FIFA World Cup | Dec 15, 2022

Is this Lionel Messi’s last World Cup?

By Ezra

Pexels photo 16162211

After beating Croatia in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 semi final, Lionel Messi has confirmed that his final World Cup game will be this Sunday when Argentina play against France in the final for the World Cup title.

On December 13 2022, Argentina celebrated their 3-0 win against Croatia. After losing their World Cup group stage opening match to Saudi Arabia, with a shocking 2-0 defeat, many did not believe it was possible for Argentina to reach this far.

It was Messi and forward partner Julian Alvarez who brought Argentina to victory in the semi finals, Buenos Aires erupting with joy at the result and celebrating all night long. Messi applauded Alvarez’ game during the match, stating that "every player did very well, but if I have to choose I would give this [man of the match] award to Julian.” … “He had an extraordinary game.”

Messi’s last World Cup

This Sunday’s final match will see Argentina compete against France for the 2022 World Cup trophy, at Qatar’s Lusail stadium. The last time Argentina was in this position was back in 2014, where they lost 1-0 to Germany. If Argentina wins the Qatar final, Messi will lead his country to win their third World cup title. The country previously won the title in 1978 and 1986.

Messi has played in 4 previous World Cups (2018, 2014, 2010, and 2006), and he will likely be remembered as one of the greatest athletes of all time. Except for the World Cup, Messi has achieved everything a player at such an elite level hopes to. The penalty shot against Croatia was Messi’s 11th goal in a World Cup, his 5th in Qatar, meaning he now overtakes Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer in a World Cup final.

Messi will be 39 years old by the time the 2026 World Cup kicks off, this time hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico. Only very few players participate in such major tournaments at this age, so it is possible the 2022 World Cup is also Cristiano Ronaldo’s last as the football legend will leave Qatar at age 37.

In an interview with Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole, Messi stated that "there are a lot of years from this year to the next one. I don't think I will be able to do that. To finish this way is brilliant."

“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 added that he and his team mates are “just one step away, after fighting hard, and we’re going to give everything to try to make it happen this time.”

Argentina’s World Cup placements

Year Stage Reached Place
1978 Champions 1st
1982 Second group stage 11th
1986 Champions 1st
1990 Runners-up 2nd
1994 Round of 16 10th
1998 Quarterfinals 6th
2002 Group stage 18th
2006 Quarterfinals 6th
2010 Quarterfinals 5th
2014 Runners-up 2nd
2018 Round of 16 16th
2022 In progress TBA