Why Lionel Messi’s Argentina Is the Team to Beat in Qatar As Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Liability for Portugal

Why Lionel Messi’s Argentina Is the Team to Beat in Qatar As Cristiano Ronaldo Becomes Liability for Portugal

Martin Moses
September 29, 2022 at 6:14 AM
  • Lionel Messi and his main rival Cristiano Ronaldo are in two different worlds as the Qatar World Cup draws closer
  • Despite both sides having star-studded squads, Ronaldo appears to have outlived his usefulness, with many arguing he is bringing more harm than good
  • Messi's Argentina, meanwhile, appears to be going from strength to strength and will look to rival France and Brazil for the trophy

After Argentina's victory over Jamaica in their last warm-up game ahead of the FIFA World Cup, Lionel Messi took to his Instagram account and wrote,

"We bid farewell to the United States with another triumph and with much hope."

Messi's belief, and that of any Argentina fan, will be at an all-time high heading to Qatar. The Lionel Scaloni-coached side are currently on a 35-match unbeaten streak.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, World Cup, Argentina, World Cup, Portugal
Lionel Messi celebrates with Joaquin Correa after scoring against Jamaica on September 27th. Photo by Elsa.
Source: Getty Images

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During that period, Messi lifted his first international trophy in the Copa America. He then followed it up with another dominant display in the Finalissima win over Italy.

Argentina's problems of the past World Cups seem to have been sorted out by Scaloni. Emi Martinez looks like a safer pair of hands than the Willy Caballero option of 2018. The defence is brimming with talent, with Lisandro Martinez and Cristian Romero looking solid.

In the middle of the area, Giovanni Lo Celso might not be Antonio Conte's favourite but when he puts on the Argentina jersey, he means business. Rodrigo De Paul has taken to defending Lionel Messi on the pitch as well as protecting the defence and sniffing out opponent attacks.

Argentina's squad depth

Up front, Lautaro Martinez capitalised on the untimely retirement of Sergio Aguero and made the position his own. Angel Di Maria remains a potent source of goals despite his age. Add the Lionel Messi factor, and Argentina are in business.

Keep in mind that these are just the random first-choice options Scaloni has. The bench is still peppered with the likes of Papu Gomez and Julian Alvarez.

The same, however, can't be said of his arch-nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo is, for the first time in his career, facing questions over his suitability to lead the Portuguese side. Portugal is stuck with talent, but there are fears that their captain is doing more harm than good.

Having been dropped several times at the club level this season, the 37-year-old found the going tough during the UEFA Nations League. In as much as he is still a proven goalscorer, he offers little in terms of build-up play.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, World Cup, Argentina, World Cup, Portugal
Cristiano Ronaldo reacts during Portugal's game against Spain. Photo by Octavio Passos.
Source: Getty Images

Fernando Santos will have to make a bold call on whether to drop him and go with Bernando Silva, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota up front. But how do you drop the best goal scorer the world has ever seen?

This is realistically the last chance for either GOAT to win the World Cup. As it stands, there are in two different worlds. Argentina will still have to fend off competition from the likes of France and Brazil.

Worrying times for Senegal as key stars lose form ahead of World Cup

Sports Brief had earlier reported that with the FIFA World Cup now barely two months away, African football lovers and particularly Senegal fans are losing sleep over the loss of form of the star players in Aliou Cisse's squad.

Cisse led Senegal to its maiden Africa Cup of Nations title at the start of this year after beating Egypt on post-match penalties. They then beat the same opponents to book their spot in Qatar.

The Teranga Lions will be the continent's hope at the event after getting a favourable group on paper. They are set to face the Netherlands, hosts Qatar and South American opposition Ecuador in Group A.

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Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
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