance to break it?

Lionel Messi has already broken a World Cup record this evening: Lionel Messi of Argentina looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semi final match between Argentina and Croatia at Lusail Stadium on December 13, 2022 in Lusail City, Qatar
(Image credit: Harry Langer/Defodi Images via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi has already equalled a record during Argentina vs Croatia at the Lusail Iconic Stadium.

The little genius racks up his 25th appearance in World Cup football by captaining the Albiceleste in the semi-final of the 2022 edition. Messi scored his first-ever goal in international football and will be looking to lead his side to his second World Cup final, following the showpiece in 2014. 

Other than Messi, only Germany's Lothar Matthaus has played a quarter-century of World Cup games, becoming the first player to have played in five tournaments – in 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 for West Germany for the first three and a reunified Germany for the latter two. 

Greatest German players ever

Lothar Matthaus also played 25 games at the World Cup (Image credit: Getty)

We know what you're thinking – what if he never gets to beat Matthaus's long-standing, 24-year record?

Messi, of course, will most likely play a 26th game at the World Cup whether Argentina make the final or not since the third-place play-off is scheduled for Saturday between the losers of the two semi-finals. Given that Messi is 35, however, and expected to return back to Paris Saint-Germain for club duty shortly, there's a chance he might be spared from the match. 

Messi still has some way to go before he breaks the record for the most minutes at the World Cup. That's held by Paolo Maldini, of Italy, who played in four tournaments with Italy and was part of the Azzurri finalist squad of 1994. 

The penalty that Messi scored after 33 minutes took him ahead of Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina's all-time top scorer in World Cup finals. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.