The upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to provide a multitude of star players with a golden opportunity to bolster their legacies with their respective national teams, including Lionel Messi. For bettors, the World Cup in Qatar is a good chance to find value bets and deals.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward is set to feature in his sixth career World Cup with the Argentina national team. In each of his previous five appearances in the World Cup, he faced heartbreak time after time, which include the elimination against the Kylian Mbappe-led France national team in the 2018 edition of the tournament.
Here is a closer look at how Messi enters the upcoming World Cup.
Messi’s career World Cup stats
Messi has had a roller-coaster run of performances over the course of his career in the World Cup. He has so far recorded nine total goal contributions in the tournament, with five of them coming at the 2014 World Cup. This came after he logged a mere one total goal contribution over eight combined matches played at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Heading into this year’s World Cup, Messi will have a chance to make notable history with La Albiceleste. For one, he is five goals away from surpassing Gabriel Batistuta (10 in 12 matches played) for the most goals scored for Argentina in World Cup history.
How will Lionel Scaloni play Messi?
One of the notable criticisms from previous Argentina managers was that they simply did not exploit the best out of Messi in World Cups. Now-former La Albiceleste manager Jorge Sampaoli went to drastic measures to address this matter in the 2018 edition of the competition, which included rolling out the veteran forward as a false nine in the 4-2 defeat to France.
Lionel Scaloni has been quite creative in how he has featured Messi in his starting lineups. At the 2021 Copa America, Scaloni called upon Messi to play as a central attacking midfielder, right winger and also as a center-forward in a two-striker setup.
Scaloni will have his fair share of options on just how he plans to play Messi in the World Cup later this year. In the big picture, much sure will depend on how the likes of Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez and Juventus forward Angel Di Maria head into the tournament.
What to expect out of Messi in this year’s World Cup?
Messi has done it all over his career, from his four UEFA Champions League wins to the record seven Ballon d’Or honors. Still, he is missing a World Cup winners’ medal in his trophy cabinet.
Overall, it sure will take a collective effort from Argentina — who is on a 32-match unbeaten streak — to take home the World Cup trophy. The likes of Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo De Paul will need to maintain the pace of play in the midfield, while projected starting fullbacks Nicolas Tagliafico and Nahuel Molina must do what they can to contain the speedy wingers that they are slated to face off with on the flanks.
Overall, Messi sure has what it takes to lead Argentina to World Cup triumph later this year.
Kylian Mbappe is set to have a golden opportunity later this year to become a two-time FIFA World Cup winner.
Before Mbappe shifts his focus to the upcoming 2022 World Cup, he will feature for Paris Saint-Germain in its Ligue 1 and UEFA Champions League fixtures over the opening half of the season. PSG will play its first official match of the season in the 2022 Trophee des Champions Final against Nantes later this month.
Once PSG finishes up its 22nd official fixture of the upcoming campaign, the attention for Mbappe will move on over to the World Cup, and here is how the French international enters this edition of the biggest tournament in world football.
Mbappé’s career World Cup stats
Mbappe has only featured in one World Cup tournament, as he shined for Les Bleus four years ago. Overall, he chipped in for four goals in seven such fixtures played, which include his two-goal performance in the round of 16 win over the Argentina national team.
Mbappe was simply on top of his game over the course of the last edition of the World Cup. His speed was on full display, with a 4.6 successful dribbles per match average. And while he did not record a single assist in the tournament, he did post a promising 1.3 key passes per game mark.
How will Didier Deschamps play Mbappé?
There is not much speculation as to how France national team manager Didier Deschamps will opt to play Mbappe. Barring any major surprise, the Paris Saint-Germain star forward will feature as either a right winger or center-forward for the reigning world champions later this year.
One notable question mark for Deschamps heading into the World Cup centers on just which formation will end up being his go-to one. During France’s UEFA Nations League schedule in late May and early June, Deschamps rolled out his side under 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, and 3-4-1-2 setups. Overall, Mbappe has had plenty of experience in playing in all three of these tactical formations, whether with France or at PSG.
What to expect out of Mbappé in this year’s World Cup?
The last time that Mbappe played in a major international tournament for France, he walked off the pitch in dismay after missing his kick in the penalty shootout loss to Switzerland in the Euro 2020 round of 16.
Mbappe sure will look for redemption in this year’s World Cup, especially as a strong showing in the tournament could bode well for his odds of being a favorite in next year’s Ballon d’Or final vote.