As the superstar of a team that has lost only to Brazil since July 2019, Lionel Messi is determined to bring home the World Cup, the only major trophy missing from the illustrious list of his career achievements.

Iran PressAmerica: The Argentina team that Messi captains will be doing everything it can to send off the 34-year-old with the title in what many expect to be his fifth and final appearance in the tournament.

Both Messi and Argentina were on a mission at the 2021 Copa America and it was evident from the start. That tournament ended with the first major trophy in 28 years for the Argentina senior national team, and Messi finally got his hands on his very first piece of silverware with the Albiceleste, Sporting News reported.

Manager Lionel Scaloni has cultivated a strong and deep squad built around their captain, and there's a swagger about the way Argentina bosses matches. It has served them well in a lengthy unbeaten run, leading many to believe that this may be the best and most balanced Argentina team Messi has had. They made light work of qualifying, too, going unbeaten and clinching a ticket to Qatar with several matches remaining.

A third World Cup trophy for Argentina and a first for Messi would make for a memorable World Cup as the national idol attempts to match the feat of another Argentine icon, Diego Maradona, who carried the team in their last World Cup triumph back in 1986. 

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Past glories

Argentina has a rich history in the World Cup, having been champion twice in 1978 and 1986. They have seventeen World Cups appearances.

They've also reached the final on three occasions, too, including recently in 2014 and way back in the first ever edition of the competition in 1930. 

In fact, they've only been knocked out at group stage twice since 1962, as the country is typically regarded as one of the most successful and competitive sides every four years.

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As the 4th best team in the FIFA World Ranking, Argentina still stands as an elite country in world football, given they are the reigning Copa America winners, making them the number one team in South America as it stands. 

Whereas the FIFA rankings seem to be ceremonial by most, the South American side has been in good form for the last few years, having lost only to Brazil since July 2019.

The Argentina World Cup 2022 squad is expected to be named in early October – and after safely securing their place in the tournament, manager Lionel Scaloni has shown a willingness to experiment with his final qualification team.  

For Argentina, the key men are definitely Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria. Both are still world-class forwards, even in their mid-30s, and will be key to any success Argentina has at the tournament. A combination of quality, skill and experience is vital here.

Another key player is Lautaro Martinez; the forward plays for Inter Milan and boasts a very solid international record for his country, and the 24-year-old will be key to converting chances.

Players to watch include recent Manchester City signing Julian Alvarez, as the 22-year-old is one of the most coveted young talents in South America. Other players include center-backs Lisandro Martinez of Ajax and Cristian Romero of Tottenham, both of whom are 24 and under with the latter installed as a regular starter alongside the experienced Nicolas Otamendi.

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Who is Argentina's head coach?

Lionel Scaloni is Argentina's head coach and has been in the post since August of 2018, following a successful caretaker period. His style has been focused on getting the most out of the technical qualities the squad possesses, as well as becoming harder to beat; the team hasn't lost since the 2019 Copa America semi-finals loss to Brazil.

The former Argentinian international led the side to its first major trophy for 28 years when they triumphed at the Copa America in late 2021.

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Argentina World Cup draw Group C

Messi will not only have team accolades on his mind but will also be keen to prove that, even deep into his career, he can justify the title of the best player in the world — and he will have the chance to do that in a group that also includes his Ballon d'Or heir apparent, Poland's Robert Lewandowski.

Poland will offer a stiff challenge, having come through a European playoff route that saw them paired with England in earlier qualifying rounds. However, they are not the only threat, with Mexico also in Group C.

El Tri had to settle for the runners-up spot in the CONCACAF region to get to Qatar, but they possess plenty of firepower, and will eye an upset in a meeting with Argentina on Nov. 26.

Saudi Arabia — one of the lowest-ranked sides in the tournament — may also have hopes of upsetting the more established powers, but they will have it all to do and are first up for Scaloni's men in the group opener.

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Argentina's World Cup qualifying results

The qualifying campaign for Argentina has been a largely successful one, given that they've already qualified for the 2022 World Cup before the qualification process.

The only remaining loose end is their game against Brazil, which was abandoned on Sept. 5 after local health officials caused the suspension of the match for COVID-19 protocol enforcement. FIFA issued suspensions to four Argentina players who didn't follow that protocol and ordered the match is replayed. 


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