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World Cup preview: Will Lionel Messi win it all in his last hurrah with Argentina?

Here’s a look at Argentina ahead of the competition.

Jamaica v Argentina Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is upon us as the group stage action gets underway on November 20 in Qatar. Argentina will kick off their Group C campaign on November 22 with a match against Saudi Arabia, followed by meetings with Mexico and Poland. While they’re favored to win the group and make a deep run in their last ride with Lionel Messi in the squad, let’s take a closer look at what could be in store for the Argentinians in Qatar.

Argentina World Cup 2022 Preview

Odds to win World Cup: +500

It’s no surprise that Argentina are so high up on the list of favorites to win the tournament. Brazil is the only team that surpasses them, coming in at +400 at DraftKings Sportsbook. They’ve won the title twice with their last win coming in 1986. They nearly repeated in 1990, but lost to West Germany with a 1-0 score in the final match. Since then, they’ve only made it past the quarterfinals once, when they reached the final in 2014 but again lost to Germany with a 1-0 final score.

It helps they’re currently riding a staggering 35-game unbeaten streak, dating all the way back to a 2-0 loss to Brazil in the Copa America semifinals on July 2, 2019. They’re just two games away from tying the world record for longest unbeaten run, which is currently held by Italy, who went 37 games between 2018 and 2021.

Odds to win/advance from Group C: -250 to win, -1600 to advance

Argentina are the heavy favorites to win Group C, as on paper they’re lightyears better than the rest of the teams in their group. Of course, paper doesn’t mean much in a World Cup that can see world powerhouses like Spain and Germany exit in the group stage just four years after winning the entire tournament. If Argentina advance they’ll likely meet with the Group D runner up, which will likely be Denmark as they’re currently favored to finish behind France.

Expectations

This year’s World Cup will be Lionel Messi’s final appearance, as the 35-year-old announced back in October that this would be his final World Cup tournament of his career. He’ll be 39 when the 2026 World Cup comes around, and likely retired altogether by that point. Of course, 41-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still very much active with AC Milan, so anything’s possible especially when talking about a legendary player like Messi. Plus, he already announced his retirement from the international team once before, back in 2016 before he changed his mind just a couple of months later.

Regardless, the world is heading into this tournament with the impression that it’ll be Messi’s last. It’s absurd to think that one of the greatest players of all time has never won a World Cup title, but that’s the reality we all live in. Anything less than a World Cup championship in 2022 will be seen as a disappointment for both Messi and the Argentina squad.

Key player: Lionel Messi

No surprise here, but Messi will be the star for Lionel Scaloni’s side once again heading into his fifth and final World Cup tournament. All eyes will be on the Paris Saint-Germain star, who has scored an impressive 90 goals through 164 games for Argentina over the years. He holds top spot as the all-time goal scoring leader for his nation’s team, and will keep that record for many years to come as the next closest active player is 34-year-old Angel Di Maria with 25 goals.

Messi is missing just one award from his trophy case after winning seven Ballon d’Or trophies, one Copa America title, 10 La Liga championships, seven Copa del Rey titles, four UEFA Champions League titles, three FIFA Club World Cup titles, and well, you get the picture as the list goes on and on. Messi will look to lead his team to a World Cup title and complete his international career literally on top.